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Posted at 12:16 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Can we live with a nuclear Iran?

By Jennifer Rubin

A debate among Efraim Halevy, former head of Mossad (who departed in 2002); Danielle Pletka of AEI; Brian Katulis of Center for American Progress; and Gen. Ephraim Sneh, Israel's former deputy minister of defense, was held this morning. I was not surprised that Katulis would say fantastical things. He asserted that U.S. power and influence is on the rise in the region and that we can live with a nuclear China, so we can do so with Iran. Nor am I surprised that Pletka would decimate the argument that Iran is containable. (We don't have the nerve or will to contain Iran now, let alone do the sorts of things we did during the Cold War to contain the former Soviet Union.)

What is distressing is to hear a former head of Mossad caution that we really shouldn't talk about doing everything to deprive Iran of a nuclear weapon. (Halevy has made a post-Mossad career of feeding the narrative that Iran is much to do about nothing.) We shouldn't imagine, Halevy says, that Israel and the U.S. would be at a disadvantage when Iran goes nuclear because Israel has always checked Iran. In fact, he says obtaining a nuclear weapon would be a bigger problem for Iran, citing how isolated North Korea is. Umm. But isn't a tiny, impoverished North Korea holding the world hostage?

In the Halevy-Katulis universe we are winning the battle against Iran. Oh, Syria and Turkey are linked at the hip; an Iran surrogate now rules Lebanon; an Iran surrogate wages war on Israel from Gaza; the Iranian regime terrorizes its own people; and Iran, while slowed by espionage, is still close to becoming a nuclear-armed Islamic revolutionary state. How do they manage a world view that is so divorced from recent events? Most shocking, Halevy declared that Israel would not "die" if Iran got the nuclear bomb. It was left to Sneh to explain that devastating strategic, economic and migration (an outflow of Israelis) consequences. But more importantly, what becomes of the Zionist project -- a safe refuge for Jews -- that is the cornerstone of the Jewish state? Perhaps he should read now Ambassador Michael Oren's seminal work on the subject.

Afterward, I asked Halevy whether, as he asserted, we had 3-5 years before Iran became a nuclear power. Following the departure of the most recent Mossad chief both the British and the Israeli governments hastened to reaffirm that the time frame was not so long. His answer was shocking: "What difference does it make?" I pressed on, asking whether a longer time framework didn't promote a lackadasical attitude toward checking the nuclear threat. He insisted the facts -- the amount of time we have to prevent Iran from going nuclear -- really weren't essential.

Let's hope that the time frame really is longer. Let's hope we have some breathing space to help promote regime change. But one should be suspicious of those for whom the facts are irrelevant. And one should frankly reject an analysis that presupposes that Iran can be treated just like any other secular state or that Iran is "losing" in the region.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 7, 2011; 12:16 PM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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Comments

In the Halevy-Katulis universe we are winning the battle against Iran. Oh, Syria and Turkey are linked at the hip; an Iran surrogate now rules Lebanon; an Iran surrogate wages war on Israel from Gaza; the Iranian regime terrorizes its own people; and Iran, while slowed by espionage, is still close to becoming a nuclear-armed Islamic revolutionary state. How do they manage a world view that is so divorced from recent events?

___________________________________________

Not sure how this makes Ms. Rubin's point. Lebenon has been under Iranian influence for a long time. This is nothing new. Hamas has been funded by Iran for an even longer time (over 2 decades). Nothing new has happened. Syria and Turkey being joined at the hip's relationship with fears of Iran are left unsaid and not sure how that means anything visa an Iranian nuclear weapon. As to Iran oppressing it's own people, I wish it wasn't so but so what? All that means is the people of Iran have little interest in backing the gov't. That's a weakness, not a strength.

The point is what exactly is Iran going to do if it ever build a nuclear weapon? As a military or political weapon nuclear weapons have proven to be worthless. They never stopped Arab countries from attacking Israel. They don't stop asymetrical conflicts. They don't work as threats to get other countries to alter their policies. If the worst Ms. Rubin can come up with is it might cause migration from Israel then this really is a mole hill masquerading as a mountain. (The real danger here is proliferation. If Iran has an atomic weapon after a while they may realize how impotent it is and try and see if more milage can be had by spreading it around to possible allies. That's the real danger.)

I don't like the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons anymore then I like N.Korea having them and we need to continue making life as painfull as possible for both of them to continue their current policies. If a surgical strike would work, ok. Kinda sceptical it will and the consequences won't be pleasant but not adverse to trying it as a last resort.

BTW, who exactly is held hostage by N.Korea's little popgun nuclear device (What was it 2k? if it will work.)?

Here's a reality check. The rulers of Iran and N.Korea have one single overriding desire that trumps all things. They wish to stay in power. They aren't going to shoot a nuclear device off for any reason other then that. So I suggest not invading or attack them and one day these regimes will collapse. They always do.

Posted by: kchses1 | February 7, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"What is distressing is to hear a former head of Mossad caution that we really shouldn't talk about doing everything to deprive Iran of a nuclear weapon. (Halevy has made a post-Mossad career of feeding the narrative that Iran is much to do about nothing.) We shouldn't imagine, Halevy says, that Israel and the U.S. would be at a disadvantage when Iran goes nuclear because Israel has always checked Iran"


Ok without actually knowing for 100% certain who's right in this, does it seem crazy to anybody else that we're supposed to find the views of a labor attorney from California MORE convincing than the former head of the Mossad?

Do you think just PERHAPS, that knowing the exact number, power and location of Israel's nuclear devices might somehow weigh on his opinion?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 7, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I am certainly not in love with the bunch of mad mullahs that run Iran, however the world has to recognise that there must be rule of law and each nation must be treated equally under this.

The first thing that the USA has to understand is that Iran is a signatory to the NPT and thus has the INALIENABLE RIGHT to conduct a nuclear program, which includes enrichment of uranium. Iran is doing exactly this.

The second thing that the USA has to understand is that it does not have any legal standing in relation to Iran's nuclear program. This is strictly a matter for Iran and the IAEA. On top of that, the USA is not under any sort of threat from Iran, so there is no reason for any American interference or belligerence. It's simply none of their business.

The third thing that the USA has to understand is that it has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of any nation, including Iran. The writer of this article states, "Let's hope we have some breathing space to help promote regime change..."

The USA has no business promoting anything in any nation. Regime change in Iran is entirely up to the citizens of that nation alone and if the Americans don't happen to like the current regime, that does not give them any right to interfere in this regard.

We have already seen the Americans deposing elected governments and installing fascist tyrants and the damage this has done. The Americans, in collusion with Britain, illegally deposed the elected President Mossadegh of Iran in 1953 and installed the brutal Shah, which led to the current theocratic regime.

The bottom line is that Iran has legal rights and the USA has NO right to try and stop Iran from exercising them. The USA has NO right to attempt to change the regime in any nation.

At the moment, Iran is in full compliance with the NPT, is being intrusively monitored and even IAEA chief Amano has AGAIN stated that there is no evidence that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons and more importantly, that the IAEA has never said so - EVER!

Until the IAEA is presented with evidence to the contrary, nobody has the right to interfere with Iran's nuclear program or its regime. Nobody has the right to demand that Iran stops a perfectly legal activity.

We may not like Iran's regime, but we have no business telling the Iranians what to do or what not to do, just as the Americans would be outraged if Iran demanded regime change in the USA and supported terrorist groups to achieve this, just as the USA is doing right now with Jundullah.

ENOUGH! We must have the rule of law and the law is NOT dictated by what the USA wants.

Posted by: ziggyzap | February 7, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I am certainly not in love with the bunch of mad mullahs that run Iran, however the world has to recognise that there must be rule of law and each nation must be treated equally under this.

The first thing that the USA has to understand is that Iran is a signatory to the NPT and thus has the INALIENABLE RIGHT to conduct a nuclear program, which includes enrichment of uranium. Iran is doing exactly this.

The second thing that the USA has to understand is that it does not have any legal standing in relation to Iran's nuclear program. This is strictly a matter for Iran and the IAEA. On top of that, the USA is not under any sort of threat from Iran, so there is no reason for any American interference or belligerence. It's simply none of their business.

The third thing that the USA has to understand is that it has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of any nation, including Iran. The writer of this article states, "Let's hope we have some breathing space to help promote regime change..."

The USA has no business fomenting regime change in any nation. Regime change in Iran is entirely up to the citizens of that nation alone and if the Americans don't happen to like the current regime, that does not give them any right to interfere in this regard.

We have already seen the Americans deposing elected governments and installing fascist tyrants and the damage this has done. The Americans, in collusion with Britain, illegally deposed the elected President Mossadegh of Iran in 1953 and installed the brutal Shah, which led to the current theocratic regime.

The bottom line is that Iran has legal rights and the USA has NO right to try and stop Iran from exercising them. The USA has NO right to attempt to change the regime in any nation.

At the moment, Iran is in full compliance with the NPT, is being intrusively monitored and even IAEA chief Amano has AGAIN stated that there is no evidence that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons and more importantly, that the IAEA has never said so - EVER!

Until the IAEA is presented with evidence to the contrary, nobody has the right to interfere with Iran's nuclear program or its regime. Nobody has the right to demand that Iran stops a perfectly legal activity.

We may not like Iran's regime, but we have no business telling the Iranians what to do or what not to do, just as the Americans would be outraged if Iran demanded regime change in the USA and supported terrorist groups to achieve this, just as the USA is doing right now with Jundullah.

ENOUGH! We must have the rule of law and the law is NOT dictated by what the USA wants.

Posted by: ziggyzap | February 7, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

In my previous posting, I forgot to mention that the three sets of sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program are all illegal. Yes, that's right. You can ask any lawyer who is an expert on international laws and treaties and he will tell you. Many such lawyers have already stated so in public.

To explain briefly, if a person, organisation or nation has a legal right to do something, then any action by another party to deprive that person, organisation or nation of that legal right is illegal.

Here is an analogy.

You are an adult and have a licence to drive a car. This licence was granted to you by the state and gives you the legal right to drive.

One day, this huge tough guy from a suburb across town comes to your door. He states that although you have a legal right to drive, he considers that he might be at risk, because one day you might drive through his neighbourhood and run him over.

He demands that you immediately cease driving and spend the rest of your life catching cabs or buses. He claims that even though there is not one shred of evidence to support the fact that you are a bad driver or that there is any chance that you could injure him, that's just not good enough. You MUST give up driving forever.

You listen to this with incredulity and then say to him that you have every right to drive your car wherever you legally can do so and thde state is the only authority that can remove your licence, however they cannot even do that if you have not transgressed. This tough guy has no right, legal or otherwise, to try and prevent you from doing so. And you slam the door in his face and continue to drive.

The next day, the tough guy belts on your door again and informs you that even though he has no legal right to demand anything from you, if you don't do exactly what he demands, he will make life tough for you. He will intimidate all the stores to stop them selling you food. He will intimidate all the gas stations to stop selling you fuel.

He then states that if this doesn't work and you keep driving, he might take physical action against you, such as beating the living daylights out of you or even killing you All options would be on the table.

The tough guy then gets his friends from all the outlaw biker gangs to stop and intimidate anybody who might supply you with essential goods. Sort of like imposing sanctions,

Does this sound familiar? Of course it does. This is exactly what the USA is doing to Iran - demanding that Iran give up its legal rights, threatening Iran with attack if it does not do so, having punitive sanctions passed against Iran, despite the fact that Iran has done nothing illegal, exerting pressure on other nations to try and starve Iran into submission and so on.

The UN sanctions are illegal, because they are trying to coerce Iran into stopping a perfectly legal activity that it has been granted under international law and the NPT.

Posted by: ziggyzap | February 7, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

To ziggyzap: Both your posts are excellent and your analogy of the right to drive is wonderful. One problem is that everybody seems to believe that the US and Israel are really after stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. If it was not the nuclear issue, they would pick on something else. The main goal of the US and Israel is to keep Iran weak and emasculated so that they themselves can dominate the Middle East. The poor lapdogs of the US in Europe just go along without knowing what is really going on, although the UK probably has its own motives.

To kchses1: Your fear that Iran will "spread out" these imaginary nuclear weapons (which Iran never intends to develop) to so-called allies is preposterous. Iran's leaders are highly conservative and they are not stupid. In the first place, nukes are not like cheese that you spread around. Secondly, once someone gets hold of these weapons you lose control completely. Iran would never give them to Al Qaeda since it is Iran's mortal enemy. It would not give them to Hezbollah or Hamas either since such a handover would be detected immediately by Israeli spies and also because once it is given away, again Iran would lose control. The main thing is that there is absolutely ZERO evidence that Iran has any desire to develop these useless weapons. Iran is busy working on its economic and industrial growth. Wasting time on nukes is simply not in the cards despite Ms. Rubin's constant playing of this broken record.

Posted by: quinterius | February 7, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

(We don't have the nerve or will to contain Iran now, let alone do the sorts of things we did during the Cold War to contain the former Soviet Union.)

__________________________________________

BTW: What exactly does this stmt mean? Specifics please (I know you don't have any. That's why I keep asking.) The US isn't post WWI France crawling into a shell afraid to engage it's enemies or potential in the world. How does this person know what we will or won't do in the future? What exactlty does he mean by containment? Specifics please?

Just worthless jib jab without specifics.

Posted by: kchses1 | February 7, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

To: Jenneifer Rubin

You better get used to it, you have no choice.

A nation that spends 50 years to weave a single carpet, has enough patient to produce a nuclear bomb, if they want to.

Posted by: abraham3 | February 7, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

John Marshall wrote:

“Ok without actually knowing for 100% certain who's right in this, does it seem crazy to anybody else that we're supposed to find the views of a labor attorney from California MORE convincing than the former head of the Mossad?”

It's not crazy John, it's how Neocons operate.

They base their entire ideology on a premise that is never proven, but insist it is beyond dispute and build there argument from there.

Don't expect Jenner to ever produce evidence that Iran even has a nuclear weapons program. As we heard with the build up to the Iraq war, everyone knows they have one. Anyone who doubts it is clearly in love with the Mullah's.

What does Meir Dagan know? It's not like the head of Mossad is qualified to pass judgement.

What does the head of Israeli intelligence know?
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/iran-working-bomb-israel-intelligence-head/

What does the Russian President know? Those commies cannot be trusted,.
http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/26/russian-president-no-evidence-iran-building-nuclear-weapons/

So Jennifer attends a debate between participants who are all 100% pro Israeli and believes that this represents the universal consensus on Iran's nuclear program.

Even more pathetic, is that she expects us to believe that Danielle Pletka "decimated" the argument that Iran is containable.

This is the same Danielle Pletka who in Apr 2003 wrote "I have little doubt we will find WMD in Iraq".

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: quinterius | February 7, 2011 5:16 PM

"The main thing is that there is absolutely ZERO evidence that Iran has any desire to develop these useless weapons."

Very true, but the point is that if you repeat the lie often enough, people will believe it. Sadly, one has to accept that when it comes to convincing Americans that Iran has nukes, Jennifer and her fellow travelers are succeeding.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Can we live with a nuclear Iran?

Yes, but since they are not building nuclear weapons, we don't have to worry about it. But, I know you are obsessed with Iran. That's the thing to say and do in certain circles, otherwise you will be called self hating.

Posted by: mbintampa | February 7, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

North Korea may indeed only be interested in using nukes to deter anyone threatening the Kim regime, but more people really should be learning about Twelver Shi'a millenialism.

Then read Tom Clancy's "Sum of All Fears" -the book is better than the 2002 film version.

As for me? I am counting on Teheran being the global epicenter for earthquakes. Just a matter of time...

Posted by: K2K2 | February 7, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

To Shingo1: To confirm your point, according to a February 2010 CNN survey, "Seven in 10 Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons, according to a new national poll." Also, in 2007, 41% of Americans still believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11.

Thus, one can safely say that the average American is totally ignorant about the world (and maybe about other things too). So, media mavens like Rubin keep inflaming the rampant Iranophobia until everybody believes it. Congress is almost 100% ready to attack Iran. One wonders if Rubin can talk about anything else. She seems to be imprinted with Iran bashing. I wonder if she will ever try to present some concrete evidence to support any of her claims about Iran instead of just quoting Israeli former officials and California attornies.

Posted by: quinterius | February 7, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Way to go K2K2,

Just what we need, another proponent for genocide. At least your reading material explains why you're so disconnected from reality.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: quinterius | February 7, 2011 10:42 PM

I wonder if she will ever try to present some concrete evidence to support any of her claims about Iran instead of just quoting Israeli former officials and California attornies.

------------------

The answer would be no, seeing as there isn't any.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 10:52 PM | Report abuse

kchses1 writes:

(The real danger here is proliferation. If Iran has an atomic weapon after a while they may realize how impotent it is and try and see if more milage can be had by spreading it around to possible allies. That's the real danger.)

Phil says let's have a show of hands on the first and third statement above. (The second statement only references possible proliferation among Iran's possible allies.)

But what about the Sunni side of life (sorry)? Let's globally substitute "Iran and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and..." wherever "Iran" appears in most of the (everyones') posts above. (Phil's still quite ignorant of you folks' areas of expertise, so fill in the countries yourselves). If nuclear weapons are basically unusable, unnecessary, and useless for those possessing them, what difference does it make if all Mideast or ALL countries possess them?
Yes, India and Pakistan are at peace. At this point in time. Mobilization crises will occur again sometime, won't they? And yes Clancy's just a insurance guy-cum-novelist, but remember how Debt of Honor ends (with a jet flying into the Capitol, what an unlikely scenario.) His track record is there. So's Phil's -- he got that girl which earns the gold star in America's male population, who didn't figure in Oprahland anyhow.

Posted by: aardunza | February 7, 2011 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Jared. Just AN insurance guy. My pet peeve, whatever's that English phrase for disallowing that vowel-to-vowel barbarism.

Posted by: aardunza | February 7, 2011 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I'll bite and bet one group in North Korea who are NOT starving are the nuclear scientists.

Posted by: aardunza | February 7, 2011 11:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: kchses1 | February 7, 2011 1:53 PM

"I don't like the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons anymore then I like N.Korea having them and we need to continue making life as painfull as possible for both of them to continue their current policies."

--------------

What policies are you referring to kchses1?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 11:47 PM | Report abuse

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