A predominantly one-topic blog: how is it that the most imminent and lethal implication for humankind - the fact that the doctrine of "Mutually Assured Destruction" will not work with Iran - is not being discussed in our media? Until it is recognized that MAD is dead, the Iranian threat will be treated as a threat only to Israel and not as the global threat which it in fact is.
A blog by Mladen Andrijasevic
Friday, August 31, 2012
Efraim Halevy is no Winston Churchill
interviews Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. Excerpts:
than any other interviewee in this series, he displays empathy
for the Iranians and tries to understand them.
I have to say is complex” Efraim Halevy tells me. “I do indeed argue that a
nuclear Iran does not
constitute an existential threat to Israel. If one day we wake up and
discover that Iran has no,
that does not mean the start of the countdown to the end of Israel’s
need not despair. We have deterrent capability and
preventive capability. If Iran
acquires nuclear weapons, Israel
will be able to design a true operational response that will be able to cope
with that. We will be able to prevent a Hiroshima in Tel Aviv and we
will prevent a Hiroshima in Tel Aviv; so
we must not talk about a Hiroshima in Tel Aviv, because prophecies like that
are self-fulfilling. Nor must we draw baseless analogies with the 1930s.
true Churchillian way is not to talk about the possibilities of a second
Holocaust, but to ensure that there will be no holocaust here. I was a boy in Britain during the Blitz. I
remember vividly Churchill’s speeches blaring from the radio. He did not talk
about the possibility that Britain
may not survive. On the contrary: even in the direst straits he said that Britain should
have the upper hand. He promised that whatever happened, come what may, in the
would win. Anyone who purports to be Churchill needs to talk like Churchill and
we must not become confused”, Halevy continues. “A
nuclear Iran is not an
existential threat, but a nuclear Iran is a grave matter.
Nuclear weapons in Iran’s
hands upset the regional balance and create a very serious strategic. Nor can
we completely rule out the possibility that if Iran possesses nuclear weapons it
will ultimately use them. When the danger is very great, even if the risk that
it will be realized is only 10 percent, we need it to treat it as a risk of 100
percent. So I am not one of those who
are indifferent to the Iranian danger. Under no circumstances am I ready to
accept a nuclear Iran.
But I maintain that the way to prevent nuclearization is nor necessarily by
means of force.
“What we need to do is to try and understand the Iranians” the
former Mossad head says. “The basic
feeling of the ancient nation is one of humiliation. Both religious Iranians
and secular Iranian feel that for 200 years the Western powers used them as
believe that if the west could acquire the sense of greatness Iran would
forsake the nuclear road. If Iran
were offered trains add oil refineries and place of honor in regional trade, it
would consider this seriously. You say
carrots? The carrots offered to Iran until now were not big enough.
Maybe the sticks were not enough either.
I am not Chamberlain. I am not proposing peace with honor or peace in our
time, but a realistic view of the situation. It is tru that the present Iranian
regime does not want Israel
to exist. But theat desire is not their top priority , an they themselves know
that it cannot be realized. The Iranians are afraid of us no less than
we are afraid of them.
Efraim Halevy’s view on the
Iranian threat is what happens when you exclude the essential ideological/religious
factors from the equation. When you believe that they are all essentially like us. When you project our values onto them and believe
they are motivated by the same desires, based on the same system of ethics. The result is a total and lethal misreading of
the Iranian threat.
Efraim Halevy remembers Churchill’s
speeches from childhood but he obviously forgot what Churchill wrote in his 6
volume masterpiece The Second World War. Churchill understood whom he was dealing with.
In the Vol I , TheGathering Storm, page 50, he wrote:
Hitler’s sentence was reduced from four years
to thirteen months. These months in the Landsberg fortress were, however,
sufficient to enable him to complete in outline Mein
Kampf, a treatise on his political philosophy inscribed
to the dead of the recent Putsch. When eventually he came to power, there was
nobook which deserved more careful study from the
rulers, political and military, of the Allied Powers.All was there – the programme of German resurrection; the
technique of party propaganda;the programme of German resurrection;the
technique of party propaganda;the plan for combating Marxism;the concept of a
National-Socialist State;the rightful position of Germany at the summit of the
In contrast, Efrain Halevy completely skips over the
Twelver ideology that is the quintessence of
the Iranian threat. How can serious
politicians and journalist keep on discussing Iran without mentioning the Mahdi and the Twelvers?
Dr. Timothy Furnish
There are Islamic scholars in
the West who do not share Bernard Lewis’s views on the Iranian threat. But at least they acknowledge that correctly assessing
the Twelver Shi'ism doctrine is essential.
Here is my email exchange with Dr. Timothy Furnish, Assistant Professor,
History, Georgia Perimeter College; Ph.D., Islamic History; M.A., Church History (with his permission), who sent me his article . His site is MahdiWatch.org
My questions in blue, his answers in dark red.
Thank you for answering. If I understand
correctly, you would basically agree with Ze’ev Maghen who says that
institutionalization of Mahdism is
not only not messianic or apocalyptic in character, but is in fact the fiercest
enemy of messianism. Is it correct
to say that in your view Ahmadinejad has
no desire to employ weapons in a nuclear jihad in order to hotwire the arrival
of the Mahdi?
I believe Maghen is correct, albeit a bit hyperbolic. And yes, I don't believe
that "hotwiring the apocalypse" is really part of Twelver doctrine as
understood in Tehran-Qom--although it is a view held by some of the Sunni
groups, and possibly by non-establishment Twelver groups like Ansar al-Mahdi in
do not quite understand your sentence “Full-blown jihad has been ipso facto
illegitimate since the Greater Occultation cut off communications with the
Mahdi in 939 AD.” Are you referring only to the Twelver Shi`i jihad or to
jihad in general?
meant "full-blown Twelver jihad;" I thought that was clear from the
short, you position is that Islamic Republic’s pursuit of nuclear weapons isnotfor apocalyptic purposes but for a
more mundane, and manageable, geopolitical ones. Did I get the gist correctly?
hope you are right. However, since this does not seem to be an exact science
like deriving Maxwel’s four equations in my Feynman’s Lectures on Physics,
which describe in exactly the same way the same laws of physics in Iran and Israel, analyzing what these people
think may be prone to error? Is it not? And an error may be very, very costly .
agree. I have even said at conferences and in a number of radio interviews that
if I were Israeli, I might not trust my analysis--or at least be fully
confident with it.
do you explain Bernard Lewis’s statement “For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an
inducement..”? Is Bernard Lewis simply wrong? Why did
he come to this conclusion? Have you ever talked to him about this?
there have been a meeting of leading Islamic scholars to clarify what the
probabilities are that these are really geopolitical motives?
simply don't buy this "cult of the Mahdi" thinking--as I point out in
my long paper on Iran
and WMD's (the INEGMA one), this is a (willful?) misunderstanding of the
Anjuman-i Hojjatiyeh organization, in my opinion.
Mehdi Khalaji’s altogether confusing article from which I remember this
some hadiths, the Mahdi will kill two-thirds of the world’s population, and he
“will clean the earth from nonbelievers and
[of Islam]. . . he will continue to kill the enemies of God until God is
satisfied.”10 The Mahdi “will order
twelve thousand solders to kill anyone who does not believe in your
understanding is that Ahmadinejad is just a figurehead and the real powered
lies with the clerics who do not want the Mahdi right away. But this may
don't think Ahmadinejad is just a figurehead; in fact, I think he's far more
popular in Iran
than Khamenei. Whether that's true of the IRGC is the question.
real question that remains is what are the probabilities of these
Twelvers really pursuing their eschatological beliefs. Should not Reza
Kahlili’s empirical evidence about what these people really think be
taken into account? After all he spent 10 years among
course Kahlili's views should be taken into account; but so too should the
perhaps cynical view that he says what some folks want to hear for various
motives, such as money.
you board a plane if you knew that the possibility that it would crash is 5
I were fleeing, say, an erupting volcano or bird flu epidemic.
did not say I'm sure I'm right; I simply do research and then reach conclusions
based on that. I am very pro-Israel and I very much dislike the current
regime in Iran.
And I am an incessant critic of the violence proclivities of Islam, partly
(but not only) because I am a believing Christian. But, on the other hand, I
don't think misrepresenting the doctrines of Twelver Shi`ism in order to
advance political positions is good, either.
-- and my reply
Yes and no. The key sentence for me is, of
course, - I have
even said at conferences and in a number of radio interviewsthat if I were Israeli, I might
not trust my analysis--or at least be fully confident with it.
So I'm back to square one. It is past midnight here and
I will have to read Bostom's article with a clear head. But from what I
have read by Bostom before, I seems that he considers Bernard Lewis too
"soft" on Islam. Even if that were the case, and I do agree to a
point, does it not give even more weight to his opinion on Iran and MAD?.
If Lewis, who is usually so "understanding" with Islam, has such a
determined view on MAD and Iran,
then there must be a reason. Why hasn't anybody tried to clarify why is he so
sure? I am a software developer and not a scholar of Islam, but I have read 8
of his books ( readingThe
Assassinsnow ) and from what
I've read I came to the conclusion that he would not come up with wild
Likewise about Kahlili. Surely you could not give the same
weight to opinions which consider he is doing what he is doing for money
compared to him risking his life for 10 years under cover? If his story were
inaccurate I do not think that the former CIA director James Woolsey would want
to be seen in his company, and they were together on a panel discussion.
My gut feeling is that the war may erupt any moment because weather
Lewis is totally right or not, they just cannot take the risk.
What is much more clear to me is that the present policies of
the Obama administration towards the Muslim Brotherhood are bordering on the
absurd, and the fact that only 5 congressmen noticed that something is wrong is
very worrying. --- A final comment: When will Ari Shavit start interviewing scholars of Islam?