Obama has ignored the countless reasons to doubt that the ayatollahs will make and keep a nuclear accord that prevents them from acquiring nuclear weapons. Here are just some of those reasons: 1) Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani boasted about his own role in exploiting diplomatic talks to advance Iran’s nuclear program, 2) Iran hid its nuclear facility in Qom until it was exposed in 2009 and continues to cover up its nuclear work in Parchin), 3) Iran recently tried – in a single transaction – to buy know-how for nukes and impunity for one of its biggest terrorist attacks. 4) Iran is actively developing more advanced, long-range cruise missiles, 5) thanks to Iranian involvement in the recent Houthi-rebel takeover of Yemen, Iran’s ever-expanding hegemony now reaches four Arab countries, and 6) Iran continues to stonewall IAEA inquiries into potential military dimensions of its nuclear program, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929.
The Saudis have warned that the current deal will spark a Middle East nuclear arms race.
It could also hasten the era of nuclear terrorism. There are already reports that Islamic State (IS) has resorted to attacks with chemical weapons (hardly surprising after Obama’s “red lines” on Syria’s chemical weapons use turned white).
Iran could provide nuclear material – in addition to a nuclear umbrella – to its proxy terrorist group, Hezbollah. For these and other grave concerns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu risked his political career on a speech before Congress that explained why the deal taking shape with regard to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is so bad.
Yet rather than address legitimate reservations about the emerging Iranian nuclear deal, Obama prefers to hold Netanyahu to his election slogans about a Palestinian state, as if Obama hadn’t himself broken countless campaign promises, including his own oft-repeated commitment (to voters and allies alike) that he would prevent Iran from going nuclear.
Breaching his promise to everyone, Obama has embraced a process that makes Iran a threshold nuclear state.
Instead of questioning the intentions of the same theocratic regime that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, the Obama administration has whitewashed Iran’s terrorist activities/record, and accepted Rouhani as a “moderate” even though human rights in Iran have actually worsened under his rule.
Despite Obama’s attempts to influence the outcome of Israel’s free elections, no Israeli government, regardless of the political parties that comprise it, can live with the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran.
And world powers are closer than ever to forcing an Israeli military response to that danger because they have buckled rather than created sufficient diplomatic and economic pressure to persuade Iran to dismantle its nuclear program.
Iran has made steady progress on its nukes despite decades of sanctions, UN Security Council resolutions, IAEA inspections, and negotiations. The most successful strategy for stopping Iran’s nuclear march was the very real threat of force in 2003.
After the US military quickly trounced Iraq, neighboring Iran was deterred from continuing its nuclear activities, until it concluded that the US military threat had dissipated.
Under Obama, the weakest US president since Jimmy Carter, there is no credible military threat, as his actions in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere have shown.
That reality will force Israel to take military action against Iran’s nukes – either in the absence of a nuclear deal or despite the bad one under consideration (which paves Iran’s path to the bomb with legitimacy while isolating Israel).
Some think that Israel will refrain from attacking because a military strike would, at best, set back Iranian nukes by a few years. But that is a specious argument for two reasons: 1) Like “mowing the grass” with Hamas’ military buildups in Gaza, Israel may simply have to take military action every few years, 2) the Iranians may eventually stop trying to develop nukes, after realizing that it’s a huge waste of resources to build nuclear facilities that Israel will eventually destroy.
Despite all of the risks of attacking Iran’s nuclear program, doing nothing will be riskier to Israel’s survival because the world’s most dangerous regime then acquires the world’s most dangerous weapons. The Jewish nation knows all too well the dangers of ignoring genocidal threats, and Iran, the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism, has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel. By making Iran a nuclear threshold state, the proposed deal leaves the ayatollahs with the ability to carry out that threat and therefore compels an Israeli attack. However, because Israel’s capabilities are far more limited than those of the US military, Israel won’t be able to prevent Iranian retribution when destroying Iran’s nukes.
What follows is a nuclear World War III. Iran will retaliate with an overwhelming barrage of potent, long-range ballistic missiles on Israel’s population centers, and will likely also target the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona (which action could itself produce massive casualties). Hezbollah, which has about 100,000 long-range missiles supplied by Iran, will add to the unstoppable downpour of missiles. For all of their impressive successes, Israeli missile defense systems simply cannot handle such a huge number of incoming missiles, and so there will be thousands of dead.
The world, as usual, will do nothing but excoriate Israel and call for restraint, leaving Israel with countless casualties.
Adjusted for population differences, 10,000 dead in tiny Israel is like about 400,000 killed in the USA. At that point (if not much sooner), Israel will feel that its very survival requires nuking Tehran and a few other major cities, which would destroy the regime along with maybe a million people. The Sunni countries threated by Shi’ite Iran’s hegemonic aggression in the region may have already entered the fray at that point, or would do so soon after, and the centuries-old Sunni-Shi’ite conflict would explode throughout the region even more than it already has.
It’s not clear how the war eventually ends, but there will be even more chaos as failed states and radical extremism spread across the Middle East. The price of oil will skyrocket to unseen levels, and none of this will be good for US interests.
Absurdly enough, the US could probably prevent such a doomsday scenario by simply asserting an ultimatum backed by very credible military force. If Iran does not, within a week after the expiration of the current talks, allow inspectors unfettered access to all of its nuclear facilities and then cooperate in their destruction (with compensation and a set of economic and political rewards for that cooperation), then the US military will, with overwhelming military force, destroy the entire Iranian military infrastructure (including its nuclear program) and work toward the downfall of the regime. If the US can make such a threat credibly, then Iran will acquiesce, no actual force will be needed, and the decadeslong Iranian nuclear threat will finally end.
But, unlike apocalyptic betrayals, such a bold show of force is unthinkable for Obama, and so we could be looking at a nuclear World War III in the not-too-distant future.
The writer is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.