Saturday, February 25, 2012

The crucial piece of the puzzle

I must admit that I never expected to include in my blog articles from

Ha’aretz, but credit must be given where credit is due.  One paragraph (see in red)  in Ari Shavit’s remarkable article explains more about the present situation than anything I have recently read. ( For the blog entry on Bernard Lewis see Older Posts at the end) 


Ari Shavit
By Ari Shavit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dealt primarily with three things over the past three years: Iran, Iran, and Iran.
In the first instance, Netanyahu was busy making sure Iran was on top of the international agenda. While our prime minister won't say so out loud, he is deeply scornful of his predecessors for spending so much time on the Palestinian issue while neglecting the Iranian issue.
Netanyahu has indeed succeeded in reversing the order, and has made the centrifuges at Natanz the primary concern of the Western world. With the generous help of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and various Arab leaders, he has succeeded in convincing the international community that the Iranian issue is of utmost importance. In Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, Berlin, Paris, London, and Washington, everyone is now addressing what Netanyahu has been dealing with for a decade. And the diplomatic world is now holding its breath: Will Israel attack or not attack? Will Iran go nuclear or not go nuclear? Will an Israeli-Iranian war inflame the whole Middle East?
In the second instance, Netanyahu made sure that the Iranian threat would top the national agenda. Ten years ago we were still arguing about peace. Five years ago we were arguing about dividing the land - about a permanent settlement, an interim settlement, disengagement, convergence, and the like.
But today the only diplomatic-security issue that people talk about at their Friday night get-togethers is the Iranian issue. Nothing good is happening in the Middle East. As long as the shadow of the Shi'ite bomb casts a pall over all of us, there won't be any diplomatic breakthrough.
In the third instance, Netanyahu was busy building up Israel's abilities to face the Iranian threat. Netanyahu thinks that until he took office, Israel hadn't been preparing properly to confront Iran's cement-lined bunkers. Both Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert felt comfortable believing that the "invisible hand" would resolve the problem. But the invisible hand did no such thing.
Yes, Iranian scientists were assassinated and Iranian centrifuges exploded, but at any given moment Iran had more fissionable material than the previous moment. One red line was crossed, and then another, and another. Thus, our prime minister's primary preoccupation over the past few years has been sharpening the Israeli sword. He has made the whole world truly worried that the sword might be unsheathed.
A few years ago Netanyahu held an in-depth discussion with Middle East expert Bernard Lewis. At the end of the talk he was convinced that if the ayatollahs obtained nuclear weapons, they would use them. Since that day, Netanyahu seems convinced that we are living out a rerun of the 1930s.
He hasn't forgotten for a moment that two leaders he happens to admire, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, didn't lift a finger to save European Jewry during the Holocaust. He is convinced that U.S. President Barack Obama won't lift a finger to save Israeli Jewry. Thus he believes solely in the Israeli sword, seeing it as a deep expression and the last defense of the Zionist revolution.
As of now, the military option is proving to be a diplomatic success. It managed to shake the international community out of its apathy and made a definitive contribution to the tightening of the diplomatic and economic siege on Iran.
But the time for playing diplomatic games with the military option is drawing to a close. There's a limit to how many times one can cry wolf. There's a point at which a "hold-me-back" policy exhausts itself. And that's a very dangerous point, because suddenly the military option turns into a real option.
The Netanyahu-Obama meeting in two weeks will be definitive. If the U.S. president wants to prevent a disaster, he must give Netanyahu iron-clad guarantees that the United States will stop Iran in any way necessary and at any price, after the 2012 elections. If Obama doesn't do this, he will obligate Netanyahu to act before the 2012 elections. 
The moral responsibility for what may happen does not lie with the heirs of Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion. The moral responsibility will be borne by the man sitting in the chair that was once Franklin Roosevelt's

Saturday, February 18, 2012

William Hague: Iran risks nuclear Cold War --------- What about a real nuclear war, Mr. Hague?

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary says that Iran is threatening to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East which could be more dangerous than the original East-West Cold War as there are not the same “safety mechanisms” in place.

“It is a crisis coming down the tracks,” he said. “Because they are clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme … If they obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons.

“And so, the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun with all the destabilising effects in the Middle East. And the threat of a new cold war in the Middle East without necessarily all the safety mechanisms … That would be a disaster in world affairs.”

Mr Hague repeatedly stressed that “all options must remain on the table” when confronting the Iranian regime, despite Liberal Democrat concerns that the Government may be dragged into another military conflict.

Why is it that the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom completely skipped over Shia eschatology, the Mahdi, the Hidden Twelfth Imam and the realistic possibility that there cannot be a Cold War with Iran since according to scholars of Islam  the Iranian leadership may well be looking forward  to starting a nuclear war?

It almost defies belief that the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom can come up with such a statement without explaining the true nature of the problem.   Is it that he himself is completely ignorant of the opinions of Bernard Lewis, Raphael Israeli, Reza Kahlili, Harold Rode and other specialists on Islam and Iran or he believes that the  British public should remain in the dark. Which is it?  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Harold Rhode: The Iranians think the way they do. Whatever we do, we have to use THEIR context in which to understand it.

Harold Rhode, whose opinions I quoted in my July 27 blog entry, elaborates further in the Jerusalem Post  article by Oren  Kessler Fight against Iran nukes stymied by cultural gaps


According to Rhode, Iran’s current leaders “believe that if they provoke a conflagration, their hidden imam, the mahdi, will return to save them. So Mutually Assured Destruction – MAD – that we used effectively with the Soviets is an incentive and an inducement, not a deterrent.”

The Iranians think the way they do. Whatever we do, we have to use their context in which to understand it – they don’t think like Chinese or like Americans,” he said. “It is dangerous when you apply your mentality to try to understand another culture.”
In the Middle East, he said, “until you win, you show your enemies no mercy. But when you have them at your mercy, you must be magnanimous. There’s unfortunately no such thing as a win-win situation in the Middle East. Confidence-building measures are interpreted as weakness. You talk after you’ve won; if you do so beforehand, it is seen as weakness.”
In Iraq, he said, “we kept trying to appeal to Saddam. But in a culture based on honor and shame, he had no way to back down short of his own death,” Rhode said.
“In the languages of the Middle East, the concept for compromise doesn’t exist – at least not as we understand it.... Instead, one who compromises is said to have brought ’aib, or shame, on himself. That’s why the Middle East is always in a state of tension,” he explained.
“We talk about shalom and salaam and figure they mean the same thing,” he continued. “But in Arabic, ‘salaam’ is generally viewed to mean the joy one gets from submitting to Allah’s will through Islam. That’s not what peace is, to the best of my knowledge.”


Harold Rhode got it right.  While many understand the danger of a renegade country
acquiring nuclear weapons, cultural differences prevents them from comprehending that with Iran in particular the danger is worse by an order of magnitude.  To look forward to a global cataclysm  is too weird a concept for a western mind to seriously contemplate..

The day of the Israeli preemptive strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities seems to be approaching. All of a sudden at the Herzliya Conference there have been a number of speakers on Iran. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt-Gen. Benny Gantz, head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen Aviv Kochavi.  Apparently, Israel’s leadership, like Harold Rhode, understand the essence of the problem much better that their counterparts in Europe and the media - the Iranians cannot be deterred. Preemption is the only way.