Tuesday, January 17, 2006

2006 calling June 7th, 1981

The two events that stood out for me this past year were the disengagement from (G)Aza and the continuous comments from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel. Ahmadinejad's non-stop banter about wiping Israel off the map, or about the holocaust's numbers being vastly exaggerated and how us Jews need to be in Germany or the US are normally the 'Arab talk' that I tend to ignore ... but ignoring it sadly isn't an option as Iran is well on its way to developing a nuclear arsenal. It seems that the world is actually worried too (the EU made some pretty strong statements this past week), and potential 'talks' in the UN might be on the way. But talks normally don't stop dictators (see Hitler, Saddam etc). The question is, can (or will) anyone act to prevent a nuclear Iran? Judging by history, it seems that the honor of trying to neutralize Iran's nuclear ambitions will fall on the broad shoulders of Israel.

In the late 1970s, Iraq was attempting to become a nuclear power with French assistance. Israel was gravely concerned, but with France's backing of the project, most of the world remained quiet. To Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, 'a survivor of the holocaust, Huessin was Hitler, and the Osirak reactor was a technologically advanced version of the Final Solution,' (Amos Permuletter's Begin Bombs the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor - and the 1981 Elections). With the world turning a blind eye exactly like they did during the Holocaust, Begin knew it was up to Israel to act. The groundwork for a military strike was laid out, but the obvious tremors of such an action would be huge, no matter if the mission was successful or not. Despite all these worries, the Israeli cabinet approved a military strike on Osirak. On June 7th, 1981, 16 Israeli jets left an air force base in the Sinai and within 80 seconds of arriving at the target for a night time strike, the nuclear plant at Osirak was left in ruins. As expected, Israel's daring attack was met with incredible criticism from friends and foes alike, with the US leading a chorus of condemnations and the UN passing resolution 487 strongly condemning her actions. 10 years later, when the US invaded Iraq during the Gulf War, a letter was sent to the Israeli government signed by various congressmen thanking Israel for the destruction of Osirak. Yitzchak Shamir in "Failure of Diplomacy" summarizes the event simply,
'It (deterrence) was attained by the State of Israel and its prime minister who decided, acted and created a fact that no one in this world - with the exception of our enemies - regrets.'

And so this brings us along to January 2006. Iran, with Russian assistance, is close to attaining a nuclear arsenal that could not only eradicate Israel, but also threaten various European capitals. The US has expectedly taken a strong stance, but I am fairly surprised that some European nations have made strong comments, not ruling out a military strike. But who are we kidding here? These are the Europeans after all. In other words, a potential strike is up to the US (who are really bogged down in Iraq) or Israel. With Arik Sharon currently lying in a coma, the potential leaders of this country after the March elections are either Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz or Bibi Netanyahu. In other words, 3 candidates who don't have the leadership capabilities of our stricken leader and hence, are leaving a lot of people in this country worried. When the time comes to act, will our leader have what it takes to not only make the decision but to take the heat the way Begin did in 1981? I guess only time will tell ...


Giuliano said...

Avram, as a passionate nationalist, it is right for you to laud an event that, in your eyes, helped preserve the integrity and survival of your state. However, you have put forth some misinformation that I would like to bring attention to.

The choice for a state to become a nuclear power rests with the government or ruling class. The French were providing the means for Iraq to develop nuclear energy not become a nuclear power. Of course once a state has the capability to develop nuclear energy it would also be in a good position to produce a weapon, but had the French believed that would occur in Iraq, I don’t think they would have provided the reactor. You may also recall that the Osirak reactor was under monitoring by the IAEA, and at that time did not consider Iraq to be in violation of its safeguards agreement.

Perhaps you can question whether it made economic sense for Iraq to develop nuclear energy given its rich abundance in other sources of energy. The French were doing what all other nuclear exporters were and are doing, making a buck or two.

Secondly, I believe you exaggerate the effectiveness of the Israeli strike on Osirak. You are correct to label it a daring attack, as it was certainly the first of its kind, but its effectiveness is questionable. The attack did not hinder Iraq's development of a nuclear program, it actually accelerated Hussein’s aspiration for a bomb. It did temporarily set back Iraq's capabilities but also convinced Hussein to invest more human, economic capital into a nuclear program. The attack also forced Hussein to be more secretive of its program moving facilities in places difficult to detect. The Iranians have also learned from the attack. They have constructed and placed their facilities in positions that would be most difficult for a pre-emptive strike to be carried out.

By following the tone of your writing, I sense that you are in fact supporting of an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. In my mind this would be a disastrous move. The first reason being, that if in fact Iran is developing a weapon (note that the IAEA has not found any evidence of a military program), it would do little to deter them from pursuing a bomb.

In fact, the principal motivation for pursuing a nuclear weapon is to match one’s rival. We saw this occur between Pakistan and India, while Brazil and Argentina almost followed the same path. As long as Israel remains outside of the non-proliferation regime, notably the NPT, regional competitors will always desire to match the power and prestige nuclear weapons can bring to a country. The real challenge lies in finding ways to meet Israel’s security concerns without reliance on nuclear weapons. This would remove the root motivations others in the region have in potentially acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Avram said...

"The attack did not hinder Iraq's development of a nuclear program, it actually accelerated Hussein’s aspiration for a bomb>"

Gules - did he ever get remotely close to a bomb again? The answer is no. Did that 'daring strike' eliminate Iraq's ability to kill millions of people 10 years later in the Gulf War? You betcha.

Do I want a strike on Iran? I think it will be a necessity - Last time the Jews ignored a man who talked about their destruction, we were tertiated (6,000,000 Jews were lost). Is that a risk we can afford to take again when the Iranian president talks continually about wiping us out?

Lastly, please see one of my later posts about Osirak (on it's 25th anniversary). A French researcher actually admits that Chirac and his government were HAPPY that Israel destroyed the plant - they probably realized what that plant was really being built for (Israel or Iran most likely) ...

gsodnyc said...

Well, my favorite Zionist, allow me to respond to your comments.

"Did that 'daring strike' eliminate Iraq's ability to kill millions of people 10 years later in the Gulf War? You betcha"-is completely inaccurate.

You once again exaggerate the effectiveness of the Osirak strike. It was not the strike that thwarted Iraq's nuclear program, but something of Saddam's own doing-invading Kuwait. After the Osirak strike, Iraq's nuclear program certainly became weapons related and not until after the invasion of Kuwait and subsequently UN involvement (thanks to the US and Co), was the scope and nature of Iraq's nuclear program uncovered and subsequently neutralized. If Saddam wanted to murder large numbers of people, as you suggest, he could have tapped into his chemical and biological weapons inventory. But that would have been unwise, given that General Schwarzkopf handed Saddam a letter prior to the invasion indicating that if chose to use chemical weapons, it would be met with an overwhelming(nuclear) response.

Also, because of the Jewish people’s particular history, I understand completely why you are sensitive to the President of Iran's absurd comments. However, it needs to be viewed in a specific context. He his catering to the largely poor, uneducated Iranian constituency that elected him. Not all Iranians agree with his antics, but more and more would so, if say, Israel tried to take out its nuclear infrastructure.

Allow me to pose this question. If Israel is allowed to be a nuclear weapon state why isn’t Iran? They have security concerns just as Israel does. The United States is increasingly antagonistic towards Iran, seemingly favoring a policy of regime change. The US also has troops in Iraq and in Afghanistan. No one came to Iran’s aid when Saddam invaded them and used chemical weapons on their troops. In fact, Saddam, at that time was a western ally. The reasons to acquire a nuclear deterrent are just as valid for Iran as they are for Israel.

In no way am I justifying or encouraging for Iran to have nuclear weapons, but this hypocrisy is the root cause of the problem.

Also, your distate for the UN doesn't fancy me. Those that criticize the UN often don’t understand the realty in which it operates. Care to comment?

Avram said...

"You once again exaggerate the effectiveness of the Osirak strike. It was not the strike that thwarted Iraq's nuclear program, but something of Saddam's own doing-invading Kuwait."

Osirak was in 1981 ... Kuwait was in 1991 ... 10 years ole chap ...

"If Saddam wanted to murder large numbers of people, as you suggest, he could have tapped into his chemical and biological weapons inventory."

Which he DID against the Kurds and if I'm not mistaken, the Iranians too. However, notice that he never ever threatened Israel with weapons of mass destruction again (The scuds in 1991 didn't include chemical or biological warheads)

"largely poor, uneducated Iranian constituency"

Ummm, poor perhaps but if you ever read the literature coming at of Iranians OUR age in that country, they're a very educated people. It seems that there's lots of grumbling in that country towards his antics, but only time will tell what will happen.

"If Israel is allowed to be a nuclear weapon state why isn’t Iran?"

Israel has only ever threatened to use their nuclear arsenal ONCE, and that was in 1973 when a cowardly attack on Yom Kippur almost had the Arabs on the verge of their Final Solution dreams. They are there just in case we ever have that situation again. Iran on the other hand, has already stated what its 'dreams' are ... Any country stating it's desire (almost daily) to wipe off another country of the map and at the same time purusing nuclear weapons is a definite red light - at least for us people who can't TAKE A CHANCE that it's actually a deterrent.

"Also, your distate for the UN doesn't fancy me."

UN ... How about non-stop one sided resolutions against Israel with nothing against the radical Muslim atrocities going on world wide? Something against Palestinian suicide bombings? nope. Something against the Saudi slave trade? nope. Anything more than a peep against Darfur? nope. Should we look also at the UN assisted kidnapping of 3 Israeli soldiers in 2000? Or the proof that UNWRA serves as a tool for Hamas to 'educate' their youth? Or how about their 'double' definition of the word 'refugee'? The list goes on and on ...