Jewish World ReviewJune 8, 2008 / 5 Sivan 5768
Joschka Fischer is not a Neo Con Republican, nor is he an Israeli. Mr. Fischer served as Germany’s Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and led Germany’s Green Party for almost twenty years. His profile is neither that of an alarmist, nor a war monger. In a recent article Mr. Fischer wrote the following, in referring to Iran and the Middle East:
"Iran’s nuclear program is the decisive factor in this equation, for it threatens irreversibly the region’s strategic balance. That Iran – a country whose president never tires of calling for Israel’s annihilation and which threatens Israel’s northern and southern borders through its massive support of proxy wars waged by Hezbollah and Hamas – might one day have missiles with nuclear warheads is Israel’s worst security nightmare. Politics is not just about facts, but also about perceptions. Whether or not a perception is accurate is beside the point, because it nonetheless leads to decisions."
In addition to Iran’s aforementioned calls for Israel’s destruction, upon what are these perceptions to which Mr. Fischer refers based? First of all, there is the most recent National Intelligence Estimate which states that contrary to Iran’s repeated denials, that country was engaged in a clandestine program whose goal was precisely the development of a nuclear weapon. The NIE came to the conclusion that the program to weaponize uranium came to an end in 2003. That report might provide some comfort except for one troubling fact, and that is that the IAEA has been unable to get Iran to explain a set of documents in its possession which claim to show the Iranian government not only proceeding with a nuclear weapons program into March 2004, but which purports to contain the design for a warhead. The IAEA, which is also not peopled by Neo Cons, nor Israelis, and is an ever cautious organization, expressed "serious concern" that after a five year probe the IAEA is no closer to determining the full nature of Iran’s nuclear program. IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei has accused Iran of withholding key information that could shed light on the alleged studies, which were purported to have been found on a seized lap top. "A simple rejection by Iran of this information as not authentic, forged or fabricated, is neither credible nor acceptable given the quality and quantity of the documents," said the Slovenian member of the IAEA. Indeed the allegations have been backed up by intelligence from ten different countries.
There are three legs upon which a nuclear weapons program rests: uranium enrichment, weaponization, and a delivery system. The easiest component of the three is by far that of weaponization. Iran does not deny that it is racing ahead with its enrichment program which it claims will be solely for civilian use. This of course is in a country with one of the largest oil reserves in the world and thus one of the least in need of a civilian nuclear energy program.
The third component is that of a delivery system. The Iranians are currently developing a rocket which will have a four thousand kilometer range. There quite simply is no military purpose for a rocket that has that range unless it is tipped with a nuclear warhead. But more troubling perhaps for Europeans like Mr. Fischer is the fact that a four thousand kilometer range is not necessary if all Iran wants to do is hit Israel.
Today, Iran effectively has occupied through its terrorist army proxies of Hezbollah and Hamas, both Lebanon and the Gaza strip. A missile launched from either of those two territories with a four thousand kilometer range could hit any place in the Mediterranean basin; any target in France, Italy, Greece, Germany and indeed London as well. A nuclear Iran would be able to shut off every drop of Middle Eastern oil with impunity. It could economically bring Europe to its knees in a heartbeat and, should any European country or NATO attempt to retaliate, all of its capitals would be within range of Iran’s nuclear arsenal. Mutual Assured Destruction does not work when it comes to Iran. Ahmadinejad is not only not deterred by Mutual Assured Destruction; his statements would indicate that he welcomes it as the means of bringing the Hidden Imam out of his cave and ushering in a new Apocalyptic and Messianic era. The dream of a restored Persian Empire or Shiite Caliphate stretching from the Persian Gulf to Spain is not a pipe dream if Iran possesses the ability to shut off Europe’s oil and even a modest nuclear arsenal with which to retaliate against any steps taken to deter it.
During the Hezbollah/Israel war in 2006 an Israeli officer was widely quoted as saying in regard to Hezbollah, "We have not cured the cancer that is Hezbollah, but we have put it into remission." The rest of the quote however went largely under reported. It read as follows, "Now it will be up to the International Community and the Government of Lebanon to make sure that cancer stays in remission." It is now clear that both the International Community and Lebanon failed to achieve that goal. For all intents and purposes, Lebanon is no longer a sovereign government, rather it is Iranian occupied territory with Iran’s proxy terrorist army Hezbollah having veto power over every government decision.
During that 2006 Hezbollah/Israel war, some analysts drew an analogy with that conflict and the Spanish Civil War. In both conflicts, it was argued, a fascist power fought a proxy war to test both new techniques and weaponry as well as international resolve. The Hezbollah/Israel war was in a sense the first "rocket war." By that I mean that a weaker military power was, through the use of rocketry, able to leap frog over an opposing superior military force, and strike at civilian targets on the home front, while hiding behind its own civilians in order to minimize retaliation on the one hand, and manufacture martyrs for the cause on the other hand. The calculus was a simple one: Hezbollah fired almost exclusively upon innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind innocent Lebanese civilians. To the extent that it deterred Israeli retaliation, it was a success. To the extent that the Israelis retaliated and hit Lebanese civilians, it was an even greater success. It performed the very neat trick of bestowing upon terrorists, the mantle of victimhood.
But if the 2006 Israel/Hezbollah war was analogous to the Spanish Civil War, was there something even more ominous in the future? Was there something analogous to Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia and Europe’s failure to confront him before he was an almost unstoppable force? The answer to that question became apparent this May in five days of negotiations in Qatar. It will be remembered that in 1939 Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetan land, with the reason being, his desire for the German minority in Czechoslovakia to be reunited with their homeland. It was not aggression; it was simply an action to protect the German minority.
In May of this year, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, made a similar demand on the sovereignty of Lebanon. Hezbollah launched its own Lebanese version of Blitzkrieg and quickly gained control of Beirut. In Qatar their demands eerily echoed those of the Third Reich. Hezbollah would, in effect, be granted a veto power over every decision of the Lebanese government. Hezbollah’s candidate for president would be granted that office and the pro Western Prime Minister would be out. The International Community basically sat by while the government of Lebanon became a Hezbollah puppet, much the same as Czechoslovakia was ceded by Europe to Hitler in 1939.
Winston Churchill was one of the few who did not applaud Chamberlain’s and Hitler’s accord. In the House of Commons he delivered a speech which echoes down to us in chilling tones, "You will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years but which may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi regime… we have passed an awful milestone in our history when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western Democracies; ‘Though art weighed in the balance and found wanting.’ And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup…"
All of this brings us to the next question. If events in the Middle East have been analogous to the Spanish Civil war and the end of Czechoslovakian sovereignty is there something in the offing analogous to the Nazi invasion of Poland which was the final trip wire before Europe itself was engulfed in a life and death struggle?
I believe the answer tragically is yes. Israel’s latest Military Intelligence Estimate is that Iran will master centrifuged technology by the end of the year. This would mean that Iran could have a nuclear weapon by the end of 2010. According to Josckah Fischer, "With the approaching end of the Bush presidency and uncertainty about his successor’s policy, the window of opportunity for Israeli action is seen as potentially closing… The Middle East is drifting toward a new great confrontation in 2008. Iran must understand that without a diplomatic solution in the coming months, a dangerous military conflict is very likely to erupt."
The problem however is not one of what Iran does or does not understand. The problem is that either the democracies will enact the type of tough sanctions, both economic and diplomatic, which will compel Iran to forgo its nuclear ambition, or they will not.
Should diplomacy fail to stop Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon, the State of Israel will be faced with the most terrible and most basic decision which can face any democracy: kill or be killed. Use military means to eliminate the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon or be annihilated by it. Military action against Iran would be fraught with a number of Pandora’s Boxes, all of which could be blown open by the shockwave of such an attack. Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah acting out of Lebanon, and Hamas acting out of Gaza could rain down rockets on Israel’s North and its Southwest. In addition, at least some of Hezbollah’s rockets are estimated to be able to hit Tel Aviv. Syria, as well, may join in the conflict. Iran could be expected to use its long range rockets and Israel could be facing a four front war. In addition, the governments of Egypt and Jordan could be destabilized by militant Islamists seeing an opportunity to overthrow those governments in solidarity with Iran. In fact, military action to take out Iran’s nuclear capability is the very worst thing Israel could do with only one exception: not doing it.
A four front war would be terrible.
An Iranian nuclear weapon would be annihilation for Israel… and later, just as surely as World War II followed the invasion of Poland, it would mean a life and death struggle for Europe. The people of Israel are only too familiar with the Polish experience in the face of fascist aggression. Given a choice between kill or be killed, it will choose not to die. In so doing, it may well save the West from ever having to make that awful choice.