Friday, July 24, 2009

Netanyahu's Myth of an "Iranian Threat:" An Israeli View

An Israeli political scientist has courageously denounced Israeli politicians for using the myth of an Iranian threat as a "political tool."

As Israeli politicians hype the “Iran threat” in order to cement their tenuous hold on power, remain in the limelight, distract Washington from resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and pressure naïve Congressmen into providing more weapons, an Israeli professor* has the following to say in the Israeli Israeli press about Netanyahu’s myth of Iran threat:

There is no need to hear the repeated declarations by Benjamin Netanyahu, his political allies, his aides (particularly Uzi Arad) and senior officers to know that the state of the Iranian regime and the perception of the looming Iranian nuclear threat has become a political tool for them….

Does Iran indeed pose a real existential threat rather than an imagined existential threat against those states that are threatened by it, particularly Israel?

The answer is that there are three basic reservations regarding these much-talked-about concerns over

First, like other small states,
Iran seeks to attain nuclear weapons in order to deter other nuclear-armed states from attacking it. So if Iran is not attacked, it will not attack.

Iran's goal is primarily to boost its influence in the Muslim world.

Third, and most important, with the exception of two atomic bombs that were needlessly used by none other than the democratic and liberal United States - since Japan was very near surrender - no other country possessing nuclear weapons has used them.

The other reasons for not using nuclear weapons are numerous. The main reason is these states' fears, including
Iran's, of a response by other nuclear-armed countries. Even if any country, including Israel, were to be attacked by an Iranian nuclear weapon, other countries would respond with force. This is not because of the damage that would be caused to the attacked country, but particularly due to the fear that they too would be harmed.

Other reasons for refraining from using nuclear weapons include moral considerations, fear of mistakenly striking allies in the region, concern over widespread destabilization and other related factors.

The conclusion is that even if
Iran attains nuclear weapons, it does not pose a real existential threat to other countries, Israel included. It would behoove Israeli politicians and defense officials to take these considerations into account and cease disseminating statements about the existence of this threat and military operations against Iran.

* The author is Professor Emeritus Gabriel Sheffer, political scientist, retired from Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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