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The Obvious Doesn't Occur to Roger Cohen:

Roger Cohen says that Israel is "crying wolf" about Iran's imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons. He notes that Israeli leaders previously predicted that Iran would acquire such weapons by 1999, and then by 2004. It doesn't seem to occur to Cohen that it's entirely possible that if Israel and its allies had not been engaging in overt and covert efforts to impede Iran, to a large extent at Israel's urging, those predictions may have come true. It's analogous to criticizing Paulsen for crying wolf for predicting the imminent collapse of credit markets last Fall; there's no way of knowing if his prediction would have come true but for the intervention that he urged. Of course, I have no idea as to whether Israel's current predictions are right or not, but neither does Cohen.

Cohen is right, though, that Israeli leaders have engaged in hyperbole about the threat from Iran's bomb. (Politicians engaging in hyperbole regarding national security issues? Imagine that!) The threat from Iran is not (primarily) that it will immolate Tel Aviv and thus gurantee Iran's own destruction, but that it will use its nuclear weapons as blackmail. Just for example, if Iran threatened to nuke a major European city, or allow an affiliated terrorist group to do so, if the Europeans failed to comply with some unreasonable demand or other (say, cutting off all ties with Israel), how confident do you think Mr. Cohen, or anybody else, is that the Europeans wouldn't simply fold? The reaction to the brouhaha over the Mohammed cartoons hardly gives me confidence in European, or even American (remember how newspapers refused to publish the cartoons in stories about the controversy?) fortitude.

UPDATE: James Taranto has some rather sharp words for Cohen. I, too, noticed that Cohen referenced "Israel's hegemony" creating a "kind of slavery," but I charitably attributed it to Cohen getting a bit too revved up on Pharoah/slavery analogies in preparation for his seder.

Comments are open for four hours.

UPDATE: BTW, I never commented on Roger Cohen's ridiculous column in February on Iran's Jews, the inevitable result of a naive (or tendentious) individual interviewing unfree people who are being watched by government agents. It reminded me very much of an incident from my college days. A "peacenik" classmate took a Soviet-sponsored tour of the USSR in the Spring of 1988. When he returned, he assured the school paper that the Jews in the USSR (some of whom he met personally) were very happy to be there, and don't want to leave. A year later, 400,000 of them fled the first chance they got.

Anderson (mail):
The threat from Iran is not (primarily) that it will immolate Tel Aviv and thus guarantee Iran's own destruction, but that it will use its nuclear weapons as blackmail.

This makes no sense. If Iran won't "guarantee its own destruction" by the use of nuclear weapons, then it can't use them for blackmail. Israel can't be blackmailed by a threat it knows Iran won't carry out, and the act of blackmail expressly proves Iranian responsibility if the blackmail *is* carried out -- see "own destruction."
4.10.2009 11:16am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I actually agree with your analysis. It is time that people started to look at this issue more realistically in terms of nukes and their relationship to politics rather than simply spouting off hyperbole as well.

This being said, I don't think that Iran is really in a position to make such threats at the moment. The US could, for example, launch substantial and continued air strikes on Iran in such a case, and tell the world that this is solely to disrupt Iranian ability to carry out such threats. As long as no such threats are occurring, the cost of doing this (from Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan) are much greater than the cost of waiting, but with such a threat, I think we would see military action just short of regime change.
4.10.2009 11:17am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Anderson, wrong on two counts: first, the blackmail, as my example shows, doesn't have to be directed at Israel, but it could be at Europe, Saudi Arabia, etc. Second, the blackmail could be much more subtle--we'll provide nuclear technology to rogue states, we may look the other way as our scientists provide nuclear knowhow to Hezbollah, we'll provide nukes to a terror group in a way that can't be directly traced to us, but that everyone knows we can stop if we really try, and so forth.
4.10.2009 11:19am
Curt Fischer:

Comments are open for four hours.



I think this is an excellent compromise between the burdens of moderation and the learning readers can get from reading (good) comments. Thank you.
4.10.2009 11:22am
grasmere10 (mail):
The possession of a bomb - or even the likelihood of possessing a bomb - would hugely empower the Iranian-controlled military forces that have been inserted into Lebanon on Israel's north, and Gaza on its south. Although Roger Cohen and his sympathizers don't care, these Iranian controlled forces would then be able further to tighten their grip on the Lebanese population and the Palestinian population both of which they now rule by force. Of course, the Palestinians in Gaza could always vote Hamas out of office in the next elections - when are they, by the way?
4.10.2009 11:23am
Gary Anderson (mail):
I think when Iran's leader said they would wipe Israel off the map, you have to look at the translation.

He said "like the USSR has been wiped off the map."

That's a little bit differently than assuming the mushroom cloud over Israel is the country's main intent. I don't think anyone who knows Persians believe that for a moment.

Do they want the country of Israel to go away quickly, the same way it was created and recognized quickly by the UN, and legitimized that way? I suspect so.

But if the Israel supporters think that the country's birth, and the aftermath of the displaced Palestinians is something that can't be discussed, or that there's not an honest viewpoint that wishes it had never been created in such a way, particularly amongst the refugees personally affected whose grievances continue now in the 3rd and 4th generations, then I think they are wishing for other fairy tales other than the one of Peter and the Wolf.

It's good that you keep comments open here David to hear other viewpoints and criticism/analysis of what words and intentions mean. Sometimes we don't hear all nuances when we selectively listen, and we are surprised later when others suggest there were different interpretations not factored in. (see Iraq WMD)
4.10.2009 11:32am
Anderson (mail):
first, the blackmail, as my example shows, doesn't have to be directed at Israel, but it could be at Europe, Saudi Arabia, etc.

None of whom would have any reason to be alarmed, since they would be confident that Iran wouldn't risk the incineration of Tehran, Qom, and any other population center where the people outnumber the jackrabbits.

Second, the blackmail could be much more subtle--we'll provide nuclear technology to rogue states, we may look the other way as our scientists provide nuclear knowhow to Hezbollah, we'll provide nukes to a terror group in a way that can't be directly traced to us, but that everyone knows we can stop if we really try, and so forth.

Subtle, undetectable blackmail isn't blackmail. What exactly is Iran going to compel Israel to do, by the threat of "we'll provide nuke technology to rogue states"? Where's the threat to Israel? The rogue state will or will not get nukes, at which point it will face the same guaranteed destruction as Iran.

Hezbollah does not have the resources to use "knowhow" to build nukes. And the threat to "provide nukes to a terror group that can't be traced to us" would bet Iran's continued existence on the inability to trace a nuke's provenance -- this bets a great deal on the sagacity of a bunch of terrorists, who are not the most reliable folks in the world.

All of these arguments apply equally to the United States, not just Israel. Iran could smuggle a bomb into the U.S. about as easily as Colombians smuggle cocaine here.

I don't find the argument persuasive, but then, I don't already accept the conclusion.
4.10.2009 11:32am
DavidBernstein (mail):
How is Saudi Arabia going to destroy Qom? And do you think U.S. or (especially) European public opinion would allow a nuclear war with Iran to protect Saudi Arabia? Pakistan, btw, has done a pretty good job at blackmailing the U.S. in a variety of subtle ways because of its nukes.
4.10.2009 11:35am
DavidBernstein (mail):
(As, for that matter, has Israel, see the Yom Kippur War airlift, undertaken after Israel made it clear it would defend itself from Egypt with nukes if necessary.)
4.10.2009 11:36am
the_pathogen (mail) (www):
We could always predict Iran's future with 90% accuracy.
4.10.2009 11:37am
Anderson (mail):
How is Saudi Arabia going to destroy Qom?

I'm sorry -- you don't think the U.S. would retaliate with nukes vs. Iran after an unprovoked nuclear attack by Iran on our # 1 Muslim ally? Iran nukes Riyadh, and we just issue a statement that we strongly, strongly condemn the deplorable loss of life?

For that matter, given our hostility towards Iran, I would think the U.S. would have no trouble guaranteeing a nuclear attack on Iran in retaliation for Iran's unprovoked nuclear attack on *any* nation.
4.10.2009 11:41am
Arturito:
To deny that possession of nuclear weapons gives a country an enormous political advantage is to deny the entire history of the cold war.

Now, some will say that a nuclear Iran will just level the playing field against a nuclear Israel. Well, so what. I like democratic Israel to have all the possible advantages against its corrupt and totalitarian neighbors.
4.10.2009 11:43am
Bama 1L:
Israel's nuclear capability dictated the entire course of the 1973 War. The Egyptian and Syrian initial offensives were limited precisely because of fears Israel would go nuclear if there were a major armored breakthrough that threatened the heartland. Of course, once the Israelis mobilized and figured out how to deal with antitank guided missiles, it was all over for the Arabs. Wheedling some support from the Americans was just icing on the cake.
4.10.2009 11:48am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Anderson, wrong question. The question is whether the Saudis, being blackmailed, will take the risk that the Iranians would in fact be deterred by the prospect of U.S. retaliation on the Saudi's behalf if the Saudis don't give in to the blackmail.
4.10.2009 11:50am
Gary Anderson (mail):
Pakistan, btw, has done a pretty good job at blackmailing the U.S. in a variety of subtle ways because of its nukes.
4.10.2009 11:35am
(link)DavidBernstein (mail):
(As, for that matter, has Israel, see the Yom Kippur War airlift, undertaken after Israel made it clear it would defend itself from Egypt with nukes if necessary.)


Wow. I LIKE your honesty here, DB. Keep it up!
4.10.2009 11:53am
hattio1:
Anderson,
I don't agree with Professor Bernstein often when he's posting on Israel, but it really does seem like you're being intentionally obtuse in regards to the whole blackmail thing. Doesn't matter that the US would nuke Iran over them nuking Saudi Arabia. The question is would Saudi Arabia stand up to blackmail, not would the US. Say Iran threatens to give one of the many Islamic terrorist groups which operate in Saudi Arabia nukes. The question is what does Saudi Arabia do? More importantly, does Saudi Arabia's response to more pedestrian issues with Iran change if it knows that Iran has nukes? The answer is almost certainly yes. Look at the difference in the way the US treated Saddam/Iraq for not providing enough evidence they didn't have chemical/biological WMD vs. how we treated North Korea who admitted to having and tested nukes.
4.10.2009 11:53am
DangerMouse:
I'm sorry -- you don't think the U.S. would retaliate with nukes vs. Iran after an unprovoked nuclear attack by Iran on our # 1 Muslim ally? Iran nukes Riyadh, and we just issue a statement that we strongly, strongly condemn the deplorable loss of life?

There is no way in hell America would retaliate with nukes if we were not directly attacked. I doubt even Reagan would do it. Obama sure as hell won't.
4.10.2009 11:53am
hattio1:
That last sentence should end "having and testing nukes."
4.10.2009 11:55am
PC:
The question is whether the Saudis, being blackmailed, will take the risk that the Iranians would in fact be deterred by the prospect of U.S. retaliation on the Saudi's behalf if the Saudis don't give in to the blackmail.

Sure, the US's massive arsenal was enough to deter the Soviet Union, but there's no way it could stand up to the might of Iran.

Threats work when you have the willpower to back them up. When the stakes are as high as issuing nuclear threats you'd better be willing to back them up. I'm sure even Iranian mullahs can count.
4.10.2009 11:56am
Anderson (mail):
Saudis get blackmail message.

Saudis go to U.S. -- "hey, look at this!"

U.S. declares guaranteed retaliation.

I think that would be good enough for the Saudis.

But again, I realize the point is to justify a preemptive attack on Iran -- a foolish step which will not seriously retard the Iranian nuclear program, which will inflame Iran into exactly the kind of aggressive stance v. Israel that Israel claims to fear, and that will encourage Shiite Muslims the world over to beg, borrow, or steal nukes and use them on Israel.

So it's not like there's any possibility of arguing Israel's putative "friends" out of such self-defeating aggression.
4.10.2009 11:57am
Anderson (mail):
hattio1, Pakistan has nukes and is an enemy of India, but I have yet to hear that Pakistan is able to blackmail India with its nukes, including threats to furnish a nuke to a Kashmiri terrorist group. That is because India has nukes and can retaliate vs. Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia does not, presumably, have nukes, but if the U.S. has nukes and will use them on Arabia's behalf, I don't see how that's a relevant difference.

Now, is it in America's interest to retaliate vs. Iran for such an attack, or is it in our interest to allow Iran to blackmail states at will? I don't think that's even a hard question.

DB's contempt for the Europeans notwithstanding, I don't see them bending to nuclear blackmail either. It's not the kind of situation where you can expect the blackmailer to stop after one demand, after all.
4.10.2009 12:03pm
PC:
I'd be curious to hear how the blackmail of a European country would happen. Iran does a successful nuclear test and a few months later France stops doing business with Israel. I'm sure that would go unnoticed on the world stage.
4.10.2009 12:07pm
Anderson (mail):
France has nukes of course, and I imagine nothing would get them on Israel's side of the fence so quickly as a threat from Iran.
4.10.2009 12:11pm
Thales (mail) (www):
I've never thought Cohen was particularly insightful. And I think the U.S. has historically done a lot more crying wolf over WMDs than Israel (Mossad at least seems to have its stuff together).

I think the right question is, given that no one wants Iran to have nukes, how do we (the "civilized" world, or at least the U.S. and Israel) engage? Seymour Hersh has written pretty persuasively that a military attack (even a nuclear attack, which was briefly considered by some in the Pentagon) on Natanz would be disastrous and probably unsuccessful at thwarting Iran long term. Forget the posturing of Iran's idiotic figurehead president (who may well be deposed)--is there reason to doubt the mullahs are rational actors? Given the demographics of Iran's populace, it may well be that long term Iran is the U.S.'s and Israel's most natural *ally* in the Middle East. If Israel's talks with Syria are successful, Iran could be left naked and alone, forced to the bargaining table and make meaningful concessions on nuclear technology. Or we can try to blow everything up--that has worked so well in recent years.
4.10.2009 12:13pm
Anderson (mail):
Giving Israel the same benefit of the doubt I give the mullahs -- i.e., they're not idiots -- I think that Netanyahu's saber-rattling is probably meant to convince Iran that negotiations with the U.S. are in its best interest. (To say nothing of bolstering Netanyahu's domestic appeal.)

I don't think it's necessarily very *effective*, since the mullahs can figure this out as well as some blog commenters.
4.10.2009 12:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
DB.
What did your peacenik buddy say about the 1989 Diaspora?
4.10.2009 12:21pm
levisbaby:
Why should anyone in America care about this issue?
4.10.2009 12:25pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Why should anyone in America care about this issue?"

Because we may be pulled into a regional air or ground war over it.
4.10.2009 12:27pm
James Gibson (mail):
As the engineer here I'll put in my two bits.

To build an implosion bomb you need the following
(1) The ability to shape uranium or plutonium into a sphere.
(2) Expertise in chemical explosives to create an implosion.
(3) A neutron initiator to prime the reaction.
(4) The ability to shape beryllium into a spherical shell.

Outside of the fact you only need about 20 lbs of highly enriched Uranium; if you can do these four things you can make a bomb the yield of the Nagasaki bomb. Iran has the chemical explosive expertise, been found by the IAEA to have the Uranium forming information, and (according to the IAEA) has been experimenting with neutron initiators. Three out of four is enough to make me nervous regardless of Cohen's article.
4.10.2009 12:30pm
PLR:
It doesn't seem to occur to Cohen that it's entirely possible that if Israel and its allies had not been engaging in overt and covert efforts to impede Iran, to a large extent at Israel's urging, those predictions may have come true.

Not exactly the most devastating rebuttal there.
4.10.2009 12:31pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I wonder how DB could persuade a Martian that Iran, which hasn't yet developed nuclear weaponry and has never made an overt threat of nuclear attack, is governed by Mad Mullahs who don't care about their own survival, but Israel, which has nuclear weapons and is even now hinting about attacking Iran is governed by rational actors.

Gary Anderson's 11:53 comment says it all. Double standards are at work here.
4.10.2009 12:32pm
Sagar:
I see now why DB disables comments.
4.10.2009 12:38pm
Sagar:
WSJ's Best of the Web (opinionjournal.com) has addressed Cohen's stupid articles.
4.10.2009 12:39pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm sorry -- you don't think the U.S. would retaliate with nukes vs. Iran after an unprovoked nuclear attack by Iran on our # 1 Muslim ally? Iran nukes Riyadh, and we just issue a statement that we strongly, strongly condemn the deplorable loss of life?
No, I don't think the U.S. would retaliate with nukes vs. Iran after an unprovoked (and what country ever can't advance some claim of provocation?) nuclear attack by Iran on Saudi Arabia. I think it's crazy to think the U.S. would ever use nuclear weapons on Iran, or any other country, unless the U.S. itself was attacked with nuclear weapons.

Hell, the Europeans never really believed the U.S. would use nuclear weapons to defend them against the Soviets in the Cold War.
4.10.2009 12:47pm
ys:

Richard Aubrey:
DB.
What did your peacenik buddy say about the 1989 Diaspora?

I assume the question is whether that person changed his opinion in the face of the evidence to the contrary. Don't know specifically about DB's friend. I know that people from the west who get in thrall of totalitarian propaganda are less likely to change their opinions than people who grew up within that propaganda and learned about the outside world later. The reasons for this are pretty obvious. There are of course exception.
4.10.2009 12:54pm
Dave N (mail):
An hour and half in, and the comments are all well within VC guidelines. I congratulate all--and DB, this does seem like a good compromise, kudos to you.

Substantively, would anyone pay any attention to Roger Cohen if he were not Jewish? I ask that seriously because outside of his own religious heritage, there is nothing unique. There are others out there who share his views but get none of the attention.
4.10.2009 12:55pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Further, let's assume that the leaders of Iran are rational actors, and would never use a nuclear weapon against Israel (or the US) because they would fear nuclear destruction in response.

Do you believe everyone in Iran is a rational actor? That there are no religious nuts there who would welcome shahid -- martyr -- status if it meant destroying Israel (*)? Assuming you agree that there are such people in Iran (**), can you really feel secure that Iran will have the full set of redundancies in place to prevent the rogue use of a nuclear weapon? That nobody in Iran won't mistakenly think that giving a weapon to Hezbollah or Hamas is a clever way to provide deniability?


(*) And let's be clear on this: whatever Israel's second-strike capacity, Israel itself would be destroyed. It's a tiny country. A bomb in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv effectively eliminates Israel.

(**) We know for a fact that there are suicidal Islamists out there, from 19 hijackers to suicide bombers left and right in Hamas, in Baghdad, in Beirut. And let's not forget Iran's "human wave" approach in the Iran-Iraq war
4.10.2009 1:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
ys.
I suppose so. I further suppose I pictured DB (or me) getting in the guy's face, his shirt in my left hand and a report of the outgoing in my right, saying, "What about this, moron, huh? Huh? You got an explanation for this, you lying creep?"
After which he could accept that he was a lying creep who got caught, or a idiot who got owned.
Just so he doesn't think nobody noticed.
Anyway, I don't suppose my view of the answer to my question is any way similar to yours.
4.10.2009 1:04pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
R.A., he wasn't my "buddy," and I graduated in '88, and never ran into him again.
4.10.2009 1:19pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

whatever Israel's second-strike capacity, Israel itself would be destroyed. It's a tiny country. A bomb in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv effectively eliminates Israel.

I've wondered about this before: is putting so many of the world's Jews in a tiny geographic area the best long-term solution for the survival of world Jewry?

Addressing the Cohen article: my Iranian-American friend (born here, but who goes back frequently, as his aunts/uncles/cousins come here) says his family's long-time jeweler is Jewish. So there is at least no stigma about Muslims trading with Jews in Iran.
4.10.2009 1:25pm
Marc W:

I wonder how DB could persuade a Martian that Iran, which hasn't yet developed nuclear weaponry and has never made an overt threat of nuclear attack, is governed by Mad Mullahs who don't care about their own survival, but Israel, which has nuclear weapons and is even now hinting about attacking Iran is governed by rational actors.



Perhaps by pointing out the following:
1) Israel, surrounded by hostile neighbors bent on its destruction has had these weapons for decades without using them.
2) Israel has not made the destruction of its neighbors its goal.
3) While Iran hasn't made an overt threat of nuclear attack, its leaders have talked openly of wiping Israel off the map. Also, consider that as long as Iran officially insists that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, it cannot make overt threats of nuclear attack.
4.10.2009 1:31pm
NowMDJD (mail):
At least one prominent Iranian-- the "moderate" who ran against Ahmedinejad-- advocated nuking Israel. I found this on the web by googling "rafsanjani nuclear Israel" (I don't know how to use the link function, so I pasted the quote.)

RAFSANJANI SAYS MUSLIMS SHOULD USE NUCLEAR WEAPON AGAINST ISRAEL

TEHRAN 14 Dec. (IPS) One of Iran's most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only".

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.
4.10.2009 1:32pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Regardless of whether Cohen paints too rosy a picture of the status of Iran's Jews, culturally the people are a lot less "backward" than the statements of its leaders and outspoken opponents might have you believe. From what I'm told by actual Iranians (both emigres and residents) there are strong political reformist, scientific and secular/commercial values at work, and it's pretty clear that the population at large isn't drinking the theocratic Kool-Aid. It's harder to say the same thing with as much conviction about, say, Saudi Arabia.
4.10.2009 1:33pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
grasmere10:

I think you are closer to the mark, but let's look at a different issue.

Iran, moves troops into Southern Lebanon and threatens nuclear retaliation if their troops are attacked by Israel. How would this factor on the IDF and IAF willingness to target these troops?

There are any number of ways nuclear weapons can be used as supportive instruments as to other strategies.
4.10.2009 1:34pm
rosetta's stones:
Cohen:

"There's time. Those "months" are still a couple of years. What Iran has accumulated is low-enriched uranium. You need highly-enriched uranium for a bomb. That's a leap."


No, it's not a leap, it's the next step. Pakistan got to a nuke a quarter century ago, and Iran can do so quickly if they expend the resources, particularly as it now seems the Chinese are helping them directly. Cohen is a bit off here.

The threat to Israel has a few dimensions. Directly from Iran or its proxies of course, but perhaps more so from the surrounding states, who will nuke up soon after Iran does.

Rest assured the Saudis have stockpiled as much technology and knowhow as A.Q. Khan once provided all takers. They are an oilfare state, and a few nukes could put them out of business, so they will come under Iranian blackmail without outside support. Would a President Ron Paul be sure to provide it? Would the comfortable Saudi princes take that chance? I doubt it.

Problem for Israel is, once the Saudis or perhaps Egypt nuke up, those nukes broaden the threat to them, especially if it causes attitudes to change, as they often do in this region. I remember decades ago, when Hamas was a small, upstart political organization, and Arafat's gang used to taunt them, sorta like: "Those Hamas pussies just pass out food and medicine, but WE KILL JEWS." The roles seem to have swapped now. They could again.

A nuclear Iran presents a potential problem now and on into the future, and it's closer than Cohen thinks. How big of a problem? Solution to it? Not sure. I doubt the US will take military action, as it would likely involve attacking electrical power production/supply to the facilities, and that has a downside with the populace there. And I don't think the Israelis can mount an operation large enough to do it themselves. So I'd guess everybody just kicks the can down the road and hopes for the best.
4.10.2009 1:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Also it doesn't seem correct to me that a single nuclear strike on Israel would destroy their retaliatory capability.
4.10.2009 1:35pm
NowMDJD (mail):
I read the despicable columns by Cohen. He went around in Iran with a government translator, and asked Iranian Jews how things were. Not surprisingly, the Jews told the government agent translating for Cohen that things were peachy for them in Iran. Cohen took this at face value.

When he returned to the US, he spoke at a LA synagogue where Iranian Jewish emigres explained that the presence of government agents might inhibit the frankness of Iranian Jews being interviewed. Cohen's reponse in person there, and later in another NY Times column, was that he stood by his impressions.

For this, he will win the NY Times Walter Duranty award.
4.10.2009 1:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
NowMDJD:

Why I think Ahmedinejad was the better candidate...... It is at least clear where he stands. I don't feel the same about Rafsanjani.
4.10.2009 1:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

A bomb in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv effectively eliminates Israel.


A bomb on Jerusalem which effectively annihilates Israel would also destroy the Dome of the Rock and the Al'Aqsa Mosque. A religious nut probably wouldn't want to do that.....
4.10.2009 1:40pm
ys:

Richard Aubrey:
ys.
I suppose so. I further suppose I pictured DB (or me) getting in the guy's face, his shirt in my left hand and a report of the outgoing in my right, saying, "What about this, moron, huh? Huh? You got an explanation for this, you lying creep?"
After which he could accept that he was a lying creep who got caught, or a idiot who got owned.
Just so he doesn't think nobody noticed.
Anyway, I don't suppose my view of the answer to my question is any way similar to yours.

My experience in such situations unfortunately shows otherwise. People will rationalize. Incidentally, more likely than not Cohen is also aware of the story of the Soviet Jews, unless he deliberately skipped Wiesel's books which is unlikely for a Jewish intellectual over a certain age.
4.10.2009 1:46pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dangermouse:

I agree, but there is another issue that nobody is talking about.

I think that in the world today, for a minor country to use nuclear weapons would be national suicide even without nuclear retaliation. The condemnation from the world would likely be immediate and nearly total. For example, if Israel were to launch targetted nuclear strikes against Iran to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Iran wouldn't have to retaliate to wipe Israel off the map. Boycotts from Europe would accomplish that within a remarkably short time. Indeed one possible strategy Iran might be able to employ here is egging Israel into a nuclear strike against them and therefore beginning the destruction of Israel economically.

Nuclear weapons in Iran would be a game changer for sure, but the role has more to do with how they might be used to support other policies as implicit threats rather than how they would be used for blackmail or an overt attack.
4.10.2009 1:50pm
Ken Arromdee:
I think that in the world today, for a minor country to use nuclear weapons would be national suicide even without nuclear retaliation. The condemnation from the world would likely be immediate and nearly total.

Uh-huh. Condemnation.

Condemnation would consist of some strongly worded statements, followed by "You still have oil? Cool, let's buy some."
4.10.2009 2:17pm
Anderson (mail):
I've wondered about this before: is putting so many of the world's Jews in a tiny geographic area the best long-term solution for the survival of world Jewry?

The irony has been noted before. Gee, the f---ing Nazis almost exterminated us -- let us protect ourselves by moving to a patch of desert surrounded by hostile Muslims! Montana would have been a better choice, but there were some sort of religious issues, I believe.

At least one prominent Iranian-- the "moderate" who ran against Ahmedinejad-- advocated nuking Israel.

A popular canard. Here's the actual speech.

[Israel] is also supported politically in the United Nations and many other places. They also contain Islamic and Arab governments. Israel needs all of those things and the Americans and Britain are meeting its needs. Therefore, we should consider it to be an outgrowth of colonialism and a multi-purpose colonial base. That is where we should start discussing the next point. So the survival of Israel depends on the interests of imperialists and colonialists. So they go together.

The colonialists will keep this base as long as they need it. Now, whether they can do so or not is a separate issue and this is my next point. Any time they find a replacement for that particular instrument, they will take it up and this will come to an end. This will open a new chapter. Because colonialism and imperialism will not easily leave the people of the world alone. Therefore, you can see that they have arranged it in a way that the balance of power favours Israel. Well, from a numerical point of view, it cannot have as many troops as Muslims and Arabs do. So they have improved the quality of what they have. Classical weaponry has its own limitations. They have limited use. They have a limited range as well. They have supplied vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional weapons to Israel. They have permitted it to have them and they have shut their eyes to what is going on. They have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles and suchlike.

If one day ... Of course, that is very important. If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality. Of course, you can see that the Americans have kept their eyes peeled and they are carefully looking for even the slightest hint that technological advances are being made by an independent Islamic country. If an independent Islamic country is thinking about acquiring other kinds of weaponry, then they will do their utmost to prevent it from acquiring them. Well, that is something that almost the entire world is discussing right now.

IOW, a stalemate is the likely result of both Israel's and Iran's having nukes; Iran can't be bullied by the West, is the idea. This is not "advocating nuking Israel," any more than I'm advocating nuking Iran by calling for nuclear devastation thereof if it nukes another country.
4.10.2009 2:17pm
Anderson (mail):
Well, damn, where'd my tags go? 3 grafs after "actual speech" are quoted; last graf is mine.
4.10.2009 2:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
ys
Likely the moron knows the truth and doesn't mind. So he doesn't have to "rationalize". He continues to lie. My goal is to make sure he knows he's bus tid. We know better already.
4.10.2009 2:28pm
Anderson (mail):
Btw, Aubrey, googling "1989 diaspora" didn't help me much -- what's up with that?
4.10.2009 2:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Anderson
DB referred to a peacenik acquaintance of his who went to the USSR on Sov money for a tour. Came back swearing the Sov Jews were in great shape. Also that all we had to fear was Ronald Reagan--inevitable part of the package. The dog-and-pony shows didn't update their material very often.
Next year, 400,000 of the Jews scrammed out of town. I made up the phrase to cover the phenomenon. 400,000 a year out of a small population is enough to merit a formal title.
4.10.2009 2:49pm
Anderson (mail):
Ah so. Thanks!
4.10.2009 2:51pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Condemnation would consist of some strongly worded statements, followed by "You still have oil? Cool, let's buy some."


I disagree. I think it would mean economic isolation from the developed world. Iran is insulated (but not entirely isolated since indirect commerce and economic effects are still possible[1]) from the US economy. A nuclear strike would mean a move from unsulation to isolation. There is a big difference.

[1] Export rules prohibit direct commerce and export to Iran. However these rules have substantive gaps in my industry. For example, publication doesn't equal export. Furthermore I don't see any regulation preventing an American from buying stock in a Canadian company that does business with Cuba for example, but I don't think Americans could have controlling shares and allow such trade to continue. This is one reason why global consensus on trade sanctions matters and why the distinction between isolation and insulation matters.
4.10.2009 2:54pm
Marc W:
Last!
4.10.2009 3:00pm
Anderson (mail):
Penultimate, Marc W, penultimate ...?
4.10.2009 3:04pm
Anderson (mail):
Iran, moves troops into Southern Lebanon

Paratroopers?
4.10.2009 3:06pm