The U.S. and Israel on Iran
By Jerome Grossman
The United States of America and the State of Israel are the closest of allies, sharing intelligence, weapons, military research, among many other joint ventures. They support each other's policies at the United Nations and other international venues with only rare exceptions.
Policy on Iran may be one of those rare exceptions. Responsible Israeli officials have made their positions clear: Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and Iranian protestations that their development of nuclear power is only for civilian electricity is not to be believed. Furthermore, that Iranian President Ahmedinejad's threat "to wipe Israel off the map" represents Iranian policy.
Some Israeli leaders want to launch a preemptive attack. Israeli official Shaul Mofaz said recently, "If Iran continues its program to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it."
In a New York Times op-ed, July 18, 2008, Benny Morris, an influential moderate and former Israeli official warned, "Israel will almost surely attack Iran's nuclear sites in the next four to seven months."
Recently, the Israeli Air Force conducted a massive war game over the Mediterranean that was interpreted as a demonstration of Israeli ability to mount a serious and effective attack on Iranian installations.
However, US policy now seems to be headed in another direction. In the past, American policy placed Iran in the Axis of Evil, condemned it as a terrorist regime, passed a resolution in the U.S. Senate demanding regime change, appropriated money for Iranian dissidents, and refused to establish any diplomatic contact with the Iranian government.
Now, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says, “We are not planning for a war with Iran,” Admiral Mike Mullen Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff supports him. Accusations of Iranian interference in Iraq have diminished. Most importantly, the Bush administration is planning to establish an American diplomatic presence in Iran for the first time since Iranian extremists seized American hostages and occupied the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Is the US sending a message to Israel not to attack Iran? Is the US sending a message to Middle East nations disassociating itself from an Israeli attack? Has US intelligence decided that the Israelis are serious in their threats?
The effects of an Israeli - Iran war would be world wide. The Muslim world would explode and attack western interests everywhere they could. Rulers of Muslim nations friendly to the west and clients of the US might be overthrown. The price of oil would probably reach $400 per barrel assuming that any oil at all would be shipped to the west. Worldwide energy shortages and commercial disruption would likely cause a financial collapse.
The stakes could not be higher, considering that Barack Obama told the US Israeli lobby AIPAC on June 4, "My goal will be to eliminate the threat (to Israel) posed by Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Pause) Everything. The pause is scary.