‘Ever more and ever less’
I AM writing with reference ‘Ever more and ever less’ by Karen J Greenberg, director of the Centre on National Security, Fordham Law School (March 23).
Karen Greenberg misses the real picture when she writes: ‘Meanwhile, the drumbeat for war with Iran continues to build. Faced with the prospect of an Israeli attack on the Islamic republic, the Obama administration has refused to definitively back away from the prospect of becoming part of that war.’ She fails to realise that it is Iran which is beating the drumbeat of war.
Iran is still to explode a nuclear bomb and yet its President Ahmadinejad has been threatening to wipe out Israel from the face of the earth. Although Israel is militarily, technologically and economically strong, it remains fragile on many fronts. Its tiny population of 8 million and tiny territory of 8,000 square miles are overshadowed by Iran’s 70 million people and a huge territory of about 300,000 square miles. In any first nuclear strike by Iran, Israel may not survive to launch its nuclear counter-strike. In any case, Israel would suffer far more than Iran with its large population and huge landmass. As such, Israel cannot rely on containment as practised by the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Both the US and the Soviet Union have comparative sizes and populations to survive any first nuclear strikes to launce their retaliatory strikes.
Iran has also been threatening to unleash its Hezbollah surrogates against Israel. As reported by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Mohammed Hejazi, the deputy chief of Iran’s armed forces, hinted that Tehran could order proxy militias in Lebanon and Gaza to fire rockets into Israel. ‘We are no longer willing to wait for enemy action to be launched against us,’ he told Iran’s Fars news agency on February 21.
Why is Iran provoking Israel? The short answer is Syria, where its client regime of Bashar Assad is facing a revolt by the Syrian people. Iranian mullahs must be worried that the Syrian unrest may spill over to Iran where the Iranian people tried earlier to overthrow the regime by democratic means. The regime thwarted them first by rigging the election and then by brutally suppressing the protestors; however, it must be worried that the Iranian people might rise up again if the Syrian people are successful. So a war with Israel will come handy to rally the people and take the attention away from Syria. It would also allow the Syrian regime to brand the anti-Assad groups as Israeli agents.
Iran has also steadily built up the rocket arsenals of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, after both were depleted during military operations by Israel in 2006. Both Hezbollah and Hamas are now believed to have tens of thousands of rockets capable of reaching cities deep inside Israel. While Israel, situated far away, cannot invade Iranian territory, Iran can unleash Hezbollah and Hamas sitting right across Israeli borders.
Clearly, Israel realises this and this is why Israel, despite concerns about Iran’s nuclear threat, has not carried out any pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. In fact, Israel might have missed an opportunity in 2007 when Hezbollah and Hamas were decimated and Iran’s nuclear programme was at its infancy. Now both Israel and the United States have become pawns in Iran’s military and strategic manipulations. Iran knows that the United States has been bruised by two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and badly battered by economic collapse and it cannot afford to join any war with Iran. Moreover, any war with Iran will lead to enormous spike in oil prices and consequent collapse of the US economy. If this happens, even a dummy can defeat President Barack Obama. As such, Obama has far more reasons to back away from the prospect of getting involved in any war with Iran.
Moreover, the sanction against Iranian oil is working — against the United States. It is keeping oil prices high and adding to the coffer of Iran. Many countries are circumventing the sanction against Iranian oil. India, the biggest importer of Iranian oil, continues to import from Iran. The present tension in the Middle East is clearly hurting the United States, while helping Iran. However, there is a non-violent way to prevent Iran from going nuclear. Iran is completely dependent on oil revenues to bankroll its expensive nuclear programme. If Saudi Arabia, which also feels threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran, can be persuaded to increase its oil production dramatically, it can bring down the oil prices drastically, bankrupting Iran. And Iran will be forced to abandon its nuclear program for lack of funds.
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