In an editorial Thursday, the L.A. Times argues against U.S. acquiescence to an Israeli attack on Iran. The editorialists write:
There are a dozen reasons why “If you want to whack them, we’ve got your back” is the wrong message for the U.S. to send Israel, publicly or privately.
One is the increase in oil prices as a result of the war talk, which only enriches Iran. But here are two better ones: The consequences of an Israeli war with Iran are unpredictable, and it is nearly impossible to assess Iran’s ability to make good on its threats to retaliate against the United States, presumably through its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. The last thing the U.S. needs now is more instability, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael G. Mullen said Wednesday. And while the odds may be low that diplomacy will solve the problem, we can’t know for sure because we haven’t tried it. Only the Europeans have. If bilateral talks with nuclear North Korea were acceptable to Bush, then why is it still anathema to talk with Iran?
The consequences of an Israeli war with Iran may be unpredictable, but the consequences for Israel of a nuclear-armed Iran are less unpredictable.
Sure, Iran might go nuclear and not attack the Jewish state, but is that a risk Israel can afford to take? Even if Iran held off from attacking Israel – which may be the likelier scenario, were Iran to go nuclear – the Islamic Republic would be able to brandish its nuclear threat over Israel like a mobster with a baseball bat. Is that something with which Israel would be able to live?
As for the oil reason, what’s worse: Expensive gas, or a nuclear-armed Iran? The warmongering serves the free world well, because it’s one more method to get Iran to quit its nuclear program that doesn’t involve actually bombing the place. Thus, regardless of whether or not President Bush actually would give Israel the green light to bomb Iran, it’s helpful that it appears as if he would.
For more on the degree to which rising oil prices are related to Iran-Israel tension, stay tuned for Ron Kampeas’ piece on the subject in JTA (coming out later today).
Meanwhile, Ha’aretz’s Avi Shavit writes that the scenario of Israel attacking Iran in the sunset of Bush’s presidency (which our Ron Kampeas wrote about here), may be far-fetched, but there’s so much at stake that Israel needs to get its ducks in a row just in case. The conclusion: Israel needs new elections now.