January 27, 2012
Ronen Bergman’s front page NY Times Magazine feature story this week is important, but not for the reasons you might think. It is important not because it offers a constructive approach regarding urgent matters of the day, except possibly in a negative sense. In it, rather, we hear of all the common delusions and misconceptions of the main Israeli policymakers like Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who will make the decision to bomb Iran. We hear relatively little (except towards the end) from those within Israel who argue against an attack, and when we do hear from them Bergman allows them to speak mostly second-hand through his paraphrase rather than in their own words. This has the effect of minimizing the weight of opinion they offer.
When we do hear directly from Dagan, it is towards the end of the piece, well after numerous opposing sources have contradicted the premises of his thinking. For every one source the Israeli security reporter uses who opposes war, he brings two or three holding opposite views. Frankly, I’m not surprised at this since Bergman is a fan of a robust projection of Israeli interests, especially projections of military and security might, against its enemies. What I am surprised and disappointed about is the decision of NY Times editors to allow such a heavily weighted view to be offered to its readers.
But understanding the thinking, wrong as it may be, of the Israeli hawks is important and useful. It allows us to rebut and combat their logic with those in the public who retain an element of realism about the consequences of war against Iran.
Here are some of the most dubious passages in which the Israelis betray wishful thinking, rather than sober or serious insight. He quotes Bogie Yaalon, one of Israel’s most aggressive hawks, as claiming that Iran will actually introduce one of its own nuclear devices into the U.S.:
“The Iranian regime will be several times more dangerous if it has a nuclear device in its hands,” he went on. “One that it could bring into the United States. It is not for nothing that it is establishing bases for itself in Latin America and creating links with drug dealers on the U.S.-Mexican border. This is happening in order to smuggle ordnance into the United States for the carrying out of terror attacks. Imagine this regime getting nuclear weapons to the U.S.-Mexico border and managing to smuggle it into Texas, for example. This is not a far-fetched scenario.”
This is so incredibly far-fetched as to separate Yaalon, one of Israel’s most serious security policymakers, from reason. It makes you wonder how a country can allow someone so deluded, so Strangelovian to have his finger anywhere near the nuclear button.
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