Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gog and [Gog and Gog and...] Magog

We heard that before [Gog?] Bush left office, he would for sure strike against Israel's enemies. Now we hear before elections, [Gog?] Obama will certainly strike Israel's enemies!?

Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program resume in Turkey this weekend, attended by delegates from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. Not much is likely to happen. The big obstacle is this: The Iranians want a pocketful of nuclear weapons. Or, more to the point: The Iranians have always aspired to be the major power in their region. Several of the region's powers - Israel, Pakistan, and India - have nukes, so Iran wants some too. What many people are reluctant to admit is that Iran would want these nukes even if the country weren't run by mullahs. Back in the early 1970s, when President Richard Nixon stepped up foreign arms sales (in part to spread American influence in the Third World, in part to shore up the trade balance), Henry Kissinger told the shah of Iran that he could buy any weapon in the U.S. arsenal. The shah asked for a Polaris submarine, which carried 16 nuclear missiles. (Kissinger had to tone down the offer: any weapon except nukes.) Still, if Iran's leaders were Western-leaning democrats, their nuclear program would be less worrisome. In 2006, when India was openly seeking to expand its nuclear arsenal, President George W. Bush not only declined to protest, he sold Delhi the supplies (as part of a "global partnership" pact) and declared it to be "a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology" and thus eligible for the same benefits as a state that had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (even though India was one of just three countries in the world that hadn't). Iranian leaders no doubt followed this story closely and drew from it the lesson that the United States was troubled not so much by Iranian nukes as by the Iranian regime. This being the case, if the Iranians' nuclear program has a military dimension (as it almost certainly does), one motive driving it is the old-fashioned doctrine of deterrence: They want a nuclear arsenal in part to deter their enemies, chiefly the United States and Israel, from launching an attack on their regime. None of this is to say that Iran's nuclear ambitions are purely defensive - or defensible. The danger, in large part, is the regime. It's not a good thing for weapons of mass destruction to wind up in the hands of messianic fundamentalists. Even so, it's extremely unlikely that a nuclear-armed Iran would one day, out of the blue, start dropping bombs or firing missiles at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For one thing, whatever the status of Iran's nuclear-enrichment program, they are probably years away from turning an explosive device into a weapon, miniaturizing it to fit inside a warhead, and installing the warhead on top of a missile heavy enough to deliver it over a long distance with accuracy. For another thing, Israel is believed to possess up to 200 nuclear weapons. It's a reasonable guess that they are dispersed, heavily protected, some of them mobile, perhaps at sea, and connected to redundant command-control networks so that, even if the capital is destroyed, the surviving weapons can still be launched. In other words, if Iran lobs some nukes at Israel, Israel can be counted on to blow Iran to smithereens. The Iranian leaders surely know this: They may sponsor suicide bombers, but they're not suicidal themselves. There were several times during the Cold War when America's finely tuned radars mistook a flock of geese for a flight of Soviet missiles or when a software glitch produced a false warning of an attack. In all these instances, the leaders could afford to wait a bit to see how the signals panned out. According to David Hoffman's frightening book "The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy," there was an incident in 1983 when a Soviet early-warning satellite picked up signals of an American missile attack. The signal in this case was never straightened out; the system kept warning of an attack all the way until the point when the warheads would have exploded, had there really been an attack. Luckily, the Soviet lieutenant colonel at the monitoring station, thinking that this couldn't really be happening, decided - on his own authority - to tell his commander that it was a false alarm and, therefore, there was no need to launch the Soviets' own ICBMs. He was lying: According to the warning system, the attack was real. But by lying, he probably prevented World War III. It's not at all clear that an Iranian or Israeli officer would keep his cool under similar circumstances - especially if the false warning coincided with a diplomatic crisis or a military exercise or some other moment of extraordinary tension. The bad news is that, for the Iranians to give up such a high-profile trump card, they need to get something in return - a suspension of sanctions, a guarantee of security, something that's tangible and valuable. Is there some deal - even hypothetically - that is, at once, worthwhile to the Iranians and acceptable to the Israelis? That's the key question; it's hard to envision such a thing. In fact, if the Israelis really are intent on attacking the Iranian nuclear facilities, they're likely to do so before this November's American presidential elections. If they started an attack and needed U.S. firepower to help them complete the task, Barack Obama might open himself up to perilous political attacks - for being indecisive, weak, appeasing, anti-Israel, you name it - if he didn't follow through. It could cost him the votes of crucial constituencies. If the Israelis tried to pressure the United States into joining an attack after the election, Obama would have more flexibility. So, to the extent the Israeli leaders have decided to attack - and it's not at all clear they have - they are probably thinking: much better sooner than later. Maybe the negotiations will be worth following, after all.
Email for Fred Kaplan, who wrote this for Slate:

The Wish of Novelty: To See Something New! [in 5772!]

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Dov Bar-Leib said...

Actually it is an open secret that the bulk of Israel's nuclear arsenal is in the vicinity of a Kibbutz named Zecharia (close to Beit Shemesh). quite a name for a kibbutz with a powerful punch of nuclear warheads. It almost makes one's eyes melt in their sockets just thinking about it.

Plus with so many Gogs starting with PM. Lloyd Gog who conquered Jerusalem from the Turks during WW1, continuing with Gog H. W. Bush Sr. and then Gog W. ben Gog Bush Jr., one has to wonder why three were not enough. I thought the medrashim said that we would only have to deal with three of them. Perhaps we screwed up so royally in 5765 by having actual men parading as Torah scholars actually enabling Sharon's evil government that midway through Gog W. Jr.'s Gogship, we sent the Geulah process into a post- Gog Shmittah Cycle in the spiritual sewer. The War against Terror did start on Hoshana Rabba 5762 with the aerial bombing of Afghanistan, the first year of a Shmittah Cycle, just as the Vilna Gaon predicted. Yet, the Gaon said that the end of the Gogster was supposed to be in the first year of the next Shmittah cycle, 5769. True to form Gog W. Jr. did leave office in disgrace at that time, but he is still alive and kicking and he is nowhere near buried in Eretz Yisrael. So we seem to have entered this present Shmittah cycle with an anti- Gog type personality, Obuzzard. Rather than wanting to preserve the wealth of Edom, Obuzzard is kind of a carrion eater. He wants to destroy his own country to disperse its wealth amongst the 3rd world. a very strange Gog indeed. Because we behaved like such sewer dwellers in 5765, we seem to be a Shmittah Cycle of Geulah while swimming in a sewer. The poop of the jackass is all over our faces, and no one has the human decency to sneeze.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

forgot to subscribe to comments.

Tzvi Bar-Rashbi said...

PLease go to rashbi 2012

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