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April, 2003

What Will Israel Do If Attacked? Next Target, Iran
By Jim Scanlon

A long and thoughtful article on how Israel might retaliate if attacked with non conventional weapons, appeared in the March 22nd edition of Ha'aretz, a leading Israeli newspaper. The article, "Corridors of Power: Who would give the go ahead?" raises the question of whether the US can ever allow Israel to become directly involved in a war with its neighbors without risking a nuclear holocaust.

The author, Uzi Benziman, who wrote a highly critical biography--one might say and indictment--of Ariel Sharon, discusses the uncertainty of any agreement between the US and the Sharon government on what, if any, response Israel might make if attacked by Iraq as it was in 1991 during the last Oil War, Gulf War I.

It is well known that Bush the elder went to great lengths to keep Israel out of Oil War I to keep his coalition of Arab states from defecting and that Saddam Hussein and his generals tried without success to goad Israel into attacking by launching dozens of SCUD missiles armed with conventional warheads. Why the Iraqis did not use chemical, biological or radioactive agents against Israel is not known, and one can only speculate on what Prime Minister Shamir would have done to cause the "major disaster" he threatened if attacked with non conventional weapons. Would he have used atomic weapons?

What Israel would do right now, and how and who might make that decision is a major theme in Benziman's article. He speculates that the US might have figured that if Iraq attacked with chemical and, or, biological weapons, "Israel would instinctively desire to punish the attacker so severely that the consequences would be seared for generations into the consciousness of the nations of the region and the entire world," which is to say, it might use atomic weapons.

What seems to bother Benziman is that the committees that would decide what to do is composed of relatively inexperienced members who would tend to be dominated by Sharon who, "...has so far been responsible and restrained ...[but]...on more than one occasion ... has reacted in the heat of anger to (conventional) terror attacks that caused heavy casualties ...[and has been]... inclined to approve severe reprisal actions..."

Benziman reports that even a few days before the US invasion of Iraq there had not been a meeting or a decision on guidelines for an Israeli response, if attacked, nor was there any understanding on who would make the decision.

Should Israel respond or leave a response to the US? Should there be a response, "and hurt the Iraqi people," after Saddam is eliminated? If Israel does not respond, will it harm its deterrent credibility? What kind of weapon should be used? Should it respond in kind? [An eye for an eye]. Should Israel refrain from responding, " [and]...avoid joining the club or rogue nations and insure the West's continued acquiescence in Israel's possession of the nuclear option?" Should it respond when US and UK armies are still in Iraq?

Certainly grave questions which affect the lives and welfare of everyone on the planet and demonstrate the gravity of the Anglo American Israeli gamble.

The Next Target: Iran

It has been clear for some time now that Iran had been supporting and encouraging attacks on Israel forces in the now defunct security buffer zone along the Lebanese border as well as encouraging Palestinian suicide attacks and attempting to supply anti tank rockets to Palestinian forces in Gaza. Benziman writes of suspicions that Iranian agents are attempting to subvert the government of Jordan with the complicity of the Syrian government and is encouraging radicals in the Palestinian Authority and among Arabs in Israel proper. Iran is also believed to be developing nuclear weapons.

Benziman asks, "Why is he [Bush] passing over Iran when the smoking gun is there for all to see...?

Argentinean authorities recently indicted four Iranian diplomats in the bombings of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the Jewish Cultural Center in 1994 in which 29 and 85 people were killed . The president of Iran and its supreme spiritual leader are implicated. The president of Argentina at that time, Carlos Menem, of Lebanese descent, has been accused of accepting a US $2 million bribe to cover up Iranian involvement.

Benziman writes, "After the war, Israel will try to convince the US to direct its war on terror at Iran, Damascus and Beirut...[and] ... there is a good chance that America will be swayed by the Israeli argument." (See Coastal Post "Sharon Says US Should Disarm Iran, Libya and Syria" March 2003.)

 

 

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