Iran and Israel

The other thread is getting derailed, so here’s what I think about Israel, Iran, and existential threats.

1. Iran is ruled by a conservative rather than radical establishment. Conservative establishments can and do seek domination – both sides in the Cold War were behaviorally conservative – but usually not destruction. Iran’s ruler is Khamenei, a conservative cleric who, while much closer in views to Ahmadinejad than to Khatami, has often clashed with Ahmadinejad’s radical mentor, Mesbah Yazdi. Such a leader is unlikely to launch a first strike against a nuclear power.

2. There is no immediate existential threat to Israel. Palestine and Syria are too militarily weak and plagued by internal problems to threaten Israel’s existence. Hezbollah is an elite task force rather than an infantry. Iran shares no border with Israel from which to attack on the ground, and will not use nuclear weapons first.

3. Threats to security need not be existential. Hezbollah-style harassment is a military issue. Palestinian terrorism is to some extent, though Israel makes too little use of detective work. Having Syria and Iran as enemies necessitates a larger military than 2% of GDP.

4. Although the Occupation is the source of some of Israel’s problems, it’s not the source of all or even all military ones. Nasser scapegoated Israel years before the Six Day War. Syria and Lebanon are an entirely separate issue, and Iran is yet a third one (Hezbollah is pro-Iranian, but it poses a different kind of problem from Iran). The largest financial drain of the Occupation isn’t military spending, but subsidies to civilian settlers. In fact, an independent Palestine without a lasting peace agreement with Israel will not enable Israel to reduce its military spending by a shekel.

9 Responses to Iran and Israel

  1. silly says:

    I’m 64 years old and can not remember a when the Israel/Arab conflict was not at or near the center of attention. I’m so tired of it that when any news comes on about it, I immeadiately switch channels or turn off. Israel is not the center of the world. That tiny little country that I understand has fewer Jews than New York should not be the center of attention that it is in the Media. The USA has it’s own problems and the Media should mind our own business. The Israel/Arab conflict has been going on for thousands of years and probably will continue for thousands more because both sides want it that way. It is not news.

  2. SLC says:

    Re Levy

    The notion that Amadinejad and the whackjob mullahs behind him would not be willing to sacrifice several million Iranians in exchange for removing Israel from the map may be true. However, given the rhetoric coming from Tehran, it’s not something I would be willing to bet the ranch on, which is exactly what the Government of Israel will be doing if it allows Iran to be come a nuclear power. The notion that Government of Iran doesn’t mean what it says is all too reminiscent of the attitude toward Hitler in the 1930s.

  3. Bushbaptist says:

    This issue will go around in circles for years.
    Hezbollah is Shia (So is Iran), Syria is Sunni as is Jordan, Egypt is a basket case.
    You are quite right Alon, the Occupation isn’t all the reason there is strife, just one of the reasons. Sharon didn’t pull out of Gaza because he was being nice to the Palestinians, it was the cost of keeping a full scale army in there that was prohibitive. From cost-effectiveness his decision was the right one.
    We out here in the rather significant 95% of the world’s population have more to be concerned about is Bush and the whackjob mullahs he has behind him not Iran.
    Too much paranoia especially in the US, Amadinejad is a nutcase but he’s not suicidal and he is aware that any attack (nuke or otherwise) on Israel would bring down the wrath of the rest of us and his country would glow in the dark.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    Silly, for some reason your IP is the same as this of a long-term spambot. Sorry about taking time to approve your comment. I post about the I/P conflict because having grown up in the region, I know more about it than about conflicts in Iraq or Somalia or Venezuela or Chechnya. For me it’s an issue of blogging comparative advantage.

    SLC, the difference between Hitler and Ahmadinejad is level of control. Hitler had broad powers as Chancellor, and served under a senile President. After the said senile President died in 1934, Hitler became F├╝hrer and got powers more expansive than even Khamenei’s. Ahmadinejad is serving under a strong Supreme Leader who had no trouble asserting his power when Khatami was President. The actions of Iran suggest to me that the appropriate comparison is not to Hitler, but to Stalin and Khrushchev.

    Bushbaptist, Sharon pulled out of Gaza because he needed to distract the public from his corruption scandals. He was too hawkish to care about costs; the government’s spending-cutting Reaganite, Netanyahu, was vocally opposed to the withdrawal and tried mounting an intra-party coup that led to Sharon’s leaving and founding his own party.

  5. SLC says:

    Re Levy

    As I previously stated, Mr. Levy may be right and Amadinejad and the mullahs behind him may be full of hot air. Mr. Levy is willing to bet the ranch on that from the safety of New York City. I am not willing to bet the ranch on that from the safety of Falls Church nor do I think that the Israeli Government should bet the ranch on that from the unsafety of Jerusalem.

  6. Men's Rights Advocate says:

    To SLC: Please note that the Israeli left (to which Alon seems to belong) is as unrealistically devoted to appeasement of Islam as the European and American left.

    (No, I don’t think Bush’s approach any better-informed, nor any wiser.)

  7. Alon Levy says:

    If opposing bombing Arab civilians is appeasement, then so is opposing Islamic terrorism. The West is filled with people who hate Muslims and who, while not explicitly calling for wiping countries off the map, give a worrying amount of influence to those who do.

  8. Men's Rights Advocate says:

    Leave is to a 22-year-old leftist know-it-all to decide he himself is best-positioned to run the world.

  9. Alon Levy says:

    Hooray! I thought I’d have to correct my count of people who disagree with me but stick to my points instead of engage in age-bashing.

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