“We are very scared of what Israel might do” – Commenter on Atlantic blog

On 19 September 2o12, Evan Thomas posted an article on the Atlantic blog, titled “The Brilliant Prudence of Dwight Eisenhower.”I

This exchange took place in the comments section:

Harry Huntington:

“Of course the key point for the President today was that when the Cold War was in full flower, President Eisenhower was not afraid to meet with the leaders of the Soviet Union, or the country that was then the US’s leading enemy.  When does President Obama plan to invite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Camp David? Perhaps Obama should invite Ahmadinejad and his family to meet the Obama family?  Eisenhower’s presidency offers up other fine examples as well, but the most important might be that in the nuclear era, you are obliged as President to meet and talk with “the enemy.”  You cannot simply drop bombs and expect the other side to make nice.  Eisenhower knew that from his time spent in two world wars (before he was President).   But the current President (and Mr. Romney too) are the smartest people in America.”

RobertSF replied to Huntington:

“That’s because we were genuinely afraid of the Soviet Union, but we’re not really afraid of Iran.  We don’t like Iran, nor they us, but we’re not afraid of them so we have nothing to gain by making peace with them.”

Huntington responded to Robert’s flight of irrationality with:

“Perhaps I am having a slow day.  If we are not afraid of Iran, why do we have three carrier battle groups in its neighborhood, and why is Israel pressing the United States to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.  I mean, the French have nuclear facilities and there is no pressure to bomb them.  So nuclear facilities by themselves are pretty benign.  It looks to me like we are very scared of Iran.  That is the perfect time for a summit meeting.”


“We’re not existentially afraid of Iran.  Israel may be, but we’re not.  We were existentially afraid of the Soviet Union.  Notice that homeowners aren’t building concrete bunkers in their back yards out of fear of Iran.  They did during the 50s, out of fear of the Soviet Union.”

Carrington Ward joined the conversation:

“No way we’d be able to get all the relevant players to a summit.

Israel is very scared of Iran — with good reason.  Saudi Arabia is very scared of Iran, with better reason.

We are very scared of what Israel might do.  And we’re scared of what might happen to our friends in the House of Saud.  And so we’re still stuck with ‘dual containment.’

January 2013 might be the perfect time to put solar panels back on the White House.”

At this point, Solon to Croesus responded to Carrington Ward:

Let’s explore your comment, Carrington Ward:
Precisely WHAT “good reason” does Israel have to be “very scared of Iran?”
If Iran wished to harm Jews, they would start with the 30,000 Jews who live in Iran.  Instead, Iran has not even retaliated against those Jews or ANYONE for Israel’s assassination of five of Iran’s nuclear scientists, attacks on Iran’s infrastructure, Israel’s leadership of an economic ‘blockade’ of Iran.  Iran has NOT retaliated, after 17 years of punishment and demonization engineered by AIPAC.
Moreover, as Israel has informed the world since at least the mid-’80s, Iran is 10 years away from having a nuclear weapon.  Let me make that point kindergarten-clear:  Iran does not now have a nuclear weapon.  (Israel does.)
So who has “good reason” to be “scared” of whom?
You answer that in your next assertion:
“WE are very scared of what Israel might do.”
Look at that again:
Unlike Iran, Israel has demonstrated the willingness to slaughter unarmed civilians on a massive scale — Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008-9.
Israel has carried out assassinations, provocations, and demonizing propaganda against not only Iran and its leaders and people but also against the American people and their leaders.
Israel HAS an arsenal of nuclear weapons that is not under the control of ANY objective oversight.
As you say, “We are very scared of what Israel might do.”
The United States has the largest DEFENSE establishment and budget in the world.
And we deploy that DEFENSE capacity and budget to ‘defend’ against a nation that has not harmed the US, has little capacity to harm the US, has no demonstrated plan or tendency to harm the US, while perpetually supporting with money and weapons a state that HAS harmed the US, that has extensive capacity to cause the US further harm (i.e. by inflaming the Middle East); that does have uncontrolled nuclear weapons and that has demonstrated the willingness to use proscribed weapons against civilians, and about whom you and many Americans admit:


You are not alone, Carrington Ward.

In July 2010, at a forum at the Middle East Policy Center discussing “The Israel-Iran Linkage,” a member of the audience posed this question (quoted verbatim):

Q:  Okay.  I am Michele Steinberg from Executive Intelligence Review.  And my question begins with something that Paul Pillar mentioned, which is – and it is in my view the most immediate danger that we face as a foreign policy issue and might be the highest priority, which is what do we do here in the United States to ward off a potential unilateral Israeli strike against Iran? 

I have to disagree with the comment that this has left the lexicon of Israeli policymakers. – while maybe openly, but certainly not behind the scenes.  I draw everyone’s attention to two big articles in the Times of London in the last year, complete with maps, what air routes will be taken, submarine capabilities, et cetera, which quotes a myriad of Israeli high policy sources that say we are ready, we are able and we are in the process of convincing the United States to go along with this.

I feared this for a long time since I read “Clean Break” back in 1996, which called for regime change in Iraq and then Iraq.  And I fear it more now after hearing Netanyahu’s interview while he was here and that everything is on the table.  And it’s been reinforced by some of the things that Mr. Indyk has said.  So what can we do to ward off an Israeli strike against Iran from a United States standpoint?

= = =

Isn’t it the job of the United States government to protect its citizens from all enemies, foreign and domestic?

And isn’t the first element of that commitment to properly identify the enemy?
Did Sun Tzu have anything to say about knowing who your enemy is?


To his credit, Carrington Ward responded:

“You’re right, I neglected to mention that Israel has a fairly good deterrent of its own.

On the other hand, you can drive across Israel in a few hours, drive across Israel in a tank in a few hours more.

Various assortments of Israel’s neighbors have tried the latter project a couple times in living memory.

I have a modest degree of sympathy with Israeli efforts to build a strong defense force–mind you, I’m in no way happy with Israeli efforts to get past this ‘symptomatic response.’

I have no sympathy with the idea that we in the United States must harness our foreign policy strategy to Israel’s, not least because of the dependence it engenders in Israeli policy.

= = =

Ward gets credit for a civil response, but failed to grapple with the question I asked:  Does Iran pose a genuine threat to Israel? Define it.

No response.

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