Well, after reading through ten pages of information about the effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, I come to Ronen Bergman’s conclusion:

After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear — rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive — and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.

I can only hope that Mr. Bergman is wrong. Even though his article is long and fairly comprehensive, it ignores many questions. It’s not that the answers aren’t available, but they aren’t even asked. Why, for example, is Israel so much more fearful of an Iranian nuclear weapon than a Pakistani one?

Here’s another one. Since most Iranians support the effort to get a nuclear weapon, why do the Israelis act like regime change will solve the problem?

I spend most of my time with progressives, so I’m familiar with some of the standard arguments against messing with Iran over their nuclear ambitions. Some of these arguments are pretty compelling, even if they ultimately fail. It’s pretty tough to listen to Israelis lecture the international community about their responsibility to prevent Iran from going nuclear when Israel refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has an undeclared nuclear arsenal not subject to inspection by the IAEA. Adults can live with some double standards, but the lack of self-awareness on this score can be pretty appalling. For example:

In our conversation on Jan. 18, [Moshe] Ya’alon, the deputy prime minister, was sharp in his criticism of the international community’s stance on Iran. “These are critical hours on the question of which way the international community will take the policy,” he said. “The West must stand united and resolute, and what is happening so far is not enough. The Iranian regime must be placed under pressure and isolated. Sanctions that bite must be imposed against it, something that has not happened as yet, and a credible military option should be on the table as a last resort. In order to avoid it, the sanctions must be stepped up.”

I will have more to say about this later, but what I take out of this article is that the leaders in Israel have come very close to losing their minds. I support an international effort to deny Iran nuclear weapons. But that is based on the principles of nuclear nonproliferation. Israel isn’t a party to the international treaty and has no credibility on the issue. And they can’t destroy Iran’s program anyway.

I really don’t have any doubt that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and I think the world should be united in opposing their efforts. But the world should also be united in pushing for all nuclear powers to reduce or eliminate their nuclear arsenals. And that includes Israel.

And that includes the United States.

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