Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Michael Oren: "Wait! It's about Israel, not Libya!"

Back in full hasbara mode (not that he ever really left it), the once-respected historian Michael Oren - now Israel's ambassador to the UN - writing in today's Wall Street Journal, labors  mightily to re-focus the world's attention, not on Libya and the "Arab Spring" (where that focus rightfully belongs), but on the continuing "threat" to poor, always embattled, always-on-the-brink-of-existential-catastrophe Israel (and by the way, on this theme, the wonderful Egyptian analyst Mona Eltahawy made a brilliant appearance at the recent J-Street conference where she made the same point about the Israelis trying to make the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt all about Israel).

The word "Israel" appears only once in his essay, though.  Rather, Oren segues from "what if that monster Qaddafi still had WMDs" to how Iran, that bazillion-ton monster recently relegated to the corner by the Arab Spring, "continues to make steady progress today" [his words; no evidence, of course, but since when has anyone really cared about that?] on its nuclear weapons program. And if Iran acquires the bomb, the dominoes will begin to fall:

 other Middle Eastern states will also pursue nuclear capabilities, transforming the entire region into a tinderbox. The global enthusiasm recently sparked by Arab protesters demanding freedoms would likely have been limited if Middle Eastern autocrats had nuclear arsenals. Under such circumstances, the question would be not only which side—the ruled or the rulers—gains ascendancy in the Middle East, but who controls the keys and the codes.

You can probably guess the rest, but Oren does it cleverly.  Says he:
  •  Iran's nuclear program therefore threaten the rise of new democracy in the Middle East [translate: America, all your sacrifices of blood and treasure in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are for naught]
  • ergo, refocus your attention on Iran, which is Israel's your true enemy
  • the sanction against Iran aren't cutting it, so my American dupes allies, you gotta smack that military option against Iran right back onto the table, and hard.

Here are his words:
And while the allied intercession in Libya may send a message of determination to Iran, it might also stoke the Iranian regime's desire to become a nuclear power and so avoid Gadhafi's fate. For that reason it is especially vital now to substantiate the "all options" policy.

Now is the moment to dissuade the Iranian regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon that might deter any Libya-like intervention or provide the ayatollahs with a doomsday option. If Gadhafi had not surrendered his centrifuges in 2004 and he were now surrounded in his bunker with nothing left but a button, would he push it?

Dissuade? Now? Is the ambassador of America's most beloved ally saying what I think he's saying? That now is the time for the US to launch airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities?
  • With the new made-by-America Iraq ready to bust open at the seams as soon as the US troops are out?
  • With the Taliban more than holding their own against the US in Afghanistan - and with the spring fighting-season fast approaching there?
  • With the people of neighboring Pakistan mad as hell at the US for its drone attacks and trigger-happy spies (reference Raymond Davis)?
  • And, with the world still holding its breath as it anticipates the deadly impact of another attack (this one, by mother nature) on another nuclear facility (or have Libya and "Dancing with the Stars" - which forced Obama to move his Libya speech to an earlier time-slot - sucked all the attention away from Fukushima?)

Of course, if Oren can't get the US to rise to the bait to attack Iran, at least Israel's other diplomat named Lieberman (I mean Joe, not Avigdor) has conveniently begun to grease the rails for the US to grab a consolation prize: hit Syria instead if Bashar al-Asad opts to unleash his military against the building protests there.

With friends like these . . . golly, how could America go wrong?

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