Thursday, January 12, 2012

Israel's Dangerous Game with Iran

The NYT has a must-read that examines the dangerous game that the US and Israel are playing with Iran, but shines perhaps the brightest spotlight on Israel's resort to one of its most-used tactics, historically: assassination.  In this instance, we're talking about assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

As Glenn Greenwald has pointed it, what the Israelis are doing is terrorism.

And as two US experts point out in the NYT piece, the consequences down the line - for both Israel and the US - may be extremely dangerous.

William C. Banks, an expert on national security law at Syracuse University, said he believed that for the United States even to provide specific intelligence to Israel to help kill an Iranian scientist would violate a longstanding executive order banning assassinations. The legal rationale for drone strikes against terrorist suspects — that the United States is at war with Al Qaeda and its allies — would not apply, he said.
“Under international law, aiding and abetting would be the same as pulling the trigger,” Mr. Banks said. He added, “We would be in a precarious position morally, and the entire world is watching, especially China and Russia.”
Gary Sick, a specialist on Iran at Columbia, said he believed that the covert campaign, combined with sanctions, would not persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear work.
“It’s important to turn around and ask how the U.S. would feel if our revenue was being cut off, our scientists were being killed and we were under cyberattack,” Mr. Sick said. “Would we give in, or would we double down? I think we’d fight back, and Iran will, too.”

More perspectives on the danger - and stupidity - of the US+Israel current tactics are here.  And Juan Cole speculates (with some evidence to back it up, to some extent) that the latest assassination might have been a combined production of the Mossad and the anti-Iranian-regime group known as the MEK (Mujahedin e-Khalq), both of which have an established track record of terrorist assassinations.

At least the US has condemned the most recent assassination.  (It remains to be seen if the Israelis will get the message, but in an election season, don't expect Obama or Clinton to call them out on this.)

Doesn't it make sense that, at some point, the Iranians will find a way to retaliate?  The Iranian press is already calling for vengeance against Israel.
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