Much to the dismay of the European Union, the United States and Israel, Iran has been aggressively pursuing a nuclear energy program. Iran has consistently claimed that it wants nuclear power for the peaceful purposes of providing domestic energy. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is reticent to believe this because Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Netanyahu believes that Ahmadinejad wants to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon that would strike Israel. Iran is rapidly developing its nuclear program. Its intentions are ambiguous because uranium enrichment could be used to produce electricity or to develop nuclear weapons. This brings up the question, should Israel launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran? While the arguments against a strike appear convincing, they are illogical and delusional. Israel cannot afford to risk finding out if Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and should therefore launch a pre-emptive strike.
Those who oppose a pre-emptive argue that Iran is pursuing nuclear energy for the peaceful purpose of regaining regional power, and that Iran does not intend to bomb Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu rightfully takes this with a large grain of salt. “Israel must be wiped off the map,” Ahmadinejad declared on October 27, 2005 at a student program called “The World Without Zionism”. He made similar comments in 2006, 2007 and 2008. On November 11, 2011 the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) concluded that Iran has conducted research about computer models that are only used to develop nuclear bomb triggers. In February 2012, the IAEA re-inspected Iran but was blocked from visiting key nuclear sites. Why would Iran bar entry to UN inspectors if Iran’s intentions were peaceful? Ahmadinejad has never hidden his intentions: he plans to wipe Israel off the map. One nuclear warhead would accomplish his goal with remarkable efficiency.
Europe’s failure to stand up to Hitler allowed him to build a powerful dictatorship, which killed eleven million people. Hitler was publicly speaking of his intentions to conquer Europe and annihilate the Jewish race. Europe’s decision not to believe Hitler led to the deadliest human conflict in history. Because Britain and France followed policies of appeasement instead of confrontation, WWII claimed 70,000,000 lives. When someone says that he wants to annihilate a race of people, we should believe him.
Those who oppose a pre-emptive strike also contend that perhaps Iran wants nuclear weapons, but it would not dare attack Israel for fear of retaliation. They believe that mutual fear of destruction would act as a deterrent to nuclear war, similar to the Cold War. Unfortunately, Iran’s former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says that Iran should not fear an Israeli attack. He reasons that one nuclear bomb against Israel “would not leave anything left.” However, if Israel bombed Iran, it would sustain less damage due to its larger land mass and larger population. In other words, he believes that Iran would survive a nuclear exchange with Israel. Iran’s population is 8.6 times larger and its land mass is nearly 50 times larger! Statistics support Rafsanjani’s argument—Iran would sustain minimal damage in a nuclear exchange while Israel would be destroyed.
The final argument against a strike is that Iran’s nuclear program would only be set back a couple of years, so why bother? If someone points a gun in your face and says that he intends to shoot, would you wait to see if the gun is loaded? Why should Israel want to find out if Iran is telling the truth? In the interest of preventing a second Holocaust and the third World War, Netanyahu should buy as much time as he can. Besides, setting Iran back a couple years buys Israel time to negotiate a peaceful, long-term solution to this nuclear crisis. It is better than nuclear war.
I do believe a long-term, diplomatic solution to this crisis is possible. The Soviets had 30,000 nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Nevertheless, President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher and Premier Gorbachev were able to work together to end the Cold War peacefully.
The crossroads Israel stands at in 2012 are exactly like those that Britain and France faced in 1939. The West is utterly incapable of facing Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic vision and is willing to jeopardize Israel’s security to continue living a self-delusion. According to Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow of military airspace at the Institute for Strategic Studies, Israel could carry out the attack alone. If the West values Israel’s security, it should give Israel its sovereignty and allow Netanyahu to proceed. Aggressive military action is the only short-term option left on the table.