Top 10 Reasons Americans should Dismiss Israel’s Netanyahu on Attacking Iran

The Iranian electorate did about the most cruel thing possible to uber-hawk Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. It replaced former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with an eminently reasonable and personable successor, Hasan Rouhani.

The Israeli and American politicians who desperately want to fall on Iran the way a hungry lion does on a lamb had made hay with Ahmadinejad’s quirkiness and foot in the mouth disease. They also deliberately mistranslated him to make him seem menacing, even as he kept saying Iran would never launch a first strike.

Here are the reasons not to pay attention to the recent round of saber-rattling by Netanyahu, who never met a war (including the illegal one on Iraq) he didn’t love:

1. Everyone knows that the real reason Netanyahu keeps squawking about Iran is that he is trying to take the focus off the Israel campaign of ethnic cleansing and Apartheid policies toward the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Likewise, Netanyahu takes attention off of Israel’s own 400 nuclear warheads.

2. Everyone in the international community agrees that the new president of Iran will have to be given at least a year, and maybe more, to prove he is an earnest negotiator for Iran. You can’t just attack a presidential administration that only recently got into office and before taking the measure of it. The European powers and the countries of the global South would never accept it.

3. Iran is not proved to have a nuclear weapons program, as opposed to a civilian nuclear enrichment program aimed at making fuel for nuclear reactors.

4. Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly affirmed that Iran’s theocracy cannot accept the production, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons, since they cannot be deployed without killing hundreds of thousands of innocent non-combatants (e.g. women and children), and killing innocent non-combatants is illegal according to the Qur’an and Islamic law.

5. President Rouhani is proposing increased transparency for its civilian nuclear enrichment program, so as to ease Western fears.

6. Contrary to what Netanyahu says, Iran does not have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States, and the country is highly unlikely to have one any time soon.

7. The International Atomic Energy Agency does inspections of Iran’s enrichment facilities and [pdf] according to its most recent report, “the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities” That is, the IAEA has visited the sites where Iran does enrichment work, and its inspectors can testify that the enriched uranium is under seal, is all accounted for, and none has been diverted to weapons purposes. The IAEA has other complaints, especially that Iran won’t go beyond its obligations in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of the 1960s. But technically Iran is not required to do so by the treaty, and there is no proof that Iran is weaponizing.

8. Iran is actually a small weak country with a defense budget somewhere between that of Singapore and Norway, and isn’t a plausible threat to the United States.

9. Netanyahu keeps threatening to attack Iran himself, if the US Pentagon won’t do it for him, but this bluff is transparent. Israel cannot plausibly conduct a successful military operation so far from its borders (Iran is a long way away). It didn’t even do a good job with a little aid ship, the Mavi Marmara.

10. Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is based on running thousands centrifuges, which don’t all have to be in the same place. An Israeli air strike couldn’t possibly destroy all or most of them, and would only set the Iranian program back a little.

21 Responses

  1. An alleged nuclear weapons program is the pretext, not the context, for the US’s aggression toward Iran. According to David Crist, a historian for the United States federal government…“Hard liners in Iran reject the status quo of American supremacy in the region….While in this conflict the United States remains largely the good guy, it has not always been the perfect guy. Both Bush administrations dismissed Iranian goodwill gestures and refused to accept any dialogue that addressed Iran’s legitimate security concerns. The United States supported Saddam Hussein and his Arab bankrollers in a bloody war against the Islamic Republic that killed several hundred thousand Iranian soldiers. The mantra of regime change remains a frequent slogan in many quarters in Washington. Unfortunately, Iran’s response to these trespasses has invariably been to use the tools of the terrorist: an exploding car bomb on a crowded street…Iran’s quest for nuclear technology has heightened the stakes and the tension but it has not been a catalyst for the conflict.” link to

  2. The United States and the rest of the world who imposed sanctions on Iran for NOT building a nuclear weapon seem ridiculously impotent when dealing with Israel. There must be a counterweight that can be used to remove the yoke from around our neck and stand up for Palestinian rights. I support a group trying to make companies investing in Israel or selling them equipment divest their interest but it has had little effect so far.

    The apartheid being practiced by the Israelis, in broad daylight, is a total embarrassment to Lady Liberty. Palestinians should receive the same civil rights accorded to South Africans.

    The Home of the Brave and Land of the Free seems to have lost it’s meaning.

    • I have been putting out wacky crackpot stuff for the past several years about Israel’s experiments in apartheid being a prototype for its admirers in especially the southern US to begin to restore Jim Crow here. After the gutting of voting rights and the freeing of Zimmerman for behaving like a West Bank settler, any questions?

  3. Western media always repeats the same mantra “The Israeli government has never confirmed nor denied that they possess nuclear weapons and will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Except that’s not true. PM Olmert, while PM, did, in fact, confirm that Israel possessed nuclear weapons. He later retracted it, but, unless he’s stupid or a liar (and he was a bit of both :), what’s said is said.

  4. Thanks Juan for this post/thread.
    I have long railed against the illegality and pure nonsense/hyperbole of Israel and the U.S. concerning Iran in general and their LEGAL nuclear program specifically. Mohamed ElBaradei wasn’t a tool of the west and spoke truth to power. Sadly that’s past.
    Israel is in active violation of so many UN sanctions I’ve lost count.
    Boycott the Apartheid State of Israel!

  5. The best reason to dismiss Netanyahu on attacking Iran can be summarized in one word: “Netanyahu”

  6. One more reason to dismiss Netanyahu’s claims is that he has spent the last 20 year saying that Iran is just a year or two away from deploying a nuclear weapon. I suppose if he keeps it up he might eventually be proven correct, but that would be due to the continued passage of time, not due to his powers of prognostication.

    • Due to the passing of time, and the intractable, idiotic, implacable (yet behind the scenes, so very profitable) beating of that “ceterum censeo, Carthago delenda est” inverted cooking pot re-labeled “And while we are at it, Iran must be destroyed.”

  7. “Iran is a small weak country…..”

    Iranian intelligence assisted in the military rise of Hezbollah and Iran’s elite soldiers manned missile batteries during the Second Lebanon War. There are 40,000 rockets Hezbollah has that could be used against Israel. 165 Israels died in that brief conflict.

    Iran has also assisted both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza and many of the militant leaders reportedly visit Iran on a regular basis – Hamas military chief Muhammad Deif supposedly had surgery in Iran to remedy injuries received in prior Israeli assassination attempts.

    Iran is assisting the Assad regime in Damascus which has prolonged the civil war that has caused 100,000 deaths so far.

    Iran sustained more battle deaths in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s than the U.S. did during WWII.

    Iran is a major force in Middle Eastern politics that Israel is rightfully concerned about and has been a source of financial and military support to the Palestinian and Lebanese groups that have taken paramilitary actions against Israel in recent yaers.

    • Support for Hezbilla and Hamas is openly part of Iran’s foreign policy. Iran is too weak to fight Israel directly but wants to keep pressure on the Israelis. Even if Iran built a nuclear bomb, Israel could destroy Iran in any confrontation. Israel holds the cards. No one would deny that.

      Israel could protect itself more by embracing the Arab Peace Plan than constantly threatening Iran. The API would lead to recognition of Israel by most Arab countries and isolate Iranian supported guerrilla war threats. On the other hand, Israel’s stance towards Palestinian independence and war drum against Iran isolates it in the world community and invites boycotts, etc. I doubt Israel has ever underestimated the strength of its enemies since 1948. Israel’s current problem is overestimating their strength – at least for public consumption or propaganda purposes by its political leaders, as opposed to the more balanced views of the IDF and intelligence elite. Strategically, neither underestimating nor overestimating your enemy will produce your established goals. This is something Netanyahu doesn’t understand or willfully ignores.

      • “Strategically, neither underestimating nor overestimating your enemy will produce your established goals. This is something Netanyahu doesn’t understand or willfully ignores.”

        I disagree, the seemingly constant fear mongering thrown out against Iran and the various Arab nations is doing wonders to distract the world from the colonisation project.

        If there were any credible fear that Iran, or Israel’s neighbours, could hurt Israel, and were prone to aggressive foreign endeavours, Netanyahu and co. would not be so eager to provoke them with threats and occasional “pre-emptive” military strikes.

  8. If Iran can return to its secular liberal democratic roots (which was overthrown by the USA & UK in the 1950s) it has great potential. It has a young, educated workforce and natural recourses.
    It is one of the few states in the Middle East that existed before western colonialism.
    If Iran can get its act together, Israel and the Arab Gulf States will become increasingly irrelevant to the USA and Western Europe.
    If America were to bomb Iran, it would take a century for Iran to recover. Israel wants America to remove a potential economic and cultural rival.

  9. 11. Iranian government policy is based on the assumption that Israel knows that Iran is useful and not a danger to Israel. In fact Iran as it is now is the evidence that Israel is indispensable to the West. So, Iran as it is now is indispensable to Israel. This empowers Iran to repress the Iranian people.

  10. It is not just that Netanyahu wants to distract the world from the continued ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian, though that is true enough.

    Israel has always been determined to maintain hegemonic domination of the Middle East permitting no surrounding state to gain military parity in either conventional weapons or in any nuclear capability, That was the reason Israel induced, through the agency of the American Neocons, many inside of the Bush administration, the US to invade Iraq, depose its leader Saddam Hussein, and disassemble the Iraqi army.

    Iran, as you have noted, is not a direct military challenge to Israel, but does sponsor Hezbollah – Israel’s most formidable adversary, and has considerable influence among the Shiites of the Middle East, for whom the message of Ahmadinejad resonates that Israel is an illegitimate state.

    • No, ultraorthodox Jews oppose the State of Israel due to the religious grounds, although many do reside in Israel due to affinity to the land itself in a historic sense.

      Orthodox Jews compose the vast majority of Jewish Israelis and the other two Jewish groups prominent in America were almost non-existent within Israel during prior decades.

      • “Orthodox Jews compose the vast majority of Jewish Israelis and the other two Jewish groups prominent in America were almost non-existent within Israel during prior decades.”

        Wow, are you ever wrong. Orthodox Jews definitely do not compose the vast majority of Jewish Israelis.

        “Israel has somewhat over 3.5 million Jews. According to the best available studies, up to 25 percent, or 850,000, consider themselves Orthodox while an equal number consider themselves secular. That leaves 50 percent who consider themselves traditional. The latter is a declining number, consisting principally of people from the immigrant generation who came from traditional religious environments, retaining religious beliefs and varying degrees of religious observance while not being ideologically Orthodox. Therefore, let us assume that only 40 percent of this group, or approximately 1,360,000 Jews, are today traditional in any meaningful way. Thus, at a minimum, some two-thirds of the Jews of Israel or over 2.3 million, fit our definition of religious, while approximately one-third or 1.2 million do not” (link to

        And by “the other two Jewish groups prominent in America” do you mean secular, Reform or Conservative? All three would qualify. But if secular, then you’re definitely out to lunch since Israel was largely founded by secular, socialist Jews from Europe. Ever heard of a kibbutz?

        • @Melvin Backstrom:

          I agree with your analysis relative to secular Jews – I was not including them and should have been more precise by specifying “observant” Jewry. Generally, the population of Israeli Jewry has been historically overwhelmingly either secular or Orthodox.

          I was referring to the other two Jewish groups “prominent in America” as being Conservative or Reformed.

          The Haredi Jewish community in Israel has had explosive growth of population due to an impressively high birth rate over the years however.

          Secular Jewry made a great impact upon Israel and many formed the Israel Communist Party and supported solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs – Meir Vilner comes to mind. Today the successor Marxist political party is known as Hadash. Mapai, the forerunner of the Labor Party had many secular Jews as well.

  11. “Strategically, neither underestimating nor overestimating your enemy will produce your established goals.” Sounds so, I don’t know, WISE and EFFICIENT and all. And what are Netanyahoo’s (and I adopt the misleading convention of reification/personification for, er, convenience) “established goals?”

    That under-over-just-right thing is the Great Game postulate, of course. Like saying in geometry that a line is straight: in which n-space is that even “true?” But The Enemy is always an enigma, a fellow human full of surprises (see, e.g., Hiroshima and nerve gas and nanoweapons and suicide bombers, and IEDs made from bombs and artillery shells gifted to a Best Former Friend.)

    And how much proof is needed to establish that the vast bulk of our generals are always ready to fight the LAST or SOME OTHER war, with rare exceptions (like Van Riper, link to, who acknowledges he would not likely be able to repeat, but the next smart tough guy would.)

    I know, realistically that is how humans play what they think or tell the proles is a zero-sum game, and it’s juvenile and jejune and childish and all that un-serious jazz too to, you know, question the processing and all the nearly infinite and profitable and murderous and destructive (in so many, many ways) results of the Great Game as coupled to Consumptive Capitalism-or-whatever-it-is. But it seems to me that if humans don’t learn something different, oh well! Even old Sun Tzu knew that war (which back then was a simpler thing than the Global Stupid Hyper Networked Interoperable All The Data 24/7 Battlespace and all the perpetual getting-ready and bloody skirmishes that can never produce a “victor” or produce any of the kinds of Change that the war leaders promise, that eats a quarter of the world’s wealth and sets us on the path to “Terminator” meets “Soylent Green”) was an exercise to be oh so rarely indulged in, and that wise rulers were supposed to have a very much different calculus in mind when committing their populations to the Curious, Furious Idiocy.

    The answer to the repeated question about what those “established goals” are is either a flood of Milbabble, a plethora of Pol-speak, or that smug “well, obviously you’re unserious if you don’t know already…”

    What all our rulers are subjecting us to is a multi-treed game, where they alone, up there in the upper parts of the canopy, where they chatter to each other and crap down on the rest of us, are the “winners,” by any sensible measure, and the rest of us are conveniently trained up as wealth generators to buy their toys and indulgences for them and eaters of offal and detritus, and then play the part of “bug splats” in their Game rounds. Kochs and Arafat and Netanyahoo and all the rest “live large” while we endure shrunken, fearful, increasingly desperate and actually threatened (by climate change ‘n stuff) little lives…

    Seems to me that “the sum of all fears” is pretty inarguably a large negative number.

  12. To study about how Arabs vision the threat that Iran poses to Arab national security and about nuclear weapons in the Middle East, the Doha Institute surveyed the publics in 12 Arab countries. The vast majority of the Arab public does not believe that Iran poses a threat to the “security of the Arab homeland.” Only 5 percent of respondents named Iran as a source of threat, versus 22 percent who named the U.S. The first place was reserved for Israel, which 51 percent of respondents named as a threat to Arab national security. So there is a mind set in arabs countries that Islamic republic of Iran is not a source of threat but Israel’s nuclear opacity and USA’s proxy strategies are the danger for the reason.

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