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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO

In today's Washington Post, diplomat Ronald Asmus suggests that the West must plan today how it will contain a nuclear Iran, and suggests that one measure that ought to be taken is to admit Israel to NATO.

But the country most threatened by a future Iranian nuclear capability is, of course, Israel. It would be a mistake to dismiss Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rantings about Israel as mere posturing or a bluff. One lesson from Sept. 11 is that we should not limit our strategic imagination or underestimate our enemies in the Middle East. When someone says he wants to wipe you off the map, he might just might mean it. If, then, the West decides that a military strike to deny Iran the nuclear option is too risky and instead opts for a policy of deterrence and long-term peaceful regime change, it must also take steps to ensure Israel's protection for that interim period.

The United States already has a de facto security commitment to Israel. Any future U.S. president would go to the defense of that country if its existence were threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran. And in spite of the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic voices that one can hear in Europe, there is little doubt that European leaders such as Tony Blair, Angela Merkel and even Jacques Chirac would also stand tall and defend Israel against an Iranian threat. Given this situation, basic deterrence theory tells us that it is more credible and effective if those commitments are clear and unambiguous.

The best way to provide Israel with that additional security is to upgrade its relationship with the collective defense arm of the West: NATO. Whether that upgraded relationship culminates in membership for Israel or simply a much closer strategic and operational defense relationship can be debated. After all, a classic security guarantee requires clear and recognized borders to be defended, something Israel does not have today. Configuring an upgraded Israel-NATO relationship will require careful diplomacy and planning. But what must be clear is that the West is prepared to match the growing bellicosity against Israel by stepping up its commitment to the existence of the Jewish state.


NATO has been reluctant to move too far too fast with Israel, preferring to wait for more progress in the peace process and wanting to move forward in cooperation with other Arab Mediterranean countries in parallel. But this is no longer the time for political correctness. It is time to break that link and not hold future Israeli-NATO ties hostage to Hamas or the broader vagaries of NATO's overall Mediterranean dialogue. While continuing to expand ties with these other Arab countries, we must recognize that the threat Israel faces is qualitatively different, as is our security commitment to that country.

Several leading Europeans have called for NATO to embrace Israel, but this debate will not get serious until the United States, Israel's main ally, puts its weight behind the idea. The time has come to do so.

Read the whole thing.


At 3:52 AM, Blogger Freedom Fighter said...

I seriously doubt it will happen.

And that's probably a good thing, believe it or not.

Let's not forget that Britain and France have already essentially said that it's `business as usual' with the new Hamas government J O S H U A P U N D I T: Well, it's official..business as usual with Hamas for the Brits. and both countries are not exactly..trustworthy when it comes to Israel.

Both nations have de facto arms embargoes against Israel. And let's not forget that it was the British who armed the Arab armies to the teeth in 1948, and in the case of Jordan even supplied British officers, headed by the notorious anti-Semite John Glubb.

This was only 3 years after the Holocaust!

Being a part of NATO would entail Israel sharing security information with the British and French. And that's a bad move, as far as I'm concerned.

They are better off as they are, provided Israel actualy gets some real leadership in March.

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