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Monday, February 06, 2012

It's 1967 all over again

In May 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled UN peacekeepers from the Sinai desert (where they had been since the 1956 Sinai Campaign) and close the Straits of Tiran, cutting off shipping to Israel from the south. Both of those things were acts of war, and yet, as current Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren documents in his book on the war, the 'international community,' including the United States, urged Israel not to react by going to war.

Does that sound familiar?

Niall Ferguson says it does. Here he is on Morning Joe on Monday explaining why a potential attack on Iran by Israel is 1967 all over again, and that Israel should do the same thing now that it did 45 years ago: Ignore the 'international community' and attack pre-emptively.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

The Iranians will very likely be facing not one, not two, but three U.S. aircraft carriers. Two are already in the Persian Gulf: CVN 72 Abraham Lincoln and CVN 70 Carl Vinson. A third, CVN 77 George H.W. Bush, is said to be on its way from Norfolk, Va.

Yes, I know President Obama is a noble and saintly man of peace who uses unmanned drones only to assassinate America’s foes in unprecedented numbers after wrestling with his conscience for anything up to ... 10 seconds. But picture the scene once described to me by a four-star general. It is not the proverbial 3 a.m. but 11 p.m. in the White House (7 a.m. in Israel). The phone rings.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Mr. President, we have reliable intelligence that the Israeli Air Force is in the air and within an hour of striking suspected nuclear facilities in Iran.

POTUS: Damn. What should I do?

CJCS: Mr. President, I want to recommend that you provide the Israelis with all necessary support to limit the effectiveness of Iranian retaliation.

POTUS: But those [expletives deleted] never ran this past me. They went behind my back, goddammit.

CJCS: Yes, sir.

POTUS: Why the hell should I lift a finger to help them?

CJCS: Because if the Iranians close the Strait of Hormuz, we will see oil above $200 a barrel.

POTUS [after a pause]: Just a moment. [Whispers] How am I doing in Florida?

David Axelrod [also whispering]: Your numbers suck.

POTUS: OK, General, line up those bunker busters.


The single biggest danger in the Middle East today is not the risk of a six-day Israeli war against Iran. It is the risk that Western wishful nonthinking allows the mullahs of Tehran to get their hands on nuclear weapons. Because I am in no doubt that they would take full advantage of such a lethal lever. We would have acquiesced in the creation of an empire of extortion.

War is an evil. But sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement. The people who don’t yet know that are the ones still in denial about what a nuclear-armed Iran would end up costing us all.

It feels like the eve of some creative destruction.
Read the whole thing.

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