Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Will an Iran with nukes be good news for Israel?

Well, when I put it this way it sounds a bit crazy. Something that only Dr. Strangelove would consider. But try to think out of the box. And to help you do that here is an article, "Is Nuclear Parity with Iran a blessing for Israel?" that my friend, Trita Parsi, who (as his name suggests) is an Iran expert, published in the January 2006 issue of Jane's Intelligence Review
Here are some of the main points that Parsi makes:

* Israel's strategy of maintaining military might in the Middle East may not be the best way to bring peace to the troubled region.
* While neither Iran nor the West has shifted their resolute stances in the nuclear stand-off, Israel is slowly starting to prepare itself for the "day after."
*A nuclear Tehran will not only end Israel's nuclear monopoly, it will also shake a fundamental tenet of Israel's military doctrine -- the idea that Israel can only survive in the Middle East by maintaining military superiority.
* An increasing number of Israeli strategists are quietly reaching the conclusion that nuclear parity, although risky, can bring stability and peace to the region.

It's a long article. And I think that you'll need to register. But here the part in which Parsi discusses a scenario in which a nuclear Israel and Iran will have to adopt a MAD strategy:
Reuven Pedatzur,director of the Galilee Centre for Strategy and National Security,has long asserted that Israel’s defence establishment needs new patterns of thinking. But paradigm shifts are usually born out of momentous events, and the loss of Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region may constitute such a trigger.
If disparity is lost, it will most likely prompt two key developments that some argue can gain Israel the peace and stability that military superiority failed to produce. First, a new military doctrine will be adopted – mutual assured destruction
(MAD). This will compel Israel to end its long-standing policy of nuclear ambiguity.
The crystallising geopolitical rivalry between Israel and Iran has been ambiguous precisely because Israel felt it had the ability to pursue a complete victory. Under nuclear parity, however, that option will be lost and ambiguity will be replaced with deterrence.
Unlike the current situation, deterrence requires communication. Ambiguities
cannot be resolved and red lines established unless channels of communication are
opened between Tehran and Tel Aviv.Increased communication “can have positive
effects on the relationship between Iran and Israel,” according to Leon Hadar, an research fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington DC, as it will end the dangers inherent in the current state of uncertainty. The existence of nuclear weapons programmes can tame the behaviour of both sides and reduce the probability of overt aggression, since the cost of failure will be infinitely greater than at present. Deterrence also forces Israel to ascribe to Tehran a level of rationality presently absent in its thinking.

I know. I know. It's all very counter-intuitive. But look where we ended up with the same guys here and in Israel promoting the conventional wisdom. Maybe it's time for new thinking.

Is it time for a BHL Blog?

How about "Bhloging with BHL." I wish someone would do that. It would be a waste of time. But it could also be hillarious. Meanwhile, Steve Sailer posted a Garrison Keillor's entertaining review of Bernard-Henri Lévy's book on his blog. Here is a sample:
And what's with the flurries of rhetorical questions? Is this how the French talk or is it something they save for books about America? "What is a Republican? What distinguishes a Republican in the America of today from a Democrat?" Lévy writes, like a student padding out a term paper. "What does this experience tell us?" he writes about the Mall of America. "What do we learn about American civilization from this mausoleum of merchandise, this funeral accumulation of false goods and nondesires in this end-of-the-world setting? What is the effect on the Americans of today of this confined space, this aquarium, where only a semblance of life seems to subsist?" And what is one to make of the series of questions - 20 in a row - about Hillary Clinton, in which Lévy implies she is seeking the White House to erase the shame of the Lewinsky affair? Was Lévy aware of the game 20 Questions, commonly played on long car trips in America? Are we to read this passage as a metaphor of American restlessness? Does he understand how irritating this is? Does he? Do you? May I stop now?

And you thought that Tom Friedman was prtentious and pompous? At least Friedman does some serious research, provides us with facts and figures, and his writing is somewhat coherent. But BHL is an intellectual marketing genius. Notice how he is positioning himself somewhere between the New Republic and the Weekly Standard (which is where you'll find his American Idol, Francis Fukuyama). I think that Carl Swanson, the reviewer in the New York . magazine had it right when he suggested that BHL's goal with "American Vertigo" was "to become BHL in America, a branded public intellectual." "No comment," responded BHL when asked by Swanson if that was indeed the case. "What I would like is if I could participate in the ideological intellectual debate here and contribute in a slight way." Isn't that what Andrew Sullivan said when he moved here? But not to worry. BHL just has too many mistresses:
“Everything, my dear. I will tell you. Sometimes in your private life you have a mistress you love, love being with. You spend time to time in a grand hotel, with good room service, great champagne, and you separate—and when you are really in love with her, you inevitably think, Could I wake up with her, near her every morning? And then you try it. This is exactly what I did in America. America was a great mistress. I had a great fuck with America. It was like a weekend in the Hotel du Cap.”

And here I'm suppose to end this post with something witty in French. Instead, l'm going to make a confession: The reason for all this obssessive bashing of BHL is that I'm just jealous of this guy, that look, that pose, that long hair. And at the age of 57. Yes, Steve, I know that it's all genes. But still...

An American Public Intellectual

A French Public Intellectual

more on BHL and on LH...

An interesting exchange on BHL between on Alan Wolfe and Franklin Foer on And the folks at "Slate" also mentioned my blog in their blog review by Torie Bosch And I've been worried that only my mom and personal trainer have been reading the blog... Thanks, Torie! And btw that line about my mom and personal trainer resulted in several emailes, beginning with "I'm not your mom or personal trainer, but I've been reading your blog..." My response: "I can assure you that one (Jewish) mother and one personal trainer is more than enough in one's life-time...