Krauthammer: Let’s deter Iran by threatening to nuke them if they nuke Israel

posted at 10:40 am on April 11, 2008 by Allahpundit

I don’t get it. I get the part about Bush’s Iran policy having failed utterly and why we now need to shift to a deterrence posture, and I get the risk posed to Israel by an Iranian first strike given the proximity of the two. Even so:

How to create deterrence? The way John Kennedy did during the Cuban missile crisis. President Bush’s greatest contribution to nuclear peace would be to issue the following declaration, adopting Kennedy’s language while changing the names of the miscreants:

“It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear attack upon Israel by Iran, or originating in Iran, as an attack by Iran on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon Iran.”

This should be followed with a simple explanation: “As a beacon of tolerance and as leader of the free world, the United States will not permit a second Holocaust to be perpetrated upon the Jewish people.”

Why limit that policy to Israel, though? Are we prepared to permit a first Holocaust to be perpetrated upon, say, the Italian or Polish people? Neither one has nukes, so the only thing standing between them and the ICBMs Iran’s developing is European missile defense. A nice deterrent, to be sure, but weak in the same way that a shield without a sword is weak. Beyond that, why do we need to provide an extra layer of deterrence for one of the most industrious and technologically brilliant countries on earth? They’ve been on the bleeding edge of defense engineering for years, and necessarily so. They’ve got the Arrow system for a shield and a stockpile of bombs big enough for Anthony Cordesman to warn last year that there would indeed be a clear winner in a nuclear exchange between the two countries — and it wouldn’t be Iran. Quote:

Given certain conditions, Israel could potentially survive such a nuclear scenario, the study found. Iran, on the other hand, would be completely and utterly obliterated. “Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of term, though Israeli recovery is theoretically possible in population and economic terms,” wrote Cordesman, who compiled this study entitled “Iran, Israel, and Nuclear War”…

Back to the stone age, in other words. Iran’s bombs will get bigger over time so the Israeli advantage will dissipate, but it’ll take years to catch up, giving Israel some breathing room to upgrade the Arrow system and/or outfit the few submarines they have with nuclear cruise missiles — assuming they haven’t done so already, which they probably have. What they really need is a bigger fleet of subs so that they can launch a comprehensive retaliation if need be. Is a country that had its own nuclear reactor within 15 years of its founding equal to the task? I’m guessing yes.

Update: Commenters remind me that Italy and Poland are already protected by NATO. Fair enough; change my example to Sweden and Finland then. Yes, it’s absurd to think of them becoming a target of Iran, but the basic point remains: If we’re all about deterring Holocausts, the policy should be to retaliate against Iran for a nuclear strike on any ally of the United States, NATO or non-NATO.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Not Italy but a small section of Rome called Vatican City is right behind Israel on Iran’s target list.

Actually Vatican City might top Israel as the number one target. Solely for the reason that their crackpot leader wants to start WW3 and bring back the 12th whatever. He also knows that the world turned its back on the Jewish people once before. Now he might want to test the old saying that the Pope has no armies.

meci on April 11, 2008 at 11:58 PM

I wonder if the Mafia has WMD.

Johan Klaus on April 12, 2008 at 12:23 AM

Iran so far away. I couldn’t get away.

SouthernGent on April 12, 2008 at 12:33 AM

paul006 on April 11, 2008 at 7:21 PM

An option. Do you think that if the Soviets attacked us during the cold war, there would not have been mass casualties in the Soviet union?

Johan Klaus on April 11, 2008 at 7:55 PM

Oh indeed, yes. But that’s not analogous to the United States nuking a country to avenge a third party.

It seems to me wholly implausible to think that we would do what Krauthammer advocates: indiscriminately kill hundreds of thousands of civilians as a retaliatory act on another country’s behalf. Even McCain wouldn’t do that, much less Obama. Perhaps such a thing was once in the American character, but it isn’t today.

Consequently, I wouldn’t issue the kind of threat that Krauthammer calls for, because such a threat is empty. And empty threats undermine our credibility. More importantly, neither McCain nor Obama will issue such a threat. Both of these men are averse even to the waterboarding of terrorists. They’re not going to vengefully bomb civilians en masse. (Following a nuclear attack on Israel, I can see either man undertaking conventional strikes on Iranian military installations and even the country’s infrastructure. But mass killing as an act of revenge, that’s out.

(Just incidentally, Israel’s planes remain on the tarmac. This could mean many things, of course. But it might mean that Israeli intelligence detects no imminent threat.)

paul006 on April 12, 2008 at 1:05 AM

A neocon putting Israel before all else, and Allah is baffled? Jeez.

Drum on April 12, 2008 at 1:05 AM

paul006 on April 12, 2008 at 1:05 AM

We may not have a choice. This is a global war.

Johan Klaus on April 12, 2008 at 1:10 AM

It was reported several years ago that Israel has about 400 nuclear bombs, including some hydrogen bombs.

If Iran were to ‘nuke’ Israel, I don’t think that there would be enough left of Iran for the U.S. Air Force to find it.

MB4 on April 12, 2008 at 4:17 AM

This should go without saying.

TheSitRep on April 12, 2008 at 8:19 AM

A neocon putting Israel before all else, and Allah is baffled? Jeez.

Drum on April 12, 2008 at 1:05 AM

======================================================
Hey Drum, yes, Krauthammer is Jew but you folks that think that the US being on the side of people with whom we share values, as opposed to being on the side of those folks like your friends the Saudis with whom we only share economic interests and with whom we have virtually no shared values, is not putting Israel above all else.

Some of us actually believe that American values should not be auctioned off to the highest bidder, clearly you do not agree. Too bad for you and we are very lucky that most Americans don’t agree with your views supporting anti-American values

georgealbert on April 12, 2008 at 9:16 AM

2,000 years ago John the Apostle wrote that the final battle will be over Israel. He wrote that Iran and Russia (Gog & Magog) would team up and try to destroy Israel. Take a wild guess who loses? Israel hadn’t been a sovereign nation for 2,500 years, and Iran and Russia have never had an alliance before in their histories. Yet we find the stage is now set for these events to take place.

If you want to know how all this is going to turn out I suggest you read the last few chapters of the “Book.”

Mojave Mark on April 12, 2008 at 12:22 PM

We should send troops and equipment pouring into Israel establish bases put up the defensive shield.

Israel, needs the peace of mind and in my opinion its the bbest way to stabilize the Hamas, Palestinian situation.

We have thousands of troops in Kuwait, Qatar, and Dubai, it would just be a shift and a welcome relief to the Israelis

And Quite a few Arab leaders would whisper thank god under their breath

EricPWJohnson on April 12, 2008 at 2:37 PM

georgealbert on April 12, 2008 at 9:16 AM

Bla bla bla, yada yada yada, honk honk honk. What the heck does anything you wrote above have to do with anything? I’d love to know what “American values” you (and Krauthammer) actually adhere to?

And as to “[My] friend the Saudis” — it’s always a zero sum game with you nationalists of The Stupid Party. That is, if one dosen’t support a specific policy (e.g. putting Israel’s interests before America’s), it must mean one supports the exact opposite (e.g. putting Saudi Arabia’s interests before America’s).

This is simple-mindedness to a T — and explains why McCain is your nominee. Good luck.

Drum on April 12, 2008 at 3:40 PM

2,000 years ago John the Apostle wrote that the final battle will be over Israel

He wrote no such thing. Please, do yourself and the rest of America (and Israel) a favor and pull your head out of John Hagee’s blasphemous misinterpretations of Scripture and read a theologian with a brain and some ethics.

Drum on April 12, 2008 at 3:42 PM

If Iran nuked Israel, a future President Obama would schedule talks with Ahmadinejad. Jimmy Carter would be the Chief Negotiator and would immediately issue an apology to the Iranian Government for Israeli aggression.

MaiDee on April 12, 2008 at 6:34 PM

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