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.

Tags: Israel