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Israel’s duplicity about its nuclear weapons

The Emperor’s New-Old Nuclear Clothes, Common Dreams ,  Helena Cobban September 18, 2019, by  The Lobe Log, 

Israel wants to keep leaders in Washington distracted and always a little off-balance, so they will end up without the bandwidth and the stamina needed to confront Israel over the continuation of colonial expansion in the lands occupied in 1967.byHelena Cobban

How is it still possible to write a lengthy article about the military/strategic dynamic among the triad of Israel, Iran, and the United States while making zero mention of Israel’s robust nuclear-weapons capability? New York Times staffers Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti, and their editors at the Times magazine clearly think this is quite okay. In their recent lengthy article, “The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran,” Bergman and Mazzetti looked at the U.S.-Israeli coalitional aspect of the past 17 years in the project to prepare for launching military or special-ops actions against Iran. They followed in the long tradition within the big corporate media of deliberately ignoring Israel’s nuclear capability, a factor that is central to any understanding of the forces at play in the Middle East and also, crucially, those at play in the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

The authors’ omission of any mention of Israel’s nuclear capabilities—and the ability these capabilities have long given to the country’s leaders to exert strong, continuing nuclear blackmail on Washington—is one serious flaw in their narrative. Another is that they seriously downplay the importance of the fact that Israel’s military is incapable, on its own, of inflicting debilitating damage on Iran’s nuclear program using only “conventional,” that is non-nuclear, weapons. (The two lacunae could perhaps be linked, as we will see below.)

Early in the article, Bergman and Mazzetti set the scene for how they see the strategic dynamic among Israel, Iran, and Washington by citing an analysis provided by Ilan Goldenberg, who was an up-and-coming Pentagon official in the Obama administration………….

A few things about the nuclear dimension of the U.S.-Israel-Iran triangle have been clear to me for a long time. One is that the longstanding refusal of most members of the U.S. political elite (officials, legislators, think-tankers, corporate media, and so on) to even mention the fact of Israel’s own nuclear-weapons capabilities and to take full account of them in public discussions of strategic matters in the Middle East is extremely harmful. Among the harms inflicted by that refusal (and by the general political clout that Israel wields in Washington) is that Israel’s longstanding ability to wield a form of nuclear blackmail against Washington—as I have written about for more than 30 years now—is never mentioned. Nor is the fact that, while Iran has been a full member of the NPT and has submitted to a full range of inspections of its nuclear research facilities for many decades now, Israel is not a member and has never been subjected to any such inspections.

(Another thing that is almost never mentioned is that all journalists based in Israel—as Bergman is—are subject to the country’s rigorous censorship system. This censorship is particularly strict regarding all military issues.)

…………  so long as Iran does not break out of the NPT, Israel can quietly, behind the veil of its longstanding policy of “nuclear ambiguity”, continue to exert a form of “extreme-case” nuclear deterrence against Iran. (And to use the threat of a potential unveiling as a potent means of leverage against decision-makers in Washington.)

So why, then, do we have all the continual hullabaloo and endless navel-scratching in the Western corporate media (and the Western political system, more broadly) about the possibility—not yet anywhere close to a fact, but a possibility, some time in the future—that Iran may start to build a nuclear-weapons capability?

My conclusion is that a good part of this navel-scratching is a deliberate tactic of diversion: a way for the decision-makers in Israel and their supporters to keep leaders in Washington and elsewhere distracted and always a little off-balance, so they will end up without the bandwidth and the stamina needed confront Israel over the continuation of its project of colonial expansion in the lands occupied in 1967.

That colonial project in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in Golan is what all Israeli leaders since 2001 have cared about most deeply. And they all knew that one great way to head off any efforts a U.S. president might make to challenge the project was to raise a hubbub about Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“Why do you keep talking to us about human rights or international law issues in the Palestinian territories?” was the essential message such efforts sent to decision-makers in Washington. “Stop worrying about those. We will handle them as we see fit, and you should butt out. But meantime, keep looking at all those shiny objects over there in the Iranian nuclear program! And by the way, keep your aid money flowing to our military. Otherwise, just imagine what havoc we could create for you in the Gulf…”

Helena Cobban is a writer and researcher on global affairs. She is a Contributing Editor of Boston Review, and writes weekly news analysis on Middle East affairs for Inter-Press service. Her blog can be enjoyed at Just World News.    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/09/18/emperors-new-old-nuclear-clothes

September 19, 2019 - Posted by | Israel, politics international, weapons and war

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