Posts Tagged ‘nukes’
Jews can trace their history in Persia back at least 2,500 years to the time of Cyrus the Great, who restored the Jews to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. Sadly, in the last several decades, the Jews in Persia have been reduced to one tenth their previous size. Most Jews fled Iran because of the rising antisemitism and persecution that accompanied the Islamic Revolution and went to Israel. A very large number also fled to the United States.
The Atlantic’s Elizabeth Weingarten has an amazing piece discussing the recent history of Persian Jews in the United States. Here is what she reports on Persian Jewish thought on the possibility of a military strike on Iran:
“Its very difficult for us,” explains Hooshang Nemat, the executive vice president of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York. “You dont want to see your nation destroyed, and you dont want to see a conflict between your country of birth and the country that you sympathize with because of religion and because of shared history.” Nemat, a 67-year-old Mashadi Jew an small, ancient group from the Iranian city of Mashad, came to America in 1961 as a student at the University of Miami. He returned to Iran in 1972, and came back to the United States because of the revolution.
Like Nemat, most Iranian American Jews are against a military strike on Iran — whether it is from Israel or from the United States. But while theyd prefer a diplomatic solution, others say they would still support Israel in defending itself against a virulently anti-Semitic, and potentially dangerous, regime. Sam Kermanian, the former secretary general of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, believes that an Israeli strike “would be viewed as a justifiable act of defense,” adding that “the reaction of the Iranian American Jewish community wont be much different than the reaction of the majority of the people of Iran, who view the current regime as oppressive, and in conflict with the interests of the people of Iran.”
This is just a small sample of what Weingarten shares. The entire piece is worth reading and provides valuable insight on the views of religious minorities from Iran.
cross-posted at The View From Damavand
Note: This piece is cross-posted at View From Damavand.
Lee Smith, a rising star in the Middle East analysis world, has an excellent exploration over at Newsweek of the alliance against an Iranian bomb in the region.
Although most fear an Israeli attack on Iran, Smith lays out the case for much broader support for an attack. Indeed, he presents an Israeli attack as a backup to a far more compelling case for an American-led attack on behalf of Arab states. In the final paragraph he notes:
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal explained to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that sanctions against Iran did not offer the immediate solution required to stop the revolutionary regime’s push for a nuclear weapon. This sentiment was echoed a few weeks back by the United Arab Emirates’ ambassdor to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, who calculated that bombing Iran was preferable to an Iranian bomb. Even as the ambassador later backtracked, the Middle East’s worst-kept secret was now in the public record: the Arabs are even more concerned than the Israelis about an Iranian bomb.
The Persians have a history of being closer to the West than do the Arabs. The alignment of so many disparate interests against Iran is a sad reflection of the disastrous course that the Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad have taken. They have converted the Persian nation into a uniter of some of the world’s most bitter enemies … and against Iran.
Let me suggest first, that there is little point in discussing the historical use of the bomb. It’s applicability today is mostly insignificant. I tend to agree with the pro-nuclear side on the historical use of nuclear weapons in Japan during WWII. But, I tend to agree with most disarmament advocates regarding the potential contemporary use. I would suggest that our current stockpiles of high-yield nuclear weapons are not useful and, importantly, serve only as a diplomatic barrier. However, I am not sure about our low-yield tactical nuclear weapons. If those weapons can take out a militant stronghold deep in a mountain and conventional weapons cannot, then I can see strategic reasons for keeping those weapons. However, none of our decisions in this regard are impacted by our obligations under the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), because all the states which signed the NPT did so without requiring the US (or other nuclear states) to disarm.
However, modern discussion of these issues relate less to the US and more to other states. Here, in my view, is the bottom line: Israel is not a signatory to the NPT and has never tested nuclear weapons (a key strategic capability limitation). India and Pakistan are not NPT signatories, but have tested nuclear weapons, for which they suffered economic and diplomatic consequences, even in the absence of a violation of treaty obligations. Iran is an NPT signatory, receives certain benefits as a signatory, and with its as-yet-limited steps towards nuclear weapons has already violated the NPT. These differences are critical differences that differentiate how we handle states’ nuclear aspirations. Whatever harm Israeli, Indian, or Pakistani nuclear weapons do to global security, they do no harm to international rule of law. And, there is no legal requirement that we punish those states for their nuclear activities. American, British, Russian, and certain other nuclear weapon states are specifically protected by the NPT in their status as nuclear states and whatever they do to global security, they do no harm to international rule of law. Iran, however, is a non-nuclear signatory to the NPT and its nuclear ambitions not only harm global security, but they also do irreparable damage to international rule of law, which if permitted without severe penalties, destabilizes the entire framework of international law.
Let me suggest that it is these considerations, and not the propriety of American use of nuclear weapons more than 60 years ago in the absence of the NPT and most of the Geneva Conventions, that should drive modern discussions of the use of nuclear weapons. I would also recommend reading about Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter. Their thoughts on these issues were truly ahead of their time and skillfully cut through the Cold War debate between the defenders of MAD (mutually-assured destruction) and the defenders of total disarmament.