Will Israel hit Iran�s nuclear facilities, or won�t they?
You would think everyone would be talking about it on the international level,
and it might be the case judging from the newspaper articles that are being
churned out about a possible nuke followed by regional conflagration.
In Jordan, news is in full throttle: Yes Israel is
contemplating a hit on Iran and it is in line with its power-hungry policies to
dominate the region even if it eventually destroys itself.
Newspapers here see Israel as careless and would not only be
prepared for that slippery slope of a nuclear exchange, but would use her nukes
as a deterrent force to stop Iran from gaining her own nuclear capability.
Iran is not afraid, saying time and again, her nuclear
development is for peaceful purposes and it will have a nuclear capability come
what may, regardless of what Israel is trying to do and that international
nuclear inspectors are monitoring Iran's activities, which is more than can be
said of Israel whose nuclear reactors and capabilities remain a state secret.
On a more personal level, I briefly talked to my wife about
a possible hit on Iran, which I thought was quite probable after reading the
recent articles, and she just looked and said the issue is being blown out of
proportion by media talk -- there �won�t be war� and it is �media hype.�
Someone else just made fun of the issue. All this was going
on when International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammad Al Baradei was
warning that if a strike does happen, then it will surely turn the region into
a ball of fire.
Ball of fire or not, the journalists and media were having a
field day. Now, they're saying, is the best time to strike because US President
George W. Bush is nearing the end of his tenure in office and Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert is in trouble over allegations of corruption and accepting
bribes, and, so the theory goes, if he is going to go, then he wants to go in
But such reports and opinions are being made when the actual
devastation and the far-reaching consequences of a potential strike and the
subsequent military and nuclear exchange is underplayed, and even treated as a
daily occurrence where people will just pick up the pieces and continue with
People, including the media are not fully aware of what a
nuclear exchange would mean in terms of the scale of human losses, of
radiation, devastation, the so-called nuclear winter, the nuclear holocaust
that would actually make the the region completely uninhabitable for many years
While this may be the case in the West with the media there
long tackling these issues, especially at the height of the Cold War in the
1980s, here the media has taken more of a sedate view about tackling these
subjects, especially since more important issues were on the scene.
That is until now. Seeing the issue as an extension of the
Arab-Israeli conflict, today the media are using the possible strike as a means
of causing us fear, regardless of the cynicism of many people like my wife who
keep saying its media scare-mongering. But, and regardless again, what is
required is a real cold analysis of the situation as it exists.
Would Israel be willing to take a chance and strike, whether
militarily or nuclear, knowing full well that the Iran has the long-range
missile capability, and knowing also the United States is not too sure and
can�t make up its mind about the strike, while playing lip service to negotiation
and diplomatic talk.
Iran is not Iraq; this is not 1982 when Israeli F16s flew
over the region and bombed the Ozreiq reactor being built by Saddam Hussein.
Despite the fact the Americans are in Iraq, and the Israelis are flexing their
muscles against the Palestinians and frequently threatening the Lebanese and
Syrians, the security and military environment in the region is changing,
New powers like Iran, Syria, Turkey and non-state actors
like Hizbollah and maybe Hamas are increasingly making headway in the region
and internationally, and, therefore, a direct hit on Iran by Israel would not
be received at all well by the Europeans, who already recognize Israel�s
intransigence on the Middle East peace process.
Today, Israel�s image is increasingly at stake, an image
that has come to be increasingly tarnished since the start of the Second
Intifada in 2000, and Israel would definitely not want to rock the boat by
seeking to practice with its own nuclear weapons -- estimated to be some 200 --
on states like Iran.
The other important thing to remember is that Israel values
its own existence and survival; that�s why it's unlikely to tale measures that
could lead to its destruction if it made nuclear strikes -- even surgical or
limited strikes -- on other nations.
Hence survival is not only a security argument but an
ideological one that involves an entity, identity and statehood. An Israeli
state even if it does survive a nuclear exchange would probably be sitting in
an ocean of radiation, too far from the parameters of Europe, and certainly too
far to remain as the United States' valuable ally, because if all things are
destroyed, there would be no need to have a �trusted friend� in the Middle
These continue to be in the realm of possibilities and conjecture.
However, and against the argument of nuclear hit on Iran, the fact is that
American troops are in Iraq, in the middle of what would become a �nuclear
fireball.� Unless, of course, Israel refuses to give warning and goes for the
element of surprise and unleashes its weapons against Iran in a preemptive
strike, a doctrine the US used for launching its 2003 war to remove Saddam
Hussein and destroy his so-called weapons of mass destruction which were
subsequently proved nonexistent.
Marwan Asmar is the chief editor of Jo Magazine, an English monthly based in
Amman, Jordan. From 1993 to 2003, he served as the managing editor of The
English language weekly, The Star. He writes about politics, economics, culture
and society He received his PhD from the University of Leeds in 1990, with his
dissertation on �The State and Politics of Labor Migration on Kuwait.� Today he
works as a media consultant in Jordan.