Global Governance, Middle East & North Africa, Peace | Columnist Service

The Catastrophic Consequences of an Attack on Iran

OSLO, Oct 8 2012 (IPS) - The Israeli attack seems imminent. Israeli blogger Richard Silverstein circulates a leaked “shock and awe” strategy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak hard zionism to decapitate, paralyze Iran, and New York University professor Alon Ben-Meir warns against believing that Israel is bluffing.

Johan Galtung

Israel may prefer doing so with the U.S. Some believe the nuclear bomb story, others believe that the purpose is Israel as a Jewish state from the Nile to the Euphrates, the Stern Gang charter also promoted by Netanyahu’s late father. The two stories do not exclude each other.

Iran is a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) observer. An attack may trigger responses from the core members, Russia and China. What Israel may gain in Saudi Arabia Sunni support they may lose in considerably more important parts of the world in diplomatic and economic relations. SCO is huge. There is also the real danger of a world war of NATO against SCO.

Iranian devastating responses will come before decapitation is effective, and, maybe those heads are well protected and have alternate systems? Israelis are clever at destructive work, but may also underestimate their enemies.

An old Jewish proverb says, “The best way to get rid of your enemies is to make them your friends.” Bombing Iran would win Israel no true friends, it would only ignite Iran’s desire to develop nuclear weapons, with full understanding from most of the world.

To prove its claim of purely peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Iran should open its nuclear facilities to unimpeded inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But Israel should do the same. The double-standard, “we have a right to possess nuclear weapons, you don’t” is untenable.

Uri Avnery, in “A Putsch Against War: Generals and secret police chiefs get together for an attack on the politicians,” writes: “In our country we are now seeing a verbal uprising against the elected politicians by a group of current and former army generals who condemn the government’s threat to start a war against Iran, and some of them condemning the government’s failure to negotiate with the Palestinians for peace.”

Some call anyone who criticizes Israeli policies an “anti-Semite” or a “self-hating Jew”. But who is a better friend, when someone walks blindfolded towards an abyss: who says, “go right ahead, you are on the right track”, or who says, “stop, turn around, you are in grave danger”? Do not try to turn attention away from Israel’s real crises, described by Peter Beinart in “The Crisis of Zionism” and Gershom Gorenberg in “The Unmaking of Israel” (2011).

The solution is a Middle East nuclear-free zone including Iran and Israel. 64 percent of Israelis are in favor, the same in Iran, provided Israel participates. Negotiate such an agreement, and there would be a sigh of relief all over–and both countries would be embraced.

The West is now paying for the 1953 CIA-MI6 coup ousting Iran’s democratically elected president Muhammad Mossadegh and bringing in 25 years of Shah dictatorship. Apologies might carry us far toward solving the “nuclear crisis” which will get worse unless a miracle happens: the U.S./U.K. choose rationality, mediation and conciliation rather than violence and escalation.

Such miracles do occur: Margaret Thatcher sent British troops to Northern Ireland, refusing to talk with “terrorists”, letting hunger strikers die. Tony Blair chose a different course from what he practised with regard to Muslims: he began a dialogue with Sinn Fein, and started withdrawing the British army. Since then no more IRA bombs have exploded in England. Netanyahu=Thatcher.

Is Anglo-America strong enough to admit past mistakes? Or are they still so addicted to belligerence that they prefer another major mistake?

Or, could it be that the whole nuclear issue is only a pretext to pave the way for the dream, Israel between Nile and Euphrates?

That will never work. Israel can attain lasting security only through peace with its neighbours, like in a Middle East Community of Israel with its five Arab neighbours, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine, recognized according to international law, 1967 borders with some exchanges, Israeli cantons on the West bank and Palestinian cantons in northwest Israel. A community modeled after the six-state European Economic Community of 1958, one of the most successful peace projects in history, ending centuries of war between many of the member states.

Decisions would have to be by consensus. Start slowly with free flow of goods, persons, services, ideas; settlement and investment later. Build confidence. Change a relation badly broken by naqba into a peaceful, evolving relation.

Add an open-ended Conference on Security and Cooperation in West Asia, where all parties are at the table and all issues on the table, modeled after the 1972-75 Helsinki Conference, which prepared the end of the Cold War. It can lead to an Organization for Security and Cooperation in West Asia, similar to the OSCE. Entirely feasible, with some will. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)

* Johan Galtung, a professor of Peace Studies, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University. He is author of many books on peace and related issues, including “50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives”.

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