Saturday, 25 August 2012 22:23 GFP Columnist - Basil Venitis
Tehran and Hezbollah warn of cataclysmic retaliation against an Israeli attack, threatening to make the country a living hell. Netanyahu is pushing not only for Obama's acceptance of whatever action Israel decides to take but for stronger language against Iran that goes beyond the all-options-are-on-the table mantra.

But Obama has been working to convince Netanyahu that a go-it-alone attack would cause only a temporary setback to Tehran's nuclear ambitions while plunging the already-volatile Middle East into chaos. An explicit American military threat would be counterproductive right now, especially due to the potential for further spikes in global oil prices.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says: If we are forced to use our rockets to protect our people and our country, we will not hesitate to do so, and that will turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists into a living hell. An Israeli strike on Iran would bring an enormous response from the Islamic Republic, giving it the opportunity it has been dreaming of since 1979!

Israeli military leaders have been signaling that they may attack the Lebanese group's militant factions in the near future if rocket strikes against Israeli targets continue. Netanyahu will not go as far as providing assurances that Israel will consult Washington - its biggest source of military assistance, before launching any strikes on Iran, which has called for the destruction of the Jewish state. Anyone who thinks that Israel is not going to make its own decision, particularly on an issue they view in existential terms, is kidding himself.

Tel Aviv is bluffing that a pre-emptive attack against Iranian nuclear sites is immanent. Emergency text messaging systems have been tested in some cities, and gas mask sales have been on the rise. Ahmadinejad says: The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor. The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land. A new Middle East, free of US and Zionist influence, would then be formed.

The noise from Israel over a possible strike is geared more toward pressuring the international community for further sanctions than foreshadowing an imminent attack on Iran. Netanyahu would prefer to see a Republican take control of the White House in 2013 for fear that Obama's re-election would give him a freer hand to push anew for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians during a second term.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, an assertion shared by most international experts. According to International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA), there is no evidence that Iran has diverted enriched uranium from the peaceful and lawful generation of power toward building a nuclear weapon. According to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Unfortunately, US foreign policy has boxed Iran into a corner where they may view development of a nuclear weapon as the only way to maintain sovereignty.

They are surrounded by unfriendly nuclear powers and history has shown that having a nuclear weapon is the best way to avoid being bombed or invaded. The unintended consequences of our confrontational policies toward Iran may be to actually encourage them to seek nuclear weapons capabilities. We should be using diplomacy rather than threats and hostility.

Many Israelis have been signing petitions urging their leaders and military not to strike Iran. Hermann Goering used to say the people don't want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.

Israel tried to rid Lebanon of Hezbollah with a military assault in 2006. Israel and Lebanon have been in a state of war ever since, and Israeli officials accuse Hezbollah of carrying out the last month's deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a local bus driver.

Michael Scheuer points out Washington, Tel Aviv, and London are already conducting a lethal, covert-action war inside Iran which is killing Iranian nuclear scientists and destroying nuclear-related facilities, as well as trying to goad Tehran into reacting with violence and thereby give the West a casus belli.

Such a war would be a financial and military disaster for the United States, and would be watched with glee by Russian and Chinese leaders who — while their countries would lose some trade with Iran during a war — would applaud another U.S. self-inflicted wound which further erodes the already failing economy that is the base of American power.

Moreover, if U.S. political leaders would not permit the U.S. military to defeat Afghan and Iraqi mujahedin armed with Korean War-vintage weapons, they surely will not allow the military to defeat a much better armed nation-state like Iran. Thus we would have yet another politically imposed defeat for the U.S. military.

Ron Paul notes that fortunately there is another way. Nothing promotes peace better than free trade. Countries that trade with each other generally do not make war on each other, as both countries gain economic benefits they do not want to jeopardize. China is a massive nuclear power yet it does not seek military confrontation with the United States. Trade is much more profitable. Also trade and friendship applies much more effective persuasion to encourage better behavior, as does leading by example. Alarmingly, tough new sanctions are under consideration that would also punish Iran's trading partners, including China, Russia, and possibly our NATO allies such as Germany.

Image Courtesy of DayLife - US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speak during meetings in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. The two leaders go into talks on the Iranian nuclear stand-off, with each publicly seeking to stake out some common ground. - Getty Images

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