When It Comes to Iran, Israel Risks Repeating the Mistakes of 1973 and 2023

If Iran succeeds in obtaining nuclear weapons, the war in Gaza, let alone the protests on college campuses, will seem like a minor complication. Jonathan Schachter fears that this danger could be much more imminent than decisionmakers in Jerusalem and Washington believe. In his view, Israel seems to be repeating the mistake that allowed it to be taken by surprise on Simchat Torah of 2023 and Yom Kippur of 1973: putting too much faith in an intelligence concept that could be wrong.

Israel and the United States apparently believe that despite Iran’s well-documented progress in developing capabilities necessary for producing and delivering nuclear weapons, as well as its extensive and ongoing record of violating its international nuclear obligations, there is no acute crisis because building a bomb would take time, would be observable, and could be stopped by force. Taken together, these assumptions and their moderating impact on Israeli and American policy form a new Iran concept reminiscent of its 1973 namesake and of the systemic failures that preceded the October 7 massacre.

Meanwhile, most of the restrictions put in place by the 2015 nuclear deal will expire by the end of next year, rendering the question of Iran’s adherence moot. And the forces that could be taking action aren’t:

The European Union regularly issues boilerplate press releases asserting its members’ “grave concern.” American decisionmakers and spokespeople have created the unmistakable impression that their reservations about the use of force are stronger than their commitment to use force to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb. At the same time, the U.S. refuses to enforce its own sanctions comprehensively: Iranian oil exports (especially to China) and foreign-currency reserves have ballooned since January 2021, when the Biden administration took office.

Israel’s response has also been sluggish and ambiguous. Despite its oft-stated policy of never allowing a nuclear Iran, Israel’s words and deeds have sent mixed messages to allies and adversaries—perhaps inadvertently reinforcing the prevailing sense in Washington and elsewhere that Iran’s nuclear efforts do not present an exigent crisis.

Read more at Hudson Institute

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Yom Kippur War

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship