Saturday, April 28, 2012

Israel vs. Iran: the kook's on the other foot

Soaked up any sage talk lately about whether the Iranian leadership is "rational"?  Two high-level  voices from Israel's military and security services have weighed in recently on questions of rationality and religious fervor, and their comments mesh interestingly.

First, Benny Gantz, head of the Israeli Defense Force, told Haaretz, in an interview published on April 25, that he did not think Iran would build a nuclear bomb -- not now, anyway. He scoped out Khamenei's thinking in some detail:
As long as its facilities are not bomb-proof, "the program is too vulnerable, in Iran's view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don't think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous."
And now, Yuval Diskin, former head of Israel's internal security service, casts a cold eye on current Israeli leadership. The Times' Jodi Rudoren reports:

“I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings,” said Yuval Diskin, who stepped down last May after six years running the Shin Bet, Israel’s version of the F.B.I. 

“I have observed them from up close,” Mr. Diskin said. “I fear very much that these are not the people I’d want at the wheel.” Echoing Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, Mr. Diskin also said that the government was “misleading the public” about the likely effectiveness of an aerial strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Dagan has been loudly questioning Netanyahu and Barak's leadership capability for some time. 

So major pillars of Israel's military and security elite regard Khamenei as a cagey, rational strategist, and Netanyahu as an hysteric awash in Biblical fears and fantasies -- e.g.,  of a demonic "Amalek" that God wants destroyed, and of a divinely guided Mordechai/Esther duo who turn the tables on a planned genocide, massacring 75,000 Persians in the process. 

Ah, democracy.  One thing you've got to say for Israelis -- they don't mince words.

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