Iran is not an existential threat (repeat again and again)

Avner Cohen wonders in Haaretz why Israel has allowed itself to be supposedly petrified of Iran’s alleged nuclear program (discounting the possibility that it pays to keep a populace petrified of an enemy):

What if Israel had treated Iran’s nuclear project as an exhibitionist, even childish, attempt by a nation mired in a deep identity crisis to exploit the prestige and mystique of nuclear power to create a national ethos of technological progress at home, as well as a diplomatic miracle cure that would enable it to challenge the West and move to the center of the international stage?

What would have happened if we had refused to become hysterical and apocalyptic, and had instead remained calm at the existential level, just as the Iranians are calm with regard to us? After all, the Iranians are convinced that we have nuclear weapons – and a lot of them. Yet despite this, while they see us as a military threat to their nuclear program, they do not see us as an existential threat to the Iranian nation. Adopting such a strategic view would not oblige Israel to attack Iran, because Tehran could not pose an existential threat to Israel.

Ultimately, we need to internalize the insight that even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced this week, when he said that all the talk about an Iranian bomb is irrational and meaningless. This is not simply because any Iranian attempt to destroy Israel via a nuclear bomb would kill countless Palestinians, but because it would surely lead to the destruction of Iran itself by Israel and the United States. Therefore, the idiotic claim that Iran could bring about Israel’s destruction does not hold water. While it is true that Ahmadinejad would love Israel to implode of its own accord, a self-confident and strong nation should not take such statements too seriously. And it certainly should not view them as an existential threat.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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