Journalist says nuclear Iran would torpedo peace process
By AMY R KAUFMAN
article created on: 2011-01-15T00:00:00
Award-winning journalist Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in the Atlantic one year ago that “zero hour is not yet here” for Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. When he spoke on Iran, Israel and the future of the Middle East at Congregation Beth Israel’s Oseran Family Lecture Dec. 9, he said, “In another month, if people say it’s six months away, we shouldn’t be surprised.”
Goldberg, a national correspondent for the Atlantic, said “there is the obvious fear” that the “mullahs of Iran” would choose to deploy nuclear weapons, but Israeli politicians “don’t believe that is likely.”
“More likely,” he said, “it would bring about the end of the peace process as we understand it. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it will have won its 30-year war with the U.S. for domination of the Middle East; it will have defied Israel and the Arabs; and it will be a superpower, therefore empowering its proxy armies,” including Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“Israel has had a hard enough time managing these armies,” said Goldberg. “Can you imagine if they were operating under Iran’s nuclear umbrella?”
Arab nations would ally with an Iranian superpower out of self-preservation, said Goldberg.
“No Arab leader is going to make a peace treaty with the state of Israel, or even put out feelers for a peace treaty, if it feels Iran is the dominant power in the Middle East,” Goldberg declared. “If Iran shows itself to be the strong horse, people will ally with Iran. So you can say goodbye to the peace process, and you can have the prospect of perpetual rocket war under the Iranian nuclear umbrella.”
Goldberg said “Israel’s future will be in doubt” if Iran gains nuclear weapons.
He warned, however, that a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel or the United States could spark even more disastrous consequences, including a “regional or all-out war” that could cost Israeli, Arab, Iranian and American lives; sustained attacks on Israel; a spike in terrorism; and skyrocketing oil prices that could reach $8 per gallon.
“The choice is sanctions and foiling operations designed to subvert the nuclear program,” he said. “Obama has done a good job of building multilateral sanctions against Iran; it could always be better. … The Stuxnet fires have done an amazing job of disabling the computer programs that run the centrifuges in Iran.”
Although a nuclear Iran does not threaten America’s existence, according to Goldberg, the United States has two primary reasons for preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
“First and foremost is that an Iranian nuclear program will lead to a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region,” he said. “This is the issue that motivates Obama more than any other single issue. The day after Iran declares itself a nuclear power or is discovered, the Turks, Saudis and Egyptians begin nuclear weapons programs in earnest.”
The menace of a nuclear Iran is not the worst threat to Israel’s existence, he added.
“The most serious challenge facing Israel,” he said, “is the delegitimization campaign by Muslims, Europeans and hard leftists in America” who aim to undermine “the very idea that the Jewish state is just and that the Jewish people deserve a state in their historic homeland.”
If these detractors succeed in “convincing most of the world that Israel is an illegitimate state, then Israel will lose its right to defend itself,” said Goldberg.
“If the Palestinians have the right to a state, then certainly the Jews have the right,” he said. “There are things we have to do as American Jews to explain that Israel has the same right to exist as any other country.”
Goldberg cited three reasons to be optimistic about the Middle East peace process.
First, he said, “Eighty percent of the members of the Knesset are members of parties that have endorsed a two-state solution to the problem. It’s never been that high in Israel’s history.”
Second, he said, “In the West Bank you have a Palestinian government that is the most responsible in the history of the Palestinian people. You have a president and a prime minister … who are working to build the security and the economic and civil society structures of the state. This has never before happened in Palestinian history.”
A third reason for optimism, said Goldberg, is that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is unlikely to stay in power.
He referred to the miraculous survival of the Jewish people, saying, “Our key ability as a people is steadfastness. … I feel that we’re going to survive and flourish, and that 20 years from now we will gather in this same room and mention the name Ahmadinejad, and people won’t remember why he was so much in the news. He will find himself in the ash-heap of history, just as dictators and genocidal tyrants have before.”
Goldberg is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror (2006), cited as best book of the year by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other publications.