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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Israel should not attack Iran

    The Islamic Republic of Iran, perceived by Westerners as the world’s looniest state next to North Korea, may have finally pressed its luck too far. There is talk in Israel, Iran’s most implacable foe, that the dramatic covert war they’ve waged with Iran will soon come out in the open. Military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities are being seriously discussed. Israel fears that once the facilities are moved underground there will be no ordnance, barring nuclear weapons, that can take them out. Israel may have a point, but there are plenty of other, stronger points that make this type of intervention quite foolish.

    Israel can ill afford the conflict it is considering. The Israeli Defense Forces are superior to Iran’s army, but in order to attack the Iranian facilities, Israeli planes would have to fly a great distance across unfriendly skies. A war of this sort would likely force at least some side taking, and given the history of Israel’s neighbors, that prospect seems to favor Iran. Even Saudi Arabia, a powerful Sunni monarchy that is at odds with the Shi’a theocracy in Iran, may choose what it perceives as the lesser of two evils if Israel flies military missions in its airspace. In addition, Iran’s close ties to both Hezbollah and Hamas means that it essentially has an army, albeit a guerilla one, already deployed in Israel should it come to hostilities.

    Iran itself is weak right now, but the type of action Israel is discussing would actually serve to make its enemy stronger. Sanctions are squeezing the regime more than Iran would probably care to admit. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are not on good terms, and their dispute divides the rest of the leadership. Most importantly, Iran and its people are not aligned. The regime was able to quell dissent in 2009, but those same grievances have not evaporated. Iran’s commitment to nuclear energy and the country’s odd antics of late — an attempted attack on the Saudi embassy in the U.S. is perhaps the strangest — is actually a sign of the regime’s weakness.

    All that can change if Israel decides to go through with its attacks. The kind of weakness Iran is experiencing is best exploited through diplomacy. There are claims that the ultra-religious regime is little more than a suicide cult that refuses to listen to reason. But Khanmenei, a former president and leader in Iran’s war with Iraq, is a cagier operator than that. He holds the real power in Iran and will make a good deal for himself if forced to do so. Israel’s planned strike would actually give him and his regime far greater bargaining power. Iran’s harsh governance would suddenly become justified now that its great enemy was attacking, and the people would likely line up with their own country sooner than aid Israel.

    For pragmatic reasons, diplomacy remains the best policy in dealing with Iran. Further diplomatic pressure stands a real chance of forcing Khanmenei’s regime to cooperate. But Israel’s talk of striking them threatens to undermine all that. Western powers, especially the U.S., should rein in Israel at any cost. Not only would the chaos be politically horrific, but the Western economy can’t afford that sort of conflict in the Middle East. Oil exports would naturally be endangered, especially given Iran’s recent threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway out of the Persian Gulf through which a large amount of the world’s oil flows. It is in everyone’s interests to avoid using military violence against Iran at the moment.

    Let us hope Israel sees the reason in this before doing something dangerously foolish.

    — Andrew J. Conlogue is a junior studying philosophy, politics, economics and law. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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