The continuing problem for the United States is that every modern administration has falsely believed that what Israel and America do or don't do can deter the stated objectives of radical Arab and Muslim leaders.
The history and consequences of American and Israeli reluctance to engage in pre-emption has been chronicled by Ettinger. Here are two of several examples: Oct. 5, 1973: Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir rejected the option of a pre-emptive strike against mobilizing Egyptian and Syrian troops. Meir didn't want to appear as the aggressor and damage ties with the U.S., which was pressuring Israel to do nothing, probably out of fear the incendiary situation would be "inflamed." Following the resultant Yom Kippur War, many came to view the cost of waiting as greater than it might have been had Israel attacked first.
In June 1981, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin considered a pre-emptive strike against Iraq's nuclear reactor. Most of the intelligence and military leadership in Israel opposed action. Begin concluded, correctly, the cost of restraint would be greater than the cost of action. The surprise Israeli air strike took out the reactor under construction near Baghdad. The United Nations Security Council denounced the attack and the Reagan administration issued the pro forma denunciations of Israel's actions, though there were reports the president tacitly approved. The results were favorable to Israel and the U.S., delaying further action against Saddam Hussein until Desert Storm in 1991 and his ultimate overthrow in 2003.
Now Israel and the U.S. are faced with another choice: a pre-emptive strike that would setback, or destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities, or wait and see what might happen. Does anyone -- other than Ron Paul -- deny the disaster that might occur if Iran had a nuclear device and the capability to deliver it against targets in Israel and America?
As the joke goes, "denial is not just a river in Egypt."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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