January 24, 2007


Olmert says nuclear attack not imminent: Prime minister on Iranian threat: No force in the world can destroy us, we will defend ourselves (Yaakov Lappin, 1/24/07, YNet)

An Iranian nuclear attack on Israel is not an imminent threat, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Herzliya Conference Wednesday evening. [...]

"There is no near threat of a nuclear attack on Israel," Olmert said. "At the stage we are in, there is still time - though not unlimited amounts, to stop Iran from going nuclear... We are not apathetic. We can't afford to be apathetic. We are addressing the Iranian threat." [...]

"Our desire for peace should not be seen as weakness but source of strength. Those who threaten our existence, (should know) we have the ability to defend ourselves. We won't endanger the lives of our nation. We have the right to fully act to defend our vital interests. We won't hesitate to act. No one should confuse our restraint with hesitancy to act.

"There is no force in the world that can destroy us, and neither will there be one. We refuse to be dragged into atmosphere of fear. We have much strength and nothing to fear, and we won't fear. We can stand against nuclear threats, and thwart them," the prime minister stated.

What's the Weekly Standard going to do with that fallout shelter now?

Stop Obsessing About Iran (Peter Beinart, 1/19/07, TIME)

Iraq poses big problems, but becoming Iran's flunky probably isn't one of them. There are three main reasons: Iraq's Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds.

Sunni Iraqis have feared Persian domination since before there was an Iraq. That fear reached fever pitch after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Sunni politicians regularly call their Shi'ite rivals tools of Tehran. If Iraq's Shi'ite leaders want the Sunnis to end their insurgency, they'll have to seriously distance themselves from the mullahs next door. If they don't, the Baghdad government will lack influence over large chunks of the country, since even with Iran's help, Iraq's Shi'ite militias won't easily defeat a Sunni insurgency stocked with Saddam's former officers and bankrolled by oil money from the gulf.

In fact, Tehran probably fears an Iraqi civil war more than it relishes calling the shots in Baghdad. One big reason is the Kurds. The more Iraq unravels, the closer Iraq's Kurds will edge toward outright secession. And the closer they get, the more likely it is that their Kurdish brethren across the border--who make up 7% of Iran's population--will try to join them. As non-Persians (and Sunnis to boot), Iran's Kurds get nothing but abuse from their Shi'ite masters in Tehran. In July 2005, Iranian police killed a Kurdish opposition figure, strapped his body to a jeep and dragged it through the streets of a Kurdish town, sparking riots that lasted six weeks. Many Iranian Kurds would love a country of their own, and events next door could provide the inspiration they need. Instead of Iran's subverting Iraq's stability, it could turn out to be the other way around.

Were Iraqi Shi'ites really an Iranian fifth column, all this might be cold comfort. But the truth is more complicated. Though many Sunnis won't admit it, Iraqi nationalism runs deep among their long-repressed countrymen. As historian Reidar Visser has observed, Iraq's Shi'ites have never launched a broad-based movement to secede. When Baghdad and Tehran went to war in the 1980s, Iraq's Shi'ite soldiers fought fiercely, especially after Iranian forces crossed onto Iraqi soil. It's true that one major Shi'ite party, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa, took refuge in Iran during Saddam's rule. Another, SCIRI, was actually born there. But since entering government, leaders of both parties have carefully displayed their independence from Tehran.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 24, 2007 5:43 PM

Congratulations on a new superlative achievement in a headline and closing remark. Just as Thar, she blows," set a benchmark for humor, the above misinterpretation of Prime Minister Olmert's remarks must be a new record for either irony or plain error.

Olmert never said that Iran does not threaten total war, only that the threat is not immediate due to Iranian instant incapacity. On the contrary, the threat is recognized as real and the counter-threat of massive retaliation is proffered.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 24, 2007 7:25 PM

Well said Lou.

Psst, Oj... They're the Bad Guys. You shouldn't be taking their side.

Posted by: dna at January 24, 2007 8:05 PM

"There is no force in the world that can destroy us, and neither will there be one. We refuse to be dragged into atmosphere of fear. We have much strength and nothing to fear..."

He's wrong, of course, we could destroy them. But only us.

Posted by: oj at January 24, 2007 8:09 PM

A bad president does not make a bad country, thankfully.

Posted by: oj at January 24, 2007 8:11 PM

I'll believe that when Iran has a "We Love Israel" day.

And if they could stop sponsoring terrorism, that would be nice too.

I suppose that one day they could replace their current bigoted, misogynist theocracy and embrace an actual democracy, but I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, ending persecution of religious minorities like the Bahai would be a good first step.

Posted by: dna at January 24, 2007 8:32 PM

Those are post-victory behaviors. Not pre-

Posted by: oj at January 24, 2007 8:50 PM