Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Israel to NATO?

Interesting write-up in the WaPo from Ronald Asmus on an interesting option for a festering problem. Before we dig in, let's review.

Iran is going to get a nuke. Face it. So, what are you options?
  1. Bomb Iran: Sounds nice and you can sing it to the tune "Barbara Anne," but at best it will be a short-term, feel-OK solution to a larger problem. See Operation DESERT FOX.
  2. Sanctions: We really shouldn't even have to talk about that. When a bully has you by the balls with one hand and hugging your girlfriend with the other - telling him to, "Stop, or I won't be your friend any more.." isn't going to work.
  3. Full war and invasion: like Shrek says, "You and what Army?" 'Nuff said.
  4. Dust of the patient and proven, dare I say, Containment?
Don't dismiss it; worked in fits-and-starts with the Soviets. But let's get to the article.
The choice of how to respond to Iran's growing threat to the West in general and Israel in particular is not an easy one. One option is to try to stop Iran's nuclear program via an air and missile strike -- but such a step is unlikely to work militarily and could have disastrous consequences. The other is to shift to a longer-term strategy of containment while working for peaceful regime change. While that might work over time, it is unlikely to stop Iran from going nuclear in the short term if it is determined to do so. While working to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the West must think now about what to do if we fail.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. In many ways, Europe is an easier target for blackmail and attack. Weakness attracts strength.
One important element has been missing from the debate: NATO. What can the alliance do to help address the growing likelihood that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons? Let us not forget that it is European capitals that would be within striking distance of Iranian nuclear arms. NATO would have to return to its classic mission of defending Europe by deterring a nuclear threat.
But the Israel in NATO thing: it won't make things easier.
But the country most threatened by a future Iranian nuclear capability is, of course, Israel. It would be a mistake to dismiss Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rantings about Israel as mere posturing or a bluff. One lesson from Sept. 11 is that we should not limit our strategic imagination or underestimate our enemies in the Middle East. When someone says he wants to wipe you off the map, he might just might mean it. If, then, the West decides that a military strike to deny Iran the nuclear option is too risky and instead opts for a policy of deterrence and long-term peaceful regime change, it must also take steps to ensure Israel's protection for that interim period.
Yea, but do you think NATO, with all its different personalities, is willing to take the chance to risk, say, Strasbourg and energy supplies for Tel Aviv?
The United States already has a de facto security commitment to Israel. Any future U.S. president would go to the defense of that country if its existence were threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran. And in spite of the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic voices that one can hear in Europe, there is little doubt that European leaders such as Tony Blair, Angela Merkel and even Jacques Chirac would also stand tall and defend Israel against an Iranian threat. Given this situation, basic deterrence theory tells us that it is more credible and effective if those commitments are clear and unambiguous.

The best way to provide Israel with that additional security is to upgrade its relationship with the collective defense arm of the West: NATO.
I would like to see the reaction through Eurabia as the flag of Israel is raised next to those of Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, United States, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. You thought CartoonChaos was bad.

Nice chess game we have here. What this plan may do, and is not covered by the article, is play right into the Islamist's playbook. With Israel in NATO they will have prima facia evidence of the "Zionist-Crusader Alliance." Though Israel and Turkey have surprisingly good relations, this would put a lot of strain on Turkey - already trending towards the Islamists.

Yes, fun times. Fun times.

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