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11 April 2008


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Abe Bird

The US can't "control actions which might lead to an Israeli/Iranian confrontation". Iran is beyond any US rational influence, though we can't produce any balance between both sides.

The US nuclear umbrella may "cover" Israel de facto too but it is as it covers half of the world in not all. It is the US premier interest as well as the other democracies and non-democracies over the world. For that basic fact Israel should not any price of hers own national interests?

The Ayatollahs might be "rational actors" but "rational" at their index of rationality, and as we all know, that kind of rational always leave the westerners to be surprised time and again. We all should be cautious.


Recently a member of the Israeli government officially acknowledged that Israel does have nukes (quite a few, actually - about 300 -, although that number was not a part of the official disclosure). So there seems to be a layering of umbrellas in place already. The last time I tried to prevent two umbrellas from getting entangled with each other this turned out to be a complicated affair. I would venture, however, that Krauthammerian
chiliastic rhetoric basically aims at maximizing the entanglement factor.

O.k., that´s a feeble attempt at humor. Let´s remember that all of us have read or learned about how two armed-to-the-teeth superpowers managed to negotiate arms limitation treaties during several decades of an intensely confrontational relationship. So Israel might try this route with regard to Iran. Obviously Arabic countries also ought to be concerned about any Iranian nuclear armament - and the fact that Iran just declared that it would be willing to share its nuclear technology with other islamic countries would seem to be equally calculated to calm the fears of its Arab neighbours and to incite nervousness on the part of Israel. After all, the disentangling act has so far not been demonstrated successfully by 2+n parties charging about in different directions. Maybe Krauthammer is, in fact, thinking about Israeli nuclear concessions in return for a certifiable Iranian retreat on the nuclear issue? This assumes, of course, that he is a rational writer.


Krauthammer is nuts.

To display him as a hawk with U.S. flag overlay is a mistake.

If he has a flag, its Israel's.


I'm curious how ravings like this are given space in a supposedly responsible newspaper.

Iranian nuclear policy will "deeply destabilize the Middle East"? Um, who's done most of the "destabilizing" in the past 5 years?

Some (not all apparently) of the mullahs are apocalytic and messianic? Has "Dr." CK toured the US bible belt recently? Has conservative evangelical Christian Bush ever been asked his views on the "end times"? Thought not.

"...ancient people openly threatened with the final Final Solution?" Is this a Who's More Ancient---jew or persian--pissing contest?
As for deterrence, Israel recently publically admitted it has nuclear weapons, didn't it?

The Islamic Republic of Iran has never attacked one of its neighbors and its clerical leaders have declared that such aggression (and nuclear weapons) are "un-islamic". Israel has repeatedly and frequently threatened and attacked its neighbors. It has engaged in a 40 year occupation on (muslim) land not its own which it appears to have no intention of ending and which has recently been openly converted into a land grab via "security wall". Thus the history doesn't seem to bear out the good doctor's characterizations.

A far better "nuclear deterrence" policy for Israel would be the US moving towards having diplomatic relations with BOTH Israel and Iran. Now that might stabilize things. But it would likely cause even more paranoid ravings on the part of certain conservative pundits. Progress always does.

Get a grip, Dr CK.

Walter Lang


No. No. The bird is the bird, man. Israel is that little dot over by one corner of the beak. pl

Martin K

meletius: ""...ancient people openly threatened with the final Final Solution?" Is this a Who's More Ancient---jew or persian--pissing contest?"

You know the kind of laughter you get before you start crying? lol. You are spot on, it seems. There is no conditional or political thoughts in Krauthammers head: he does not see any deal being made but rather a sort of feudal system of stateinteraction, where the US is Israels tool, not the other way around.

Mr. Lang, you have been to the Palestine territories. I would like to reccomend a norwegian conservative called Kåre Willoch, former prime minister, who is quite clear about his opinions on the checkpoints, etc.


I think a few facts are in order:

On the eve of 2008, Israel's population reached 7.241 million residents. Of this figure, 75.6 percent are Jewish (5.472 million), 20% are Arab (1.449 million) and 4.4% (320,000) are ‘others’ — immigrants who are not registered as Jews in the Interior Ministry, non-Arab Christians and residents without religious classification.

There are 5,313,800 Jews in the United States, 491,500 in France, 373,500 in Canada, and 297,000 in England.

And there are about 850,000 Jews elsewhere in the world.

Which brings us to Krauthammer. All these Jews who don't live in Israel? Are they chopped liver: "..there can be no more pressing cause than preventing the nuclear annihilation of an allied democracy, the last refuge and hope of an ancient people openly threatened with the final Final Solution."?

Krauthammer himself, were Iran to annihilate every living thing in Israel, would not be harmed.

But I suppose that's the beauty of being an armchair bellicose: you never get your hair mussed.

AIPAC will be viewed by history as a catastrophe for the Jewish people. And, unfortunately, for all the American people.

Babak Makkinejad

An atheist wishing to fight a religious war - that is really rich.

Walter Lang


I thought you all had improved. Sad. You can assume that CK is well connected. Think about all this!

He believes that there will be no pre-emption.

Israel has not believed in nuclear deterrence, but Krauthammer here argues for a US declaration in advance to support nuclear deterrence. Why is that?

Israel has always tried to pretend that it needs no other country to defend itself. Evidently CK no longer believes that?

No country in the history of mankind would have given or will give a guarantee like the one CK demands without a lot more "say" about policy than the giant US has had with its little friend.

Come on folks. Get beyond your stereotyped thinking. pl


I suggest as context for Krauthammer's column that one read Froomkin's:


Bush just got a bloody nose in Iraq. And it is apparent that Iran gave it to him.

He gets angry and he acts. I suppose the real question is whether Bush goes nuclear, not whether Iran does...just as it has always been.

Iran has had a ton of time to harden sites that count. And we have seen in South Lebanon just how hard sites can get. Nuclear might just be the only way.

Would the American military mutiny if that were ordered?

Would the US turn a blind eye if Israel used nuclear weapons against Iran?

Would Israel, without provocation, use nuclear weapons against Iran?

These are the sort of questions the Krauthammer's of the world inspire.


Krauthammer is representative of sick elements within the Jewish community who believe that human rights are applicable where Jews are concerned but not operative when others, particularly their semitic brethern in the Middle Eastern are involved.

Unfortunately for Krauthammer, unleashing cluster bombs over southern Lebanon could be rewarded with cluster bombs over Tel Aviv the next time Isreal chooses to stir the pot. Any nuclear threat is becoming increasingly irrelevant to Israel's dimming long term prospects for survival.


The asymmetry of this proposal is breathtaking. Dr. K is proposing a rigid tripwire mechanism tantamount to saying that threatening Israel is the same as threatening to the U.S. itself.

The question is should we make Israel a virtual 51rst state?

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I suppose I am one of the "All" in you response.

Over the last 50 years, from time to time, there have been suggestions that Israel join NATO or enter a formal military alliance with US (like Japan and South Korea).

Israelis always declined since they did not wish to become semi-sovereign and thus be forced to terminate their land-grab project.

In the light of the above history, as I understand it and of which Dr. Krauthammer is also undoubtedly aware, his ideas do not make sense to me.

I agree with your point that "...have given or will give a guarantee like the one CK demands...". Thus I am lead to believe that he is engaging in, for a lack of better term, is a form of counter-intelligence.

At any rate, US cannot defend Israel in an indefinite religious war with no end in sight; that would be madness.


Israel has not believed in nuclear deterrence, but Krauthammer here argues for a US declaration in advance to support nuclear deterrence. Why is that?

Even some on the right are flummoxed by CK's proposal.

I have two possible theories that could be related.

First, I am amazing myself by suggesting this, but perhaps CK is worried about Israeli preemption. Despite Israel's significant conventional capabilities, it does not have the ability to destroy or even significantly set-back Iran's program - it is too far away, too advanced, too diversified, and too hardened for Israel to do much more than set the program back a few years at most. There is no single convenient target like Osirak, and the lesson with that strike is that programs are simply driven underground and only delay capability. On top of all that any Israeli airstrike would require some coordination with the US and therefore US complicity which does not appear forthcoming. If Israel believes Iran is both undeterrable and on the cusp of a nuclear capability, it may decide its only option is a preemptive attack using its own nuclear arsenal - not against Iranian population centers, but against Iranian nuclear facilities. Perhaps CK fears such preemption would ultimately be suicide for Israel as it could easily sever all support from the US (to say nothing of the rest of the world) and bring about the end "the last refuge and hope of an ancient people" he purports to support.

Secondly, the million-dollar question for me that CK does not ask, much less answer, is what would become of Israel's nuclear capability if the US nuclear umbrella were openly extended to it? At a minimum, the Israeli arsenal should be incorporated into the US nuclear command-and-control system or, better yet, completely dismantled, but perhaps CK intends to let Israel keep its weapons under such an arrangement and even provide the groundwork for legitimizing Israel's arsenal. So, perhaps the goal is to cement Israel as not only a de facto, but also full de jure ally of the United States with an official status roughly equivalent to countries like the UK. I'm reminded, actually, of Guliani's proposal last year to incorporate Israel into NATO - now that he definitively will not become President, might de jure extension of the US nuclear umbrella be a preliminary step in that direction, one that could be accomplished in the limited time left with this Administration?



What you just wrote, that "ambiguity is the soul of deterrence," should be repeated as often as possible. It also goes a long way towards clarifying why this administration has been so disasterous on so many fronts internationally. It seems that ambiguity is anathema to them. Thank you for this insight.

Serving Patriot


When one considers just how much U.S. taxpayer money is already given to Israel (upwards of $10,000M each year), I supposed it may be fair to say that Israel is already the 51st state.

At least I'm pretty sure some bona-fide American states would appreciate that level of U.S. Government largess.


Walter Lang


I suppose that you are not. pl

Jackie Shaw

The good doctor needs to see a good shrink. He's been unhinged for years. I quit reading him years ago when I realized he really, really, really wanted a war on Iraq. Why? I really, really, really hate propaganda, whether spun by CK or GWB.

Neil Richardson

Dear COL Lang,

There are too many problems with Krauthammer's ideas to list them all, but let me just bring up the same old arguments that were raised during the Cold War regarding the decoupling of extended deterrence. I'd done my time in the ROK and FRG during the 1970s and 1980s and felt the core of extended deterrence was the possibility of the 2ID and perhaps the V Corps being overrun and US casualties mounting very quickly. I had resented the notion of tripwire force at the time, but in retrospect perhaps that's what we were in those years. Assuming the Israelis are going to maintain its survivable second-strike capability (e.g., cruise missiles parked in submarines in the Indian Ocean), wouldn't this be a more credible posture than a US extended deterrence? Regarding the de facto American deterrence, I guess what I'm asking is whether or not de Gaulle's justification for the force de frappe wouldn't apply if Iran proliferates. Could we credibly answer affirmatively to the question whether the United States would exchange New York for Tel Aviv (as we claimed we would for Paris or Bonn)? It seems to me that in order to extend deterrence credibly after the Iranian proliferation, we would have to station US forces in Israel.

Larry K

Maybe I'm wrong, but in recent years I've had the feeling that CK speaks essentially for himself rather than being representative of any significant current in the American Jewish community, let alone Israel. In particular, I have the feeling that CK has become wholly enamored of his heavily dramatized "stance," and that he will, along those lines, periodically come up with something that is not only flat-out outrageous but also is calculated to reduce the likes of most of us to sputtering disbelief. This, with a tad more of an intellectual veneer, is CK's version of what Ann Coulter does. He is essentially an entertainer/provocatuer; even in what might be thought of as his own camp, I'd be surprised if anyone listens to him because it's understood that CK's camp really consists of himself and a mirror.


ISTM that the simplest explanation is the best. K is worried by a drop in US support for Israel both financial and military. To counteract the softening he has to ratch up the rhetoric.
The straight military explanation makes no sense as it creates an impossible tripwire -- who gets to define the next katyusha attack as "originating in Iran"? And if the last katyusha was not Iranian, how can the next be Iranian?
Ambiguity is cheapest deterent as noted here.

Israel may not want to lose its independence but it cannot afford to lose the rock provided by America and extension the West -- truly Israel is too small to survive by itself.

Mad Dogs


After reading the entirety of CK's polemic, one could view his motivation in a number of different ways.

The interpretation that I came away with was that CK, for whatever silly reasons known only to himself and his BFFs, was seeking to insert himself and "Israel, right or wrong. Israel forever!" into the ongoing Presidential campaign.

CK's "solution" is certain to have the blessing/backing of McCain, but the real target of CK's "us or them" broadside is to corner both of the Democratic candidates.

Should they capitulate to CK's demand, well then other lines of political attack against the Democrats will have to suffice.

Should they demur, then the Jacobin horns will blare of "I told you so" latent, and now revealed sinister Democratic anti-semitism.

CK, is of course, much too full of himself. Tis a strawman he constructs (poorly to say the least), and the best advice one could give either of the Democratic candidates is to ignore CK (shades of successful ambiguity, oh my! *g*).

He will go away...all by his lonesome.


How interesting. If this is a trial balloon being floated, one wonders what the implications might be vis-a-vis a final status agreement between Israel and the PA.

From a purely technical standpoint, given Krauthammer's musings on page 2, it would be very useful to know whether the IDF(N) boats can hit enough Iranian strategic targets to be a viable second strike deterrent, or whether they can hold only capitals in the Med at threat.


If he is as well connected as you suggest, Sir, he is basically saying there will be no war on Iran on Bush-II's watch? Do I get that right?


Actually, there is a horrific precedent for such stupidity, the reckless Anglo-French UNCONDITIONAL guarantee of Poland on March 31, 1939. As Prime Minister Chamberlain announced:

"in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish government accordingly considered it viatal to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect. I may add that the French Government have authorized me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government."

The trouble was, having already given away the store, the British Foreign Office was unable to convince the Polish Foreign Minister, Col. Josef Beck, not to scuttle their attempt at the establishment of a larger anti-German Coalition. Beck restrained the FO to a mutual defensive alliance between Britain and Poland. Lord Halifax told the cabinet that, although the talks with Beck had not been unsatisfactory, "they had not turned out quite as we had expected." That's because Chamberlain's government had dealt Beck an unbeatable hand of cards which he skillfully played much too cleverly for Poland's ultimate good. When Hitler attacked, Poland would stand alone between two great powers with ravenous appetites for Polish territory--the only question being which had the sharper teeth.

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