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06 April 2010


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N. M. Salamon

Curious is closer to reality than Mr. Goldberg


Point of information -

"An Israel that is no longer a safe home for Diaspora Jews and is not characterized by entrepreneurship and excellence means an end to the Zionist dream."

This is actually a verbatim quote from Sneh's article, not DH's own words.

It's a very dubious proposition, too. Has Israel, with its constant wars with its neighbours ever really been a safe haven? Safer than New York or London? I don't think so.

Entrepreneurship and excellence? Someone's been reading too much Tom Peters!

Clifford Kiracofe

Two books from a sympathetic perspective are helpful for getting a historical sense of Zionism:

Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism (New York: Holt, 1972). A general history.

Melvin I. Urofsky, American Zionism from Herzl to the Holocaust (New York: Doubleday, 1975)

For a Palestinian perspective,

Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948 (Washington DC: Institutte for Palestine Studies, 1987).

IMO, it is too late for the "two-state" solution as I have said before.

And what sort of "two-state" do some have in mind? A "pure" so-called "Jewish State" with no Palestinians in it next to a Palestinian entity of some kind?

I noted somewhere that Ms. Livni, for example, has said that a "two-state" solution means Palestinians will leave/be expelled from/transferred from present day Israel physically.

Israel presently is a failed state and a rogue state as the entire world can see and has seen.

We need to begin planning for a one-state/bi-national state solution. In this solution there is no separate exclusive ethnically pure "Jewish State."

Sec. State Clinton at least displayed an understanding of the biological-demographic issue. This is a start...

On the other hand, as Harper, Habakkuk and others have pointed out, the moderates are leaving Israel (for Germany and elsewhere) leaving a residue of messianic Zealots....with nukes.

Having been to Masada, I came away with an admiration for the implacable thoroughness of the Romans in dealing with the problem.

Sidney O. Smith III

Prof. K --

If the two state solution is dead, then where does one find the analytical assumptions necessary to predict, as accurately as possible, intent and capability?

I too visited Masada and loved it. Imo, I believe what is important is the lesson that it teaches the Israelis. And of some interest, in retrospect, was our tour guide, a memorable and likeable character. He said, off handedly, that Jews (I believe he meant Israelis) believe in animal sacrifice. Does that then mean that the Zionist dream includes building a third Temple? If so, that is a far cry from the entrepreneurship allegory upon which Habakkuk relies.

Also Tom Segev, in his brilliant work on the Six Day War, goes into great detail describing the existential crisis that existed in Israel just prior to the outbreak of the war. This crisis differed, in some ways, than the one unfolding today, although Syria and Egypt were viewed similarly as Iran.

And it was the war with its outcome that ended the existential crisis and created a new Zionist dream.

As you well know, B. Netanyahu and the other leaders of the GOI are steeped in this tradition. So it is not a stretch to believe that the GOI leaders believe that what they accomplished with fighter jets in 67, they can accomplish with the Jericho III today.

There is some historical debate as to whether or not the GOI notified and received approval of the USG before the opening day attack in the Six Day War. Yet is undoubted that, in the weeks prior, the IDF leadership grew weary of the USG not giving it the green light. Moreover, the IDF leadership believed that the longer they went without attacking, the greater the advantage the Egyptians would have.

So a parallel can certainly be drawn. At some point, the GOI, just as it did in the Six Day war, may judge the existential threat too great to wait for the USG and then do what it believes is in its best interest. The key, for the GOI, is to make sure that the Obama administration takes the heat for the inevitable blowback against US soldiers.

Just as many say that the Obama administration wants to take down the Netanyahu coalition, it is safe to assume that Netanyahu wants to do the same to Obama and in such a way that settlements continue in the occupied territories and Iran is attacked.

Odds are good that Netanyahu believes he can take Obama's administration down, even it means societal disintegration within the United States.

FB Ali

Whatever else may or may not be the outcome of an Israeli attack on Iran, one thing is certain: a huge wave of anger will roll through the Muslim world, from Indonesia to Mauritania, and the Muslim populations in the West. The worst kind of anger ‒ impotent rage. And it will be directed primarily at the United States, irrespective of the extent to which it is complicit. Half-baked ‘experts’ who predict that Sunnis will not be too bothered by Shia Iran being the target don’t know their a---s from their elbows.

And, guess who stands ready to offer an outlet for this impotent rage? Your nice, friendly, neighbourhood jihadis. The US should add that to the list of other problems that it will face in the aftermath.

Clifford Kiracofe

Sidney Smith,

Yes Masada is a dramatic site and I happened to be there when some very dramatic cloud formations moved by creating amazing light conditions.

I need to read that Segev book you mention. Sounds fascinating particularly your point on the psychological climate.

67 was a "game changer" in that after that Arab Nationalism a la Nasser was dead. Perfect environment created in the region for the "resurgence of Islam." Sadat evened things up a bit in 73 but seems to me the resurgence has moved along since then.

Consider this news clip from this evening:

"PARIS, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Israel was the main threat to peace in the Middle East, the visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said here on Wednesday before meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Israel represents now the main threat to regional peace," Erdogan said before his around an-hour meeting with Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace, local media reported."

So if the regional trend at the moment is for Turkey, the Arab states, and Iran to be moving toward some accomodation and understanding then Israel's strategic position would seem to be deteriorating.

What possible combination of political parties in a government coalition would back an equitable "two-state" solution? This would imply return to 67 borders and East Jerusalem capital of the Palestinian state which has geographic integrity and the like.

Seems to me the Israeli game is to simply wait out each Administration...bob and weave, gain time, play games and wait. Then when a new Administration comes in repeat the process. Snatch bits and pieces of West Bank and Jerusalem etc during the process a la the "salami tactics" of the Soviet era.

As to analytical issues, perhaps the best indicator is the geographic one as it reflects the bottom line of expansionist Israeli policy.

Simply put, what is going on right there on the ground? Land taken, Palestinian houses and poperty destroyed, settlements, people murdered, blockade of Gaza. So I draw conclusions from the facts on the ground plus the demographic issue.

Bibi has already nailed Year One of Obama.

Mitchell spun his wheels and the US got nothing and has been humiliated. Proximity talks? ...Weren't the Dutch hosting these things in the 80s??? To what effect?

Now we are into Year Two of Obama, then Three, then Four. Then either Obama again or someone else and repeat.

So I quite admire the Roman implacable thoroughness at Masada. They knew how to handle the situation. They imposed a solution.

N. M. Salamon

I noted in a posting on oildrum, I believe, that the Saudis have an answer for any attempt to invade post Iran war: some fields and some oil infrastructure is set to explode. Most info on that site is solid.

China hand indicated on a previous post here [see: http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/ for his interesting and mostly right prognosticatios on other matters] that an attack on Iran is USA's econopmic suicide. I believe Americans can not understand the mentality of the invaded, the occupied, and his long term fielty to his home, whereever he might be. And there are Muslims all over the world, well out number the whites [who believe they are superior - thus the USA has not won a war since Korea].
Many are also ignorant that most Saudi Oil is in Shia domniated ares, and that Bahrain is also mostly shia,

David Habakkuk

Sidney Smith,

As 'Secretarybird' point out, the remarks about the 'Zionist dream' were not mine but Sneh's. There is a problem with Typepad to which I have not found a solution. I write comments in Word, and use cut and paste to post them. Normally this works well, but on those occasions when the Colonel has used remarks of mine to start a thread, Typepad has taken to eliminating all the formatting in Word. If my recollection is right, it does this with other people's comments, including I think your own.

If anyone more technically competent than I knows a way to draft comments so this cannot happen, I would be glad to hear.

That the 'Zionist dream' has progressively turned into a nightmare is not a point I would dispute. And it in no ways surprises me to learn that the degenerative dynamics you describe were accurately anticipated by Jews criticising Zionism from within the Jewish religious tradition: there are parallels with criticisms of nationalism within Christian tradition. Nor would I dispute that the words and actions of many in Israel today are often simply lunatic.

The point at which I was trying to get in discussing Sneh is that, if I attempt to put myself in the position of a rational Israeli strategic planner, I can see no good options. The least worst option for Israel has long seemed to me the two-state solution, but I simply do not see how this is any longer within the realm of practical politics in Israel -- unless brutal pressure is put on the country by the United States.

And as I wrote in an earlier comment, AIPAC, Dennis Ross, Fred Hiatt et al are going to make absolutely sure that there is no chance whatsoever of any U.S. Administration wresting the rope from Israel before it has well and truly throttled itself.

I would certainly like to think that a way out could be provided by a one-state solution on the South African model. But both among Israelis and the Palestinians, the current dynamics seem to be empowering precisely the kinds of people who are least capable of coexisting harmoniously in a binational state.

If someone can come up with what looks like a viable project for a binational state, I will heave sighs of relief -- but so far I have not seen it.

Partly because of the fanatical belief in progress which dominates so much contemporary American and European thinking, it can be difficult for people to grasp that societies can get into dead ends, where there are no very promising options, and where the relevant question is how, if at all, total catastrophe can be averted.

A characteristic of such situations -- the condition of Imperial Russia before 1914 comes to my mind -- is that people often take refuge from an intolerable reality in fantasies of one kind or another. And that is I think very visibly happening in Israel today.

A dead end situation where perfectly rational people may be driven to consider extreme options, while others are taking refuge in fantasy, is one fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential.

Clifford Kiracofe

Situation in Negev:

"The Israeli government, meanwhile, along with agencies like the Jewish National Fund and Jewish Agency, are preoccupied with the idea of 'developing the Negev', and boosting its population.

In March, the 'Negev 2010' conference was held in Beir al-Saba' (Beersheva), drawing hundreds of politicians and business people, with the focus being attracting 300,000 new residents to the area....

The Jewish National Fund in the UK talks about supporting "the pioneers who are bringing the desert to life", while an article in the Zionist magazine B'Nai B'Rith called the Negev "the closest thing to the tabula rasa many of Israel's pre-state pioneers found when they first came to the Holy Land".

The idea of the 'empty' land sits uncomfortably alongside another important emphasis - 'protection' or 'redemption'.

As the Jewish National Fund's US chief executive put it in January 2009, "if we don't get 500,000 people to move to the Negev in the next five years, we're going to lose it". To who, he did not need to say."....

Note the orgs: Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, Bnai Brith.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

Excellent points and I share your concerns for the reasons you state.

With regard to a South Africa type solution, they did not have an external lobby like AIPAC etal. to mess things up. The two sides, so to speak, had the opportunity to deal with each other to work out a common future in their common homeland with out the impediment and sabotage of an external lobby.

Tensions were pretty high between the two sides and we know there were extremists and so on. But, even today with the murder of the extremist leader recently both sides are trying hard to calm the situation and move ahead.

The behind the scenes rehabilitation of Mandela by the security services is an interesting but rather unknown case in point. The issue for the security services was, of course, how to sincerely move forward on the objective of a new South Africa in practical terms.

What we have with regard to the Israel-Palestine dynamic is external actors really stirring the pot. The US pro-Israel Lobby on the one hand, and certain Middle Eastern countries on the other.

The fundamental problem I see is the US pro-Israel Lobby which supports the most extreme elements in Israel and so far has made a diplomatic and political resolution of the situation impossible.

Thus, for a US president (working with EU, Russia, UN, etc) to be in a position to impose a settlement, the power of the domestic pro-Israel Lobby must be broken.

The only practical way to break the Lobby is through very very aggressive legal and law enforcement action:

1. AIPAC and other espionage cases
2. Foreign Agent registration act for AIPAC, the Christian Zionist orgs like CUFI etal.
3. Draconian counterintelligence pressure here in our "Homeland" to include cases relating to Congress.

Politically, the Lobby here has to be broken in order to allow the President to conduct the necessary foreign policy.

On a one-state vision, a thoughtful article is:

Tutunju, Jenab and Kamal Khalidi, "A binational state in Palestine: the rational choice for Palestinians and the moral choice for Israelis," International Affairs (London), lxxiii/1 (jan. 1997) pp. 31-58.

I just had lunch with Jenab the other day.

Sidney O. Smith III

Professor K -

You may enjoy Segev’s work on the Six Day War, titled 1967. I was thoroughly mesmerized and found his work courageous and fearless, reflecting the best of Israeli Zionism and therefore somewhat unpopular. When it comes to Israeli history of the Six Day War, Michael Oren is his intellectual adversary, which says a lot. My only complaint about Segev’s work is that he sure got quiet (but not as quiet as Senator Webb) when discussing the USS Liberty incident, but still, five stars, okay 4.8 stars:


Also you write: “The only practical way to break the Lobby is through very very aggressive legal and law enforcement action:”

Until the order of the COIF crowd at the DOJ can devise a legal strategy to curtail the impact of CIPA, I am not holding my breath. And so far, nada in the Nozette case. All it may take is just one motion…

Such a shame. I wonder how much them people make, with fed benefits as well as those Lacoste polo shirts with the DOJ logo. 'Tis a pity, I tell you.


Definitely going to be war now...going to start watching any market funny movement in next few weeks.


Vos Iz Neias, quoting the Israeli newspaper Maariv, reports as follows.

“According to a report in Israeli newspaper Maariv : “…. workers at the Dimona reactor who submitted visa requests to visit the United States for ongoing university education in Physics, Chemistry and Nuclear Engineering — have all been rejected, specifically because of their association with the Dimona reactor.”


Not a good day for Israel as a nation.

Netanyahu is not coming to the nuclear conference next week. This is a pity for Israel because I read it as Israel is heading towards an "Israel has no choice but to....." moment with regard to Iran. I also would make the rude comment that it is better to be inside the tent pissing out....

I would have thought that the conference represented an opportunity for one of those "circuit breaker" moments. For example, Israel agrees to sign the NPT, including the additional protocols and negotiate a Two state solution in good faith, settlement removals etc. Iran agrees to sign the additional protocols of the NPT.

Sanctions are to be removed, peace blossoms, Israel signs a non aggression treaty with Iran and offers to help Iran with its nuclear technology (not like Booth helped Lincoln - really help). Iran agrees to use its good offices on Hezbollah and Hamas. What would not Obama give to any of the parties in return for going down in history as the architect of Middle East peace?

OK, tell me how naive I am, but I remind you of Leah Rabins motto: "Never say never."

" JERUSALEM, April 9 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a planned trip to Washington next week for President Barack Obama's 47-country nuclear security summit conference.

He made the decision after learning Egypt and Turkey intended to raise the issue of Israel's presumed nuclear arsenal at the conference, a senior government official said on Friday."


Clifford Kiracofe

Some background and current discussion of the binational "one state" solution in Foreign Policy, 31 March 2010:

"The one-state solution has long had advocates among the Palestinian diaspora, from Edward Said to Ghada Karmi and Ali Abunimah. However, there has recently been an exponential rise in mainstream Israeli media of articles that seriously consider the one-state arrangement. Trawling through the online archives of mainstream media, I found just three such articles from 2004 to 2007, but 16 pieces from 2008 to 2010. A 5,000-word essay by former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meron Benvenisti, arguing that the binational state is all but inevitable at this stage, was published in January and still sits atop Haaretz's most read and most emailed articles. Now comes the latest installment: sociologist Yehouda Shenhav's book The Time of the Green Line (or, in its Hebrew title, Trapped by the Green Line), released in February by the impeccably mainstream Am Oved publishing house. ..."

Historical context can help. The Palestine Mandate under the League of Nations was taken up by the United Nations post WWII.

The US, during the Truman Administration under massive pressure and influence from the Zionist Lobby, took two steps: 1) the US forced the "Partition" of the Palestine Mandate geographic space. The idea here was to then create two states from the former single Mandate area.

2) The US recognized the state of Israel diplomatically as did other countries although some did not.

The UN-based solution of Partition and Two States has not been implemented as foreseen for a variety of reasons mainly Zionist intransigence and illegal expansion-colonization within the historic Mandate area. The US has facilitated this process of Zionist expansion since 1948 to the present day owing to the power of the US Zionist Lobby. This phenomenon is euphemistically referred to as "domestic politics."

The US inserted itself into the "peace process" situation so as to dominate the process and protect Israel. Let's be frank about this.

We have now reached the stage where there seem to be two basic paths:

1. Continued US "leadership" of the peace process and dominance of the process. Owing to the present power of the pro-Israel Lobby in the US, the US President cannot be an honest broker unless he first breaks the power of the Lobby. This is not likely in the near term judging from historical experience. Thus, one can presume US diplomacy will be ineffective and result in nothing concrete. This is precisely what AIPAC, Bibi etal want.

2. Back to the UN which is where the whole matter started with respect to the disposition of the Palestine Mandate territory.

In the emerging multipolar world, the US is no longer the single dominant global power. Other major powers have interests in the Middle East which increasingly must be taken into account. Additionally, the regional situation has changed with respect to the Arab States, Turkey, and Iran.

IMO, the US has not caught up with the current international and regional situation in its thinking and foreign policy. Thus, two-state solution Obama Administration policy is more than likely to fail. This suits AIPAC and Bibi etal. who will do what they can to bob and weave and string things out to 2012 and then to 2016...

US planning must begin to consider:

1) the democratic one-state binational solution.

2) the role of the UN as the central player in a serious peace process.


"the democratic one-state binational solution."

you can't man. Such entity does not exist. What will end up happen will be a dominant class manipulating rules and oppressing the weak one. (call it nationality/citizen definition, race purity, ID papers, gold star, arm band, membership card, what have you. It's an old colonialism trick. doesn't pass giggle test.)

It's classic "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"

If all you want is to let people live where ever they want, just declare 2 states, but people on the ground can choose to become citizen of israel or Palestine. (eg. Jewish settler in occupied territory can become a palestinian and live under palestinian law)

I seriously doubt most of them will stick around without those giant subsidies. Have 8 children with no job and cut off from palestinian live?

Sidney O. Smith III

David Habakkuk:

Thanks for an eloquent and well-nuanced response -- one that is par for the course, or, in this instance, even discourse. From what I can glean, our analyses point towards the same cataclysm that lies just over the horizon. If we differ at all, and I am not sure we do, then it is how we would assign the magnitudes of probability.

But that said, if I may, your concluding statement all but makes my case and raises what I contend is the ever relevant issue of articulating and refining assumptions that underlie strategic intel analysis. You write:

“A dead end situation where perfectly rational people may be driven to consider extreme options, while others are taking refuge in fantasy, is one fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential.”

The conclusion that you make in 2010 – that Zionism, as it has unfolded, is “fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential” – was made over 80 years ago and, in fact, corroborates the analytical assumptions given to use by the anti-Zionist rabbis.
At this juncture, two examples will suffice to prove that these rabbis also accentuated your idea of a “catastrophic potential”, and they did decades before either of us saw the light of day. In a lecture given by Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum in 1961, he indisputably stated, “I can remember that some fifty or sixty years ago our greatest rabbis of the generation said it would take a miracle for a catastrophe not to occur because of the Zionists.”
And 1929 the anti-Zionist Rabbi Rabbi Zonenfeld penned a very beautiful and heart wrenching appeal to the Arab population, in which he argued that true Jews have no intent to take the Temple Mount or Arab properties, and moreover he warned that the Holy Land may turn into turn into “a battlefield and place of catastrophe, G-d forbid”.
So you would agree with me, would you not, that your conclusion melds perfectly and completely with those of these rabbis? And therefore, would you agree with me that the analytical assumptions upon which these men rely warrant further investigation, assuming of course that the objective is to provide accurate strategic intel analysis? In fact, wouldn’t you agree with me that, because these rabbis 80 years ago plus drew the same conclusions that you now articulate in 2010, one is obligated to examine further the analytical framework that proceeds from their views?
Or to invert the questioning. Tell me what other intellectual tradition has provided analytical assumptions that have rendered such an extraordinary high degree of accuracy at such an early date? And since we all know the two state solution looks all but dead, how can one rely on analytical assumptions that spring from intellectual traditions dedicated to such an endpoint?
And, finally, wouldn’t you agree with me that intellectual honestly requires one to credit these rabbis for arriving at the same conclusion that you are now reaching in 2010?
In my opinion, the fact these rabbis lead a different life is no excuse for those of various intellectual traditions, including progressive Americans, to expropriate their very sophisticated work on Zionism. As an example, if a conservative Baptist were to tell me the truth concerning a murder, I am not going to disregard such a person simply because he may disapprove of what he may see as my progressive lifestyle (perhaps more appropriately translated as “disordered” lifestyle). It is the truth that matters.
If these rabbis are proven correct and that Zionism, to use your words, is now, “fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential”, then perhaps it is best that we look at their analytical assumptions as a beautiful gift to the people of the US, Europe, and the world. And this most certainly includes the Jewish people, as these rabbis were the first to demonstrate, through far reaching and sophisticated, analysis, that Zionism will trigger anti-Semitism, if Zionist atrocities are associated with all the Jewish people as well as Judaism. If true, then it does lead one to wonder if by crediting these rabbis as they deserve, then one is also breaking the cataclysm that lies just over the horizon.

PS. Instead of the MS word program, try MS works.


Curious says, "Definitely going to be war now...going to start watching any market funny movement in next few weeks."

Would you please explain your rationale for that thought? Thanks


My bet is that some of the harshest critics of Israeli policy would be the first persons to defend people of the Jewish faith if that need ever arose and I doubt it will.


"Definitely going to be war now...going to start watching any market funny movement in next few weeks."

Would you please explain your rationale for that thought? Thanks
Posted by: BillWade | 09 April 2010 at 04:00 PM

Well, the "definitely" part is a little exaggerating, but isn't nuclear israel's end of all argument weapon? If that is degraded, their entire military thinking is shaken. (be it they can't win the nuclear race through newer nuclear technology, or they have to disclose/dismantle their nuke) So, nuclear edge is non negotiable. They will go berserk if obama question that.

market reaction? If israel plan big war that will shake the market. A lot of big players (china central bank, russian bankers, big forex holder, israeli's general mistress, a friend of a friend in hedge fund industry, the spooks who has big retirement plan.... will react cause this is major change in market condition. Somebody is going to make money out of it.

oil, gold, dollar, bond, euro, etc...


found an airport in saudi/Iraq border. Why use highway at all? It's a tiny airport. 10 flight weekly. It's practically empty except for a few minutes each day. I am sure nobody will notice if bunch of f-16 lands at wee hour. Tho' the iranian will now be more than ready with their RPG and a video camera at the other end of runway.

Rafah domestic airport.





also, was staring at Lebanon/israel northern border. I don't think Hezbollah can run through it easily. There is wall on the hill, and the western flat strip is only 5 miles wide (town of nasariyah) .... interesting little crowded corner .. and there is 15,000 Unifil troop watching over.

David Habakkuk

Sidney Smith,

'And therefore, would you agree with me that the analytical assumptions upon which these men rely warrant further investigation, assuming of course that the objective is to provide accurate strategic intel analysis?'

Certainly I would agree with you about this. And indeed, a central belief of mine about intelligence analysis -- or indeed many forms of 'social science', taking that term in the broad sense -- is that it is very often imperative that one should be able to learn from people with whom one disagrees fundamentally.

This was, incidentally, something which was born in on me in part by reflecting on the Cold War liberal intellectual culture in which I was brought up. Among the key texts were Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984, and Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon. Of these, Animal Farm is heavily shaped by the Trotskyist conception of 'the Revolution Betrayed'.

Later in life I learned that a very similar reading of Stalin to that of Trotsky was put forward by the German Ambassador to Moscow, Werner von der Schulenberg, in support of his determined but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to dissuade Hitler from attacking the Soviet Union. A third variant of this pattern of interpretation was put forward in the classic 1946 study The Great Retreat by Nicholas Timasheff, a Russian sociologist who had emigrated to the United States.

The case of Darkness at Noon takes one closer to some of the questions raised by your comments. The central presence behind Koestler's novel is Dostoevsky. (Also, along with Trotsky, a central presence behind 1984 -- although indirectly, both through Koestler and through Evgeny Zamyatin's novel 'We'.)

And the 'analytical assumptions' underlying Dostoevsky's analyses are Christian, and specifically Orthodox Christian.

That said, both Nadezhda Mandelstam, herself an (ethnically Jewish) Christian, and her friend the (ethnically Russian) Christian poetess Anna Akhmatova, while drawing heavily on Dostoevsky in making sense of the catastrophes they had lived through, described him as a 'heresiarch'.

The 'greatest danger' to Dostoevsky, Nadezhda Mandelstam commented, was that represented by Shatov in The Possessed -- 'the appeal for a return to the "national" religion.' She commented that 'seeking salvation in nationalism, Dostoyevski must have been aware of the role of the Pharisees in ancient Judaea, but it had no effect on his own attitudes.'

When I was a university student doing courses in modern European history, forty years ago now, there was a pervasive tendency, even among teachers whose politics were in no sense Marxist, to stress economic and social factors.

That such explanations were only very partially adequate, and that interpretations focusing on the pseudo-religious nature of modern 'totalitarian' regimes need not in any sense lack scholarly rigour, was brought out to me by, among other things, the work of a Germanist from my college, J.P. Stern.

Himself an ethnically Jewish refugee from Prague, whose first language was Czech, Stern's 1975 study Hitler: The Führer and the People is a marvellous study of the ways in which Hitler exploited an aspiration to a kind of secular salvation through nationalism -- and of the ultimately nihilistic nature of that aspiration.

Ironically, in recent years, interpretations of National Socialism and Soviet Communism using notions of 'political religions' have moved into the mainstream.

But I still find Stern's essay very helpful. If in a very different way from Nadezhda Mandelstam, he was also a kind of Jewish Christian -- something reflected in his fascinating analyses of the New Testament echoes in Hitler's rhetoric.

The concluding chapter of the book -- entitled 'Conquest and Annihilation' -- also contains a fascinating account of the love affair of so many Jews with German culture. In it, Stern remarks that many German Jews had 'renounced, often within the time-span of a single generation, all that had previously characterised them: a ritual and a community, a language and a culture.' And he argues that this left them without psychological defences, when the people with whom they had identified turned on them.

Against this background, there seems nothing strange about the notion that Jews who had not abandoned the old ritual, and older forms of Jewish community, might have penetrating things to say about the dangers of the nationalist temptation for their fellow Jews.

It also seems to me unsurprising that a great many Jews are hopelessly torn, confronted by pressures towards solidarity with fellow Jews which derive largely from the Holocaust -- and which were indeed very weak prior to Hitler -- and the difficulty with continuing to identify with a Zionist project which is, quite palpably, becoming increasingly fascistic.

Reverting to the question of strategic intelligence analysis, the key point is I think that one often learns the most from people with whose political programmes one disagrees violently, and whose religious beliefs one does not share. To lock oneself up in one's own culture is, in intelligence terms, absolutely disastrous.

But this is what the kind of education that elites in your country and mine commonly receive encourages them to do.

Clifford Kiracofe

"a prompt and devastating deployment of military power against Iran.And in such a situation, Sneh may also be suggesting, Obama and his advisors might be influenced by the calculation that such a prompt and devastating deployment would gain them the kudos of having forestalled an imminent Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons."

David Habakkuk,

IMO, coordination of Israeli and US action seems more likely a la the Suez precedent.

Supposing a strike by Israel with US involvement, what scenarios can be imagined as plausible? What would be the most extreme scenario?

It may be that a wider regional war scenario is envisaged by some Israeli and US planners.

Surely, Iran is not going to sit back and do nothing after a significant target set is vaporized. Responses in the Gulf such as sinking US ships, attacks on US forces in Iraq, and attacks on Gulf Arab states would seem to me to provide reasonable pretexts for massive escallation on the "allies" side.

To this could be added any Iranian terrorist-sabotage reponses directly in the US, say California.

The allies might well include not just Israel and the US but also NATO.

War objectives? The reduction of Iran generally so as to "stabilize" the region from a strategic point of view which includes the protection of the flow of oil through the Gulf (Carter Doctrine-ish, remember that one?), elimination of terrorism, elimination of nuclear threat.

So we may wish to contemplate longer and larger war scenarios.

If things likely become really unglued out that way, would the US have to institute a draft and move toward a more general war mobilization so as to have the mass and war industrial base required to project power in order to "stabilize" the broader region which will be on fire?

I would think major powers such as the Chinese the Japanese, and the Russians would be naturally concerned. But, I have the feeling Russia and China would like another generation to consolidate and implement their respective internal transitions and modernization. I don't think either would want to tangle with US/EU(NATO) over Iran.

Thus, in the scheme of things in great power politics, arrangments could be made behind the scenes to create what would in effect be what one might label a "grudging concert" of powers directed toward the reduction of Iran and the stabilization of the region.

Such a major regional war scenario would be a real "game changer" affecting the course of international politics and economics for a good century or so one would think.

One could contemplate some agreed upon adjustments to the international financial architecture
such as new roles for the dollar, Euro, sterling and so on with some accomodation to the ruble and yuan.

I do not think limited scenarios, such as surgical strikes and then everything is over, are realistic given the volatility and strategic nature of the region. So in contemplating more extreme scenarios may be worth the effort.

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

"I do not think limited scenarios, such as surgical strikes and then everything is over, are realistic given the volatility and strategic nature of the region. So in contemplating more extreme scenarios may be worth the effort."

It seems to me that precisely the considerations you adduce may very well be in the minds of both Israeli planners -- and Americans sympathetic to them -- who are optimistic that inveigling the United States into a war with Iran may indeed be the kind of "game changer" you suggest.

Whether such hopes would be any better founded than the hope that invading Iraq would be a "game changer" in favour of Israel and the U.S. seems to me an interesting -- and open -- question.

Although my ability to makes sense of these matters is constrained by the limits of my knowledge, both of military matters and the Middle East, I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of a "very tough minded, logic driven soldier and planner who speaks dispassionately even when the subject is repellent" -- such as Colonel Lang suggests Sneh is.

In sharp contrast to the Iraqi case, where the hopes pinned on the invasion rested on premises that were simply delusional, I can see a reasonable case that could be made for attempting to inveigle the United States into war with Iran, from the point of view of an Israeli planner with such characteristics.

And this is all the more so given that, even if such a planner had believed ten years ago that the two-state solution was Israel's least worst option, he might well have concluded that its opponents had created a situation where it was no longer a realistic possibility -- as I think we both are inclined to believe.

Repellent though it may certainly be, the direction in which this line of thought might well lead is towards the conclusion that both Obama, and highly intelligent and humane Jews like Daniel Levy who are encouraging him to pursue the two-state solution more actively, are not being 'tough minded' and facing up to the stark choices facing Israel.

A double-edged implication of this conclusion, however, could be that kind of unquestioning identification with Israel that makes it conceivable that the power of the United States could be enlisted in support of a "game changing" wider regional war may not last -- not least because of growing disillusion with Israel among Jews.

One might well go on to conclude, however, that Israel must capitalise on this unquestioning identification to precipitate such a "game changing" wider regional war while there is still time.

Rather as the opponents of the two-state solution may have destroyed it as a viable option, it could furthermore be argued, inveigling the United States into such a war might destroy the possibility of effective American pressure on Israel, by entangling the superpower protector in a kind of complicity from which it could not easily escape.

Likewise, it could also be argued that doing this might in fact quell, rather than exacerbate, doubts about the directions in which Israeli policy has been developing among Jews.

Would such suggestions be "tough minded" -- or simply lunatic?

Certainly, a "tough minded" calculation would have to take into account the possibility that an attempt at such a "game changing" major regional war could backfire dramatically -- and indeed, could hasten the disintegration of support for Israel, both in the United States and among Jews worldwide.

What would be crucial would be precisely how events developed. And here, it seems to me that while my hypothetical Israeli planner might -- as Sneh has done -- profess confidence that Israel could go it alone, this would be disingenuous.

And if indeed such a planner was being "tough minded", he would both be asking himself what would happen if an attempted strike was as limited in its effects as Colonel Lang assesses -- and also if the Iranians did what Lysander suggests, and refused to take the bait.

It may be that a "tough minded" Israeli expert on Iran could assure my hypothetical Israeli planner that one could discount the chance of the leadership in Tehran wrong-footing him in this way. But it seems to me that such a move could leave Israel with the worst of all possible worlds -- in that internal political considerations would then not be pushing Obama to support Israel, which could end up looking both impotent and a "rogue state".

This line of thinking certainly does not give me any confidence that one can discount extreme scenarios. For one thing, my assessments of what is not "tough minded" may be wrong; for another, recent experience gives little reason for confidence that either Netanyahu or h is American fellow-travellers are "tough minded" -- as I think Sneh himself is implying.

However, the analysis does push me towards a question about what kind of coordination of Israeli and US action my hypothetical Israeli planner could anticipate be effective in producing the kind of "game changing" move we are talking about.

A coordination which does not entail the involvement of the United States in the initial attack seems to me vulnerable to wrong-footing, if indeed the Iranians refuse to take the bait. But - as Sneh pointed out in his Haaretz article -- internal political considerations would militate against Obama authorising an unprovoked attack on the timescale discussed in the article.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

Yes, I follow your analysis and can offer some additional "thinking out of the box" thoughts:

As we know, war changes many things. In the past, some wars have arisen because one side wanted to conquer something for aggrandizement or felt a war was needed to hold on to its (imperial) status and strategic position. Domestic considerations have played a part in the past also as the old ploy to divert the public from domestic problems etc.

Personally, I think it very well could be that Israel is, in effect, used as a pawn in a wider game. And the wider game would involve coordination before the fact.

Recall Suez. The British were concerned about Nasser/Suez and the French were concerned about Algeria. Israel was a convenient pawn for both of them and there were those in Israel who felt Nasser was an "existential threat/Hitler" and etc. type. So two faded imperial powers plus the ever fiesty Israel and all had their own interests and agendas served by focus on Egypt. So they thought.

The US today has an economy that is not in very good shape and the dollar is, well, problematic. Europe is not in the greatest financial shape either these days with the "PIGS" and all that.

Furthermore, Iran IS a problem without doubt. How one handles it is another matter, but it is a problem...particularly the nuclear matter which Col Lang has laid out in stark terms.

The Obama Administration has presented itself as wanting to engage Iran, as patient, as willing to work with allies, with major powers and with the UN to sort things out.

Just this week we have a loose nukes extravaganza in Washington hosted by President Obama.

It is not as if the US public opinion, and indeed world opinion, has not been carefully led along and prepared for a contingency against Iran involving force. And about 10-15 percent of the population who are the Christian Zionist types already believe that war with the "Medo-Persians" is inevitable in the unfolding of the "End Times" and that it would be a good thing to speed up the End Times clock and so on. Most of the rest of the public is jumpy about terrorism and Iran and Al Qaeda and whatever.

I think Col. Lang's point about whether the powers that be in the world will ALLOW Iran to possess nuclear weapons etc. is to the point.

Any campaign for the reduction of Iran would take into consideration the Shia population in the Gulf: the Eastern Province of Saudi, Bahrain, Iraq, and etc. At a minimum these populations would be quite restive once the campaign is unleashed.

Thus a regional perspective/planning for the campaign for the reduction of Iran is necessary as things may get somewhat out of hand and a LOT of force may be needed to keep the Gulfies on their thrones, Iraq "stable," and so on.

As this is a tall order, I would think that we would be looking again at something like the Suez undertaking/adventure. The US, Israel, and EU/NATO as I mentioned.

Some strategists argue that a declining power is likely to lash out to attempt to maintain its position. When the Soviet Union went under in 1992, the US was the sole "superpower" etc. but times have changed and power is dispersed now with rising powers and new complexities in the situation.

It may well be that some US and European circles wishing to maintain a joint dominance, or preeminent position, would consider the reduction of Iran as a reasonable "game changer." Israel as a convenient pawn ("marcher state" in Roman terms) fits and we see indications of the movement toward bringing Israel into the OECD and NATO and etc.

As for Israel, it may well be that a very dramatic changed game in the Middle East due to a major regional war to reduce Iran is useful for some hardline circles. For example, perhaps a "two-state" situation would be possible through real force...expulsion of Arabs from Israel proper into the Palestinian "state" in the context of security measures needed owing to the war against Iran and regional violence.

I note the news about the new IDF expulsion option and wonder if this is preparing opinion for something MUCH larger down the road. An Iran war contingency, for example?

In sum, if we think very much out of the current box such an extreme scenario (as we once saw with the Suez Crisis) may be plausible in the shape of a new "Gulf Crisis" leading to a wider rearrangement of the Middle East.

We could also consider the reasoning of some in the UK with regard to Egypt in the 1880s...and the very changed game that ensued as a result of strategic and financial considerations.

different clue

Professor Clifford Kiracofe and David Habbakuk,

I offer my firmly-believed-in but strictly amateur thoughts in case you feel they may have any merit. Israel wants to inveigle us into a war on Iran for the straightforward reason of beating down Iran's nuclear program. Israel doesn't care about what this costs America because I suspect Israel thinks America is too big, rich, and powerful to have to worry about things like costs of a war.

If I understand your comments correctly, you are suggesting that America and the West may well want to beat down Iran's nuclear program for reasons of our own, and that we might find it handy to let Israel THINK that it is directing our policy in this regard. In this line of thinking, would the plan be for us to let Israel take the blame for starting the war while we harvest grudging tolerance or even thanks for having to come in, finish it, and clean up the mess? Is this a case of the unwitting pawn being the best and most useful pawn? If I have gotten it right, then perhaps I have earned just enough standing to offer my next suggestion of something to think about.

America and the West are not the only players, and Israel is not the only pawn. China and Russia also want to inveigle America into a war with Iran and ChinaRussia are using Iran itself as a pawn in order to use America as some kind of higher-order pawn as well. (Forgive me for mangling metaphors...I don't know how to play chess). Russia and China want to inveigle America into a war with Iran in order to destroy America's presence in the Middle East and Central Asia. China has the further goal of destroying America's economy altogether in order to remove America from the world markets for oil, metals, etc.

The way ChinaRussia are working to invegle America and Iran into war is this....ChinaRussia have been stringing the West along for years on the issue of supporting some sort of sanctions someday maybe...with lots of diplomacy in the meantime. Meanwhile, ChinaRussia have been deepening economic ties with Iran and Russia has been selling Iran all sorts of air defense systems and other war preparation supplies. Russia has also been building the Buhsher nuclear energy plant right along and I suspect they are doing it to help Iran develop all areas of its nuclear expertise; either directly or by providing cover. The ChinaRussian goal is to encourage Iran to think it could fight America to a draw and get Iran nuclear infra-weaponised enough that we will panic and blow right through extreme sanctions to war after that. This is a war which ChinaRussia deeply want to have happen and are conniving every which way they can to bring about. So we should aske ourselves: what do ChinaRussia think we will lose in an America-Iran war, and why do ChinaRussia want us to lose it? And should we really give ChinaRussia the Iran-America war which ChinaRussia are trickf-ck inveigling us into?

Back to Israel...does Israel really understand how pyrrhic a victory a temporary beatdown of Iran's nuclear program would be? Right now many Iranians are disatisfied with their ruling regime. Any attack on Iran would make all Iranians unanimous in supporting their regime. They would cease thinking of it as "the regime" and all think of it as "our government". And they would unanimously share their government's hatred for Israel. An Iran unanimously united with the whole Muslim world in a hatred for Israel beyond what any Israeli can now imagine would be an even darker shadow for Israel to live under than a nuclear Iran would be. It would result in a desperate mass-flight rather than a slow trickle of Jewisraelis out of Israel. I think Israel would be better off to take its little pawn self off the Great Game chessboard by taking Colonel Lang's advice and deciding that a nuclear weaponized Iran would be a fact to live with.

(Curious, your description of how to protect underground facilities from bunker-bombing may offer some thoughts for designing vehicle armor against IED blast shockwave effects. The bunker bomb tries to destroy the bunker with pressure wave shock blast, not with physical flying projectiles. So maybe outfitting vehicles with layers of squeezy foam and triangular pressure wave dividers and diverters might reduce the TBI-genic pressure wave getting through the dispersion diffusion dissipation layers into the people-space inside the vehicle).

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