In an article entitled President’s Nomination of Hagel May Encourage Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions which was published today, Professor Alan Dershowitz writes:
President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense risks increasing the likelihood that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. It poses that risk because Hagel is well known for his opposition both to sanctions against Iran and to employing the military option if necessary.
Professor Dershowitz is worried that Hagel’s appointment:
Sends a mixed message to the mullahs in Tehran, who will likely interpret it as a change from a red light to a yellow or green one when it comes to their desire to develop nuclear weapons.
I beg to differ.
The nomination of Hagel will not send such a message to Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei.
1. Hagel’s predecessor Robert Gates also showed his opposition to an attack against Iran.
In October this year, Gates said:
“The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world,” Gates said.
Did that send the Iranian regime running to make a bomb?
No it did not.
And why not? because the regime does not want to strengthen the international consensus against it even more. These days even the Chinese and Russians negotiate against Iran in the P5+1. They don’t want to make the situation worst.
2. Being anti- military attack against Iran does not mean you are willing to see the Iranian regime armed with nuclear weapons
Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad called an attack against Iran “the stupidest thing” he has ever heard. Does that mean that he is willing to sit by and watch Iran become a nuclear state. Absolutely not.
Did the Iranian regime rush to make after he said that? no. Why? because the regime is far more scared of sanctions than a military attack. If continued, sanctions could turn into an existential threat, while a military attack would at most be a military setback. There is nothing that the Iranian regime would risk its survival for, not the nuclear program and certainly not Palestine.
3. The Iranian regime has heard president Obama loud and clear.
The Iranian regime has heard president Obama’s message that when it comes to Iran, “containment is no option“. What does that mean? that he will use whatever means to stop the regime acquiring nuclear weapons. Obama never said that “I will do everything except attack Iran “. And the Iranian regime is not the Taliban, living in caves. When it comes to knowing who has the final say in the White House, its pretty plugged in.
4. Hagel’s opposition to sanctions will not mean removal of sanctions against the regime
Yes, Hagel was opposed to sanctions. But does that mean he will become the flag bearer for the anti-sanctions camp in the US after he is Defense Secretary? No.
If anything, after he is Defense Secretary, he is either likely to keep silent or in fact support sanctions. Why? because he now has a boss called Barack Obama who thinks differently.
Also he will have to work with the Congress. He will have more important things to do than picking fights right left and center over his opposition to sanctions against the Iranian regime.
And after he is appointed, its hardly likely that he will he be going around the different western capitals asking them to remove sanctions against Iran, is it? Not a bit of it.
So dear Professor Dershowitz, please don’t be concerned.
Many people in the US and Israel (including myself) are against war against Iran, but that does not mean that we want to see a nuclear Iran. And our opposition to war does not mean that the Iranian regime will rush to make a bomb. It has far bigger concerns.