The Eve of Destruction

By Ferguson, Niall | Newsweek, February 13, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Eve of Destruction


Ferguson, Niall, Newsweek


Byline: Niall Ferguson

There are plenty of arguments against an Israeli attack on Iran. And all of them are bad.

Jerusalem--It probably felt a bit like this in the months before the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel launched its hugely successful preemptive strike against Egypt and its allies. Forty-five years later, the little country that is the most easterly outpost of Western civilization has Iran in its sights.

There are five reasons (I am told) why Israel should not attack Iran:

1. The Iranians would retaliate with great fury, closing the Strait of Hormuz and unleashing the dogs of terror in Gaza, Lebanon, and Iraq.

2. The entire region would be set ablaze by irate Muslims; the Arab Spring would turn into a frigid Islamist winter.

3. The world economy would be dealt a death blow in the form of higher oil prices.

4. The Iranian regime would be strengthened, having been attacked by the Zionists its propaganda so regularly vilifies.

5. A nuclear-armed Iran is nothing to worry about. States actually become more risk-averse once they acquire nuclear weapons.

I am here to tell you that these arguments are wrong.

Let's take them one by one.

The threat of Iranian retaliation. The Iranians will very likely be facing not one, not two, but three U.S. aircraft carriers. Two are already in the Persian Gulf: CVN 72 Abraham Lincoln and CVN 70 Carl Vinson. A third, CVN 77 George H.W. Bush, is said to be on its way from Norfolk, Va.

Yes, I know President Obama is a noble and saintly man of peace who uses unmanned drones only to assassinate America's foes in unprecedented numbers after wrestling with his conscience for anything up to ... 10 seconds. But picture the scene once described to me by a four-star general. It is not the proverbial 3 a.m. but 11 p.m. in the White House (7 a.m. in Israel). The phone rings.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Mr. President, we have reliable intelligence that the Israeli Air Force is in the air and within an hour of striking suspected nuclear facilities in Iran.

POTUS: Damn. What should I do?

CJCS: Mr. President, I want to recommend that you provide the Israelis with all necessary support to limit the effectiveness of Iranian retaliation.

POTUS: But those [expletives deleted] never ran this past me. …

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