Members of the Jewish faith and others correctly point out that Jews are often blamed for the sins of others. They may be about to be proven right again, in a big way. The current conflict may escalate to the point where the US will use nuclear weapons against Iran, in what will be the first use of nuclear weapons in war since Nagasaki. And the world will blame it on the Jews.
Israel's hugely disproportionate response to Hezbollah's actions is causing immense suffering, is in blatant violation of the Geneva conventions, and deserves the strongest of condemnations. It is especially important for Jews today to distance themselves from Israel's immoral government policies and US's support for them. Fortunately some are doing this, unfortunately, many are not. "Thousands of American Jews clogged the streets" in New York and elsewhere in the US in support of Israel's actions, reports the Jerusalem Post. Both Houses of the US Congress have just passed solidly backed bipartisan resolutions supporting Israel's actions in Lebanon , to "solidify long-term backing of Jewish voters" according to the Washington Post.
The irony is, Israel's war crimes are going to be dwarfed in comparison to the crime against humanity that will take place if the US uses nuclear weapons against Iran. Israel, by its disproportionate reaction and by accusing Iran (without proof) of being behind Hezbollah's actions, will be seen as having played a key role if the conflict escalates to engulf Iran and the United States. Yet the motivation for those that want this to happen is not to ensure Israel's hegemony in the Middle East, rather it is to ensure US hegemony in the world.
It goes without saying that Israel would benefit from the destruction of Hezbollah. Yet it is hard to see how the indiscriminate attack against Lebanon that is taking place will achieve anything other than strengthening the already strong support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Arab world. Shmuel Rosner argues in a Haaretz OpEd that Israel is "America's deadly messenger", being used to promote Bush's "democracy agenda". It certainly appears that Israel's current actions are irrational and self-destructive. Unless their real aim is to draw Syria and Iran into the conflict, following directions from Washington. At the very least it is clear that Israel would not be doing this in the absence of a guarantee from the US that it will intervene if the conflict widens, which in any event Bush has already publicly announced.
If Iran enters the conflict and shoots a single missile against Israel, the US will step in and destroy the military infrastructure of Iran by aerial bombardment. As suggested by Seymour Hersh and others , this is likely to involve the US use of nuclear "bunker busters".
It has been predicted that if the US or Israel attack Iran, Iran will unleash Hezbollah who will carry out devastating attacks against Israel. "Hizbollah was also seen as a means of tying our hands on the Iranian nuclear threat," says an Israeli official. Well, we are in the dress rehersal, and we are seeing that despite all the hype, Hezbollah is a paper tiger. Green light for the Iran attack.
What is really unusual about the current flare-up in the Middle East is the barrage of strident denunciations against Iran, from the Bush administration, politicians from across the political spectrum , and the mainstream media that uniformly accuse Iran (without presenting evidence) of being behind the Hezbollah actions. This has never happened before when there was conflict in Lebanon where Hezbollah was involved, why now?
One argument is Ahmadinejad's stated animosity against Israel. However, that has been Iran's stated position since 1979.
The other argument is that Iran is trying to "divert attention" from the nuclear issue. That defies the most elementary logic. If Iran was really intent in getting nuclear weapons and destroying Israel, it would try to keep things as quiet as possible until it gets those nuclear weapons, several years into the future.
The reality is that, whether one ascribes to Iran evil or benign intentions, Iran draws no benefit whatsoever from the current turmoil in Lebanon. Neither does Syria. Consequently the rhetoric from the US and Israel suggests a deliberate attempt to draw Syria and Iran into the conflict.
The US Interests
A US attack on Iran has been predicted by analysts for several years. The US policy vis-a-vis Iran is clearly directed towards confrontation rather than accommodation. There are many reasons for the US to attack Iran, including the control of energy resources, suppression of a regional power opposite to US and Israeli interests, etc. However I have argued for many months that the key reason for the US to seek a military confrontation with Iran is that it will "force" the US to cross the nuclear threshold and use low yield nuclear weapons against Iranian installations. And this is seen as essential to further US geopolitical goals.
The United States used nuclear weapons against Japan not because it had to. It did so to demonstrate to the world that it was in possession of a new weapon that packed the destructive power of thousands of bombing missions into a single one. To tell the rest of the world, beware.
Since then, it has spent over 5 trillion dollars in building up its nuclear arsenal, but nuclear weapons have become "unusable" after 60 years of non-use. America has achieved nuclear primacy but it is useless, until it shows that nuclear weapons are usable again.
Everything has been put in place. The US is likely to have obtained classified "intelligence" concerning hidden Iranian chemical and biological underground facilities. Low yield B61-11 nuclear bunker busters must have been deployed, just in case "surprising military developments" give rise to "military necessity". Once Iran is drawn into a conflict and shoots a single missile against Israel or US forces in the region, the US administration will argue that the next Iranian missile could carry chemical or biological warheads and cause untold casualties among Americans, Iraqis or Israelis. A low yield nuclear bunker buster will be touted as the most "humane" way to prevent further loss of life.
Why it may happen
In 1941, a vast military effort was started by the United States to create nuclear weapons, culminating in the Trinity test and subsequent bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The effort was shrouded in secrecy and any moral qualms were set aside. When it succeeded, it was argued that many American and Japanese lives had been saved by nuking Japan into surrender.
Any speculation during the period 1941-1945 that the United States had 100,000 people devoted to create a secret weapon million-fold more powerful than any known weapon would have been dismissed as the ultimate "conspiracy theory".
Similarly, much evidence indicates that a deliberate project, shrouded in secrecy, exists today that will culminate in the nuking of Iran, to "save lives". Many are privy to parts of the plan, as Seymour Hersh revealed, only a few know the plan in its entirety. Low-yield nuclear bunker busters will be used, untested but as reliable as the untested "Little Boy" that leveled Hiroshima. Americans will buy the "military necessity" argument because it will be true: American troops in Iraq will be sitting ducks facing Iranian missiles, with or without WMD warheads.
After the US uses nuclear weapons again, it will have established the usability of its nuclear arsenal against non-nuclear countries. It will be possible to wage war "on the cheap", saving many American lives in future conflicts. "Support the troops" is the one thing all Americans, no matter how diverse their views are, agree on.
It should not be allowed to happen. The President has sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons against Iran. We know from previous actions of this administration what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are capable of. There have been radical changes in US nuclear weapons policies and in preemption "doctrine", and the Bush announcement that the nuclear option is "on the table". In response, there needs to be a strong groundswell call to restrict the absolute presidential authority of this President to order the use of nuclear weapons against Iran. By the general public, by "antinuclear" organizations, by scientific, political and professional organizations. To push Congress into action before it is too late. Without a "nuclear option", the US will be more interested in negotiation than in confrontation with Iran.
In the short term, Israel certainly will benefit from the destruction of Iran's military capabilities. But Israel will not enjoy peace as a result, because the nuking of Iran will create enormous animosity against Israel in the Muslim world and beyond. To the extent that the world buys the US fable that the nuking of Iran was required by "military necessity" and not premeditated, Israel (and Jews worldwide) will bear a heavier than deserved brunt for having contributed to "precipitate" these events.
The US will reap enormous benefits. Flexing its nuclear muscle, it will establish its absolute hegemony in the Middle East and Central Asia and beyond, and gradually squeeze China and Russia into nuclear disarmament and complete submission.
In the end of course we will all lose. Because the nuclear genie, unleashed from its bottle in the war against Iran, will never retreat. And just like the US could develop nuclear weapons in only 4 years with completely new technology 60 years ago, many more countries and groups will be highly motivated to do it in the coming years.
Think about the current disproportionate response of Israel, applied in a conflict where the contenders have nuclear weapons. 10 to 1 retaliation, starting with a mere 600 casualties, wipes out the entire Earth's population in eight easy steps. Who will be willing to stop the escalation? The country that lost 60,000 citizens in the last hit? The one that lost 600,000? 6 million?
As the nuclear holocaust unfolds, some will remember the Lebanon conflict and subsequent Iran war and blame it all on the Jews. Others will properly blame Americans, for having allowed their Executive to erase the 60-year old taboo against the use of nuclear weapons, first in doctrine and then in practice, despite having the most powerful conventional military force in the world. Others of course will blame "Muslim extremism".
And then the blaming will wither away as a three-billion-year old experiment, life on planet Earth, comes to an end.
Jorge Hirsch is a Professor of Physics at the University of California at San Diego, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and organizer of a recent petition, circulated among leading physicists, opposing the new nuclear weapons policies adopted by the US in the past 5 years. He is a frequent commentator on Iran and nuclear weapons.