My Word: Ban and the bomb

Hundreds are dying every week in Syria. And while Assad is getting away with murder, Ahmadinejad is watching.

Ahmadinejad in Cuba 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ahmadinejad in Cuba 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The “will they, won’t they?” guessing game about Israel’s policy on nuclearizing Iran has taken on a life of its own. Who knows if it isn’t part of a plan to confuse the enemy? Who knows anything?
The recent surge in speculation about a possible Israeli preemptive strike can be attributed to a mixture of two factors. In part it reflected the herd mentality – once one journalist started on the subject, the others followed; partly it can be put down to the “Herzliya phenomenon.” Whenever local and international leaders and opinion makers gather en masse at the annual prestigious conference, they touch on similar topics (each garnering separate headlines for added dramatic effect).
I hope that the world leaders are doing more than talking. Psychological warfare has its place, but it can’t be used exclusively. And, for it to work, you first need to “Know your enemy,” as the slogan that hung in my old military base instructed.
I don’t see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quaking in fear; he might even be laughing. He had good reason to snicker a little last week.
Russia and China’s veto of the UN Security Council resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad, after all, is more encouraging to the Iranian ruler than to citizens of the peace-loving world.
Ahmadinejad must have looked, and liked what he saw.
Events in Iran and Syria are intricately related: The supply of arms to terror organizations can be traced to addresses in both Tehran and Damascus. And both countries have been trying to gain nuclear arms.
That’s why I keep asking myself not why it has taken the UN so long to act, but why were Syria and Iran (and Libya until not so long ago) considered respected members of the world body in the first place? Is not the UN’s mandate to prevent wars and protect human rights?
One hopes the answer has nothing to do with the fact that both Iran and Syria have singled out Israel as Enemy No. 1, and hence were not considered a real threat anywhere outside the Jewish state.
Even before they get their fingers on The Bomb, Iranian fingerprints can be clearly seen in terror attacks that have taken the lives of so many people all over the global map they want redrawn. Interpol has indicated that those involved in the bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires in July 1994 include former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who is senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Eighty-five people died in the attack.
Israel has the dubious honor of heading Iran’s hit list, above America, but most of Europe is within Iran’s missile range.
Israel is also top of Syria’s hit list, but links between Assad’s regime and nuclear North Korea are now well known. Those links pass, not coincidentally, through Iran. Which means it’s important to do more than just rap Ahmadinejad’s knuckles before they get close to The Button.
This is not just Israel’s concern. Keep in mind that all the arms and materiel currently being “safeguarded” by the unstable regime might end up in the hands of terrorists. Terrorism has an even greater range than missiles.
When international jurist Prof. Irwin Cotler met with Jerusalem Post staff on February 5, in his usual dignified way he urged all those leaders who cherish democracy and freedom to press Moscow and Beijing to rethink their positions on Syria. He also praised the US for, albeit belatedly, condemning Russia and China for their “travesty” of a vote, to quote US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Regarding Iran, Cotler reiterated his view that Ahmadinejad is a “clear and present threat” not only to international peace and security but also to his own people.
The Iranian president embodies “four distinct yet interrelated dangers,” in Cotler’s words: “the nuclear threat; the genocidal incitement threat; state-sponsored terrorism; and the systematic and widespread violations of the rights of the Iranian people.”
When it comes to Iran, placing the focus on the nuclear issue means that other serious human rights issues are generally overlooked. When it comes to Syria, concentrating on the current dreadful human rights abuses tends to mean that the regime’s nuclear plans are being ignored.
In both cases the reasons why, as Russia and China made so clear last week, are huge financial and military interests.
Ahmadinejad has another reason for feeling self-satisfied. The so-called Arab Spring might have started last year in Tunisia but the first signs of it could be seen in Iran’s “Twitter Revolution” following the elections there in 2009.
They were signs that US President Barack Obama seriously misread. If ever there was a lost chance at a peaceful solution to the Iranian issue, this was it. Thousands bravely took to the streets to demand a change in the regime. And Obama did, well, nothing. Or nothing well.
Syrian protesters might seek help from the West, but if it is forthcoming it will be too late for the thousands who have already been killed.
If there were any justice in this world, Assad and Ahmadinejad would already be facing a trial in the International Criminal Court at the Hague, as Cotler pointed out.
Instead, they are free to travel and the UN has actually provided the tyrants with a platform.
THE RAMIFICATIONS of an all-out attack on either Iran or Syria are tremendous. Clearly, other options need to be exhausted first. Nuclear scientists in both countries have reason to be cautious about approaching motorbikes.
Accidents happen. And hopefully these types of accidents will continue to happen. I’d rather those working on getting these rogue nations the dirty bomb come to fear the unknown than that whole populations should live in fear. And that, by the way, includes the populations of their own countries.
You don’t have to go very far back in history to realize that not all democratic elections end in freedom. Neither does a change in regime guarantee a new, enlightened leader.
Yet when it comes to both Syria and Iran we know enough to realize that in both cases changing their rulers is worth the risk – especially compared to the dangers that their current leaders present.
The call for change in both cases is coming from within. Even the Arab League is pressing for change in Syria.
This is not Israel’s fight. This is a global concern which requires true leadership, not wagging tongues and fingers.
The Western world and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must keep up the pressure and ensure that the UN lives up to its original purpose and the free world lives up to its name.
Hundreds are dying every week in Syria. And while Assad is getting away with murder, Ahmadinejad is watching.
The writer is editor of The International Jerusalem Post. [email protected]