Bolton Defends Against Absence of Syrian Nuclear Evidence

Israeli air strike did not hit nuclear facility, intelligence officials say, 09/24/2007
Filed by Larisa Alexandrovna, Raw Story

Attack said spawned from chemical weapons disaster

Israel did not strike a nuclear weapons facility in Syria on Sept. 6, instead striking a cache of North Korean missiles, current and former intelligence officials say.

American intelligence sources familiar with key events leading up to the Israeli air raid tell RAW STORY that what the Syrians actually had were North Korean No-Dong missiles, possibly located at a site in either the city of Musalmiya in the northern part of Syria or further south around the city of Hama.

While reports have alleged the US provided intelligence to Israel or that Israel shared their intelligence with the US, sources interviewed for this article believe that neither is accurate.

By most accounts of intelligence officials, both former and current, Israel and the US both were well aware of the activities of North Korea and Syria and their attempts to chemically weaponize the No-Dong missile (above right). It therefore remains unclear why an intricate story involving evidence of a Syrian nuclear weapons program and/or enriched uranium was put out to press organizations.

The North Korean missiles — described as "legacy" by one source and "older generation" by another — were not nuclear arms.

Vincent Cannistraro, Director of Intelligence Programs for the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan and Chief of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism Center under President George H. W. Bush, said Sunday that what the Israelis hit was "absolutely not a nuclear weapons facility."

"Syria has a small nuclear research facility and has had it for several years," Cannistraro said. "It is not capable of enriching uranium to weapons capability levels. Some Israelis speculated that the Syrians had succeeded in doing just that, but according to the US intelligence experts that is simply not true."

But "Syria has a chemical weapons capability and has been trying to chemically weaponize war heads on their existing stocks of North Korean originated missiles," Cannistraro added.

Israeli government and embassy officials are not commenting on the incident.

According to intelligence sources familiar with the events leading up to the raid, an explosion on July 20 at a Syrian facility near the city of Halab, in the Northern part of Syria, caused Israel's retaliatory strike on Sept. 6.

They could not say what caused the delayed reaction.

Chemical warhead exploded at site

North Korean scientists working with Syrian military and intelligence officials attempted to load a chemical warhead onto one of the North Korean missiles, likely the No-dong 1 model, according to intelligence current and former intelligence officers interviewed for this article. The result was an explosion that killed a few of those present and, according to some official reports of the blast, as many as 50 civilians.

The SANA news agency described the blast at the time as "not the result of sabotage," but an explosion resulting from "the combustion of sensitive, highly explosive material caused by extremely high temperatures."

The No-Dong 1 missile is a redesigned SCUD-C, which the Syrians are alleged to have acquired in the mid-1990s according to some estimations, while others say perhaps as late as 2000. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the No-Dong has a potential range/payload capacity of 1,000-1,300 km/700-1,000 kg.

Cannistraro believes that these missiles were No-Dong, but did not specify which class. Others, however, named the No-Dong 1 model or described the missile in such a way as to indicate what could only be the No-Dong 1 model.

The chemical explosion is believed to have included a Sarin nerve agent and made the area around the blast dangerous even after the fire from the explosion had been extinguished. This would make reconnaissance of the area difficult for foreign intelligence officers attempting to collect samples and data after the blast.

The United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention treaty of 1993 outlawed the stockpiling of Sarin, but neither Syria nor North Korea are signatories to the treaty.

Some believe that the Office of the Vice President is continuing to battle any attempts at diplomacy made by the US State Department in an effort to ensure no alternative but a military solution to destabilize and strike Iran, using Syria's alleged nuclear weapons program and close relations with Iran as a possible pretext.

A Sept. 16 piece in the London Sunday Times alleged the attack proved Israel could penetrate Iran's air defenses.

"By its actions, Israel showed it is not interested in waiting for diplomacy to work where nuclear weapons are at stake," reporter Uzi Mahnaimi wrote. "The Israelis proved they could penetrate the Syrian air defence [sic] system, which is stronger than the one protecting Iranian nuclear sites."

Comment by JL: John Bolton responds to the news now emerging that Israel's raid turned up no proof of radiation from the Syrian site that was bombed. Bolton argued that the bombing raid was necessary to destroy nuclear cooperation between Syria and North Korea. The most important line in his defense is,

"Israel's specific target is less important than the fact that with its objection to the raid, North Korea may have tipped its hand. Pyongyang's interest in the raid may be evidence of secret nuclear cooperation between the regime and Syria."

He now argues that because North Korea said it was innocent, it is guilty. Evidence from Syria is immaterial. Proof of Syria's "evilness" can be established by North Korea's objection to the raid. One must respect the audacity.

Syria Joins the Axis of Evil,
Wall Street Journal – Sep 24, 2007

The six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program are set to resume on Sept. 27 in Beijing. Since the last session, a raft of "working group" meetings and Democratic People's Republic of Korea propaganda events have purportedly shown "progress" in implementing the Feb. 13 agreement to eliminate the North's nuclear capabilities. On Oct. 2, South Korean President Roh Muh-hyun will travel to Pyongyang to embrace Kim Jong Il. Mr. Roh hopes to boost political allies in a close presidential race against opponents of his appeasement policies.

But this entire diplomatic minuet has been reduced almost to insignificance by news from an unexpected place: the Middle East. A dramatic and apparently successful night-time Israeli air attack on Syria, whose details remain extraordinarily closely held, has increased the stakes. North Korea immediately condemned the raid, an action that raises this question: What is it about a raid in Syria that got Kim Jong Il's attention?

Israel's specific target is less important than the fact that with its objection to the raid, North Korea may have tipped its hand. Pyongyang's interest in the raid may be evidence of secret nuclear cooperation between the regime and Syria. There is much still unknown about a potential North Korea project in Syria, such as whether it was a direct sale of technology or equipment to the Syrians, a stand-alone facility or some sort of joint venture. In any case, the threat to Israel of such a project would be acute, perhaps existential — which is why it would risk all-out regional war to strike pre-emptively.

Outsourcing strategic programs is nothing new for North Korea. For years, Pyongyang has been an aggressive proliferator of ballistic-missile technology, especially to the Middle East. In 1998, North Korea conducted a successful Taepo Dong missile launch and shortly thereafter gained an enormous propaganda boost by announcing a moratorium on launch-testing from its territory. But it didn't halt missile development and benefited greatly from Iran's ballistic missile program. Sharing data made eminent sense since both countries used the same basic Scud technology. Having successfully worked this shell game in ballistic missiles, it should come as no surprise that North Korea would try it again in the nuclear field.

Iran's increasing hegemony over Syria makes Syrian-North Korean cooperation in nuclear matters unlikely without its consent. Although Iran's involvement here is murky, its incentive to conceal its own nuclear program raises the possibility of a three-way deal. Most chillingly, the United States and Israel must now ask whether the Iranian and North Korean nuclear challenges can be resolved in isolation from one another.

Until more details become public, debate over the full extent of Syrian-North Korean cooperation will continue. What the Israeli attack highlights, however — even if it does not prove conclusively for now — is that North Korea is a global threat.

If the North is engaging in nuclear cooperation with Syria, the Feb. 13 agreement should be terminated. How much more evidence of mendacity do we need before we wake up? In fact, the Feb. 13 agreement is now merely a slogan. Its deadlines and its "actions for actions" mantra have disappeared, lost in a "process" of endless meetings and working groups. This "process" is inherently favorable to Kim Jong Il because it enables the North's legendary ability to trade the same obligation multiple times for tangible rewards, whether or not it performs.

Even if we "only" have evidence of continued North Korean ballistic missile cooperation with Syria, that alone should keep the North on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Syria — and its senior partner, Iran — are both long-time denizens of that same list of state sponsors of terrorism. Can we really delist North Korea when it partners with other terrorist states in the most destructive technologies?

Moreover, where are Syria's ballistic missiles — and its weapons of mass destruction — aimed? With American forces at risk in Iraq, no increase in the threats they face is acceptable, especially given Syria's record on Iraq to date. Syria remains at war with Israel and with Lebanon's Cedar Revolution. No one concerned about Israel's security or Lebanon's democracy should countenance giving North Korea a pass on the terrorism issue.

If the evidence is uncertain or mixed, the State Department will, unfortunately, desperately cling to "the process." If so, to protect the U.S. from the national security risk and international humiliation of another Pyongyang diplomatic triumph, we must insist on real dismantling of the North's nuclear program and a broad, deep and lasting verification mechanism. Moreover, what was once a subsidiary verification issue — North Korean outsourcing off the Peninsula — now assumes critical importance.

When will real verification experts from across our government finally receive a significant role? As one verifier said recently, "we'll know what's really going on when U.S. physicists start talking to [North Korean] physicists." State's diplomats should welcome this assistance, although traditionally they view the arrival of verifiers into arms control negotiations the same way Al Capone saw Elliot Ness and "The Untouchables." Of course, beyond negotiations, we need the concrete verification itself, which is barely a mirage in the six-party talks.

Developments in Syria should have brought the administration up short. Instead, the State Department has accelerated its efforts to declare "success," a deeply troubling and dangerous sign. This reflects a cultural problem at State, where "zeal for the deal" too often trumps the substance of the deal itself.

President Bush stands at a dispositive point regarding his personal legacy on North Korea. Until now, one could say with a straight face, if not entirely accurately, that implementing the Feb. 13 agreement was the State Department's responsibility. No longer. The Israeli strike and the possible Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation associated with it have presidential consequences. Further concessions to the North can now be laid only at the White House door, just as only the president can bring a tougher, more realistic attitude to the issue. That would be a real legacy.

Mr. Bolton is senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defeating America at the U.N. and Abroad," forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.

Addendum: Later in the day, this interview with Bolton appeared on Fox News:

What the Israelis struck I cannot say; whether a nuclear or missile facility is not clear," Bolton said from his office at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

He offered the possibility that it was a joint research venture or simply a North Korea facility located in Syria. "Any of these options is enough to show proliferation by the North Koreans and that is very dangerous," Bolton said.

He ruled out other theories, meanwhile, including that the target was Iranian missiles to be shipped to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon for attacks on Israel or that Israel was testing Syria's air defenses."I don't think the Israelis would have taken the risk unless it was a very high-value target," Bolton said.

Neither American nor Israeli officials are saying whether the target was a nuclear or missile facility and many don't know, Bolton said.

The former State Department official and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said he did not object to the Beijing talks, which are designed to disable North Korea's nuclear program. At a session last February, North Korea agreed to shut down its main nuclear facility and eventually disable its programs in exchange for aid equivalent to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil.

Bolton said it would be wrong, however, to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of countries that support terror and therefore are ineligible for various benefits.

"If they are cooperating with either Syria or Iran, such as on ballistic missile stuff, they should stay on (the list) with Syria and Iran," he said.

"If you are supporting terrorist regimes, you are a state supporter of terror," he said.

Newsweek: Whispers of War: A secret raid, nuclear ambitions and the next crisis: how far will Israel go to keep Iran from getting the bomb? By Dan Ephron and Mark Hosenball. 

In Washington, on the other hand, the consensus against a strike is firmer than most people realize. The Pentagon worries that another war will break America's already overstretched military, while the intelligence community believes Iran is not yet on the verge of a nuclear breakthrough. The latter assessment is expected to appear in a secret National Intelligence Estimate currently nearing completion, according to three intelligence officials who asked for anonymity when discussing nonpublic material. The report is expected to say Iran will not be able to build a nuclear bomb until at least 2010 and possibly 2015. One explanation for the lag: Iran is having trouble with its centrifuge-enrichment technology, according to U.S. and European officials.

Twice in the past year, the United States has won U.N. Security Council sanctions against Tehran. More measures might come up at Security Council discussions later this year, and recently French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned that European nations might impose their own sanctions. One U.S. official who preferred not to be identified discussing sensitive policy matters said he took part in a meeting several months ago where intelligence officials discussed a "public diplomacy" strategy to accompany sanctions. The idea was to periodically float the possibility of war in public comments in order to keep Iran off balance. In truth, the official said, no war preparations are underway.

There are still voices pushing for firmer action against Tehran, most notably within Vice President Dick Cheney's office. But the steady departure of administration neocons over the past two years has also helped tilt the balance away from war. One official who pushed a particularly hawkish line on Iran was David Wurmser, who had served since 2003 as Cheney's Middle East adviser. A spokeswoman at Cheney's office confirmed to NEWSWEEK that Wurmser left his position last month to "spend more time with his family." A few months before he quit, according to two knowledgeable sources, Wurmser told a small group of people that Cheney had been mulling the idea of pushing for limited Israeli missile strikes against the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz – and perhaps other sites – in order to provoke Tehran into lashing out. The Iranian reaction would then give Washington a pretext to launch strikes against military and nuclear targets in Iran. (Wurmser's remarks were first reported last week by Washington foreign-policy blogger Steven Clemons and corroborated by NEWSWEEK.) When NEWSWEEK attempted to reach Wurmser for comment, his wife, Meyrav, declined to put him on the phone and said the allegations were untrue. A spokeswoman at Cheney's office said the vice president "supports the president's policy on Iran."

The question may not be whether America is ready to attack, but whether Israel is. ….

Stratfor; Geopolitical Diary: Iran Fright Month

Syria to weigh joining Mideast conference: Damascus calls for comprehensive peace, wants proposed conference to have ‘clear agenda’.
By Roueida Mabardi – DAMASCUS

Syrian participation in a US-sponsored peace conference could ease its troubled ties with the international community but Damascus is unlikely to back down on its terms, diplomats and officials say.

"Syria will decide on whether to participate after it receives an invitation," Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said on Monday, while stressing that Damascus wanted a.

He said the conference must be focused on "the imperatives for a just and comprehensive peace" such as the creation of an independent Palestinian state, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and the Golan's return to Syria.

"The United States and Israel are very mistaken if they are trying with this meeting to bring about a normalisation" between Syria and Israel, the minister warned.

A senior US State Department official said on Sunday that Washington planned to invite Syria — as part of an Arab League committee tasked with following up on a Saudi peace plan — to the Israeli-Palestinian conference later this year.

The United States "recognises that its presence is necessary", said a European diplomat posted in Damascus.

"If the conference turns out to be public relations exercise, it is not in Syria's interest to take part," an official said. It wants a "clear agenda" and not only on the Israeli-Palestinian track of the peace process.

The official said Damascus wanted an "impartial and balanced" conference.

Syria demands the return of the entire Golan Heights which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East and annexed in 1981. Direct negotiations between the two countries broke down in January 2000.

It has come under international pressure over Lebanon, Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But the Syrian official stressed that Damascus would "not give up on its support for the national resistance (against Israel) nor its strategic alliance with Iran".

The diplomat, on condition of anonymity, said that Syria which hosts hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and whose Golan Heights remain occupied by Israel would have to form part of any comprehensive solution.

Comments (86)

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51. Bashmann said:

majedkhaldoun, I agree with you on the modernists Islamists limited short term success in Turkey, however when it comes to Arab countries the danger is in the ideology of most Islamists parties and organizations, they tend to radicalize their message and sway the herds of the uneducated populace in that direction.

As far as Israel goes, we can not ignore the negative consequences of the right wing parties on the overall policies that were charted in Israel for the past 40 years, only recently after Sharon’s disengagement policies have the right wing in Israel realized the unrealistic goals of its founders in absorbing the West Bank and Gaza into the great land of Israel, even ’till today there are still high ranking political figures and voices in Israel who believe in these goals.

As far as HA having success, it depends how you look at it. I do not see how you can call it a successful war when Nassrallah still in hiding and his armed militia is shattered, while UNICEF protects the Israeli/Lebanese borders. HA has practically been eliminated from southern Lebanon therefore I fail to see how you can call this a success. HA has resorted to the only thing they know best and that is it’s terrorist tactics targeting the 14th of March forces in order to gain political advantage in Lebanon. I consider HA being a nuisance to the stability and security of Lebanon in particular and the Middle-East in general.


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September 27th, 2007, 11:21 pm


52. Alex said:


Syria realizes that Islamists are more active than Arab nationalists. That’s why this is a typical scene at the presidential palace.

But I agree with Bashman’s concerns to some extent.


Establishing a constructive opposition party takes more than designing another website with the obligatory modified Syrian bird. It takes more than stating the obvious aspirations for women’s rights, political rights, democracy, and economic progress.

We already have Farid and his bird.

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September 28th, 2007, 12:02 am


53. Bashmann said:


“Constructive opposition party!” Have you talked to one single political prisoner in Syria or abroad? Do you think a government that fears its top nationalist writers and poets and throw them in jails to be tortured and rot for years for merely writing what they believe understands the meaning of “Constructive opposition”????

It is delusional to believe such non-sense. This is a regime that rules with one thing only and that is brute force which they have used on thousands of political prisoners ‘till their human spirits and souls have been broken beyond repair, while others died in the abyss of the “Mukhabarat” basements under torture. The Syrian regime has eliminated any remote possibility of TRUE opposition on the inside since the early days of the late dictator Hafez Assad. What is left resemble a circus coalition of political parties who play clowns to the Baath Party and call themselves the “National Progressive Front”. You must be living in the comfort of the West theorizing about a utopian government under the current dictator Bashar Assad to imagine “Constructive Opposition Party”, have you had the opportunity to visit Tadmur or Saidnaya prisons in Syria? Do you think a regime that keeps places of this sort understands “Constructive Opposition Parties”?

Yet we, at Alenfetah Party, are still calling for “Peaceful Change” in Syria, what more of constructive opposition can you ask for?

You should take a trip to one of the NSF conferences and listen to the stories of some of the participants. You might change your mind about “Constructive Opposition”!

Give us a break and before you judge us, read on further on our website, we might be new but our intent and purpose reflect the wills and hopes of millions of Syrians on the inside and abroad, therefore our membership have ballooned in the last year with many more joining daily. As professionals living in the US, the least we can do is to reawaken the national pride and dignity of our beloved countrymen, two things that have long been murdered by years of oppressive marshal law courts in Syria.


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September 28th, 2007, 2:23 am


54. Friend in America said:

Alex – I appreciate your comment about Raw Story. I took Raw Story off my read list some time ago because it didn’t seem to have reports not covered elsewhere and its accuracy was questionable. I’ll put it back on and watch for a couple of months and report.

The details in Cook’s article seem acurate but I think these writers are missing the two big questions – Why is Syria involved in these activities and what kind of response to the air strike is in the making?
My view on the second question is a little grim. The Sunday before the President of Iran was to address the United Nations the 60 Minutes news program that has aired in the US for 40 years broadcast an interview with the President. The President of Iran said with a smerk on his face that he is known for “Iran is not making a nuclear bomb.”. I jumped out of my chair – another tip for my developing analysis. It’s not a nuclear bomb my friends. it’s something else and its nuclear.

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September 28th, 2007, 2:52 am


55. Friend in America said:

The Al Ahram republishing of Jonathan Cook’s long article spinning out a ratonalization that some are eager for a war with Iran simply repeats an interesting but fictional story.
There will be no bombing of iranian nuclear sites. There will be no general military war with iran.
I doubt there will even be a showdown. But if one occurs, it will be handled quite differently than what these inventive writers are hinting at.

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September 28th, 2007, 3:18 am


56. Alex said:


1) Your admiration for this administration is in sharp contrast to the feelings of the vast majority of Syrians… and to the vast majority of intelligent and moderate people on this planet.

2) Your calls for freedom for political prisoners does not qualify you to form an opposition party. Otherwise, each one of us can form his own opposition party (after we hire a teenager to design out website)… we all want those prisoners released. And we all like the generic constitution items you listed on your site. But there is nothing new there. What are you adding? why did you feel the need to establish “a political party”?

3) Syrians respond better to nuanced messages. Your dramatic “this dictatorial regime that is murdering and jailing its people …” statements do not resonate well with the mainstream Syrians today who are mostly living a normal and safe life, despite the political prisoners.

Your support for the Syria accountability act is the kind of activity that gives Syrian opposition a bad name. You want to help those in Prison? don’t associate yourself with them.

Try the republican party if you feel like being politically active.

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September 28th, 2007, 3:45 am


57. Alex said:

Friend in America,

You asked: “Why is Syria involved in these activities and what kind of response to the air strike is in the making?”

What activities?

The Syrians have been developing and purchasing SSMs for decades now. They never used them to attack any country. They “are involved” in those activities for defensive purposes … as the past 20 years can prove.

There was a debate with Israeliguy regarding who ca be trusted to have WMDs … democracies or others as well.

The fact is, most leaders are sane enough to not use WMDs against their enemies. The only leaders with questionable character stability are perhaps the north Korean and the Libyan leaders. But even North Korea did not use its nuclear weapons against anyone.

Syria is as cautious a country as you can get. There has been numerous provocations from Israel in the past, Syria never used its alleged assets of chemical weapons.

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September 28th, 2007, 3:55 am


58. IsraeliGuy said:

“The fact is, most leaders are sane enough to not use WMDs against their enemies. The only leaders with questionable character stability are perhaps the north Korean and the Libyan leaders. But even North Korea did not use its nuclear weapons against anyone.

Syria is as cautious a country as you can get. There has been numerous provocations from Israel in the past, Syria never used its alleged assets of chemical weapons.”

Alex, I’m not sure if Saddam Husein was sane in your book.
In mine, he didn’t seem that different from many other dictators and he used chemical weapons on the poor Kurds.

Here’s what I know: in democracies, leaders are been elected by a lot of different individuals (voters).
This is a great filter.

People, when they vote freely, usually elect sain and responsible people and the likability that a leader of a democracy will use or traffic his WMD in an irresponsible way is pretty low.

I’m also pretty sure that a leader of a democracy can’t order on the use or trafficking of WMD alone.
I’m sure it takes the government or the cabinet to decide on that.
That’s another great filter.

When it comes to dictatorships, the procedures are far more “flexible”.

You can never know what happens in such a country after a political assassination, a coup, a revolution, a takeover by Islamic fundamentalists, etc.

An extreme Islamic leader in non democratic countries can launch WMDs based on his strong religious belief or a Fatwa from a senior religious leader.

That’s the basis for my views.

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September 28th, 2007, 5:03 am


59. Alex said:


Are you saying that democracies can not possibly produce what you call “an extreme Islamic leader”?

You know that in a “Democracy” all of these guys sitting on the left did, or will, or could win free elections.

Add Hizbollah too … if the current population trends continue, in few years you should not be surprised if a reformed Lebanese political system (one man one vote) will elect Hizbollah to lead the country… shiites are having more children and Christians are immigrating.

What is in common between all of those popular Islamic leaders?

Their people voted for them because They had it with the corrupt alternatives …. president Rafsanjani (who was running against Ahmadinejad) and Fatah (running againt Hamas) were both very corrupt.

Another thing in common between all those cases of democratically elected Islamists: Their people needed leaders who are not afraid to stand up to the arrogant selfish aggressors .. the Americans and/or the Israelis in these cases.

Would these democratically elected “extreme Islamic” leaders use a nuclear bomb against you if they had one?

They would if:

1) They were desperate and they reached a dead end and felt that they had nothing left to lose … in that case you can expect the same state of mind that a Palestinian 14 year old has when he hopelessly decides to blowup himself and a few Israelis in the process.

2) If they are attacked by you.

Since Hamas will not get anywhere near a nuclear bomb in the near future, let us discuss Iran which you told us, quite correctly that Israelis feel highly threatened by its efforts to aquire nuclear weapons in few years.

Assuming Iran decides to launch a few long range Missiles towards Israel … what will Israel do in the mean time? … hope that those missiles are carrying conventional warheads and not the brand new nuclear ones that Iran produced?

No, Israel will launch its own nuclear attack on Tehran … is there any doubt that this is what will happen?


Are the Iranian leaders suicidal?


They might be able to assemble the largest number of suicidal soldiers in history (in case their country is invaded and they have no choice but to defend it), but the Iranian leadership is not suicidal … and they are not in the mood to see their country destroyed and millions of their people in Tehran dead… all in one day, in a guaranteed way.

So what exactly are you afraid of?

You (and the Americans) are afraid that Iran will become too self confident perhaps. Pakistan has the bomb but you are not feeling threatened apparently. Musharraf was almost killed three times the past couple of years, but it did not scare you that the Islamists who almost killed him could have had access to the bomb.

Can I conclude that you are affected too much by the current American hype? … you started to believe that America’s friends the Sunnis are friendly and America’s enemies the Shiites are crazy killers?

I am not advocating the access to WMD by every country in the Middle East. But I’m afraid that for Iranians it is a matter of national pride. They feel that their country is large enough to join the nuclear club. They feel that when they have it and when they show the whole world that they are wise enough and mature enough to not use it, they will show everyone how their ancient civilization translates into a responsible nation that is capable of playing a constructive role in the area.

The ironic thing is that if Israelis were looking to maximize their security then they should definitely not hit Iran!

But most people (even in a democracy like Israel) are not as calm and logical in their calculations. They will go for the immediate way out of their fears … hit the bastards.

By the way, you are lucky that in Syria we do not feel we are large enough as a country to deserve our own nuclear bomb.

We would be happy interfering in our Lebanese and Palestinian brothers’ affairs, that’s all we are asking for!

: )

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September 28th, 2007, 7:06 am


60. SimoHurtta said:

You can never know what happens in such a country after a political assassination, a coup, a revolution, a takeover by Islamic fundamentalists, etc.

An extreme Islamic leader in non democratic countries can launch WMDs based on his strong religious belief or a Fatwa from a senior religious leader.

Wasn’t Israeliguy one Israeli prime minister murdered by religious (Jewish) extremists? Why did they assassinate him?

I find it amusing when citizens of an extreme religious country, led by fanatical extremists, are afraid of other countries extremists. Israeliguy Israel has extreme religious parties which make even Talebans look almost “liberal”. What if Lieberman (the Israeli version) would became PM after elections?

What if a Israeli religious nut PM would decide to revenge Germany and launch the nukes from Israel’s (German build and paid) submarines after getting a “advice” from a senior Rabbi? Or nuke Mecca for fun as so many US religious nuts on astonishing high places have suggested (not to mention the numerous commentators on Haaretz’s and JP’s comment sections). There are many Kach people in Israel…

What did George Bush say: We have a calling from beyond the stars…. Does Bush refer to God or to his republican friends in Alfa Centauri. By the way Professor Cole have many comments and translations of Bush’s discussions with Aznar. In democracies we elect rational, intelligent people with high morality, indeed. Is GW a proof of the rule or an exception to the rule?

People, when they vote freely, usually elect sain and responsible people and the likability that a leader of a democracy will use or traffic his WMD in an irresponsible way is pretty low.

Well how many dictators have used nukes and chemical weapons contra “democratic” leaders? With nukes the “democrats” lead by one to zero. With the chemical weapons the game is even less even. In the relative few cases when dictators have used chemical weapons these weapons were trafficked for them by “democrats”. Funny isn’t it? Pretty low certainty indeed.

By the way didn’t Israel traffic nuclear technology to the other fellow Apartheid country?

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September 28th, 2007, 7:12 am


61. Bashmann said:

1) Your admiration for this administration is in sharp contrast to the feelings of the vast majority of Syrians… and to the vast majority of intelligent and moderate people on this planet.

If you truly speak for the vast majority of Syrians Alex, you should learn better to listen more carefully to the TRUE feelings of the people. Syrians are highly pragmatic and intelligent people and would not tell you their true feelings in a newspaper poll, especially when politics is involved.
There is no admiration to this administration coming from me, however, when goals and targets intersect, politics demand an alliance, something you should know about, since your posts clearly shows your hatred to the “Arrogant US” and pushes you to defend Iran. What an irony!
GW might not be the smartest person to take the highest office on the globe but he was freely elected (even though some doubts the validity of his first election including me) which speaks volumes about our 22 Arab country leaders that believe in inheriting their seats to their offspring.

) Your calls for freedom for political prisoners does not qualify you to form an opposition party. Otherwise, each one of us can form his own opposition party (after we hire a teenager to design out website)… we all want those prisoners released. And we all like the generic constitution items you listed on your site. But there is nothing new there. What are you adding? why did you feel the need to establish “a political party”?

I see you are doing much about releasing those prisoners while in the same time praising Bashar Assad on this blog for his great achievements. I do not dare to question your motives but I would venture to guess that you are either getting paid by him or working for his government.
I’m adding a political organization that lays out the frame-work for true democratic state built on the separation of powers and independent state institutions. Something you are not used to see in Syria, as the rule of the one family have trumpeted or eliminated most of these concepts.

3) Syrians respond better to nuanced messages. Your dramatic “this dictatorial regime that is murdering and jailing its people …” statements do not resonate well with the mainstream Syrians today who are mostly living a normal and safe life, despite the political prisoners.

Your lack of sentiments is natural to the position you hold on most subjects concerning freedom in Syria. Many Syrians are living a normal and safe life including my own family, yet this does not give us free ride to ignore the injustice that is being perpetrated on our freedom of expression and belief. You of all should know that as you seem to speak your mind on this blog!

Your support for the Syria accountability act is the kind of activity that gives Syrian opposition a bad name. You want to help those in Prison? don’t associate yourself with them.

Mental State Terrorism seems to have reached you too. Since when defending human rights and having a political party qualify us to become political prisoners??
You seem to speak volumes in this sentence alone. Good going Alex. Your true colors are shining here!


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September 28th, 2007, 3:40 pm


62. Alex said:


Good luck with your choice of politics. If you manage to do anything useful for Syria I will be the first to salute you and apologize for my negativity.

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September 28th, 2007, 9:39 pm


63. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, let me tell you where you’re right and where you’re wrong – in my opinion.

I don’t disagree with the possibility that in totally free elections, extreme Islamic parties/candidates, will win.

However, I believe there’s a deep contradiction between a democracy and an Islamic rule.

That means that an extremist can be elected totally democratically, but once he’s there in power and once he’ll want to govern by Islamic rule – it’s no longer a democracy.

In you opinion – am I wrong?
Isn’t there this contradiction between a democracy and an Islamic rule?

I agree with you that radical Islamists have a cleaner image in terms of corruption.

However, that’s usually true while they’re in still in opposition.
When they come to power and actually rule, they become corrupt just like the guys who ruled before them.

Look at what happened in Gaza.
Hamas always had a very clean, corruption free image.
They were elected in free elections mainly due to this image.

After a while, they took power of Gaza by force and kicked Fattah out of power.
Are they democratic now?
Is there a democracy in Gaza?
Can you honestly say that?

If you’ll ask Palestinians who live in Gaza, will they tell you that Hamas is preaching for and practicing democratic governing?

By the way, ironically, after the Palestinians finally learned what’s the meaning of having (Islamic) Hamas in power, they now favor Fattah over them according to all recent polls.

Regarding the scenarios you’re portraying regarding when will extremists use nuclear weapons, I’m afraid I can’t agree with you.

Extremists don’t work on the same reason and logic that secular people have.
What you may define as ‘unreasonable’ can be very reasonable to them, because of their belief, education and way of life.

You’re saying “Are the Iranian leaders suicidal?” and I say – who knows?
We see what Jihadist do and YES, they’re suicidal.

They don’t see ‘suicide’ as a bad thing, but as a noble one.
In fact they’re sure they’re going straight to heaven and to their 72 virgins.
Who would resist that?

Should I gamble on the possibility that ‘it’s gonna be ok’? I sure won’t.

By the way, I am extremely worried about Pakistan and Musharraf, but at least he didn’t threaten to wipe me off the map – a threat that I take very seriously and I have zero doubts about their true wishes and intentions to fulfill it.

I also have zero doubts that these intentions will be foiled.

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September 28th, 2007, 11:03 pm


64. Alex said:

ok, my last comments for the day,

1) Hamas are still not corrupt. But I agree that they are now silencing pro Fatah voices in Gaza.

But you can not say they are totally not democratic. Next elections, f Fatah win, they will have to get out of the way.

I agree with you regarding other “islamists” though … I know many subscribe to one man – one vote – once.

But there is hope .. Turkey’s Islamists are great. Hopefully ours will learn from them.

Don’t classify them all as fanatics though… and they are not all suicidal or Jihadists.

Iran… is not suicidal as a regime. they will not attack you. the nuclear program was started when Rafsanjani (a billionaire) was president. He is definitely not interested in Jihadist scenarios.

It is about their national pride and about owning a Shiite bomb (since Pakistan has the Sunni bomb). But they won’t say it.

Anyway … this Syrian Canadian commentator will not convince any Israeli to ignore Ahmadinejad’s predictions (not threats) that Israel will eventually disappear.

There is a meaning in every word they say or do not say … it is not in your interest to simplify their negative words to “threatening to wipe us off the map”

You know they cant … and your only explanation for what they are doing is that they are fanatic and suicidal.

CanI suggest something: if they were suicidal … why didn’t they attack Israel already? .. the same missiles which are supposed to be accurate enought to hit tel Aviv (and not a Palestinian city in the west bank) can already hit tel Aviv … they already have chemical weapons .. they can surprise you tomorrow with 10 missiles carrying the most lethal chemical warheads .. why are they not doing that??

Perhaps it is really about ego … they want to feel like a regional power, and you want to be the only one who is THAT powerful in the Middle East.

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September 28th, 2007, 11:43 pm


65. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, Turkey is a democracy – but you see how they walk on very thin ice.
Things are very fragile and shaky there.
It’s not Canada.

Regarding your question “why didn’t they attack Israel already?” – the answer is pretty simple.
You can’t destroy a country with conventional weapons.

As I said in a previous post, Iraq hit us with 39 Scud missiles.

Do you know how many were killed? 1 (one!) person and probably a few dozens were wounded.
At this rate it would take 6-7 million scuds to succeed 😉

Regarding chemical weapons, again, you can’t finish a country with those.
Sure, you can inflict huge damage in human lives, but it’s not always as effective as you might think.

Under certain weather conditions, its effectiveness drops.
When people are inside rooms its effectiveness drops.
When people are wearing masks, its effectiveness drops.

Plus, when the first few missiles land here, a counter nuclear strike can be deadly for them, so they lose twice: they didn’t wipe Israel off the map and they were bombarded with nukes.

On the other hand, when you have nukes, it’s a different story.
Israel is a small country.
A small number of nukes will be enough to pretty much destroy everything here.

So they get to destroy Israel and even if Israel hits back with nukes, who cares?
They’ll all go up to a better world and so will their citizens.
They’ll see themselves and their citizens as Shahids.

In the last war with Lebanon, Hizbollah fired 4000 rockets on Israel.
Some of the dead were Arab Israelis from Haifa and from Arab villages and communities.

Do you think that Hizbollah cared?
they said the they’ll view them as Shahids.
They suck their mentality from their Iranian patrons.

Anyway, there are 2 options: any of the 2 of us can be right and any of the 2 of us can be wrong.
Since the stakes are so high, I can’t see Israel take a chance on this.

That’s why I expected a huge regional war in 2007-8.
After the Iranians will be bombed, they’ll retaliate with all their cards and bring Syria and Lebanon in to the game.

Remember where you read this ‘prediction’ first…

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September 29th, 2007, 1:41 am


66. Alex said:

I will remember your prediction but hope that you are wrong 😉

I also have a nastier prediction from a top European diplomat who met with Olmert, Assad, Ahmadinejad, and Rice in one month … he told a friend of mine that he has never been this pessimistic before … he said that all the leaders he met were absolutely convinced that they represented “good” and that they were in a good position to not compromise with the bad guys …

He expected that this year could show us a mini-WWIII

But I still disagree : )

Call me naive if you want. But I know that the Israelis, Syrians, and Iranians are all logical enough… and none of them is suicidal.

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September 29th, 2007, 7:33 am


67. IsraeliGuy said:

The European diplomat is right.
I didn’t mention WWIII, because it doesn’t have to deteriorate to that level.

But if either Iran or Israel will be on the brink of total collapse – it can go as far as WWIII.

Personally I feel that the 2 more likely scenarios are a war where the participants are the US, Israel, Iran, Syria & Lebanon.

An equally probable scenario has the same players – excluding the US.

If the US will make the opening shot, I believe it will be a total attack on all Iranian military infrastructure.

If it will be Israel, it will probably be limited to the Iranian nuclear facilities.

Either way, the Iranians will respond with everything that they have and that includes Syria and Hizbollah.

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September 29th, 2007, 8:02 am


68. Alex said:

I think Syria will be left out of an Israeli Iranian war for some time … Iran has enough means to respond. Usually if it gets to that point, the rest of the world will intervene immediately to stop it.

Syria and HA will enter only if Iran is in deep trouble.

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September 29th, 2007, 8:14 am


69. IsraeliGuy said:

“I think Syria will be left out of an Israeli Iranian war for some time …”

I don’t feel the same.
Iran invested in Syria for a reason.
There’s no doubt in my mind that they have a signed agreement on this matter.

Whether Assad will respect it or not is a different story, but I believe he will.
Right now, he’s on the same boat with Ahmadinejad.

“Iran has enough means to respond.”

Alex, don’t be naive : )

After an attack like this, Iran will want much more than just ‘responding’.

They’ll need Syria and Hizbollah to open fronts against Israel, so the IDF won’t be able to direct all its resources towards Iran.

“Usually if it gets to that point, the rest of the world will intervene immediately to stop it.”

LOL, this was a good one…
Like the world intervened immediately at the beginning of the Lebanon war? or maybe you mean like the world is intervening now to help the poor people of Burma?

Don’t kid yourself…

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September 29th, 2007, 8:32 am


70. idaf said:


The world will intervene because the price of the barrel of oil will hit 200$..

And btw, if Iran is attacked, then you can expect hell to break loose in Iraq against the Americans. Now it’s only Sunni “insurgents”, wait till the Hizballa-style Shia forces unleash hell against the Americans in Iraq and you will see a scenario similar to USA’s Vietnam or Israel’s south Lebanon.

The WWIII scenario will also most likely include attacks on American interests in the gulf countries, which will make the oil prices go even higher. Europe’s and Asia’s economies will not allow this (even if the US economy tolerates it, which I doubt).

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September 29th, 2007, 10:24 am


71. Alex said:

Thank you IDAF : )


As IDAF mentioned, a war with Iran is not exactly like a walk into Lebanon. The price of oil is the first obvious disaster.

I know that as an Israeli you are used to Arabs warning you that your country is playing with fire and that it will backfire on you …etc.

But in the case of Iran … it can not be more true.

I think you are saying to yourself “I heard it before” … Saddam was supposed to have the fourth largest army in the world in 1991 .. then he turned out to be …nothing.

Believe me, you would not take a decision to bomb Iran if you were not reasonably convinced that Iran would turn out to be another Saddam … same applies for Syria.

You wrote me something on Creative Syria about Syria missing the boat … that although 15 years ago most Israelis wanted to have Hommos in Damascus, today they don’t worry about Syria anymore.. they take it for granted.

I think there is a delayed reaction about to happen. Today’s mentality is a refection of the 2003-2005 years … when America entered Baghdad with ease … when Prime minister Sharon was succeeding in stopping most suicide attacks with his use of force. I always read comments of readers in Israel newspapers and there was an obvious confidence atthat point: “we can enter Damascus too! … if those Syrian bastards keep bothering us with their support for the terrorists then why don’t we simply go and destroy their Damascus?” … “are those bastard serious? why should we give them the Golan?”

Some people are realistic enough to read the newer, less attractive, signals … that the initial success of entering Baghdad with ease did not mean much after all. Same with Israel’s invasion of Lebanon last summer.

But I am sure that many in Israel are confident enough that Iran will be relatively easy.

I hope the wiser ones will prevail. You have some smart people over there.

You still did not comment on my uestion: If Billionaire and “pragmatic” businessman Rafsanjani is the one who started Iran’s nuclear program… is he suicidal?

you know that Ahmadinejad is not the decision maker in Iran, right?

If Iran is not suicidal, then why worry?

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September 29th, 2007, 5:47 pm


72. IsraeliGuy said:

IDAF, I’m not dismissing the logic behind your oil price argument, but will I be wrong to say that the same argument has been made prior to the Iraq war?

That didn’t prevent the war from happening and in fact, the war continues till this very day – isn’t it?

When you say “the world will intervene” – what do you mean?
Who exactly is “the world” that will “intervene” and how? The UN Security Council?

As you can see, they didn’t do much during the Lebanon war, not on the current situation in Burma and not on the Iran sanctioning issue, during recent months.

It’s not exactly a united body of unbiased and neutral experts with a common interest, as I’m sure you know.

Frankly, other than verbal statements by politicians and diplomats across the globe and perhaps some demonstrations, I can’t see how the ‘world’ can intervene effectively, if I learn anything from the samples that I provided.

But there’s another aspect to consider.
After the US or Israel will take out Iran’s nuclear facilities, I assume they’ll have no problem to stop and accept the world’s ‘intervention’.

But what if Iran will not respond to this intervention?

I mean let’s face it, they never responded to the international intervention on their nuclear issue despite sanctions, so why should they do it after they’ll be hit and have all the reasons in the world to respond with a long and painful war?

They’re isolated anyway, they were attacked, their nuclear facilities were taken out, their pride as a people is hurt – why stopping the regional war?

It doesn’t make sense to me and I believe that they won’t stop so fast and we’ll face a long war.
I have no illusions.

Alex, I’m afraid you misinterpreted my words.
I’m not claiming that Israel has all the power in the world and that Iran is a weak country.

Iran is a powerful country with powerful military means.
I don’t doubt that for a second and neither does any Israeli, I assume.

I have no doubt that it’s not going to be a walk in the park – on the contrary (that’s my whole point).
I believe it’s going to be the mother of all Middle Eastern wars – ever.

And regarding Rafsanjani, I really can’t understand the point.
Even if personally he is ‘reasonable’ – so?

At the end of the day, under any scenario, I assume the Supreme Leader of Iran, a fanatic Islamic cleric, will be the one who accepts the decision if to push the button or not – which actually proves my case.

His sense of reality or logic is not equivalent to yours or mine.
He thinks in different terms than us and you can’t deny it.

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September 29th, 2007, 9:19 pm


73. ausamaa said:

I really love all this talk about WAR on IRAN; as if the Bush Admin is “really” capable of even contemplating such an action after the humilation it encountered in Iraq.

This is an evil but an impotent Administration trying to find a way to restore some of the respect it has lost during last six years.

Attack Iran? Huh.. Go secure the Green Zone first where your troops have been “maginificantly” operating for the past four years but with nothing to show for it but frustration and humilation!

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September 29th, 2007, 9:24 pm


74. ausamaa said:


“His sense of reality or logic is not equivalent to yours or mine”.

I sure hope so, otherwise Iranians will attempt to invade and occupy the whole of Asia Minor down to Eygypt on the pretext of having ruled it thousands of years ago. Israel slaughtered and kicked out hundreds of thousands Palestinans out of their land only because God promissed the Jews that land 2000 years ago. Imagine what will happen if Ahmadi Najad tries to lay claim to all the lands the Persians occupied or passed through thousands of years ago, which also took place under God’s watchfull eyes and his full approval ofcourse.

Which logic is more lunatic? Yours or his?

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September 29th, 2007, 10:09 pm


75. idaf said:


Unlike Iraq (that has very small access to the Persian gulf), Iran not just control more than half the Persian gulf, but also more importantly the Hormuz strait, which if closed (something that Iran can do very easily), the world will immediately loose the majority of its energy (oil from Iran, Iraq, Saudi and the rest of the gulf states).

When the price of oil hits the roof, people and businesses will put enormous pressure on governments all over the “democratic countries” to do something. Politicians will have vested interest in stopping the war (or not having it in the first place) as it would mean loosing political power at home. The only thing that governments in Europe and other US allies could do is to get the US to stop (or not start) the war through every possible mean (deals, economic pressures, friendly requests, Security council.. etc.)

BUT most importantly, it’s the US business and corporate America that would have the most effect lobby the congress to do something.

If everything went as planned in Iraq, and the US administration had its way with oil production in this country, such a war on Iran would definitely have been more probable. Personally, I have no doubt that if it were not for this global oil problem, this US administration would have attacked Iran (or used Israel to do the dirty job) a long time ago.

Unlike you and other Israelis, the world is not ONLY obsessed with Iran’s “Islamic threat” or “nuclear ambitions”. The world has its economy to run and that’s more important.

On a separate note, more people are now convinced that the neo-cons are retargeting their war drums on Syria instead. Ghassan Bin Jeddo of Al-jazeera just had a live interview with Ahmed Jibril from the PFLP-GC. He was insisting that Israel will launch a war in the coming few months on Syria as the neo-cons alternative to the direct war with Iran. He insisted that they have reached the conclusion that Iran can’t be directly hit, and are now instead planning to target the “weakest link” in the Iran-Syria-Hizballah axis. He stated that the thousands of his followers are preparing to launch guerrilla warfare against Israel a la HA when this war starts. He said that the redlines put by Syria on his group for the last 30 years will immediately be lifted and they will start attacking through the Golan and south Lebanon.

He argued that the neo-cons are hoping that this war will not trigger Iran to participate and that it will be limited to Syria. But he reminded the viewers of all the statements and defense agreements signed between Syria and Iran. Iran will definitely participate in an innovative way in the war on Syria as for it this would be self defense before the neo-cons next stop.

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September 29th, 2007, 10:48 pm


76. IsraeliGuy said:

IDAF, even though I don’t agree with much of your analysis, I find it most interesting, reasonable, hate free, to the point and I certainly enjoy reading it.

What you write in your opening paragraphs is of course true, but I can’t see how it will prevent the war.

I believe there’s a 50/50 chance that the Americans will attack.
However, let’s concentrate, for the sake of this discussion, on the possibility that they won’t.

Whether you like it or not and whether you agree with it or not – Israel sees Iran’s nuclear program as a severe existential threat.

Every single point that you mentioned might be true, reasonable and logical as an argument against possible war prospects in ‘regular’ circumstances.

When it comes to the current situation (just like in 1981), oil prices, international public opinion or other reasons are always secondary to the thing that really matters to Israel: the threat that the Iranian nuclear bomb will pose on them.

That’s why I don’t accept the validity of your arguments.

Your arguments and scenarios may be true and relevant, but only to the stages that will come AFTER the first hit that Iran will take.

In such a case, after the Iranian nuclear infrastructure will be targeted, Israel will have no problem NOT continuing the war – why should it?

It got what it wanted: the elimination of the nuclear sites (assuming it indeed succeeds in doing so).

As far as Israel is concerned, it will be extremely happy if the Iranians will not respond with an all out war after their sites will be hit – but as I said, I seriously doubt that.

Realistically speaking, Iran will respond (with Syria and HA) and as long as it does – it’s an all out war in the Middle East.

You see, there can be demonstrations and petitions all around the world and price of the barrel of oil can hit $500 – so?
Can you see the war end before Iran decides to ‘stop responding’ ?

That’s why I say that the length of war will be more in the hands of Iran than in Israel’s hands.
Chances are, the war will stop when Iran will want to stop it – unless it turns in to a mega catastrophe.

Then and only then other scenarios are much more possible (WWIII).

Regarding the prospects of an Israeli all out war on Syria, I seriously doubt it and let me tell you why.

As you know, we don’t have much time, since the Iranians are moving forward with their plans.
It leaves us with what? One year? maybe 2?

Let’s say Ahmed Jibril is right and Israel attacks Syria in order to attract Iran to the fight and use the circumstances to attack its nuclear facilities.

But the Iranians are not stupid, as you know.
What happens if the Iranians don’t show up?

I just wasted a lot of time and energy on a war with Syria (and probably with HA too), while my real targets are in Iran.

Frankly, I can’t see the reason behind this scenario.

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September 30th, 2007, 12:09 am


77. SimoHurtta said:

Israeliguy you have an amusing level of trust that Israel and USA can control the events in a case of a major war. A good article for you to read

What World War III May Look Like

In the case that a major war in Middle East breaks out it will be not like 67, 73 or the Israeli excursions to Lebanon. Or the US war against almost defenceless and politically isolated Iraq.

You are completely wrong believing that the world will watch in silence, when their own economies are destroyed. A major war in Middle East’s vital region where the lifeblood of our way of living is produced will effect us all and fast.

Europe minus French government are tired with US/Israeli wars for hegemony. EU is a bigger economical power than USA. Russia, China and other Asian economical powers have many means to intervene, before the war, during it and after it. USA’s weak point is its economy and dollar. Israel’s weak point is USA, its only ally.

US “master strategists” completely miscalculated Iraq operation like Israelis Lebanon operation. This time the enemy is much bigger , stronger and better prepared. Why would this time it go like US and Israeli strategists have planed? A simple air raid and Syrians and Iranians “elect” a pro US government. Come-on.

By the way what did Israel destroy in the 1981 “big” air raid? A French made 40 MW light-water nuclear materials testing reactor (MTR) under IAEA monitoring. Hardly a serious nuclear weapon factory like partly French build Negev Nuclear Research Center (not under IAEA monitoring). Aren’t facts annoying Israeliguy?

Who are the extremists? I hate all Iranians, US aide tells MPs.

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September 30th, 2007, 6:15 am


78. Alex said:


As you know, life is full of uncertainties, risks, threats, and potential for undesirable outcomes.

We form our strategies for dealing with those risks based on three variables:

1) The probabilities associated with those risks (how likely is it that they will materialize)

2) Our tolerance level, or our ability to withstand those dangers in case they materialize.

3) Our estimation of the probability of success in reducing those risks in case we decide to confront them.

When these three variables take on some extreme values, it is easy for us to decide on an optimal course of action.

For example in a war … the probability that an enemy soldier will try to shoot you if he can is very high, the outcome of that risk is not something you can tolerate (you die!), you happen to have a better gun and you are very fast … so it is obvious you will shoot him before he reached for his gun and tries to kill you.

But let us look at your case with Iran:

1) probability Iran will develop the bomb and will fire a missile at you and will be successful at hitting Tel Aviv:

let’s see:

Probability they will develop nuclear warheads even though they are assuring everyone that they are only interested in peaceful applications of the technology: probability is high, I agree with you that Iran is not being honest about its application of nuclear technology. They most probably want to have a nuclear bomb. But only if they can.

let us say that the probability is 80% that they will have the bomb.

Now, look at the probability that they will DECIDE TO put that bomb on a warhead on top of one of those log range missiles they have that can reach Tel Aviv.

We both agreed that for them to contemplate hitting Israel with a nuclear missile they will have to be suicidal. You seem to be sure that they are. I am sure they are not. First, “they” do not include Ahmadinejad, the loud and controversial new president who tries his best to warn/threaten you with a bleak future if you do not change your country’s direction dramatically.

More powerful figures in Iran include the Ayatollahs … Khamenai (the supreme leader) and Rafsanjani (the billionaire businessman)and Khatemi (the Ph.D. theologist who is the last person you would expect to go for mutual annihilation) … and many other Ayatollahs who are enjoying living in some of the Shah’s palaces and enjoying being driven in their Mercedes limousines.

You are telling us that you are convinced that all of the above are going to decide to commit suicide as soon as they have a bomb? those who are wise will stop being wise, those who are materialistic and corrupt will suddenly turn to spiritual fulfillment as soon as they have a bomb?

Did you forget that Israel is not their only concern and goal in life? … if they go for the suicide option then there will be no more Shia Islam in the world … or at least Shiites will be weakened tremendously and Saudi Arabia will go on the offensive and once and for all declare Sunni Islam to be the one and only Islam… and here will be no significant resistance to the Sunnis.

But since you and I disagree on this part, I will take a neutral 50% to be the probability that they will decide to try to nuke Israel … assuming Israel does not attack them first.

The last stage of this aggregate variable is the probability of success: … what are the chances that their long range missile carrying that nuclear warhead will actually make it to the heart of Tel Aviv?

For this one I will rely on your assurances to me in an earlier post … you were very confident that your modified and improved Arrow anti missile missiles are highly accurate and effective. Remember?

So we will assume that according to you, even if Iran decided to develop nuclear weapons, and even f they decided to use them against Israel … you Arrow missiles will shoot them down … so there is only a 10% chance that those missiles will reach you.

Now calculate the combined probability:

it is equal to 0.8 (they will seek nuclear weapons)X 0.5 (they will want to use them against Israel) X 0.1 (they will succeed in hitting Tel Aviv

The aggregate probability that you will be successfully hit by an Iranian nuclear weapon is therefore equals 4% !!

At this point I want to go back to where I started. After calculating this probability, we now need to look at the second deciding variable in your decision making process regarding the different ways of dealing with the Iranian threat.

2) Our tolerance level, or our ability to withstand those dangers in case they materialize.

This one is very obvious … you have no tolerance to such a threat if it materializes … you have a 0% tolerance to the chance of being hit by an Iranian nuclear bomb.

So we move to the last part

3) Our estimation of the probability of success in reducing those risks in case we decide to confront them.

What are your options?

– Hit Iran before it develops the bomb … you would have a 75% chance of success … a very good chance but not guaranteed to completely finish their nuclear program.

– listen to some of Ahmadinejad’s “advice” … respect UN resolutions 242 and 338 and sign peace with Syria and Lebanon, become a more friendly country .. more caring and more helpful to your neighbors … and start the difficult process of settling your conflict with the Palestinians. Nothing crazy … more or less what Prime minister Rabin agreed to do before he was killed.

you can also make the Iranians happy by agreeing to start reducing your nuclear stock (estimated at 200 bombs) over the next 10 or 20 years if Iran accepts to give up its nuclear weapons.

What is the chance Iran will not decide to commit suicide (by hitting this new friendly Israel)? … honestly. the chance is practically zero.


1) The chance of that Iran will successfully hit you is 4%
3) Your better option to get rid of this threat is to become a friendly nation… much safer than taking your nation and taking us along with you to WWIII or to a huge Mideast war.

Now … Do you want to do the above analysis now but from your Syrian friend’s point of view? … you think I want to get into the very possible regional war (and the possible WWIII) because you do no want to analyze the Iranians’ mentality carefully?

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September 30th, 2007, 8:35 pm


79. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, first let me salute you for your in depth analysis.
I don’t accept its bottom line, but your analytical approach is very interesting and even fascinating.

As you know, long range missiles are not the only mechanism to hit Israel with nuclear weapons.

You can also traffic nuclear bombs to ‘subcontractors’ and ‘freelancers’ that can penetrate Israel through Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or the Mediterranean sea and blow themselves up with their nuclear suitcase in Tel Aviv or elsewhere.

However, let me not waste your time and let’s say that I FULLY ACCEPT your bottom line that there are ONLY 4% that Iran will target Israel with nuclear weapons.

Let me ask you this: let’s say I invite you over to my home for a friendly dinner and chat.
When we have our dessert, I’m serving you with coffee.

Just before you’re taking your first sip from this cup of coffee, I’m telling you that there are 4% that your cup of coffee contains a lethal dosage of Cyanide.

Will you take a sip from the coffee? Will you risk insulting me over such little odds of being dead?
Will you make such a big fuss over such low probability?

I’m sure you’ll not drink from that coffee, even if I’ll tell you that the odds are dropping to 3% or even just 2% or 1% – am I wrong?
Will you drink from this coffee after all?

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October 1st, 2007, 3:41 am


80. Alex said:

Israeliguy, I am sorry I made you read the long “analysis”.

Thanks for your positive feedback : )

But life is about probabilities … very few things are certain.

And the other thing about life is that … our options are usually not as simple as deciding to not drink the cup of coffee

1) We do not always have control over all the options.
2) usually, all the options we can think of, have some negative expected outcomes associated with them.

So in the case of Iran, it is not as simple as just saying I will not drink that 4% chance poisoned coffee and I can live happily ever after.

The real question you should have asked me is:

I am offering a cup of coffee that has a 4% chance of being poisoned. If you drink it … there is a small chance that something really bad will happen to you (being poisoned). If you do not drink it … I will try to force you to drink it … If you resist and try to break that coffee cup then I will try my best to make you regret what you did… I will cut off your leg.

Will you take the 4% chance and drink it, or will you go with the near certainty that your leg will be lost?

Unless, again, you are much more confident that the bad guy offering the coffee will not be able to cut off your leg.

But you are telling me that you do believe that Iran can hit back and hurt Israel in a serious way. So I am taking your estimates and expectations.

So which one of the two options would you go for?

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October 1st, 2007, 8:18 am


81. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, first, after this conversation, I believe I’m gonna cut my coffee consumption levels for a while 😉

But now seriously.
Let me respond to your question.

If you’ll cut my leg, I’ll still live.
Right, it will be harder, my mobility will suffer, maybe I’ll be less attractive – but I’ll be able to live full life.

If I’ll take the Cyanide – I’ll be dead.
Maybe with both my legs – but still very much dead.

So yes, if it comes to that, I’ll be willing to lose a leg to ensure that I’ll be able to continue living.

In case of a nuclear threat, I don’t have the luxury of being wrong.

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October 1st, 2007, 8:47 am


82. SimoHurtta said:

Well interesting comments – about coffee – Israeliguy. How about adding “tea” to your analysis. What is the guaranty that Israel doesn’t give nuclear weapons or other WMD’s to militant groups (in Arab countries or elsewhere)? Is the probability of such “technology transfer” 1 or 5 percent? Certainly that probability exists remembering Israel’s extreme activity in illegal arms trade and desire for profits. By the way who sold weapons and spare parts to the bad ayatollahs in the 80’s and helped the regime to survive? Isn’t history a “bitch” Israeliguy?

Yesterday Israel advised Myanmar not to shoot at the people demanding democracy. There is extremely much irony in that demand especially remembering Israel’s behaviour with Palestinian demonstrators but also remembering how Israel has been aiding the military junta. Jane’s report from year 2000 about secret Israeli weapons trade. Myanmar and Israel develop military pact. (Didn’t we before agree that Jane’s reports are true.)

Israel’s help to world’s democracy in reality by selling weapons captured from Lebanon in the 80’s and upgrading dictator’s weapon systems. What do thing about this “tea” Israeliguy? Maybe you are gonna have to cut also your “tea” consumption levels for a while. 🙂

With the case of Israeli nuclear threat, what is the “luxury” to others (Arabs, Persians, Turks, Europeans etc)? Is the luxury that Israel has promised not to use them first? Well Israel has promised many things, but has it ever kept a promise and honoured international treaties and laws?

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October 1st, 2007, 9:42 am


83. SimoHurtta said:

Israeliguy, a Canadian survey says that 72 percent of Israelis support the use of nuclear weapons.

About half of the Israeli respondents who back using nuclear weapons said they saw it as a possible way of preventing war; the other half said they supported using nuclear arms during a war.

From the poll we can make the conclusion that 36 percent of Israelis want to use use nuclear weapons during war. Obviously also during wars which Israel has started (because most wars have been started by Israel). Isn’t Israeliguy that dangerous remembering the amount of religious extremists in Israel and their power in the government? The question is that shouldn’t the world be more concerned of the hundreds of nuclear weapons Israel has than of the one nuclear bomb Iran might have in the distant future.

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October 1st, 2007, 11:48 am


84. Alex said:


Let us forget coffee or tea, let us take the potentially bad guys out of it:

look at risk in general … try to do some research about Risk factors for cardiovascular death after elective surgery under general anaesthesia… many people are willing o take a very small risk to their life in order to avoid “cutting their leg”

I am not preaching something to you that I would not apply myself. Syria in 1999 was faced with Turkish army threats to invade syria (to punish the Syrians for supporting the Kurds). If Syria decided to do what Israel wants to do today, then we would have had to live with the destruction and killing that resulted from that war. Instead, Syria decided to deescalate. Met with the turks and listened to their concerns, and today turkey is one of Syria’s best friends.

Syria faces a similar threat today … you read I’m sure that Major General Wolfgang Jilke, the Austrian commander of the UN Disengagement and Observer Force deployed on the the Golan Heights, in an interview released to the German Der Spiegel, Jilke alerted public opinion to the danger of clashes breaking out due to Israel’s unpreceented concentration of troops and military build-up in the Golan Heights.

He stressed that contrary to what is currently being reported in the Israeli press, the Syrian side has not enhanced its troops’ deployment and has remained absolutely quiet, whereas the Israeli side is going into the fourth month of continuous build-up, involving a massive surge of military exercises and an enormous construction activity.

Furthermore, the Israeli army is digging many kilometers of trenches. According to observations of Jilke, the Israeli activities are clearly aimed at preparing for a military offensive involving heavy artillery and air force.

Syria is facing a threat from Israel that is much higher than 4% … and what is Syria doing to face that threat? … making sure not to escalate things and to not be the one to start a fire…. like it did with the threat from turkey.

One of the lessons of maturity in life is to learn to live with things we do not have control over. Syria was fortunate enough to be weaker militarily than Israel. That was an opportunity for us to learn few lessons in wisdom.

In Israel … while you have a lot of wise and good people, you also have a scary number of others who still dream of watching their powerful IDF score another goal … look at those who want to use their nuclear bombs in the next military confrontation with an Arab state (or Iran) … I read it every day in online Israeli newspapers … people wanting to destroy Damascus or Tehran …

You were speaking about the lunatics or extremists in Iran who might one day have one bomb… In Syria we still took the decision to live with the lunatics in Israel who own 200 bombs and who are eager to find an excuse to go to war.

Our relative weakness gave us the wisdom to live with things we can not change.

When we controlled Lebanon with our 60,000 troops, we did not annex them. When a million Lebanese clearly told us they want us out, we went out in one month… we did not shoot at those demonstrating … we did not destroy their houses, we did not invade them again to teach them a lesson.

You did not have that luxury yet. The technology and support you have from the United States is fooling you into thinking you can still force your will on your environment to change it to your liking.

It bothers you that Iran might have a nuclear bomb one day … you refuse to accept that Iran is not about to commit suicide and there is really no way the will nuke you, but you still want to destroy the middle east in order to remove that “risk”

The problem is that we will be on the receiving end of your lack of wisdom… the problem is that in order for you to learn a lesson, we will have to pay part of the heavy cost of that lesson.

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October 1st, 2007, 3:58 pm


85. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, risk management is always a wise thing to do.
I believe that when one does that, he should always take under account the worse case scenario and what happens to him under such a scenario.

When I park my car illegally, there’s a 4% chance that I’ll get a parking ticket.

In most cases, I’ll get away with it, but in the worse case scenario, I know that I may get a $20 ticket or my car might be even towed away.

After analyzing this risk I may accept a decision to park my car illegally anyway, since the odds of being caught are very minimal and even if I will pay the ultimate price for my actions, the punishment will be something I’ll be able to absorb and move on.

This is not the case in a nuclear threat.
If it turns out that you were wrong all the way and that the Iranians do plan to wipe Israel off the map with their nuclear technology – I lose everything.

Therefor, you’re right, I prefer to go in to a long, painful, destructive regional war than to face the consequences if the 4% of being attacked with nuclear bombs will materialize.

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October 1st, 2007, 8:39 pm


86. SyriaComment - Syrian politics, history, and religion » Archives » It’s Not About Nukes: Stopping Missile Tranfer from N. Korea to Syria said:

[…] In Syria Joins the Axis of Evil, on Sept 24, he writes: Even if we "only" have evidence of continued North Korean ballistic missile cooperation with Syria, that alone should keep the North on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Syria — and its senior partner, Iran — are both long-time denizens of that same list of state sponsors of terrorism. Can we really delist North Korea when it partners with other terrorist states in the most destructive technologies? […]

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February 8th, 2008, 4:31 pm


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