Well, not us, technically. It’s Iran, but can you imagine a circumstance in which an Israeli nuclear strike against Iran doesn’t blow up into World War III? Need me to draw you a picture? Step 1, Israel strikes at Iran. Step 2, Iran and probably half a dozen other countries strike at Israel. Step 3, he U.S. gets involved.
Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.
Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.
The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.
Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.
“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.
The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.
This is not news I want to hear when I’m about to set off on a three-day work retreat. It’s not news I want to hear any time, really, given who’s in office. But the thing is, I wasn’t likely to hear it from any major U.S. news sources, though it’s been churning in the blogosphere for two days now. Plus, it’s not even news.
According to the London Times, this was news a year ago.
ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.
The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.
Israel is denying it, but it isn’t a huge stretch of the imagination that such a plan might very well exist.
I’m embarrassed to admit my first reaction to the news was somewhat naive. Given the severity of the situation, if the reports are true, I was surprised to hear myself actually say “Surely someone in the Bush administration will put a stop to this immediately.” Then I remembered who we’re dealing with here. Fortunately, by that time I was sitting down.
I had to sit down when I recalled a post from earlier this year, since lost to a database crash back in March, about how Bush — a man known for the fervor of his evangelical Christian belief — somewhat-less-than-artfully dodged a question about the Middle East and “the apocalypse.”
Question (unidentified woman):
“Thank you for coming to Cleveland, Mr. President and the Cleveland Club. My question is that author and former Nixon administration official, Kevin Phillips, in his latest book, American Theocracy, discusses what has been called radical Christianity and its growing involvement into government and politics. He makes the point that members of your administration have reached out to prophetic Christians who see the war in Iraq and the rise in terrorism as signs of the apocalypse. Do you believe this? That the war in Iraq and the rise in terrorism are signs of the apocalypse. And, if not, why not?”
Um..uh…er…(laughter from audience and Bush)…um..uh… I….the answer is…I haven’t really thought of it that way, heh, heh. Here’s how I think of it. Um…first, I’ve heard of that, by the way. I..uh.. the…uh..I, I guess…um…I’m more of a practical fellow. I vowed after September 11th that I would do everything I could to protect the American people. And…uh…my attitude, of course, was affected by the attacks.
I knew we were at a war. I knew that the enemy obviously had to be sophisticated and lethal to fly hijcacked airplanes…uh…into facilities of people, innocent people doing nothing, just sitting there going to work. I also knew this about this war on terror that…uh..that uh….the farther we got away from September 11th the more likely that people would, you know, seek comfort and not think about this global war on terror as a global war on terror. And, that’s good, by the way.
I seriously doubt that he hasn’t thought about it, but I’m sure that his handlers have thought about it long and hard — and particularly about how Bush should or shouldn’t answer the question, because of lot of his evangelical supporters have thought about it. And not only do they think it’s a great idea — the prelude to the apocalypse and the Rapture, specifically — but they’ve also got a direct line to the administration regarding Middle East policy and Israel policy in particular, and enough influence to get other political leaders to show up at their conferences.
The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be “the Christian Voice in the Nation’s Capital,” the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David’s temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won’t come back to earth.
Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that “the Gaza Strip had no significant Biblical influence such as Joseph’s tomb or Rachel’s tomb and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace.”
Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in exchange for Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
Back in August I blogged about Christians United for Israel (James Hagee’s outfit ), how the notion of an Israel/Iran conflagration ties in nicely with their theology, and how they got an impressive roster of politicians from both parties to show up at their last conference in D.C.
At CUFI’s kick-off banquet at the Washington Hilton, attended by over 3,500 members, Republican support for both Hagee’s effort and his drumbeat for war with Iran were on full view. Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman told the group that “no regime is more central to the global jihad” than Iran. Just two days before, Newt Gingrich and John McCain made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to sound the same message, leading Benny Elon, a member of the Israeli Knesset, to comment to the Jerusalem Post that their remarks originated with Hagee. Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback also addressed the group, and Bush sent words of support to the gathering. Republicans, and even some Democrats, spoke at CUFI events to show their “support for Israel.” But while public and media attention was on the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Hagee’s focus continued to be on Iran.
… Hagee doesn’t fear a nuclear conflagration, but rather God’s wrath for standing by as Iran executes its supposed plot to destroy Israel. A nuclear confrontation between America and Iran, which he says is foretold in the Book of Jeremiah, will not lead to the end of the world, but rather to God’s renewal of the Garden of Eden. But Hagee is ultimately less concerned with the fate of Israel or the Jews than with a theocratic Christian right agenda. When Jesus returns for his millennial reign, he tells his television audience, “the righteous are going to rule the nations of the earth When Jesus Christ comes back, he’s not going to ask the ACLU if it’s all right to pray, he’s not going to ask the churches if they can ordain pedophile bishops and priests, he’s not going to ask if it’s all right to put the Ten Commandments in the statehouses. He’s not going to endorse abortion, he’s going to run the world by the word of God The world will never end. It’s going to become a Garden of Eden, and Christ is going to rule it.”
But still, it’s not a far leap from there to the reality that some people do a dance of joy at the thought of bombs dropping in the Middle East. These are the same people who keep the “Rapture tourism” industry in business, since their belief in a “pre-tribulation Rapture” means they’d better get a look at the real estate while they can, since they’ll be watching from the “balcony seats” while the rest of us bear the brunt of it.
I posted video about them a while back, including a piece on Hagee. (As usual, the media pieces don’ t include any acknowledged non-believers among the talking heads.) There’s also a couple of clips about the “prophecy” that nuclear war would break out on September 12, 2006. I guess if the Israeli strike actually happens, the guy who predicted an apocalyptic nuke-fest will still say he told us so, even if he was just a few days off. And, again, it will be a good thing to a lot of people; people who’ve been largely (though not exclusively as of last November) voting Republican.
Which brings me back to Bush, and my assumption that someone in his administration would step between Israel and Iran before anything too serious happens. Given that Bush has been accused of stalling the second coming once already, this time because U.S. foreign policy has allegedly blocked evangelical missionaries from working in Iraq and other places in the Middle East (if anything Bush and the Republicans have made it easier for these folks to proselytize the world on the taxpayers’ dime), that evangelicals are making promotional films in the Pentagon, that the new Speaker of the House is urging Democrats to speak in more biblical terms, and that at least one Republican thinks winning Iraqis to Jesus is key in the war in Iraq, is it realistic to think Bush or anyone in his administration (as he’s known to have surrounded himself with fellow believers) would he even want to keep Jesus waiting in the wings?
After all, he’d be letting a lot of people down. Because, depending on how you look at it, a nuclear war between Israel and Iran wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. Not entirely, anyway.