Alex Massie

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Recipe for Disaster

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The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg has a very interesting interview with Benjamin Netanyahu which includes this passage:

Netanyahu offered Iran’s behavior during its eight-year war with Iraq as proof of Tehran’s penchant for irrational behavior. Iran “wasted over a million lives without batting an eyelash … It didn’t sear a terrible wound into the Iranian consciousness. It wasn’t Britain after World War I, lapsing into pacifism because of the great tragedy of a loss of a generation. You see nothing of the kind.”

He continued: “You see a country that glorifies blood and death, including its own self-immolation.” I asked Netanyahu if he believed Iran would risk its own nuclear annihilation at the hands of Israel or America. “I’m not going to get into that,” he said.

Netanyahu clearly wants to spread the notion that the Iranian regime is made up of, for want of a better word, nutters. But it is hard to see how the evidence cited by the Israeli Prime Minister bolsters his argument. Apart from anything else, it was Iraq that attacked Iran and as we all know casualties endured in what's perceived to be a war of national defence are easier to endure than those accumulated in aggressive wars. In other words, the Iranians behaviour during the Iraq-Iran war may seem baffling, but it was not irrational.

Secondly, why does Netanyahu decline to "get into" a discussion on whether Iran would "risk its own nuclear annihilation at the hands of Israel or America"? Might it be because the obvious answer is that they would not? Otherwise why not just say "yes they would be prepared to risk that"?

“Since the dawn of the nuclear age, we have not had a fanatic regime that might put its zealotry above its self-interest. People say that they’ll behave like any other nuclear power. Can you take the risk? Can you assume that?”


In an ideal world Iran would not develop a nuclear capability. Of course in an ideal world, Bejamin Netanyahu wouldn't be Prime Minister of Israel either.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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