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January 25, 2007

"Hitler Is Back — This Time He's Iranian" Iran

Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, on an Israeli conference devoted to beating the drum for war with Iran. War with Iran is madness, but these people are serious. Excerpts:

It sounds like the stuff that conspiracy theories are made of. In a coastal resort near Tel Aviv, senior Israeli politicians and generals confer with top officials and politicians from Washington to discuss the threat of a nuclear Iran. [...]

The Israel participation is, as one would expect, high level. The conference is scheduled to close with a speech from Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. The lunch-time speaker yesterday was Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader, and maybe the next prime minister. We're hearing from the foreign minister, the defence minister and a string of present and former generals.

But what has really struck me is the number of top Americans who have bothered to come over for the conference. The speaker at dinner last night was Gordon England, America's deputy defence secretary; earlier in the day we heard from Nick Burns, the number three at the State Department. Several contenders for the presidency in 2008 have also felt obliged to tip their hat to Herzliya. Mitt Romney, who is probably second favourite for the Republican nomination, is turning up in person. John McCain, the GOP front-runner is appearing by satellite, so is Rudy Giuliani. For the Democrats, John Edwards is also scheduled to make a satellite address. I cannot think of any other country in the world that could summon up this level of American participation for a conference like this. Certainly not Britain.

Also well represented among the participants are well-known hawks like Richard Perle, Jim Woolsey (the former CIA director), Newt Gingrich and Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister. A lot of these chaps were very prominent in the drive to go to war in Iraq. Now, flushed by their undoubted success there, they are turning their attention to Iran.

There is no doubt that the war drums are beating pretty loudly here in Herzliya. The main topics of conversation that keep coming back and back – in the corridors and also in the conference hall – is how close is Iran to the bomb. Can anything short of military action stop the Iranians? If it comes to bombing, could the Israelis do it alone – or would they have to rely on the United States? Would President Bush give the order? [...]

Netanyahu claimed that Iran is 1,000 days away from having nukes. But the Israelis tend to argue that military action would have to come much sooner than that, before the Iranians learn how to enrich enough uranium to make a bomb. Shaul Mofaz, Israel's deputy prime minister, argued that Iran is bent on building a "hegemonic empire in the Middle East" and presents an "existential threat to Israel".

The official American speakers have tended to be a little more circumspect. Nick Burns talked a lot about diplomacy and the UN. But he earned a big round of applause, when he declared – "It is the policy of the United States that we cannot afford to let Iran become a nuclear-weapons state."

The unofficial Americans are much less careful. Jim Woolsey, a former director of the CIA, castigated Burns for his caution and his emphasis on diplomacy. He also likened Iran to Nazi Germany. Funny thing is I distinctly remember hearing a similar speech from Woolsey at an international conference in 2002, when he likened Saddam Hussein to Hitler. Now Hitler is back – except that this time he's Iranian.

It doesn't do to criticize Israel in public in the US — witness the attacks on Jimmy Carter — but there's no denying Israel's clout in US politics. Not for nothing do all those American presidential candidates show up at an Israeli conference far from the eyes of US media and voters.

Israeli hardliners are adamant that Israel must remain the only nuclear power in the Middle East. Where is the US politician of any importance who will stand up and tell them no?

Posted by Jonathan at January 25, 2007 04:12 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Comments

Was hitler Iranian? cuz I found things that said he was british and german...so is he Iranian? I would really like to know. I am also related to him. SO ALL HAIL HITLER

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