Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, executive director of the Transatlantic Institute, and author of “Under a Mushroom Cloud” impressed a gathering of well over 100 people this evening as he presented a talk to the WA Institute of Jewish Affairs.
Our community was again privileged to have Senator Glenn Sterle address us as part of the presentation. Once again the Senator demonstrated that there is bi-partisan recognition from our Australian political leaders about the relationship between Australia and Israel, and inparticular recognition that Israel has the right to a secure peace as a Jewish State. The Senator left his audience glowing in pride as proud Australians.
Although not the most pleasant of topics, Dr Ottolenghi gave a frank, if not understated, account of the strategic issues surrounding a nuclear Iran. Most Australian’s are unaware of the critical implications that this topic brings, even to our own isolated country. Some (but not all) of the points made through the address were:
- Iran is nearing nuclear military capability. The only thing that stands between Iran today and a nuclear Iran is time.
- Iran is well aware of the retaliatory consequences if it were to launch a strike and is more likely to use a consolidated military build up to leverage greater influence and regional control.
- A number of Arab nations are vulnerable to Iran.
- The comination of military zeal and revolutionary zeal is particularly dangerous. There are Iranian Shite missionaries strategically placed, but the span of influence goes beyond the religious ideology. Iran is tactically building an “umbrella of impunity” to grow and uphold regional power.
- The situation cannot be compared to the standoffish cold war nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the USA. That was a binary context. The prognosis for the Middle East is to contend with multiple nuclear powers, up to 15 potential nations. The methods of detterance are complicated by complex political relationships.
- There is potential for escalation, even without political intent. There is no diplomatic representation between some enemies in the region, and the potential to misinterpret or not correctly read the signals between adversaries is rife.
- The Obama approach is likely to change if early results are not acheived through diplomacy. The world view of the President is a product of his USA university education in a liberal environment.
- Sanctions are a tool that could be used to great effect.
- It is not just Israel that has grounds to object to Iran. The country has a regime that oppresses people, castrates homosexuals, persecutes Bahaii, banishes trade unionists, and subjugates its population. Those who care about real human rights should be acting against the oppresive regime of Ahmadinijad.
It was an informative and challenging presentation this evening. To hear in some detail the empirical evidence regarding Iran’s nuclear program is disturbing enough. To contemplate the naivete and inaction of our population, let alone political and military strategists, is even more worrisome.
It’s not too late to act now. Dr Ottolenghi didn’t say it, but I suspect that the people of Israel well understand that its ultimate course of action will be unilaterally guided by what it regards to be a tolerable as opposed to an intolerable existential threat.