In addition to declaring that the Obama administration is deeply committed to Israel, defense minister Ehud Barak made comments on this week’s Charlie Rose Show that oppose the Israeli state line that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons because it wants to bring about Israel’s destruction.
First the former prime minister said that he would not “delude” himself about the logical reasoning behind Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons ambitions, adding that he would “probably” want nuclear weapons if he was Iran:
- Charlie Rose: If you were Iran wouldn’t you want a nuclear weapon?
Ehud Barak: Probably, probably. I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel. They have their history of 4,000 years. They look around and they see the Indians are nuclear. The Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan in nuclear as well as South Korea, not to mention the Russians.
U.S. foreign policy analyst M. J. Rosenberg wrote that Barak has also “gaffed” or told inconvenient truths in the past, citing Barak’s 1999 comment that if he was a stateless young Palestinian, he would “have joined one of the terror organizations.”
Barak attempted damage control on Thursday by telling reporters that his remarks were misunderstood and amounted to “could be, I don’t know”, according to an Al Jazeera English agencies report.
While Barak’s initial comments have received attention, under-reported is his acknowledgement that nuclear weapons serve as a fail-proof deterrent against foreign intervention:
- If Qadafhi were allowed to turn nuclear, no one would have dared, neither Berlusconi or Sarkozy nor Cameron, to order the recent events there.
Barak added that Iran should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons because a “Mideast with a nuclear Iran is a totally different place” with “no way to hold any discipline about non-proliferation.” But taken together, these comments seem to make a strong case for why Iran should seek nuclear weapons.
Barak’s statements line up with Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld’s 2004 declaration that the Iranians “would be crazy” not to build nuclear weapons considering the security threats they face.
“Crippling sanctions” that prevent Iranian exports of crude oil would “stop” Iran’s nuclear program if they were backed by countries like China, India and Russia, said Barak, but he claimed that he did not have any “illusions” about those kind of sanctions being multilaterally enforced.
When asked if the “military option” should be pursued if all other alternatives did not work, Barak resisted a direct answer:
- Yes, that is an easy question but one that should be contemplated before you answer it. I prefer to stick to our old usual answer. We think that any means should be used and at the same time we recommend to our friends all around the world and we take it upon ourselves not to remove any option from the table.
Experts have argued that strikes against Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program would not impede it for a useful amount of time, but when Rose asked Barak if military strikes would work, he refused to comment, saying that he preferred “not to answer this question during this interview.”
Barak also rejected allegations by U.S. pro-Israel advocates that the Obama administration is not pro-Israel enough, stating that the reason the Palestinian bid for statehood through membership in the U.N. security council “failed” was because of a “huge diplomatic effort” by the U.S.:
- I am saying very clearly that this administration in regard to Israel’s security–and we are traditionally supported by each and every American president in our generation–but under this administration we went even further into a clear, deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel. And beyond. I see the administration is ready to veto steps which are somewhat go against or perceived by us as being against the interests of Israel.