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Obama, Israel, And Iran, Cont'd

Some backfill on yesterday's item about Iran deterrence. A reader who follows these issues warns to take the Ha'aretz story with a big grain of salt: Foreign-newspaper reporting on American politics is often sketchy and/or exaggerated, and my reader suspects the source here was not a core member of the Obama team. On the substance, he adds:

An extended U.S. nuclear deterrent may not be of much value to Israel, since Israel already possesses its own nukes and would be more than willing to obliterate Iran in the event of a first strike by Tehran.  Some day in the distant future, when Iran acquires a significant nuclear capability of 20 or more warheads, it could conceivably wipe out Israel’s nuclear deterrent (primarily bomber-based, although some reports in recent years indicate that Israel is working on a submarine-launched missile).  But for the immediate future, when we talk about Iranian nuclear capability, we are discussing one to five warheads.  Enough to completely devastate Israeli society, but unlikely to wipe out Israel’s capability for a response second strike.

He also wants to remind conservatives that you don't have to be a weak-kneed liberal to be resigned to an Iranian bomb:

It was an extraordinary scene at the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday, where John Bolton read 'em and wept. There is, he said, no way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

His conclusion, stunning in its finality: "We are going to have to deal with a nuclear Iran."

In so saying, Bolton -- among the hawkiest of hawks from the now neoconservative-movement-in-exile -- broke ranks with many of his neocon colleagues. Most of them haven't given up on stopping Iran, as evidenced by a raft of new reports from neocon-linked thinktanks. And they're busily calling for stepped-up sanctions, making bellicose threats, and warning of military action by the United States and Israel. But Bolton is folding his cards.

"Iran's going to get nuclear weapons," said Bolton, to an audience at AEI that seemed shocked into silence. "We have lost this race." If you don't believe me, you can watch the video.

--Michael Crowley