Skip to comments.Atomic Iran excerpt: The Samson Option, Israel's Preemptive Strike
Posted on 03/21/2005 9:03:13 AM PST by Interesting Times
THE BIBLICAL STORY OF Samson and Delilah is familiar (Judges 16:4-30). Delilah deceives her husband, Samson. She betrays him to her people, the Philistines, who are the enemies of the Israelites. The Philistines put out Samson's eyes and rob him of the source of his strength by cutting his hair. Samson repents of his sin, his hair grows back, and he regains his strength. Not letting on that his strength has returned, Samson in turn deceives his captors. When the opportunity arises, he uses his renewed strength to bring down the two middle pillars of a great temple when the Philistines are assembled to sacrifice to their god. Samson kills a large number of the Philistines and in the process he kills himself.
Applied in the context of the Middle East, the Samson Option, has important ramifications.
ISRAEL MIGHT well launch a preemptive strike against Iran, even if the international military and diplomatic reprisals that follow might bring disastrous consequences upon Israel itself. Why? Because Israel might well calculate that Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be too unpredictable and dangerous to tolerate. At any moment and for any reason, Iran might simply launch a nuclear attack on Israel. Since Iran's irrationality cannot be ruled out, Israel could calculate there is no rational option except to attack Iran first.
Ironically, there is also a Samson Option calculated from Iran's perspective. (Nothing is ever easy or simple in the Middle East.) Allowing the mad mullahs in Iran to have a nuclear bomb might be the same as giving them a button with which they could blow up the world. The mullahs might just decide to push the End of the World button, acting as irrational terrorists unable to resist the temptation, or acting "rationally" in the calculation that they will soon be in heaven for their glorious deed. Even knowing that to launch a nuclear strike on Israel would result in a devastating nuclear retaliation being launched on them might not be enough deterrence for these radical clerics who have a history of embracing suicide as martyrdom. That the world would be destroyed because they pushed the button might perversely be an inducement to the mad clerics in charge of a radical terror-supporting theocracy.
ISRAEL HAS sworn "Never again!" Reasoning that the Holocaust occurred in part because European Jews did not resist, the Israelis have determined that never again will Israel be passive in the face of its enemies. Since the late 1940s first strikes have characterized the Israeli's foreign policy. The highly effective Israeli first-strike air assault on June 5, 1967, destroyed the entire Egyptian air force on the ground at the start of the Six-Day War. But more parallel to the urgency surrounding the situation of Iran's having nuclear weapons is the June 1981 air attack that took out Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.
The "Never again!" resolve would tolerate annihilation only if it followed a massive Israeli military attempt to first annihilate the foe. Put another way, the possibility of annihilation would not stop Israel from attacking first if it felt its survival was on the line anyway.
The Samson Option psychology would be different for the Iranian mullahs even though the result might be the same. In its extreme form, the most radical Islamic terrorist accepts suicide to advance his cause. But the mad mullahs typically motivate others to commit suicide while they remain safe at home. Yet, presented with the opportunity to destroy Israel gloriously, even the mad mullahs might accept their own ticket to heaven as the price they had to pay to achieve their goal.
Thinking from a more rational perspective, an Iran armed with nuclear weapons could announce that it would launch a nuclear strike on Israel should Iran ever come under military attack by the United States, even if the United States were to launch a purely conventional strike on Iran. This would be Iran's version of the "tripwire" theory the United States used to justify maintaining a small conventional army in Europe in the 1950s. If the Soviets launched even a conventional attack against U.S. forces in West Germany, so the theory went, the United States would retaliate immediately with a massive nuclear strike. Similarly, Iran could announce that any conventional attack against it would result in a nuclear response by the mullahs.
Once Iran has a nuclear weapons capability, the mullahs suddenly have calculations and threats that were not available to them before. Armed with atomic weapons, for instance, Iran could make extremely aggressive foreign policy demands, threatening a nuclear attack on Israel if the demands are not met. The mullahs might command the withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from the Middle East, or else they would be "forced" to launch a nuclear strike on the U.S. bases in Iraq or Saudi Arabia orcon Israel itself. Such nuclear brinksmanship instantly advances the situation to a whole new plateau of international danger.
Thought through from Israel's perspective, Iran must never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. Iran has made its intentions abundantly clear. Any stoppage to enriching uranium will only be temporary. Iran has announced to the world that the mullahs will have atomic bombs. The only question is when.
Israel will watch for the moment of no return, the time when Iran has everything necessary on its own to make a deliverable nuclear weapon. Just after Israeli intelligence is convinced that Iran has reached that point, Israel will feel compelled to strike.
In June 2004 a report out of Tel Aviv confirmed that Israel already had rehearsed a military first strike on Iran. "Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors -- especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help -- to go critical," an Israeli defense source told reporters. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went on the record that Iran was the "biggest danger to the existence of Israel." Sharon also left no doubt as to his meaning: "Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with a nuclear weapon." 1 Put in terms of the Samson Option, Israel will feel compelled to strike first, before Iran has the ability to make its own first strike decision.
ISRAEL HAS only two major cities: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. At the height of any business day, Tel Aviv has a population of between two million and three million people. Strategically, it is the business and finance center of Israel. Jerusalem is the religious center and the governmental capital of the nation.
If Iran were to launch a nuclear strike on Israel, the logical target would be Tel Aviv, because Jerusalem is also a holy site to Islam. The Dome of the Rock, built over the rock supposedly bearing the hoof print of Mohammed's horse as the Prophet ascended to heaven, is the third holiest city to Muslims. The golden dome of the mosque is a physically recognizable landmark on what the Jews call the Temple Mount, the raised land above Jerusalem that was the site of three Jewish temples (Solomon's, Zerubbabel's, and Herod's). Adjoining the Dome of the Rock is the Al,Aqsa Mosque, the largest mosque in Jerusalem. Part of the mosque's extended surrounding wall is the Western Wall, which is revered by Jews as a surviving foundation wall from the third temple. Destroying Jerusalem would be catastrophic to both Judaism and Islam.
A nuclear strike on Tel Aviv, however, would severely cripple the economic base of Israel. Depending upon the nature of the weapon and how the explosion occurred, hundreds of thousands would be killed in the first instant. Subsequent damage from fires and radiation would kill thousands more, either in the first hours after the attack or the days immediately after. Instantly the city would lose electricity, making it difficult for survivors of the blast to get a clear idea of what had happened. Panic and confusion would create additional problems as survivors tried to escape the city on the few roads leading to safety. In the confused aftermath, rescue services would also be in confusion as ambulances, fire, and police would be swamped with overwhelming needs to respond, inadequate resources, difficult communication, and problems finding open access routes.
The power outage that struck the northeastern United States from Ohio to New York City in August 2003 gives a mild idea of the confusion and problems that would result from a blackout, absent the horror, loss of life, fear, and devastation of a nuclear blast. Add in the physical elements of destruction and the psychological consequences of appreciating the loss and remaining threat, and the full impact of a nuclear explosion in any major urban area is almost unimaginable. An explosion similar to the Hiroshima blast or smaller would create horrible realities of death and destruction and ghoulish photographic images that would permanently scar human memory.
Nor would Israel readily recover from the consequences. The impact on the economy of Israel would throw the nation not only into an immediate emergency but most likely a loss of gainful subsequent activity that would challenge the severity of the worst economic depressions of the twentieth century.
Israel is a one-bomb state, meaning that a single nuclear weapon would dramatically change the nature of the country.2 The country could not tolerate the human or economic disaster that would result from a single low-yield nuclear explosion. This is the nightmare image that Israeli nuclear scientists and government officials have calculated over and over again, ranging across various scenarios regarding type of weapon, nature of impact, and probabilities of secondary and tertiary crisis waves spreading through the metropolitan area, the nation, and the world. The "Never again!" resolve takes on new meaning when one bomb promises to bring the entire nation of Israel to its knees.
Iran freedom ping...
Thanks for the ping!
The author mixes a couple of things. First, it would not take a nuclear weapon, (hydrogen bomb.) An atomic bomb would be more than sufficient. Which is what I gather the author was trying to say.
Received the book last week. Hope to read it next weekend.
Correction: I just learned that Jerry Corsi's appearance on Hannity & Colmes has been rescheduled for Wednesday night, the 23rd.
The term "nuclear weapon" includes both fission (atomic) and fusion (hydrogen) bombs, so Dr. Corsi's statement is correct. The latter type of weapons is often described as "thermonuclear" due to the extremely high temperatures required to initiate a fusion reaction. Link.
Many college students in Iran on CNN this morning talking democracy in their nation.
Even one professor spoke up - he had to be in Iran - a professor here in America would be for the mullahs!
Not all of them, of course. However, it is true that the mullahs are using their enormous oil wealth to influence policy in the U.S. This includes financing numerous "Islamic studies" departments and positions in American universities, the occupants of which seem remarkably in tune with the regime's party line...
Psalms 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
It would be unforgivable for Israel to strike Iran at this time. The United States is doing a carrots and sticks approach and Israel needs to respect our efforts.
Israel's existance is threatened by a nuclear Iran. And so is ours.
What we're doing now with Iran is the same tactics we tried in North Korea.. Not very successful I'd say.
There is no way Israel will allow Iran to develope a nuclear device. They simply can't afford to. Bet on it.
I stand corrected, you are clearly right. I guess I need to cut back on the cold medicine while I am posting. ; )
For the record, I'm not saying that Israel should attack Iran...
...but Israel has to look out for Israel. They live with the threat (and the deadly attacks) on a daily basis. If they feel the need to protect themselves by attacking Iran, that's their business.
Our Carrot and Stick approach left us with a North Korean mess. We shouldn't make the same mistake with Iran.
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