National Unity Government - What Does it Mean?

In a stunning political development, Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that the Labor Party will join his coalition in a national unity government. If all 13 of the Labor members of the new parliament join the government, Netanyahyu would have a clear majority with 66 of the 120 seats. Netanyahu had previously signed coalition agreements with two other parties known for their tough policies toward the Palestinians. And, Ehud Barak is expected to retain his position as defense minister.

Besides the political intrigue of Mr. Netanyahu freezing out his main rival for power (current Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and her Kadima Party), the reason that this is important is that rumors have been abound in Israel for months that a Likud-Labor national unity government would signal that an Israeli military operation against Iran's nuclear program was only a short time away. Mr. Netanyahu is known for taking a hard line against Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Also, during the campaign, Labor Party leader Ehud Barak said that no Israeli Prime Minister would allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Under its new government, Israel will have both a Prime Minister and a Defense Minister, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, that have both said that a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable. If the new Netanyahu government does act against Iran's nuclear program, it will be a welcome departure from its hapless predecessor led by the corrupt and ineffective Ehud Olmert.

Earlier today, I was at a meeting of an American pro-Israel lobbying organization. During the meeting, one of the group's leaders stated the dangers of Israeli military action against Iran. His analysis focused on Iranian retaliation for an Israeli air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Among the probable responses against Israel herself would be the launching of Iranian rockets and missiles with chemical and biological warheads. In addition, Iran would order Hamas and Hezbollah to launch their missiles into Israel. Some estimate the Israeli casualties of such a scenario to be upwards of 30,000.

Iran would most likely not stop at attacks on Israel proper. The Iranian response would probably include the sinking of oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, causing a massive disruption in the world's oil supply (some thinking that oil could reach $500 per barrel). Hezbollah terrorist cells across the world would be activated and Israeli interests and citizens would be attacked in Europe, North America and South America. Finally, and most frightening for us, Hezbollah terrorist cells would be activated in the US, Canada and Mexico with instructions to attack American civilians.

While, in my estimation, all of these horrible predictions about an Iranian response to an Israeli attack are probable, it fails to take into account an extremely important part of the equation. It presupposes that if Israel does not act and Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the result will be better. I'm not so sure that it will.


Anonymous said...

"if Iran acquires nuclear weapons..."

That's a big If.

Steven L. Baerson said...

Really, it's a big if? I hope you're right.