Charles Krauthammer (“‘Deterrence works’ is a fantasy in context of Israel-Iran conflict,” Sept. 9), can be counted on to convey the Israeli hard line on Iran, complete with highly dubious rationales.

He relies on conjuring up the Iranian leadership as the “mad mullahs” bent on nuking Israel, which he describes as a “one-bomb” country open to instant annihilation.

Well, perhaps. Threats indulged in by Iran’s president lend a certain plausibility to Krauthammer’s contentions. What sound like threats, however, are likely more in the nature of predictions of Israel’s disappearance for less cosmic reasons.

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad does not control Iran’s military. Moreover, the Iranian leadership is notoriously divided, and there is little evidence that they are suicidal.

They are well aware of Israel’s own nuclear and other military capacities and know that the United States would retaliate as well. Shiite Iran tries to exploit the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to enhance its standing in a predominantly Sunni Arab world suspicious of broader Iranian motivations, but the “mad mullahs” are not crazy.

And how enthusiastic can Israel’s neighbors, notably the Palestinians, be concerning a nuclear assault in their neighborhood? Not very. An Iranian nuclear attack on Israel is not credible.

Israeli hysteria about Iran is about something else: Israel’s determination to preserve its own military dominance in the Middle East, including its nuclear monopoly.

If Iran wishes a nuclear weapon — and it denies that it does — it almost certainly wants it as a deterrent against Israeli or American attack. That could limit Israeli freedom of action.

Before things get to that point, Israel might do well to reflect that reaching a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians, thus removing much of the rationale for Arab and Iranian hostility toward the Jewish State, might best deal with the threats it perceives from without.

Ed McCarthy, Maine coordinator

Churches for Middle East Peace


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