DEC. 10 2015
Originally published as “Israel: The West’s Strategic Asset”
Islamic State’s efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction are in deadly earnest. And had it not been for Israel, the group might well have succeeded—because its Syrian conquests include al-Kibar. . . . Granted, the Syrian government would presumably have invested more in al-Kibar’s defense if the reactor hadn’t been destroyed, but it has lost many areas it genuinely strove to defend. Thus the possibility that Islamic State could have captured the facility, and thereby acquired raw material for a nuclear bomb, is far from unrealistic.
Obviously, nobody foresaw Syria’s collapse back in 2007. But that’s precisely the point: though Western countries presumably would have taken military action to keep the world’s most vicious terrorist group from obtaining nuclear weapons, none of them was willing to do so merely to prevent a vicious dictator from obtaining nukes; the West preferred negotiations with Damascus. And had Israel bowed to this preference, it would have been too late for military action by the time Islamic State rolled in. You can’t bomb a live reactor.
So too has Israel helped prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons:
Though Israel vehemently opposed the [nuclear deal with Iran, the deal’s] supporters nevertheless owe it a vote of thanks, because [the agreement] never could have been achieved without Israel’s proven record of willingness to use force. . . . [T]he main impetus for the Western sanctions that ultimately brought Iran to the negotiating table was fear that Israel would bomb Iran if the West didn’t impose such sanctions. . . . [A]bsent a credible Israeli threat to bomb, there would have been no stringent sanctions and hence no deal.