by Yoram Ettinger
A nuclear Iran would be a clear and present threat to pro-U.S. regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and would lead to a regional and global slippery slope of violence that would severely undermine the U.S. economy and national security.
A top official from Bahrain told me, at the office of a senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, that “Saudi Arabia and Bahrain expect the U.S. to alter its policy and resort to steps which are required to remove the Iranian nuclear threat.” A national security adviser to a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee shared with me that “Pro-U.S. Persian Gulf leaders are panicky about the rising Iranian nuclear threat.”
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf regimes, which are considered apostates by Teheran’s ayatollahs, are aware that, unlike nuclear Pakistan and North Korea, Iran’s leaders have imperialistic, megalomaniac aspirations to dominate the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and, at the very least, the entire Muslim world.
The Gulf states realize that “effective sanctions” is a contradiction in terms, since Russia and China, as well as India and Japan, and probably parts of Europe, do not cooperate with the U.S. Forty years of diplomacy and sanctions have paved the road to a nuclear North Korea and are paving the road to a nuclear Iran.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states presume that the current multilateral policy on Iran leads to a lethal slippery slope, featuring a belligerent nuclear Iran, a meltdown of pro-U.S. Gulf regimes, a breakdown of the oil supply system, a collapse of global economies, an escalation of nuclear proliferation in the Middle Eat and beyond, a radicalization of Islamic terrorism against traditional Muslim regimes and Western democracies, and an eruption of local, regional and possibly global wars, or, a submission by pro-U.S. Gulf regimes and Western democracies to Iranian demands.
The Gulf states are convinced that a unilateral U.S. policy is required to prevent the slippery slope. They want massive military pre-emptive action to devastate Iran’s nuclear, air defense and missiles infrastructures, minimize Iran’s retaliatory capabilities, and preclude the calamitous ripple effects of a nuclear Iran.
The Gulf states are concerned that avoiding pre-emptive action would further erode the U.S. posture of deterrence and military power projection that constitutes the backbone of their national security, would fuel fanaticism on the Arab street, and would doom pro-U.S. Saudi and Gulf regimes.
They assume that a decisive pre-emptive military strike – with no ground troops – is a prerequisite to a regime change in Iran, which failed in 2009 due to Western vacillation. One cannot expect the domestic opposition to defy the ayatollahs while the U.S. and Israel refrain from defiance.
In 1978 and 2011, the U.S. deserted the shah of Iran and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak respectively, facilitating anti-U.S. regime change. In 2012, pre-emptive military action would expose the vulnerability of the ayatollahs, providing a significant tailwind to a pro-U.S. regime change.
During the 1960s, the U.S. failed in its attempt to appease then Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and snatch him from the Soviet bloc. It was the 1967 Six Day War, and not U.S. diplomacy, which devastated Nasser and aborted his efforts to topple the pro-U.S. regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
In 2012, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states expect the U.S. to recoup its posture of deterrence and avoid past critical errors which have jeopardized their survival and have advanced the nuclearization of North Korea and Iran.
Will the U.S. fulfill such expectations by altering its policy? Or will it sustain the failed policy of sanctions and diplomacy, which will force Israel to take pre-emptive action to avert a clear and present danger to global sanity?
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