Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren have written a comprehensive, frightening article on Iran. In it they note that Yitzhak Rabin’s acceptance of Oslo was meant to remove the inner ring threat to Israel, to neutralize it, so Israel could prepare for and face the threat of a nuclear Iran. The US under President Clinton did not believe Iran had a military nuclear program. It did and still does. (The authors note that Israeli defense officials began calling George Tennant’s CIA – which insisted that Iran was peaceable and had no military nuclear program – the CPIA, the Central Politicized Intelligence Agency.)
The main message here besides the threat itself and the potential Israeli response is that Rabin tried to remove the Palestinians from Iran’s orbit. He may very well have succeeded in this if the Clinton Administration had forced the PLO to comply with the agreements signed. It did not do so. That led to increasing chaos, the eventual Israeli-enforced isolation of Arafat, and the anarchy we see now.
But Rabin’s goal was good and his attempt to achieve it understandable. One can only hope fringe elements of Israeli society – especially the settlers and their insane "sanhedrin," Chabad, haredim, and the extreme right – can stop focusing on their parochial concerns and instead focus on the real threat – a nuclear Holocaust launched by Iran.
For his part, leftist historian Benny Morris thinks the end is near. His terrifying take on Iran can be read here.
UPDATE — Bernard Lewis on Iran:
…The Cold War philosophy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which prevented the former Soviet Union and the United States from using the nuclear weapons they had targeted at each other, would not apply to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran, said Lewis.
"For him, Mutual Assured Destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement," said Lewis of Ahmadinejad. "We know already that they [Iran’s ruling ayatollahs] do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again. If they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick, free pass to heaven. I find all that very alarming," said Lewis.…