Goldberg gets inside Netanyahu's head on question of Iran strike
08/11/2010 - 11:34
James Besser

The Atlantic's Jeff Goldberg has a knack for stories that generate a big buzz in Washington, and he's done it again with “The Point of No Return,” which examines the possibility Israel will unilaterally attack Iran.

I won't try to summarize; there's way too much here. What I will say: Goldberg does more than any writer to get into the heads of Israeli leaders, for whom the Iranian peril is much more complex than just the danger it will drop a few bombs and thereby wipe out the hated Zionist entity.

That includes the danger Iran's nuclear umbrella will embolden and protect other enemies of the Jewish state – and that the constant threat of annihilation will “progressively undermine the country’s ability to retain its most creative and productive citizens.”

In short, a nuclear Iran would end Israel's status as a “safe haven” for Jews.

Goldberg, in several incredibly long sentences, lays out the likely costs of an Israeli attack, but also depicts a mindset that may leave the country's leaders little choice.

And he gets into Bibi Netanyahu's head in a way that belies the simplistic arguments of both his admirers and detractors.

A key element in the views of Israeli leaders is the belief President Barack Obama, mired in Afghanistan and facing huge domestic challenges, won't use U.S. military force to stop Iran. Nor was former President George W. Bush any more inclined to open up yet another military front; Goldberg writes that “Bush would sometimes mock those aides and commentators who advocated an attack on Iran, even referring to the conservative columnists Charles Krauthammer and William Kristol as 'the bomber boys,' according to two people I spoke.”

Goldberg obviously thinks an Israeli strike on Iran is likely – despite the high costs. What he offers is a clear-headed analysis of the fears and calculations of Israeli leaders, the potential costs of such an attack and some of the possible outcomes.

Goldberg obviously thinks such an attack is likely; he's much less clear about whether he thinks it will work.

Must reading about an issue that has the potential to reshuffle the Middle East deck in myriad ways.

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