Avner Cohen is an Israeli political scientist, currently at the Monterey Institute of International Affairs. He is considered to be the world's foremost expert on the Israeli nuclear program. His work is so accurate and authoritative, in fact, that he has come close to being arrested when returning to Israel.
Cohen has an extremely important column in the November 13 issue of Haaretz, in which he demolishes the myth that the Israeli
attack on the Iraqi reactor in 1981 was a success, let alone that it should serve as a model for a similar attack on the Iranian nuclear program. (His article can be read at http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/a-new-nuclear-reaction-1.395244)
Cohen demonstrates that even the 1981 Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor was strongly opposed by many of Israel's top military and intelligence officials, who in fact--despite the widespread view to the contrary--were proven right. That is, while the attack seemed at the time to be a "success," in fact the consequence was that Saddam Hussein redoubled his efforts to get nuclear weapons, hid most of the program underground, and was on the verge of producing nuclear weapons until the 1991 Gulf war essentially ended the Iraqi program.
An Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear program, even if the United States joined it--which seems (let us hope) inconceivable--would have even less chance of succeeding in disarming Iran, and would be far more likely to result in catastrophic consequences for Israel and perhaps the entire region; indeed it cannot be ruled out that Iran would find a way to attack our own country.
Almost certainly the primary purpose of the Iranian nuclear program is deterrence, not aggression--as has been the case for every other nuclear state. There is not the slightest evidence to support the supposed Israeli fear that, out of the blue, Iran would launch a nuclear strike against Israel--in the full knowledge that the entire country would be literally annihilated by Israeli nuclear retaliation.
The supposedly more worrisome problem is that Iran might covertly give nuclear weapons to terrorists, who might believe they could use them against Israel and escape retaliation, as it might not be clear who originated the attack and where it came from. However, that possibility is remote, since Iran would have to assume that it would be blamed for any nuclear attack on Israel and would be destroyed in retaliation--even if it hadn't been the source of the attack.
No doubt in part for similar reasons, to the best of our knowledge no nuclear power has ever given nuclear weapons to terrorist groups--not even the most extremist or supposedly the least rational states, like North Korea and Pakistan. Still, however remote the possibility, it is sufficiently worrisome to make serious efforts to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, as in fact the world is doing now--but almost no military experts, including most of Israel's own top intelligence and military officials, believe that a military attack has any chance of meaningful success.
In that light, one would assume--or would like to assume--that the current Israeli threats are bluffs, designed to induce the international community to step up economic sanctions against Iraq. Nonetheless, the level of Israeli irrationality, as demonstrated on an almost daily basis, is so deep that nothing can be taken for granted.
Obama must be told that no matter how far he is prepared to go in capitulating to Israeli madness, he cannot put at risk our own national security. A simple but blunt statement by the president that Israel must in no circumstances attack Iran would almost surely prevent it from doing so.
Obama has an absolute obligation to act--and right now.