Opinion: Obama’s Legacy and the Iranian Bomb


obama-iranBy Alan M. Dershowitz

The gravest threat faced by the world today is a nuclear-armed Iran. Of all the nations capable of producing nuclear weapons, Iran is the only one that might use them to attack an enemy.

There are several ways in which Iran could use nuclear weapons. The first is by dropping an atomic bomb on Israel, as its leaders have repeatedly threatened to do. Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran, boasted in 2004 that an Iranian attack would kill as many as five million Jews. Mr. Rafsanjani estimated that even if Israel retaliated with its own nuclear bombs, Iran would probably lose about 15 million people, which he said would be a small “sacrifice” of the billion Muslims in the world.

The second way in which Iran could use nuclear weapons would be to hand them off to its surrogates, Hezbollah or Hamas. A third way would be for a terrorist group, such as al Qaeda, to get its hands on Iranian nuclear material. It could do so with the consent of Iran or by working with rogue elements within the Iranian regime.

Finally, Iran could use its nuclear weapons without ever detonating a bomb. By constantly threatening Israel with nuclear annihilation, it could engender so much fear among Israelis as to incite mass immigration, a brain drain, or a significant decline in people moving to Israel.

These are the specific ways in which Iran could use nuclear weapons, primarily against the Jewish state. But there are other ways in which a nuclear-armed Iran would endanger the world. First, it would cause an arms race in which every nation in the Middle East would seek to obtain nuclear weapons.

Second, it would almost certainly provoke Israel into engaging in either a pre-emptive or retaliatory attack, thus inflaming the entire region or inciting further attacks against Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas.

Third, it would provide Iran with a nuclear umbrella under which it could accelerate its efforts at regional hegemony. Had Iraq operated under a nuclear umbrella when it invaded Kuwait in 1990, Saddam Hussein’s forces would still be in Kuwait.

Fourth, it would embolden the most radical elements in the Middle East to continue their war of words and deeds against the United States and its allies.

And finally, it would inevitably unleash the law of unintended consequences: Simply put, nobody knows the extent of the harm a nuclear-armed Iran could produce.

In these respects, allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is somewhat analogous to the decision by the victors of World War I to allow Nazi Germany to rearm during the 1930s. Even the Nazis were surprised at this complacency. Joseph Goebbels expected the French and British to prevent the Nazis from rebuilding Germany’s war machine.

In 1940, Goebbels told a group of German journalists that if he had been the French premier when Hitler came to power he would have said, “The new Reich Chancellor is the man who wrote Mein Kampf, which says this and that. This man cannot be tolerated in our vicinity. Either he disappears or we march!”

But, Goebbels continued, “they didn’t do it. They left us alone and let us slip through the risky zone, and we were able to sail around all dangerous reefs. And when we were done, and well armed, better than they, then they started the war!”

Most people today are not aware that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain helped restore Great Britain’s financial stability during the Great Depression and also passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits, pay pensions to retired workers and otherwise help those hit hard by the slumping economy. But history does remember his failure to confront Hitler. That is Chamberlain’s enduring legacy.

So too will Iran’s construction of nuclear weapons, if it manages to do so in the next few years, become President Barack Obama’s enduring legacy. Regardless of his passage of health-care reform and regardless of whether he restores jobs and helps the economy recover, Mr. Obama will be remembered for allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. History will not treat kindly any leader who allows so much power to be accumulated by the world’s first suicide nation-a nation whose leaders have not only expressed but, during the Iran-Iraq war, demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice millions of their own people to an apocalyptic mission of destruction.

If Iran were to become a nuclear power, there would be plenty of blame to go around. A National Intelligence Report, issued on President George W. Bush’s watch, distorted the truth by suggestion that Iran had ended its quest for nuclear weapons. It also withheld the fact that U.S. intelligence had discovered a nuclear facility near Qum, Iran, that could be used only for the production of nuclear weapons. Chamberlain, too, was not entirely to blame for Hitler’s initial triumphs. He became prime minister after his predecessors allowed Germany to rearm. Nevertheless, it is Chamberlain who has come to symbolize the failure to prevent Hitler’s ascendancy. So too will Mr. Obama come to symbolize the failure of the West if Iran acquires nuclear weapons on his watch.

Mr. Dershowitz is a law professor at Harvard. His latest book is “The Case for Moral Clarity” (Camera, 2009).

{Wall Street Journal}

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Giving space for the koifer to talk on the supposedly orthodox website?
    This is no name calling. Check any sefer defining this term, what is koifer?
    If I would like to call him a name I would say – Hater.

  2. Obama does not care about the WEST. He is a leftist who sat and listened to his mentor Jeremiah Wright for all those years and never walked out. His mind (if he has one) has been poisened by that snake.

  3. To #1,

    I do not always agree with Mr. Dershowitz, but one thing I would not call him is a hater. I would suggest that you look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are the one who has sina.

  4. Part of the reason Bush did not act against Iran, is because the left, including Obama, Hillary and all of the Democrats other than Joe Lieberman, worked constantly to undermine President Bush and prevent him from taking any military action against Iran.

    Dershowitz is making one big mistake. He assumes Obama cares whether Iran gets nuclear weapons. He doesn’t.

    In case we needed reminding, we must once again realize we can rely only on Hashem.

  5. I think allan desshowitz has done tshuva in his old age, from his views on the Grossman affair, to the current issue, one cant help but assume that allans done tshuva, at least I hope, and assume from what I am seeing, but regardless of this fact, he is speaking words of truth, on this issue, no question, but speaking with honesty, can we not assume that Obama is trying to garner international support for tough biting sanctions and actually, todays unfolding events seem to be a proof that international support is being reached and it is starting to work, due to international pressure on china which is starting to agree with some sanctions, but then again why should the iranian leader change his heart, even if 15 million of his people were dying in the streets that hashemi guy (former iranian p.m. Said very clearly how 15 million iranians dead is not such a heavy price to pay for being rid of the jews) and so truth be told no sanctions will ever work but go tell that to a liberal, who just believes in talk talk and more talk, now in reality this hatred of jews is not logic why are you planning the annihalation of the jewish people, when you already saw at least 20 incidents in history where such killings and annihilations were planned and the result was jews dancing on their oppressors graves, and so this is surely yad Hashem telling us to wake up!

  6. Iran does not care about pressuring Israel with nuclear weapons, all they want to do is wipe them of the face of the earth

  7. To # 3
    Thank you for advice. Yes I do have sina toward koifer as Chazal teach me so.
    However it is not on personal level. He may be likable person.
    My problem is to give a forum to someone who as is known as member of conservative congregation but was raised as orthodox. So there is no case of Tinek she Nishbu or something like that. Many time he tried to represent Jewish community without any right to do so. His war mongering stand one more times proves that his idol is the land, and that is another koifrus.