Will it be a Profile in Courage or a Holocaust by Default?

MONDAY, June 15, 2009

An open letter From—

Jay B. Gaskill

Attorney at Law

Alameda, CA 94501

To —

White House Chief of Staff

Rahm Emanuel

Dear Mr. Emanuel:

Since you have access to the intelligence information, I’ll get right to the point. The Iranian regime plans to use its nuclear weapons capabilities in an ethic cleansing program aimed at the Jewish inhabitants of Israel. The “liberals” in the regime will be willing to accept ethnic cleansing via forced ex-migration under threat of a nuclear holocaust. The hardliners are willing to actively incinerate 75% of the Jewish population and accept the collateral damage.

The “liberals” are not in control.

As you know, the Israeli government is currently debating the timing issue, i.e., how long dare they wait before attempting to mitigate the threat by bombing the known nuclear weapons infrastructure facilities and missile emplacements in Iran.

You and they know that this effort may not succeed because the technical and logistical demands (well within US capabilities) are at the outer limits of the IDF’s reach.

You and they also know that any attack by the IDF on Iran will bring retaliation on Israel. The estimates of the retaliatory casualties inflicted on the Israeli population are about 100,000, unless and until defenses are hardened, in which case the estimates fall to a “mere” 10,000 or so. So the timing issue is complicated by intelligence uncertainties and defense preparedness logistics.

All Americans need to understand the scale of the threat to the Israelis, as I’m sure you do. The US population is about 305 million while Israel has only 7.5 m. The multiplier is 40.666, which means that 100,000 dead Israelis is the equivalent of 4.666 million dead Americans, a “symbolic” holocaust to be sure and the cause for great rejoicing in Tehran. What would be the scale of casualties in the event of nuclear missile attacks on Israel? A true holocaust for sure: Jerusalem has .73 million inhabitants, Tel Aviv .38 m, Haifa .26 m, Rishon LeZion .22 m, and so on, all within missile range.

The reason that the Iranian regime will not back down is that the ruling clique see only two scenarios, and either scenario is glorious. In the one where nuclear weapons are acquired by the Zion-hating mullahs, Iran becomes the world’s ethnic cleanser-in-chief and the untouchable terror-export bully. This would mark the beginning of a nightmare that would make the cold war standoff of the last century seem like a pleasant dream. The scenario where Israel is provoked into a preventative air strike, followed by a punishing counterattack is equally glorious. The Israelis are too civilized to inflict unnecessary civilian casualties, but the Iranian regime considers killing Israeli civilians a worthy goal. The image of America, sitting idly by while its “evil” friend suffers a retaliatory “symbolic” holocaust, is the jihadist wet dream.

As long as there is nothing much to fear from the USA, Iran’s rulers get to choose between win-win scenarios. A decisive US strike, done without Israeli involvement, would be jeered by all of the chattering classes, but covertly cheered among key Arab leaders.

When a poison snake invades the nursery, you have to kill it on the first try. Half measures won’t work. By now you should have been briefed about the scale of the effort required. This is primarily an air and water mission with limited ground support. The Iranian navy needs to be disabled in order to protect the Strait of Hormuz; Iranian air defenses must be degraded or destroyed, the Iranian air force decimated, Iran’s missile emplacements, factories and hiding places blown up. And Iran’s stocks of enriched fissile material must be destroyed and its reactors and weapons development facilities rendered unusable for the foreseeable future. In a well planned, well executed operation US ground forces would consist of Special Forces teams inserted and extracted. There are no guarantees and the bottom line is stark and simple: In for a nickel, in for all.

Why do we need to do this? After the dust settles, it will become clear that only the US military action that actually eliminated the Iranian nuclear program could have promoted long term regional peace (you are far too tough minded to get hung up on the seeming contradiction), because it limited the scope of retaliation and staked out a wider, no proliferation message. It would be helpful if the administration could enlist some multi-national cover. But whether undertaken alone or in concert with allies, a US led effort is inherently less destabilizing than an attack on Iran by the Israeli Defense Forces. A successful US destruction of the Iranian nuclear weapons program would send a bright-line message to all the other regimes in the world that are contemplating getting their own nuclear arsenal: It is just not worth it.

The stakes are high: the prevention of the next holocaust, the preservation of the national honor, the first serious step in a real non-proliferation policy and the verdict of history. This would be a drastic step, to be sure, but one taken as it proves necessary and not a moment too late.

Mr. Emanuel, your duty to the legacy of this presidency and your special relationship with him converge here and now. This is one of those hinges of history moments that trumps the messy realm of domestic politics. Where the fate of Israel is concerned, you are the first line conscience, the reality-check and truth teller. And if the administration intends to fold…you are the whistle blower.

Suppose America stood idly by hoping that Israel will once again “take care of it” for us: In that dark moment, this president would own the blood and ashes that would follow in the inevitable retaliation. In that dark moment, we would no longer be the brave and noble country of FDR and JFK. We would have become the country of Charles Lindbergh and Robert Lafollette. And this president would be forever remembered as the leader who abandoned the “shining city on the hill” to the wolves.

The next ten months are too critical to waste in denial or procrastination. Action and preparation for action are called for, not excluding clever, hard-headed diplomacy. But as a realist you know that diplomacy with fanatics and thugs is a charade unless it is a face-saving cover for intimidation. I and others have made the case for sabotage, covert disruption and back-channel intimidation of the ruling clique in Iran. There needs to be below-the-radar pressure while diplomacy plays out on the surface. Nothing less than credible intimidation can possibly change the course of the current Iran regime.

But I know negotiations well, as I know you do. When the stakes are this high, there is no room for bluff, no tolerance for high rhetoric followed by vacillation and hesitation. And the bottom line is the bottom line. The USA cannot afford a Middle-East Korea, even if we never again bought a drop of their oil. Moreover, the moral damage following a USA-enabled holocaust – whatever the fig-leaf pretense, would be irrevocable and devastating.

History has called us to a shoulder a grave responsibility. It will be up to this country, to this administration at this moment, to bell the cat. As Hillel, the Elder admonished: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?

I’m writing you as a Truman democrat for whom the “What would Harry do?” question, is dispositive. Nothing less than the right thing will do this time…whatever it takes.


Jay B. Gaskill

Attorney at Law

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