There is a 50 percent chance Israel will attack Iran by next July. Or that is what Jeffrey Goldberg thinks.
Appearing at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday night, Goldberg, a national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, discussed his article "Point of No Return," which appeared in the September issue of The Atlantic
"This is a very serious and challenging subject," Goldberg said. "It's one of the foremost foreign policy issues we're facing and no one is talking about it. We're no paying attention. We are going to be terribly surprise if we are not paying attention."
Presented by the Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East (ISIME) and the Josef Korbel School, Goldberg first argued the reasons Israel should bomb Iran. He said Israel has survived thus far in part because it has maintained a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East. Goldberg added that a nuclear Iran would also make its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas more powerful and has the potential to destroy any moderate forces within the Palestinian community.
"You can pretty much kiss the Middle East peace process goodbye if Iran went nuclear," he said.
Goldberg also explained that a nuclear Iran would keep bright minds from moving to Israel. He said the Zionist dream has always been about bringing the best of the Jewish people to Israel to create a vibrant, culturally advanced state.
"But if Israel is under a perpetual Iranian nuclear cloud than these people will say it's safer for us to go to California," Goldberg said.
In addition, if Iran goes nuclear, then several other countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, will most likely also try to obtain nuclear power. A nuclear Iran is also bad for the United States, Goldberg continued.
"If Iran can prove it can outwit, outlast and win against America then the Arab countries will say 'America is not as powerful as it once was so we have to make a separate peace with the Iranians,'" he said. "But the last thing Barack Obama was elected to do was have a war with another Muslim country."
Despite this, Goldberg said if all other methods are exhausted, he would not be surprised if Obama attacked Iran's nuclear facilities within two years.
"He's proven himself not to be a pacifist," Goldberg said. "Drone strikes are higher than they ever were in the Bush administration. Obama is completely seized by the specter of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."
Goldberg next addressed why Israel should not attack Iran. First, he said, it might not work.
"Just because you want to achieve a military end in the Middle East does not mean you're going to achieve it-even if you try hard," he said. "The assumption is that it can be done. Well, that's a big assumption."
Second, bombing Iran does not end its nuclear program- it only delays it. Iran would then gain international sympathy. More importantly, Goldberg explained that attacking Iran will delay the movement from within Iran calling for a regime change because the attack would give Iran an excuse to declare total martial law.
Goldberg added that Hezbollah now has 40,000 rockets and the assumption is that those rockets will be fired on Israel as soon as Iran is attacked. As Israel's air force would be flying back from Iran, the country would be defenseless.
In light of all this, what does one do? Goldberg said that is still unclear.
"This moment is entirely pregnant with fear and there are no answers yet," he said. "I don't see how this doesn't become a crisis in the next two years. We are at peril not talking about these issues today."
-M. Schwinn, MA candidate, International Security
Josef Korbel School of International Studies