Benny Gantz and the Real Reason for the Target Over Tehran

The comments of Israel’s top military chief Benny Gantz are getting a lot of attention. But they are not new.

“[Iran] is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile.”

“If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a [military] response,” he said in the interview published on Wednesday.

“I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile.”

“I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous.”

Here Gantz explains what we at and those in the U.S. intelligence community have been saying all along. As I see it, he acknowledges three key points: (1) Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, (2) Iran’s posture of maintaining technical capability is defensive, not offensive, (3) the Iranian leadership are rational actors. All of these claims, while advocated by the experts, are rejected and even derided by warmongers in Washington and in the news media. Often left out of the conversation altogether is what military and intelligence experts have also expressed, namely that attacking Iran would almost surely bring about the result the warmongers supposedly want to prevent: an emboldened, perhaps nuclear Iran.

What Gantz doesn’t mention is something I’ve been pondering for a long time: If these three postulates are true, why have world leaders threatened to attack Iran and why are such high-level negotiations to “restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program” necessary? As I’ve written, I think the reasons are similar to those given to justify constantly patrolling the Persian Gulf with U.S. warships.

Why menace Iran when it presents no threat to us? When Obama accelerated the deployment of warships to the Gulf in 2010, the New York Times described it as “part of a coordinated administration strategy to increase pressure on Iran” and also “intended to counter the impression that Iran is fast becoming the most powerful military force in the Middle East.” Onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz last February, BBC reporter Jonathan Beale explained, “This carrier and these [fighter] jets are more than just a show of force, they’re here to send a clear message to Iran as to who really controls these waters.”