By Danny Danon
For more than a decade , Israeli leaders have consistently, and repeatedly, warned anyone who would listen about the dangers of a nuclear Iranian regime. Ironically, however, these warnings have seriously impeded our ability to employ military might to defend our country.
In recent years, we have forgotten the maxim "speak softly and carry a big stick." Thankfully, Israel possesses the biggest "stick" in the Middle East — the Israel Defense Forces. But we have warned too much, and put too much stake in possible action from our friends and allies around the world. History has taught us that it is best not to telegraph our plans, especially if we plan on using military action when necessary to protect the citizens of Israel.
Despite our message, endlessly bombarded around the world, that the Western world should be extremely alarmed by the prospect of a nuclear Iran, and despite the shifting political scenery in the region, Iran's ambitions have remained the same. It is now obvious to all that the Iranian leadership harbors dreams of grandeur and hopes to revisit the glory days of thePersian Empire— this time as a world-dominating nuclear power.
But the world has refused to take meaningful action. Efforts to date by the international community to stop or slow the development of this program have not achieved the desired results. The so-called crippling sanctions have barely inflicted a paper cut on the ayatollahs, and the famous Stuxnet computer virus that might or might not have originated in Israel, along with a similar virus that is said to have struck Iran in November, have only mildly succeeded in setting back Iran's sinister ambitions.
The good news is that this is not the first time Israel has had to deal with a nuclear threat, and an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would not be the first time the IDF was called to neutralize an enemy nuclear program. In 1981, the air force successfully destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. In 2007, foreign reports claimed that our pilots destroyed a similar facility in al-Kibar, Syria.
If an Israeli strike on Iran does occur, there will, of course, be many differences compared with Israel's previous military actions against nuclear facilities in our region. Both the IDF and the Israeli government will need to make sure that the army and home front are well prepared for all the possible scenarios before deciding on such an operation.
Still, it is possible that the most consequential difference between a strike on Iran and the operations on Osirak and al-Kibar will be the absence of the element of surprise. Both these earlier attacks were carried out in complete secrecy and came as an absolute shock to the target. There were no TV news headlines on the topic in the months leading up to the attack, and you did not read newspaper articles about U.N. consultations on possible sanctions and International Atomic Energy Agency reports. Government officials understood that complete news media silence on the matter was essential to the success of those operations, and they considered their silence a matter of national security.
This is a far cry from what we are seeing today. Each morning's newspaper and evening's news broadcast are full of officials and pundits discussing every possible detail of a hypothetical attack — from what type of ammunition the IDF might use to the number of casualties our home front will need to endure. Though we cannot blame the news media for reporting freely in a democracy, many of our appointed officials seem to have lost all sense of responsibility and are unwittingly hampering our ability to act, if needed.
It is vitally important that we understand that the more we talk about Iran, the less room we have for acting against Iran. Perhaps we need to take President Teddy Roosevelt's advice one step further in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. It would be wise for our leaders to barely speak at all, while at the same time preparing to use the "big stick" of the Israel Defense Forces.