Saturday, September 12, 2015

Is Iran an existential threat to Israel?

For years, Israeli leaders and their friends in the western world have portrayed Iran as an existential threat to Israel. What is the truth in this matter? 

Probably the best source for such info is the SIPRI  Military Expenditure Database which contains consistent time series on the military spending of 171 countries since 1988, and of NATO member states from 1949 or from when they joined NATO. You can access the database by clicking here

Here are some other links to find the answer: (click here, here and here).

In the Foreign Policy, Trita Parsi writes, "Quantitatively, Iran’s military expenditures have sunk far below those of its Gulf rivals. In 2014, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), more than 25 percent of Saudi government spending was devoted to beefing up its military assets — expenditures that totaled more than $80 billion. Along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which spent nearly $23 billion, the two Gulf Arab countries comprise well over half the $173 billion in military expenditures spent by all Middle Eastern countries that year.
Comparatively, Iran’s military expenditures failed to measure up. During 2014, Iran’s military spending was about $15 billion, which comprised about 9 percent of total military spending in the Middle East. That’s a mere fraction of Saudi military spending and about two-thirds of the UAE’s. The Gulf Cooperation Council states of Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE outspend Iran on arms by a factor of about eight." (See, e.g., http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/10/the-myth-of-the-iranian-military-giant/)
Anthony Cordesman of CSIS writes, "The gap between Iran and the Arab Gulf states widened sharply from 2009-2014, during which Saudi Arabia’s arms imports have been more than 18 times larger than Iran’s. The UAE’s imports are 16 times larger." (See, http://csis.org/publication/military-spending-and-arms-sales-gulf)
You can also read Prof. Noam Chomskey's piece by clicking here. He writes, "To be sure, Israel faces the “existential threat” of Iranian pronouncements: Supreme Leader Khamenei and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously threatened it with destruction.  Except that they didn’t — and if they had, it would be of little moment.  Ahmadinejad, for instance, predicted that “under God’s grace [the Zionist regime] will be wiped off the map.”  In other words, he hoped that regime change would someday take place.  Even that falls far short of the direct calls in both Washington and Tel Aviv for regime change in Iran, not to speak of the actions taken to implement regime change.  These, of course, go back to the actual “regime change” of 1953, when the U.S. and Britain organized a military coup to overthrow Iran’s parliamentary government and install the dictatorship of the Shah, who proceeded to amass one of the worst human rights records on the planet."
He continues, "It might also be useful to recall — surely Iranians do — that not a day has passed since 1953 in which the U.S. was not harming Iranians. After all, as soon as they overthrew the hated U.S.-imposed regime of the Shah in 1979, Washington put its support behind Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who would, in 1980, launch a murderous assault on their country.  President Reagan went so far as to deny Saddam’s major crime, his chemical warfare assault on Iraq’s Kurdish population, which he blamed on Iran instead.  When Saddam was tried for crimes under U.S. auspices, that horrendous crime, as well as others in which the U.S. was complicit, was carefully excluded from the charges, which were restricted to one of his minor crimes, the murder of 148 Shi’ites in 1982, a footnote to his gruesome record... Iran pretty much conceded defeat shortly after, when the U.S. launched Operation Praying Mantis against Iranian ships and oil platforms in Iranian territorial waters.  That operation culminated when the USS Vincennes, under no credible threat, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in Iranian airspace, with 290 killed — and the subsequent granting of a Legion of Merit award to the commander of the Vincennes for “exceptionally meritorious conduct” and for maintaining a “calm and professional atmosphere” during the period when the attack on the airliner took place. Comments philosopher Thill Raghu, “We can only stand in awe of such display of American exceptionalism!”
"After the war ended, the U.S. continued to support Saddam Hussein, Iran’s primary enemy.  President George H.W. Bush even invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in weapons production, an extremely serious threat to Iran.  Sanctions against that country were intensified, including against foreign firms dealing with it, and actions were initiated to bar it from the international financial system.
In recent years the hostility has extended to sabotage, the murder of nuclear scientists (presumably by Israel), and cyberwar, openly proclaimed with pride.  The Pentagon regards cyberwar as an act of war, justifying a military response, as does NATO, which affirmed in September 2014 that cyber attacks may trigger the collective defense obligations of the NATO powers — when we are the target that is, not the perpetrators."


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