- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

More evidence of the danger posed by Islamofascism and the perception of weakness on the part of the United States and its allies comes from a somewhat surprising source: the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, perhaps Israel’s most prestigious think tank. The think tank is generally to the left of center in its political orientation (somewhat analogous to the Brookings Institution here). But in its new annual report on the Middle East Strategic Balance released this week, the group does not mince words about Iran: “Without military action, an Iranian nuclear bomb is only a matter of time.”

The view from Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland of INSS, a former top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is particularly dire. Gen. Eiland said Tuesday that if either the United States or Israel wanted to stop Iran’s nuclear program, it “should have attacked the nuclear facilities in Iran yesterday, or tomorrow at the latest.” But the international community has shied away from confronting Tehran, choosing instead to back half measures that are unlikely to change the regime’s behavior: “Despite the growing anxiety in the international community expressed in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1736, it is doubtful if effective sanctions will be imposed. Time is working in Iran’s favor, and barring any military action, nuclear weaponry in Iran is only a matter of time.” There is a silver lining: the report’s judgment that Syrian President Bashar Assad is a weak leader who has permitted his military forces to severely deteriorate.

But judging from the excerpts of the report (a full version has yet to be published online), in the institute’s view, both the United States and Israel have seen their deterrent capabilities erode in the past year: the United States as a result of its inability to stabilize Iraq (“The American failure in Iraq has hurt the standing of the U.S. in the Middle East”), and Israel by its failure to win decisively over Hezbollah in last summer’s Lebanon war. Although quiet will likely prevail on the Lebanon border for now, “the war strengthened Israel’s enemies and is widely seen as a total failure for Israel.” According to Gen. Eiland, the Lebanon war caused Israel’s Arab neighbors to doubt its strength. As a result, these countries might be tempted to take military action they might not have considered six months ago.

If this analysis is correct, the perception of American and Israeli weakness is making the world a much more dangerous place.

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