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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Israeli Hawks Ready to Strike Iran's Nukes

Prepare for war. Last week I met the Boogie Man, the former head of the Israeli Defence Forces, General Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon, who is preparing the political groundwork for a military attack on Iran's key nuclear facilities. "We have to confront the Iranian revolution immediately," he told me. "There is no way to stabilise the Middle East today without defeating the Iranian regime. The Iranian nuclear program must be stopped."

Defeating the theocratic regime in Tehran could be economic or political or, as a last resort, military, he said. "All tools, all options, should be considered." He was speaking in the tranquillity of the Shalem Centre in Jerusalem, where he was, until last Thursday, one of Israel's plethora of warrior-scholars, though more influential than most.

Could "all options" include decapitating the Iranian leadership by military strikes, including on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel's destruction? "We have to consider killing him," Ya'alon replied. "All options must be considered."

That's why he's called Boogie. This is significant, for several reasons. Ya'alon has decided to enter what he called "the cold waters of Israeli politics". He will run for the conservative Likud party in the general election in Israel on February 10. Likud is leading the opinion polls. So I could have been speaking to Israel's next defence minister or, at least, an influential member of the next cabinet.

He is not known for making idle threats. Ya'alon is a former paratroop commander and was deputy leader of the Israel Defence Forces from 2000 to 2002, then chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, during the most recent Palestinian uprising, or intifada. He is credited with shutting it down.

Events are moving quickly. The Israeli Atomic Energy Commission has estimated that Iran will have produced enough highly enriched uranium by the end of next year to produce a nuclear bomb. Next year is widely regarded in Israel as year zero for the strategic decision about Iran's nuclear program.

Read it all here.

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