Thursday, April 02, 2009
So says an exclusive interview in The Atlantic. I must say, it sounds good to me.
On the other hand, the headline is a bit misleading; nowhere in the article is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu actually quoted as saying that. It's not even a paraphrase; Mr. Netanyahu never talks about Israel attacking Iran at all. He simply describes the dangers of a nuclear Iran, in great detail, and explains why it is not just a problem for Israel.
So perhaps this is another case of a journalist putting words into a politician's mouth -- not words the politician said, but words that the journalist thinks the politician could have said.
I'm reminded of an alarmist headline on a non-alarmist article about global warming, a few years back. In that case, though, it's possible that an editor added a headline that the article's writer never intended. Here the sentiment is clearly part of the article itself, as can be seen in the first paragraph:
In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.Go look for yourself; does he ever quote Netanyahu as actually saying that?
Of course, as has been pointed out elsewhere, there is a "public narrative" about Netanyahu -- which is why it's virtually impossible to read a newspaper article about him that doesn't call him a "hard-liner" (instead of "conservative"), or that he does not favor a "two-state solution" (untrue, although he does expect the Palestinians to earn their state first). But it's not a journalist's job to tell us what he thinks a politician thinks; we need to know what the politician actually said.
Whether Israel will attack Iran remains to be seen. We know many of the pieces of the puzzle -- that Israel has stopped an enemy country from going nuclear before; that Iranian nuclear sites are not as well protected as they previously thought; that Israelis in positions of authority have spoken about this before. We can even surmise that this is more likely to happen now than under Mr. Netanyahu's predecessor, the hapless (and hopeless) Ehud Olmert. Nonetheless, we'll know about this when -- and if -- it happens.