Precedent: North Korean Actions Spell Big Iranian Trouble For Israel (Analysis)
The North Koreans Don’t Appear All That Deterred
Iranian apologists and those actively pushing for engagement at all costs have tabled the notion that accepting and deterring a nuclear Iran is a viable, workable option. This philosophy however is not embraced in Israel, and looking at recent events on the Korean Peninsula it is easy enough to see why.
One of the primary fears in Israel, beyond trying to live with an Islamic Fundamentalist Iranian regime possessing nuclear weapons that can nuke the Jewish State is balance of power & deterrence. The fear is that Iran backed by nuclear weapons will be emboldened, and that Israel’s ability to deal with Iranian terrorist proxies will be vastly diminished if not eliminated all together.
Those that speak of deterring Iran say that the Iranians are not crazy enough to unleash nuclear weapons, as doing so would bring Iranian destruction. Thus claiming “Iran is deterred” along the soviet MAD model, mission accomplished. However, the recent blatant act of aggression & war by North Korea sinking a South Korean warship & killing 46 sailors raises another all too deadly specter for Israel. The notion that rogue regimes & their proxies backed by nuclear weapons can initiate consequence free actions of a conventional nature, while the responsible democracy at the receiving end is powerless to respond or defend itself fearing a possible nuclear escalation.
Terrorists Run Amok
What is to stop Hezbollah, or Hamas backed by Iranian nuclear arms from initiating aggressive murderous action against Israel? How many rockets should Israel absorb launched at its civilian populace before responding? Further how much force can be used to respond if there is a possibility of escalation to all out war, and subsequently a possibility of nuclear exchange? The counter argument is that rogue elements like Iran will behave rationally. But was it rational for North Korea to risk nuclear war by suddenly for no reason sinking a South Korean warship? Equally, no actions by Islamist terrorist groups have historically been all that rational in the first place.
What of deterrence?
The only party that seems deterred is South Korea which is now relatively powerless to respond to this blatant act of war. This type of scenario repeated in Israel would make life in Israel nearly unlivable. Israel depends on the ability to react, strike & deter in self defense from criminal / terrorist actors on our borders. If this ability is compromised, our own deterrence evaporates, along with our ability to defend the State of Israel.
We could see never ending rocket or terrorist actions threatening every part of the country destroying commerce, and threatening civilian life; While our ability to react is severely compromised for fear of massive escalation, bringing in rogue nation states armed with lethal WMD & nuclear options.
Testing the limits
Hezbollah has already digested the North Korean action and seen the West nearly powerless to respond save for some harsh language. As a result, they are clearly not deterred but emboldened announcing they too in the future will seek to strike ships entering Israeli coastal water, irrespective of flag or civilian nature. This announcement comes before being backed by nuclear weapons like their friends in North Korea. That does not bode well for reading their possible future behavior backed by a nuclear armed Iran.
The only people seemingly deterred when rogue regimes and terrorist elements possess nuclear weapons will be the responsible democracies of the West, Israel included. Those that argue to the contrary & preach accommodation and engagement with irrational rogue actors need only look at the ‘rational North Koreans’ sinking warships out of the blue with nary a concern for consequence, for hints as to what the future may hold.
For Israel as well as Arab & Gulf states surrounded by terrorists & aggressive rogue neighbors, that modeled on curent reality possible future is wholly unacceptable.