Sunday, December 26, 2010

You're Welcome

On September 5, 2007, beneath a waning quarter moon, ten Israeli F-15I fighter jets departed the Ramat David IAF base near Haifa. Favored with a 15-knot wind and 6-mile visibility, weather was not a factor.  The pilots headed west, over the Mediterranean, but before long three of the pilots were called back, as the remaining seven pivoted north, skirting Lebanese airspace. Just a few hundred kilometers from the Turkish border, the aircraft, American F-15 Eagles customized to Israeli requirements, banked to the right, taking out a Syrian radar installation before heading deep into the country. Their target lay a short flight ahead of them, on the banks of the Euphrates: the al-Kibar nuclear weapons facility.

It would have been news to most of the world, that fall evening, that Syria had any kind of nuclear program at all. Unlike its supporters and suppliers in Iran and North Korea, Syria had little reason to broadcast its intentions, and every reason to keep them quiet. Neither Iran nor North Korea could afford to be seen publicly as arming the terrorist haven; for its part, Syria could not build such a facility without North Korean technology and Iranian funding.

F-15 Eagle
But the Americans knew, and the Israelis knew. If such a development was unwelcome in Iran, it was even more threatening in Syria, which is at once less stable and less distant than its patron. Fortunately, unlike the Iranians, the Syrians had not had the time, money, or perhaps even the capability for developing their facility in bunkers deep underground. And so, in the wee hours of September 6th, 2007, Israel destroyed the al-Kibar facility, dealing a fatal blow to Syria's fledgling covert nuclear program.

Neither Israel nor Syria wanted the event publicized, and though rumors abounded, it would take some time before the world knew for certain what had occurred.  About a year ago, a well-researched piece in Spiegel Online put many of the facts into place, and though the article is marred by a number of absurd, unsupported, and, in places, contradictory attacks on Israel, it is well worth reading.

Only today, however, is there any official confirmation that Syria was, indeed, building a nuclear facility at al-Kibar, that it was doing so with North Korean assistance, and that the United States, as well as Israel, were aware of the project. A JTA story reveals that the most recent set of Wikileaks disclosures includes a cable from then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice confirming the details.

Whatever else you think about Wikileaks, you can thank them for this particular morsel, which demonstrates, once again, the lengths to which Israel is willing to go to protect itself, and by extension, the world, from nuclear blackmail.  Of course, the whole affair has also demonstrated, once again, that where Israel is concerned, no good deed goes unpunished.

Consider Israel's attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. At the time, virtually every nation on Earth, including the United States, condemned Israel's action. Ronald Reagan condemned the operation, and the British called it a "violation of international law" (an indefensible position shared, incidentally, by the co-authors of the Speigel Online piece).

It took time, but eventually, as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof pointed out in 2002, anybody paying attention could see that "the condemnations were completely wrong." Without the Osirak strike, Kristof continued,
Iraq would have gained nuclear weapons in the 1980s, it might now have a province called Kuwait and a chunk of Iran, and the region might have suffered nuclear devastation.
al-Kibar: Before and After
Thanks to Wikileaks, today we all know the truth about al-Kibar, just as we knew the truth in 1981 about Osirak. And yet, even as the world calls (publicly, at least) for Iran to step away from its nuclear ambitions, it gives no quarter to those who would actually do something about it.

The undeniable fact is that Israel is the only reason Iraq, and then Syria, were denied the ability to arm Islamic terrorists with nuclear weapons. If Iran's facilities were not so well protected, they, too, would have long ago been stripped of their power to hold the world hostage. But the end of that particular story has not yet been written.

And so, self-righteous nations of the world, living comfortably under the safety net created by Israel's actions, the very actions you have repeatedly condemned, the very actions that have saved each and every one of you from the tyranny of an Islamist nuclear reign of terror, allow me to say to you, on behalf of the State of Israel: you're welcome.


  1. your comments are right on target. i wish more people would read them so the can better understand the dynamics of the neighborhood that Israel lives in. Mike

  2. Thank you, Mike! I wish more people would read them, too, though I admit that's partially for selfish reasons. :) But while other blogs have a higher quantity of eyes upon them, I humbly submit that none can approach the quality of my readers.