Meir Dagan, the formidable former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, in a new interview with the New Yorker, continued his campaign to warn against a hasty rush to war with Iran over its nuclear program:
“An Israeli bombing would lead to a regional war and solve the internal problems of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It would galvanize Iranian society behind the leadership and create unity around the nuclear issue. And it would justify Iran in rebuilding its nuclear project and saying, ‘Look, see, we were attacked by the Zionist enemy and we clearly need to have it.’ A bombing would be considered an act of war and there would be an unpredictable counterattack against us.” […]
I have no doubt that the Iranians are moving on their nuclear program, but I don’t share the point of view that they are speeding there,” he said. “The Iranian nuclear issue is not an Iran-Israel issue, it is more related to the entire region and to the international community.”
Dagan began speaking out against war with Iran last year after he stepped down as director of the Mossad, saying that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” And since then, Dagan has promoted a diplomatic track with Iran and has pushed back on many pro-war talking points.
Iranian society is currently internally fractured, particularly after the rise of the Green Movement after the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election and distress from Western-imposed economic sanctions. But many pushing toward war with Iran often ignore the consequences of an attack, particularly Dagan’s point to the New Yorker, which he has touched on before, that it would rally the Iranian public in support of the regime. Indeed, when ThinkProgress asked prominent Iran hawk Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) late last year what an attack on Iran would do to the Green Movement, the Arizona Republican said, “That’s a good question,” adding, “they might be supportive.”
The Obama administration is aware, not only of the threat an Iranian nuclear weapon poses, but also the potential negative consequences of a military attack on Iran. And that, coupled with U.N., U.S. and Israeli assessments that Iran has not yet decided on whether to build a nuclear weapon, leads the administration to pursue a diplomatic solution with Iran, a track the it deems the “best and most permanent way” to solve the nuclear crisis.