The Corn Bomb Gap
February 08, 2012, 08:29 PM
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Personally, I think Krauthammer's version of these talking points in the Washington Post was more excitingly written up, but the NYT goes with the Mossad version:
From the New York Times:
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Iran’s Achilles’ Heel
By EFRAIM HALEVY 
THE public debate in America and Israel these days is focused obsessively on whether to attack Iran in order to halt its nuclear weapons ambitions; hardly any attention is being paid to how events in Syria could result in a strategic debacle for the Iranian government. Iran’s foothold in Syria enables the mullahs in Tehran to pursue their reckless and violent regional policies — and its presence there must be ended. ... 
... pave the way for Mr. Assad’s downfall.
Once this is achieved, the entire balance of forces in the region would undergo a sea change. Iranian-sponsored terrorism would be visibly contained; Hezbollah would lose its vital Syrian conduit to Iran and Lebanon could revert to long-forgotten normalcy; Hamas fighters in Gaza would have to contemplate a future without Iranian weaponry and training; and the Iranian people might once again rise up against the regime that has brought them such pain and suffering.
Those who see this scenario as a daydream should consider the alternative: a post-Assad government still wedded to Iran with its fingers on the buttons controlling long-range Syrian missiles with chemical warheads that can strike anywhere in Israel. This is a certain prescription for war, and Israel would have no choice but to prevent it.
Efraim Halevy, a former Israeli national security adviser and ambassador, was director of the Mossad from 1998 to 2002. 


Okay, so the threat Syria's chemical warheads pose to Israel is kind of like the threat that Venezuela poses to Florida. I mean, if Hugo Chavez suddenly decided that life wasn't worth living anymore and he wanted to be blown up by the American military, he might attack America. Maybe with speedboats loaded with WWI-technology chemical weapons. They could roar right up to Key West and wipe out some discos and t-shirt stands. I mean, why not?

In 2010, Oliver Stone made a documentary where he wandered around Latin America interviewing lefty caudillos. Chavez was the star. As Chavez is showing Stone a corn-processing plant built by Iranian technicians, he deadpans: "This is where we're building the Iranian atomic bomb ... the Corn Bomb." But Chavez gets a worried look on his face as if he were thinking, "Oh, crap, this is too serious to joke about. If that camera happened to run out of videotape right before my "Corn Bomb" joke, the USAF might blow us up."

By the way, the CIA World Factbook ranks Venezuela's military spending as a percent of GDP at 118th in the world. Israel ranks 6th, Syria ranks 11th, and Iran 62nd. But that was back in 2005 because the CIA hasn't bothered to update the list in a long time. Back in 2006, during the frightening bout of war fever in Washington caused by Israel's spat with Hezbollah, I wrote a bunch of blog posts citing the CIA's then-current rankings of military expenditures to show that the most of the world outside the Washington-Tel Aviv corridor was losing interest in war (prefiguring Steven Pinker's 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature). The CIA has barely updated their list since. And I've never seen anybody complain that this vital information isn't being kept up to date. Nobody seems to care about data. It would just get in the way of all the fun that Krauthammer and the Mossad alumni are having.