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When Bibi’s Iran Obsession Meets His Free-Market Fetish

September 30th, 2012by Gershom Gorenberg · 1 Comment · Politics and Policy

Gershom Gorenberg

My latest column at the Daily Beast:

All the talk about war with Iran didn’t make me nervous, even during the past year, when Benjamin Netanyahu has talked about the uselessness of sanctions to stop Iran’s nuclear program day and night, when carefully placed leaks in American papers predicted Israeli air strikes in the spring or, when spring was past, before the U.S. election, when Israeli military experts have warned that not only Iran but also Hizbollah and Hamas could retaliate with missiles against Israeli cities, when analysts have discussed whether the Assad regime in Syria would welcome the diversion and rain chemical weapons on us, when Netanyahu  declared he was ready to take full responsibility before the commission of inquiry that would follow the war as inevitably as Yom Kippur follows Rosh Hashanah.

I stayed calm because I remembered how Israel prepared in the past for a potential attack on its cities. That was in late 1990, as the U.N. deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait approached and we wondered whether Saddam Hussein’s missiles would have chemical warheads. Within weeks, the IDF supplied gas masks to everyone in the country. During the recent tensions, in contrast, distribution of gas masks has been lackadaisical. Ergo, Netanyahu’s bellicosity was posturing, intended to put pressure on Washington.

Lately, though, I’ve realized that Netanyahu may really be committed to war. If the public is unprotected, it’s because he’s equally committed to the free market.

In 1990, the army’s Civil Defense corps—precursor of today’s Home Front Command—handled distribution. We received individually addressed cards in our mail boxes, instructing us where to receive our equipment. In my neighborhood, soldiers set up shop in a daycare center. When my wife picked up our masks and the gas-proof box for our two-year-old, she was required to see a short film on what to do during a missile alert.

Gas mask distribution began again in February 2010. There have been no cards in mailboxes. …

Read the rest here.

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