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May 29, 2007

Netanyahu on the Iranian Threat

Posted by The Gentle Cricket

Shortly after 9/11 I read a book by Benjamin Netanyahu titled "Fighting Terrorism". Despite being copyrighted 6 years prior to the attacks of 9/11, Netanyahu made several stunningly accurate predictions about terrorism coming to the shores of America. Ever sine reading this book I have come to value his opinion very highly.

Netanyahu was recently interviewed in the Wall Street Journal regarding the growing threat of Iran. Personally, I do not envision Iran ever attacking the US. However, it is clear that they have worked against US interests and against our allies by supplying groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and by funding the insurgency in Iraq. Furthermore, Ahmedinejad's incendiary rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map is very concerning, and I imagine that Mr. Netanyahu takes this threat very seriously.

What Netanyahu has proposed, and is currently lobbying for, is economic sanctions against Iran. Admittedly, in the past I thought that this would be a futile effort. However, Mr. Netanyahu makes a strong case for this proposal, that further economic strife could lead to decreased support for Ahmedinejad.

Mr. Netanyahu proposes a third way. The Iranian regime, he argues, is economically vulnerable. He is in America to urge state and local pension funds to divest from foreign companies that do business in Iran (U.S. law already keeps American firms out).

"This could be very effective... because Iran is in desperate need of new investments for its sagging oil industry. It's curtailed its oil production by 7%, I think, in each of the last three years. It's running unemployment to a rate of close to 20%, and Ahmadinejad is continuously being criticized from rivals within the regime and outside the regime for failing to deliver on economic problems."

Divestment "could stop Iran dead in its tracks," Mr. Netanyahu argues.

This is a very intriguing possibility, as it has the potential to avoid any military confrontation with Iran--either by the US or Israel. Several states have already passed legislation to divest, and California may join the ranks. "The big prize, of course, is California, whose $247 billion pension fund is the nation's biggest."

California State Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R - San Diego) has proposed legislation (AB 221) which would divest from Iran. So far it has been received with bipartisan support, and I hope this continues as it leaves committee and reaches the Assembly floor.

Cross Posted at The Gentle Cricket and

Posted by Flynn at May 29, 2007 9:07 PM

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