By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
National security and foreign policy makers should study a critical lesson of the medical profession: The failure to think beyond the stage 1 effect of painkillers may solve short-term problems, but will trigger long-term health risks: addiction, organ damage, nausea, headaches, dizziness, memory impairment and decreased cognitive performance.
National security and foreign policy makers should, also, heed the following observation by Thomas Sowell: "when most voters do not think beyond stage 1, many elected officials have no incentive to weigh what the consequences will be in later stages…. These reactions would lead to consequences much less desirable than those at stage one…. Most thinking stops at stage 1….” Sowell argues that "basic economics is generally misapplied because politicians think only in stage 1 – the immediate result of an action, without determining what happens next. Many politicians cannot see beyond stage one because they do not think beyond the next election.”
However, the track record of Western national security and foreign policy makers documents such shortsightedness: a tendency to sacrifice long term considerations, complexity, principles and interests on the altar of short term, stage 1 convenience and oversimplification. They ignore the glaring writing on the wall and lessons of the recent past.
The late Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, detected the shortsightedness and self-destructive conduct of Israeli and US policy-makers regarding the Palestinian issue. He lamented his own participation – at the request of President Clinton - in the September, 1993 signing ceremony of the Oslo Accord: "While most participants rejoice the Rabin-Arafat handshake of the moment, I fear that in the long run it could lead to a funeral procession of the Jewish State.”
Contrary to Senator Inouye, Israeli and US policy-makers did not weigh the long term consequences. Israel's eagerness to conclude the Oslo Accord with Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat was a stage 1, short-lived pain reliever. As expected by Inouye, the snappy stage 1 was succeeded by a second stage and long term national security predicaments: "organ damage” (unprecedented Palestinian non-compliance, hate-education and terrorism), "headaches” (intensified international pressure), "dizziness” (eroded posture of deterrence), "memory impairment, nausea and decreased cognitive performance” (addiction to further sweeping concessions, to the PLO and Syria, by Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahu, as well as US Presidents Clinton and Obama), recklessly ignoring the thundering Palestinian mission statement, featured prominently in Mahmoud Abbas' school text books, mosques and media: It's the existence – not the size – of Israel!
"Peace in our time” - and not "thinking beyond stage 1" – has shaped the US zeal to make a deal with the Ayatollahs.
US policy makers assume that a nuclear Iran would act rationally and could be contained. They suppose that a constructive agreement could be achieved at stage 1 without a dramatic, long term transformation of the nature of the Ayatollahs. They underestimate the deep roots of the overtly anti-US, apocalyptic, terroristic, subversive, expansionist, supremacist, megalomaniacal, repressive, deceitful and non-compliant nature of the Ayatollah regime.
Therefore, they assume that, just like the USSR, a nuclear Iran would be deterred by MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). However, unlike the USSR the Ayatollahs are driven by martyrdom and apocalypse. They are enticed – not deterred – by MAD. A conventional Iran is controllable, but a threshold Iran would be chaotically uncontrollable.
US policy makers focus on a stage 1 agreement with the Ayatollahs, and not on the staggering second stage cost to vital interests of the US, which is the prime target for the Ayatollahs. The cost to the US is enunciated by the size 40 font, bold letters of the heinous anti-US writing on the Ayatollah Wall, which was erected in 1979. It is reflected by the Ayatollahs' track record, domestically, regionally and globally, including the annual November 4 "Death to America Day,” featuring the burning of US flags and photographs of US presidents.
Stage 1 thinking policy making could produce an uplifting ceremony in Lausanne. However, the succeeding stages would transform the Ayatollahs to a threshold nuclear power, compounding the existing lethal threats to global sanity, paving the road to the first ever nuclear war.