Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about -- but cannot talk about -- is losing their nuclear monopoly.
An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would not only end that nuclear monopoly but could also prompt other adversaries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to go nuclear as well. The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today. If Iran were to reach the threshold of a nuclear weapons state, Tehran would find it much easier to call on its allies in Syria and Hezbollah to strike Israel, knowing that its nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent to Israel responding against Iran itself.
Back to Syria. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria.
The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel's leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests...
Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel's security, it would also ease Israel's understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted. Right now, it is the combination of Iran's strategic alliance with Syria and the steady progress in Iran's nuclear enrichment program that has led Israeli leaders to contemplate a surprise attack — if necessary over the objections of Washington. With Assad gone, and Iran no longer able to threaten Israel through its, proxies, it is possible that the United States and Israel can agree on red lines for when Iran's program has crossed an unacceptable threshold. In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria. [emphasis added]That Israel and "tension" in the relationship drive policy and override our own national interest is a given. The prospect of refusing Israel outright is unthinkable. On our side it's all about negotiating a better deal in our share of improving Israel's position, as determined by Israel. In the case of Iran and Syria, that position is Israel's nuclear "monopoly"--why Pakistan doesn't count I don't know.
And we negotiate poorly, to say the least. Here we are on the verge of intervening directly in Syria after having provoked its civil war as part of the broader neocon project ("seven countries in five years)--Hillary's own contribution being the Libyan disaster, which is cited approvingly in this email from 2012--ultimately just to dissuade Israel from going off too soon on Iran, and setting off a broader war in the region, attacks on US troops and terrorist attacks in the US and Europe. The irony is that it's Israel's aggressive tendencies that threaten US interests and lives.