To me, the most revealing parts of the Wikileaks diplo-docu-dump are about the Middle East. We already knew that the Sunni Arab autocrats cannot bear the thought of a Shiite nuclear bomb and are almost as worried as the Israelis. But now the evidentiary proof brings it home:
The Saudi king was recorded as having "frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme", one cable stated. "He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake," the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah's meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.
The cables also highlight Israel's anxiety to preserve its regional nuclear monopoly, its readiness to go it alone against Iran and its unstinting attempts to influence American policy. The defence minister, Ehud Barak, estimated in June 2009 that there was a window of "between six and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable". After that, Barak said, "any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage."
Officials in Jordan and Bahrain have openly called for Iran's nuclear programme to be stopped by any means, including military. Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as "evil", an "existential threat" and a power that "is going to take us to war".
If we take Barak's word for it, the Israelis could launch World War III within a month. And would carry much of the Sunni Arab autocrats with it. One notes that Saudi foreign diplomats and functionaries are more wary about war with Iran than the royals. But there seems little discussion about the momentous consequences of a third war launched by the West against a Muslim country in less than a decade.
(Photo: Jim Hollander/Getty.)