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Can the U.S. Deter a Nuclear Iran?
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, and his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak hold a joint press conference at a Jerusalem hotel on Monday. (AP)

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, and his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak hold a joint press conference at a Jerusalem hotel on Monday. (AP)

Iran, nuclear weapons, and the Middle East. Is it never going to happen? Or is the US ready to accept, and put up what Hillary Clinton calls a “defense umbrella”?


Graham Allison, professor of government and director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy school of government. Author of “Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe.”

Barry Posen, professor of political science at MIT and director of the MIT Security Studies program. Author of “Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks” and “The Sources of Military Doctrine.”

Ephraim Sneh, former member of the Israeli Knesset. Served briefly under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as Deputy Minister of Defense. Also has served as Minister of Health and Minister of Transportation. Left the Labor Party in May 2008 to create a the Yirael Hazaka (Strong Israel) party.

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  • Joe B.

    I’m quite sure that under Obama, Iran will become a nuclear power. The U.S. under Obama has abandoned it’s ally and friend Israel and Israel will be forced to confront a nuclear Iran on it’s own.

  • JP

    Joe B.,
    I certainly hope you’re right! We should also stop giving Israel any aid whatever.

  • Lilya Lopekha

    Hope WBUR staff is not deleting any comment that is posted here that is critical of the illegal state of Israel.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Lilya, for me the whole WBUR web site froze beginning at around 2:00 PM, something which happened in the past when an internationally sensitive topic was under way. Then too it froze right after I posted. Hair-tearing time for me. The producers aren’t explaining and may delete this but I think either they lost most of the posts from both hours today, or they did wholesale deletions in hopes of getting themselves untargeted from whatever or whoever was causing the problem.

  • Lilya Lopekha

    Thanks Ellen. I am afraid, they are ramping up their “deletion” efforts. I have suffered through 2-3 lately, and there is another guy from West Coast; they are giving him hard time when he posts about Investigating 9/11 events.

    This could be just an innocent mistake while they were doing manual deletions, I guess.

    Trust me, I can feel it….more frequent deletions are coming soon.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Lilya, I say roll with the punches. Maybe the deletions will improve the quality of discourse. I think the more “on point” it gets, the more like flypaper the forum becomes for posts that are plain inflammatory. (So the more supervision we need.)
    Sometimes I think I’m pushing the envelope, testing what’s useful, what gets doused. Monday’s birther hour almost changed the entire character of the forum, here and ongoing, almost: “Come here and be mad, be outraged.” The idea alit, alas.

  • Mike

    The truest and best part of this interview was the general’s calling for Israel to be responsible for its own defense. Many would heartily agree with that sentiment, except that the totality of U.S. military aid to Israel throughout its history implicates the U.S. in any and all Israeli military operations. In order to address this unfortunate state of affairs and allow for unfettered Israeli pursuit of Israeli interests, would the general consider coming out in favor of allowing the U.S. to purchase back all military hardware and materiel purchased from us or with U.S. funding in the last 60 years and ceasing further U.S. aid to Israel that is to be used for Israeli defense?

  • http://www.onpointradio.org/about-on-point/wen-stephenson/ Wen Stephenson

    WBUR’s server suffered a major crash this afternoon, and we lost almost a full day’s worth of data. Please be assured that we did not delete the messages in this thread intentionally. If it’s possible to restore them, we will. Sincere apologies.

    Wen Stephenson
    Senior Producer

  • Janice Messer

    Sounds like your guest is trying to say Iran is kinda like ‘The Mouse That Roared’. Remember that Peter Sellars movie? The little country in the movie, like Iran, most of all wanted respect, and recognition of its uniqueness, and maybe trading rights…..
    It also seems like you all should re-watch, and maybe send a copy to the Supreme Leader & Akmadinajad over there, of Dr. Strangelove.
    Then, why don’t we just teach both Israel & Iran how to make a ‘neutron bomb’ they can both bomb the hell out of each other, & no big deal for the rest of us. Remember the Neutron Bomb? Kills all living things, dissipates quickly, & leaves buildings & other infrastructure intact?

  • Mark Rudin

    I had thought that this was a forum for serious discussion and not a soapbox for the tired demonizing, delegitimizing and double standard used as propaganda weapons to attack Israel. The issue here is a discussion about preventing a fascist state whose corrupt leader has threatened repeatedly to destroy a neighbor- a democratic state which grants equal rights and its citizens and which has tried for sixty odd years to do nothing more than to live in peace and security as is the right of every nation- from acquiring the weapons needed to carry out its genocidal goals.

    There are plenty of websites and posts conveying the thinly guised racist message of most of the submissions to this board; why not use those and reserve this space for a nuanced, intelligent discussion? Save the monotonous cannards for the rallies.

  • R.M.

    well said Mark…..

  • J. L. Mercer

    I have a neighbor who moved here, to Michigan, from Iran 3 years ago. They are a professional couple, with 3 grown children; a son in Canada, and 2 married daughters still in Iran.
    Last week, I was talking to some friends of theirs, also from Iran, a couple who have been in this country about 5 years. They are also in their mid 50′s. We were talking about how things were going in Iran, and he said, “My government over there is crazy. We know how the voting went-we all talk to each other. But Kahmenei, (the Cleric who is the Supreme Leader)he likes Akmadinajad – he more easy to control.” Then he seemed to think about not saying what he was thinking next, but he went ahead and said, “Ayatollah Kahmenei, not Khomenei from back when, but Kahmenei now, Ayatollah, he like, like,….”, and he talked to his wife in Farsi for a few seconds. She answered him in the same language, saying many Farsi words along with the name Jim Jones. He then told me, “Yes. He like Jim Jones. He kill so many people for nothing, nothing. They protest a little, he kill them.” (There was a documentary on our local PBS station a few weeks ago re: Jim Jones, I asked him if he saw it, & he said yes, that Jim Jones in Guyana.) He then mentioned a specific Iranian city – sorry, I don’t remember which, but he then continued, “2, 3 years ago, he kill 50 people. So many bodies laying in the street, for nothing!!
    In the past 3 years I’ve really pricked my ears up & listened to NPR, PBI & the BBC for news from Iran. And I read Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi.
    All my reading & listening has convinced me that much is going on behind the scenes, and has even caused me to begin to doubt whether Mr. Akmadinajad really believes, himself, that the Holocaust didn’t occur, even though he famously said so. If this Jim Jones-like Supreme Leader is putting words in his mouth, telling him to say, “Israel must die, and be wiped off the face of the earth”, perhaps, maybe, Mr. Akmadinajad is deliberately being absurd so people won’t believe him….Seems to me one must walk & talk carefully around a Jim Jones type person who is in control of people with the guns, most of whom blindly obey.
    Mrs. Clinton has quite a fine line to walk…
    Think about it.

  • R.M.

    why doesn’t WBUR have a show about all the falsehoods coming out of the world media against Israel and lets start with AL DURA!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mike

    Mark your comment is absurd,

    60 odd years striving for peace please, increase in settlements,israel is itself under resolutions, not sure what world you are living in but it is not reality.

    Corrupt leaders almost every PM of israel had to step down due to corruption or were assassinated.

    “fascist ” about as Fascist as Liberman, and Benn N. party. whats fascist is people like yourself trying to force others by calling people that dont agree with your messed up views racist.

    “democratic state which grants equal rights and its citizens”

    last time i heard the arab Israeli minority is still discriminated against and court case are still going on about this along with Liberman party blantly racist policy trying to get pushed into law. or we can look at the difference from the minority jews treatment when they rioted last week because the israeli government arrested a women for starving her baby and having a car show on sat.,(talks and water cannons) compare to the rubber bullets, and use of close range canisters meant for long distances on arabs.

    “corrupt leader has threatened repeatedly to destroy a neighbor” israeli is throwing the same threats to destroy iran, Lebanon, in sake of peace. Same crap dictators say “gotta kill others in the name of peace.

    There is many of other post and sites that you can og to and have people agree with the b.s. your spouting. but it is typical for people like yourself to cry b.s. yet have a tainted stench of it.

    israel threaten iran many times over, israel got nukes so in theory israel stated a nuke race when they acquired them.

    many of the people here make valid points and point out why you and your ilk are wrong yet you still keep spinning and spinning.

    If israel was not threatening iran with air strikes and telling other nations what to do, along with the u.s. blindly supporting and funding it, than the conversation would be different.

    Irans government is bad for it’s people, yet the same can be said about israel, but only does not have the backing of the u.s. government to get away with anything.

    nothing in your comment came close to intelligent, unless you feel facts do not matter. (sad)

    As most have pointed out attacking iran would make the world far more dangerous, cement irans right power, as it would cement israeil right power(maybe that what you want) at the cost of countless lives of or global war for the stake of fear.

  • R.M.

    Mark don’t pay attention to his derogatory remarks and insults , this guy is a known hater of Israel .You can refer to the Elie Wiesel show in march to see his posts ……

  • felipe


    If OnPoint brings Richard Gage and devotes 1 hour to the most contested pop culture assumption of Cheney and events of 9/11, I will support any program about poor and vulnerable and misunderstood and innocent Israel.

    If had gone to any protest march during the last 8 years, #1 issue of this country is What in the world has really happened on Sep 11.

    It affects from the legs we lose in Afghanistan to everytime you enter a federal building or go to an airport. Let’s find out more about Sept 11 and the third giant building WTC7 that came down all by itself at 5:21 pm that day in sympathy to the twin towers.

  • dianna g

    Thanks to the Producers of WBUR. Thank you for informing us about what has happened yesteday with the posts.

    I agree with Felipe. For the last eight years, asking questions is Patriotic. Almost every week, there is a new deception and lying and another breach of laws coming out of the sick brain of Dick Cheney.

    I think, WBUR is a very unique position. Well respoected OnPoint. Excellent the Most Wonderful Host: Tom Ashbrook. Very progressive and brave (sort of) audience and membership base.

    ps. I cannot believe that I just called “talking about a subject” is Brave. We are reduced to chickens when it comes to questioning 9/11.

  • Mike


    like in the Elie post we all know you have a racist and deep hatred towards Muslims, arabs, and you post the same one-sided you tube videos shows this.

    You could not say one good thing about gazans, except throw the same tired arguments that israel is doing nothing wrong quite frankly you sound like a racial. out of all your post none show intelegences or even opioions but only trying to troll the threads and demonize even innocents civilians, i recommended people read the ellie post so see what type of person you really are.

    Elie talked about the suffering of jews, and made a career on it, but when asked about the suffering of the minorities arab Israelis and gazan doubled talked and had no empathy as like yourself.

    You show no independent sources to back yourself and comments you post and the stuff you try to use is so one sided its funny.

    if you wish to see r.m. character go to any post dealing with gaza, Palestinian, israel, every one you will see a post by r.m. displaying all arabs are murdering, and dehumanizing there deaths.

    R.M. the internet troll whats your views on iran? if iran was attacked? even on here you made no comments concerning iran, only to chime in about any criticism of Israel. I believe if israel could have a moderate as if iran can things would calm down but like iran israel has right and far right and both knowing fear keeps them in power.


    if they can have a show on birthers, they can have a show on what happen on 911, you should keep writing them.

  • Ellen Dibble

    When Clinton spoke about a defense umbrella, I thought, with great relief, that she was disencumbering Israel from any presumed front line responsibility for “dealing with” Iran’s nuclear progression. It would be great if the world could de-couple Israel from the regional situation. Israel has too much “on its plate,” I’d say. There is a perceived antagonism between Israel and most if not all of the countries in the region, if I am not mistaken. But if Iran is disrupting the regional balance, why would the other states in the region look to Israel to crash Iran’s program? On the surface, this is a mad idea. And as the guests pointed out, if Iran has the know-how, Israel could not take out all the scientists, only “buy” a few more years.
    The Israeli general said Israel would be obliterated by just one A-bomb and so can’t be in a position to be hurling A-bombs back at Iran.
    I’d like to postulate that if Iran A-bombed Israel, Iran would be mighty sorry. Iran must know this.
    But if Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, other allies could collaborate to collaborate/pose such that militarily Iran is dissuaded — is Iran just posturing? (I am thinking that sanctions would be as counterproductive in Iran as they were in Iraq; the populace not the governors would suffer; the democracy isn’t strong enough to prevent that, I’m thinking. The populace would be persuaded to abhor us.)
    I mean, Russia is right next to Iran. Russia with its thousands of nukes. I would be surprised if Obama did not discuss this when he was in Moscow. But how Secretary Gates would have persuaded Israel to stay out of this regional upset — he would have had to do some diplomatic moonwalking.

  • Lilya Lopheka

    Please use your logic here
    re: the American guy who is taken hostage by the Taliban

    The summary of what he says on tape is:
    >>>[To American's] Please guys let’s go home with our weapons. We don’t belong here. Let’s leave these people alone. They did not do anything to us.<<<

    Two possibilities:
    a) He is believes to say such horrible stuff
    b) Taliban made him say "what they want" from our Military.

    So what is the message is: Go Home!!!

    What do Richard Holbrook and Stan McKrystal and other fat cat generals and AEI and AIPAC and Tel Aviv say:
    US Military belongs to Afghanistan.

    And then we keep saying: "Why do they hate us?"

  • John

    Dirty bomb: a defensive umbrella, as the one proposed by Clinton, will perhaps deter a missile attacked. However, it will hardly deter Iran from smuggling nuclear material to arm a Palestinian suicide bomber because it would be hard to prove it was Iran who provided the nuclear material.

    Sad that these experts focus only in the missile option, following the logic of the cold war. Today’s is a different war.


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