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Author Biography

Joshua Kirschenbaum is a writer on foreign affairs based in Los Angeles. He received an M.A. in International Security from Georgetown University's Security Studies Program. He may be reached at: jak75@georgetown.edu.

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1944-0472.3.4.3

Subject Area Keywords

International relations, International security, Iraq, Israel, Military affairs, Nuclear weapons and nonproliferation

Abstract

To assess the efficacy of Israel's strike on Osirak, one must determine Israel's strategic objectives and their material effects on Iraqi capabilities. The capacity of the facilities to produce fissionable material without detection remains in dispute. So, too, does the timeline—and therefore the imminence—of Iraqi acquisition of a nuclear option. The political cost-benefit equation in this case requires a fair dose of subjective judgment. How much did the Israelis delay the program? How much did Iraqi motivation increase post facto? Is military counter-proliferation a viable strategy? Was the potential Iraqi bomb worth risking a bold, unprovoked attack that inevitably drew the condemnation of the world? Did the raid, in toto, raise or lower the risk of regional proliferation in the Middle East? All of these considerations must factor into an informed opinion on the retrospective wisdom of Begin's decision.