Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN General Assembly last week, which set a red line for Iranian nuclear capability using a prop that appeared to be straight out of the Warner Brothers graphic design department, provided Israeli satirists with plenty of ammunition.
The certainty with which the Prime Minister sought to alert his audience to the imminent likelihood of Iranian nuclear weapons development was, on the face of it, impressive. The reality however, is that no-one, other than a small group of decision-makers close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, know for certain what Iran's nuclear intentions really are.
Israeli leaders are right to be alert to existential threats. That alertness however, should not be interpreted as a right to call for action whenever one feels like it. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has an unfortunate track record of claiming that Iran and Iraq are seeking nuclear weapons despite a lack of solid intelligence.
As early as 1992 Netanyahu was warning that Iran was three to five years away from gaining a nuclear capability, yet 20 years later he would have us believe that he is certain that it will now be next spring or summer. As the Christian Science Monitor article shows, Netanyahu has not been alone in incorrectly predicting Iranian nuclear breakout capability.
The problem with Netanyahu's claim is that he appears to lead the charge for military action based on uncertain intelligence predictions and without regard for the second-order effects of such action. Which is exactly what happened in 2002 when he testified with absolute certainty before the US Congress as to Iraq's drive towards acquiring nuclear weapons, and demanded that the US act to stop this from happening. And we all saw the path that took us down.