Commentary Magazine


Bombing First

With a sense of urgency inversely proportional to his usual concern for Iran’s nuclear program, IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei used strong language to criticize Israel’s airstrike on a Syrian facility early in September.

ElBaradei called the raid “very distressful.” It is not clear whether his distress stems from the raid’s success or from the complete lack of IAEA knowledge about the site prior to Israel’s attack. Officially, what bothers ElBaradei is the fact that Israel bombed the site rather than reporting it’s existence to ElBaradei himself: “To bomb first and then ask questions later, I think it undermines the system and it doesn’t lead to any solution.” Given his track record on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and repeated violations of UN resolutions on the subject, one is hard-pressed to understand why reporting it is better than destroying it. Perhaps so that ElBaradei can engage in years of meaningless negotiations while the Syrians advance their program?

No doubt, diplomacy has its merits. But if the IAEA actually is interested in countering proliferation, ElBaradei should be applauding Israel’s action—at least quietly.