Israel’s Bennett Wants to Defeat Iran’s ‘Rotten Regime’ by Doing ‘What Reagan Did’ to the Soviets

© REUTERS / POOLIsraeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett makes a media statement for the COVID-19 pandemic status, at the Prime minister's office in Jerusalem, August 18, 2021.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett makes a media statement for the COVID-19 pandemic status, at the Prime minister's office in Jerusalem, August 18, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.10.2021
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Earlier this month, Israeli media reported that the government allocated $1.5 billion to prepare for a possible attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, as part of $17.8 billion defence budget for fiscal year 2022. Tehran responded by warning that Israel would be made to pay a grave economic price if it dared strike.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says his country is in a cold war with Iran, and plans to defeat the Islamic Republic the same way Ronald Reagan supposedly defeated the Soviet Union.
“We have a cold war with Iran. For the last 30 years Iran positioned around us to distract us,” Bennett said, speaking to the Sunday Times.
“The parallel is what Reagan did. Reagan didn’t have to bomb Moscow. There’s a regional power called Iran and there’s a regional power called Israel. Iran is a rotten regime, violating human rights and killing homosexuals and women who go around uncovered, while they can’t even supply clean water to their citizens, but invest their resources in nuclear development,” the prime minister alleged.
Bennett warned that Iran would face “very serious implications if they continue to enrich uranium,” and stressed that Tel Aviv would “do whatever is necessary to neutralize this threat,” including by outspending the country on defence to stay “a number of steps ahead.”
Bennett’s remarks echo a widely publicized version of history pushed by conservative US historians, who claim that Reagan defeated the Soviet Union by massively building up the defence budget and unveiling his ‘Star Wars’ Strategic Defence Initiative to create a defence system against Soviet nuclear missiles. That effort, so the story goes, helped bankrupt the Soviet economy and bring an end to the Cold War.
This narrative is not shared by many Russian historians, who have pointed out that Soviet defence spending actually precipitously declined through the 1980s, while scientists and defence strategists developed an “asymmetric response” to SDI, including the improvement of strategic missiles, increasing their maneuverability, and neutralizing SDI stations in space. It was at this time that intensified research began on fledgling hypersonic systems – which modern Russia began deploying into service in 2017 in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. Rather than Reagan, most Russian historians blame the top Soviet leadership, led by Mikhail Gorbachev, for betraying the USSR's national interests and ultimately leading to its collapse.
Reagan and Gorbachev - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.01.2020
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Asymmetry in Spending
Since 1948, the United States has given Israel over $146 billion in non-inflation-adjusted dollars in bilateral economic, military and missile defence assistance. This assistance, combined with Israel’s own investments into defence, have allowed the country to field one of the most sophisticated militaries in the Middle East, and, allegedly, to build up an arsenal of between 90 and 200 nuclear warheads deliverable by submarines, aircraft, and ground-based silos (Tel Aviv neither confirms nor denies possessing nukes). Israel’s government has approved a defence budget of $17.8 billion for fiscal year 2022, an increase of over $2.2 billion from the 2021 budget.
Iran has not publicized its defence budget for 2022, but is estimated to have spent about $15.1 billion on defence in the current year. With its spending, the country is able to create and manufacture a broad range of indigenous drones, ballistic and cruise missiles, and to field one of the region’s largest armies. Iran has repeatedly dismissed Israeli and US claims that it is pursuing nuclear weapons, saying that its missile deterrent is sufficient and that weapons of mass destruction of all kinds are incompatible with Islam. The country has nevertheless been made to pay a steep price for its peaceful nuclear endevours, with a 2015 report calculating that the programme may have cost the country over $500 billion through sanctions and opportunity costs for potential economic development and trade.
Long-standing tensions between Iran and Israel escalated again earlier this month after Israeli media reported on a special, $1.5 billion budget to prepare for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Israeli Air Force F-16A Netz '243', aircraft flown by Colonel Ilan Ramon in Operation Opera. This was the eighth and last to drop its bombs onto the reactor.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.10.2021
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Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani responded to the reports last week, saying that “instead of allocating [a] $1.5 billion budget for atrocities against Iran, the Zionist regime should focus on providing tens of thousands of billions of dollars funding to repair the damage that is going to be caused by Iran’s shocking response” in the event of war.
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