10:25 am Nov. 8, 20111
Representative Jerrold Nadler thinks the United States and its allies sent a "very bad message" to Iran by assisting in the effort to oust Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy.
"What message were we sending, whether we intended to send it or not?" Nadler asked a crowd of Israel supporters at the Agudath Israel breakfast on Monday morning.
Nadler, a liberal on most things who is nevertheless a hawk on Israel, prefaced his comments about Khadafy by saying, "I'm going to say one thing that may be unpopular here."
Nadler's argument about American involvement in Libya was that the lesson for embattled regimes like Iran's is that Khadafy's cooperation with weapons inspectors, in the wake of the Iraq War, ultimately did him no good. The lesson other dictators will take from his death at the hands of an angry mob, Nadler said, is that the only true protection against interference from the West comes from possessing nuclear weapons.
"Khadafy is a terrible guy who since 2003 gave up his nuclear weapons program, brought in inspectors and agreed to cooperate, and did cooperate, with the United States and others, since about 2003," Nadler said. "He was a terrible tyrant at home, granted, but he cooperated abroad.
"We invaded him and overthrew his regime anyway. The message sent? If there's any mullah in Tehran thinking maybe the sanctions are too tough, maybe we really shouldn't get nuclear weapons, maybe you know, we don't need them so much. We just said, 'yes, you need them. Yes, you need them.'
"The only assurance you have against NATO and the United States intervening militarily against your regime is nuclear weapons. We don't fool around with North Korea no matter how bad they are, because they have nuclear weapons. Khadafy, terrible guy, but behaving himself abroad, we fooled around with. We just sent a message that you should get nuclear weapons if you want assurance that the Western powers will not overthrow your regime. Very bad message to send."
Earlier in the breakfast, the White House's new Jewish liaison, Jarrod Bernstein, had made the case that the United States' sanctions against Iran were working. Nadler argued that it will be that much harder for the United States to impose its sanctions now.
"It increases the likelihood that the only thing that will stop them from getting nuclear weapons is American or Israeli military action," he said. "Which may be necessary. It may be more necessary because of what we did. So I think that what we did was not a good idea.
"And it made the situation worse. And it made it more dangerous. And we will have to consider more likely the idea of military intervention, which will come, if it comes, at a very very high price."
That price, according to Nadler, would start with rocket attacks on Israel.
"If the United States or Israel attacks Iran—and it may be necessary to do so—if that happens, the first result will be 40,000 rockets launched at Israel from Hezbollah and Hamas," he said. "And maybe the Iron Dome will work very well or maybe it won't work so well, but it won't be a good thing. We will pay, Israel will pay, a heavy price, if we have to attack," he said.
"But we may have to."