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Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, spoke at the UNLV Barrick Lecture Series on May 4. (Photo courtesy of news.unlv.edu)
Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, spoke at the UNLV Barrick Lecture Series on May 4. (Photo courtesy of news.unlv.edu)

Former Israeli Minister of Defense Speaks Out Against U.S. Actions in the Middle East

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The former Israeli Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, opposes President Barack Obama’s decision to lift sanctions and resist strikes in the Iranian Nuclear Agreement.

Barak spoke at UNLV’s Barrick Lecture to address the various happenings in the Middle East that demand America’s presence. The speech took place in the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on May 4.

In addition to being a former prime minister, Barak served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces. After having a highly decorated career he was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1991, serving until 1995.

“There is a perception across the Middle East the America has weakened,” Barak said. “I believe the perception is wrong.”

However, Barak discussed the momentum Iranians are gaining in the tug of war between world powers. In an effort to convince Iran to turn over all nuclear weapons President Obama has been hesitant to use force as a motivator.

“The United States remains the world’s mightiest military, economic and diplomatic power by far, with reach and abilities beyond rival, but the common view is that America negotiated not out of strength but from an appetite to obtain a deal,” Barak said.

Barak fears this would be lending an advantage to the Iranians, which will only be enhanced after the agreement is announced. An agreement that allows Iran’s leadership to declare relief from the sanction without surrendering a single nuclear weapon.

History is now on Iran’s side in this battle. Pakistan and North Korea, who each fought to retain their bombs, paved the way for Iranian leadership.

“President Obama does our side no favor by arguing a strike will ignite another Middle East war,” he said. “A surgical strike on key nuclear facilities can throw them five years backward, and a repetition would become a major Iranian worry.”

Tactically, Barak views this strike to be more similar to the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden than to the invasion of Iraq.

From a political standpoint Barak recognizes the pressure and scrutiny placed on President Obama from America’s media.

“Deals are meant to be a compromise and some hypothetical situations, but when the media is breathing down the leaders’ necks and eager to pull the trigger it interrupts this process,” Barak said. “They broadcast unfinished deals and then support from citizens waver.”

Barak expressed concern that this could be impeding America from using a strong hand to send the right message to Iran.

“I believe what President Obama says about an unprecedented backing of Israel and keeping all options on the table against Tehran,” he said, “but that’s not the way the Middle East leadership will read it.”

Barak fears that Iran is shadowing the military strategies of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his concept of nuclear negotiations. In doing so, the Iranians believe they are reducing the risk of a military strike, which becomes much less likely after participating in thick military negotiations.

“The possibility should not be rhetorically holstered,” Barak said. “It may, finally, down the stream be the only language Iran understands.”

According to Barak, Iran is looking to finalize this agreement in June and wants to secure a signature that will lift the sanctions that would normally follow.

“The smiles they wear are of a man who escaped a noose,” he said. “Don’t let him get too far.”

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