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Can Israel Live With A Nuclear Iran?

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If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, what would be the impact on Israel?

Some say this would be an existential threat that Israel cannot tolerate. Iranian nuclear weapons would raise the stakes most every time there was a conflict in the region.

But others argue that Israel could live with a nuclear Iran because the Israelis have such a powerful military of their own, including nuclear capabilities. In addition, an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities could unleash a cascade of events that would further destabilize the region.

A panel of four experts considers the stakes in the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. They faced off on the motion, "Israel Can Live with a Nuclear Iran."

Before the debate, 25 percent were for the motion, 35 percent were against and 40 percent undecided. Afterward, only 8 percent were undecided, while 37 percent voted for and 55 percent against. So the side arguing against the motion won.

Those debating were:

FOR THE MOTION

James Dobbins is the director of the Rand International Security and Defense Policy Center. Dobbins has held State Department and White House posts, including assistant secretary of state for Europe, special assistant to the president and ambassador to the European Community. Dobbins has had numerous crisis management and diplomatic troubleshooting assignments as the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations' special envoy for Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he was named as the Bush administration's representative to the Afghan opposition with the task of putting together and installing a broadly based successor to the Taliban regime.

Reuven Pedatzur is a senior military affairs analyst with Ha'aretz newspaper and senior lecturer in political science at Tel Aviv University. He currently serves as director of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue, Netanya Academic College. He was previously an Israeli air force fighter pilot and a visiting scholar at the Center for Strategic Studies at MIT. He is one of Israel's leading commentators on missile defense, nuclear and other nonconventional weapons, the Israel Defense Force's strategic doctrine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His most recent book is The Rescue of King Hussein's Regime (2008). Pedatzur is a regular analyst for Israeli TV and hosts a radio show on security and strategic issues.

AGAINST THE MOTION

Shmuel Bar is the director of studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzliya, Israel. He is also a senior research fellow at the International Institute for Non-Proliferation Studies and adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute. In 2007, he was the Koret Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Bar is also the founder and CEO of IntuView Ltd., an Israel-based software company. Bar served for 30 years in the Israeli government, first in the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence, and later in analytic and operational positions in the Israeli Office of the Prime Minister.

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He is a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. He has also written for The Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post. In 2006, Goldberg wrote Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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