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  • Anticipating An Israeli Attack On Iran

    Posted by Jonathan on February 2nd, 2012 (All posts by )

    Is Israel preparing to attack Iran? asks David Ignatius.

    I think the obvious answer is yes. So why is the US govt trying to stop it?

    -Answer 1: Obama doesn’t want any trouble (e.g., high fuel prices, possible US involvement) going into the November elections.

    -Answer 2: Obama doesn’t want anyone to attack Iran under any circumstances.

    -Answer 3: Obama is confident that his overt/covert appeasement/negotiation campaign will eventually work and doesn’t want anyone else to front run him.

    -Answer 4: We really do want Israel to attack Iran, but as in 1981 with Iraq we will publicly condemn while privately applauding.

    -Answer 5: Obama is planning to attack Iran and doesn’t want to share credit with anyone else.

    ???

    UPDATE: Via Robert Schwartz, Barry Rubin’s well reasoned argument that there will be no attack on Iran.

     

    30 Responses to “Anticipating An Israeli Attack On Iran”

    1. Bill Brandt Says:

      Well, I am reading an issue of the WSJ of a few days ago and the Pentagon is not satisfied that their 30,000 lb “bunker buster” bomb is big enough to do the job.

    2. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      In order of priority:
      2
      1
      3 [and it is not an act, it is submission]
      4 & 5 = fantasy.

      Israel is known for outside the box thinking, and pulling things off that the conventional wisdom believes impossible. Everyone expects a miracle. Miracles don’t always happen. If it is an existential crisis [and it is] it may not be as tidy a solution as everyone expects. But Israel is fighting for its survival, not for the convenience of the US and Europe.

      Subotai Bahadur

    3. PenGun Says:

      It would be extremely foolish of Israel to attack Iran. I don’t believe there is a dumber thing they can do.

      Obama understands this.

      From my extremely twisted point of view it’s a great idea and will achieve my peculiar goals sooner. Double plus bonus for getting the USA into it.

      War games are fun and I’ve played lots of em’. I would take Iran in that contest, not because I expect to win there will be no winners, but it would be so hard to play from such a vulnerable position, the one Israel occupies. I could deal better with Iran’s considerable area and population with fewer critical points to worry about. Hezbollah has proven quite convincingly that their battle order and tactical regime are appropriate for battle with Israeli forces. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard runs a very similar small unit operation and should it come to ground war, doubtful with Iran, inevitable with Hezbollah and the fledgling Hamas forces it will be very interesting to watch.

      Come on folks it’s nuts. You cannot put Genies back in bottles. Every state that wants a nuke will be able to have one eventually anyway. You will not be able to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It’s that simple.

    4. Sejo Says:

      As Mr. Brandt, I’ve read that your current federal administration has allocated more funds for that super heavy bomb development. Could all the Obamaesque opposition to Israeli threats to Iran be just a matter of who’s going to hit first – and claim it?

      As for Europe, a large part of the public opinion would be glad to know that Iran’s plans get erased forever. Sure, a lot of European countries have strategic ties with that country – mine is first – for natural gas and oil, but – godd Lord – the A bomb is THE bomb. For EU governments, it’s option 4.

    5. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “Israel Isn’t Going to Attack Iran and Neither Will the United States” by Barry Rubin
      http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/01/26/israel-is-not-about-to-attack-iran-and-neither-is-the-united-states-get-used-to-it/

      Read the whole thing. It is long.

    6. Bill Brandt Says:

      Sejo – it’s not “my” administration – I can’t stand it!

      But yes, the Pentagon has gone to Congress asking for more funds to make the thing go further into the ground before exploding.

      I guess this thing dwarfs the famous daisy cutter – that 22,000 lb bomb developed during Vietnam to cut swaths of jungle out for helicopter landing zones.

      The dirty little secret is that the gulf states from Saudi Arabia on down – hope for option 4.

      It will be very messy – the strait of Hormuz is at one point 21 miles wide – easy to lay mines – hard to clear them.

      But what is Israel supposed to do? Wait until they develop one and attack them?

    7. LibertyAtStake Says:

      The answer is ??? – and that’s the freakin’ problem!

      d(^_^)b
      http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com/
      “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

    8. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Robert Schwartz Says @ February 3rd, 2012 at 10:20 am

      I reference comment #9. Lieblich in your link. Unless we can absolutely rule out that the government of the State of Israel considers the approaching Iranian nuclear strike capability being an existential threat to Israel; we cannot rule out an Israeli strike, nor assume that it will remain conventional. Given the relationship between the US State Department and current US administration, and the State of Israel; depending on US support or protection of Israel by any US deterrence is …. unrealistic.

      If the choice [solely from the Israeli government's point of view] is viewed as certain destruction -v- enraging the rest of the world and dealing with it; it would be unwise to assume Israeli suicide. Further, the Iranian threat cannot be viewed in isolation. Events in Syria may well trigger a war on that front and on the Lebanese front. Gaza is simmering, with Hamas -v- Hezbollah conflict; which usually involves competition in who can best attack Israel, and the new Muslim Brotherhood controlled parliament in Egypt is openly talking of voiding the Egyptian-Israeli Sinai peace treaty.

      American and European policies have contributed to putting Israel in a corner in which they may no longer believe it possible to survive by non-military means.

      I would also note that an attack on Israel may not bear a formal national label. I offer this 2003 link analyzing the dynamics of a WMD strike on the US; noting that a) Israel has far less margin to absorb such and knows it, b) that the “Golden Hour” noted is long gone, and c) Israel has the capacity to achieve this.

      The Three Conjectures:
      http://belmontclub.blogspot.com/2003/09/three-conjectures-pew-poll-finds-40-of.html

      I have seen nothing in the intervening years to discredit this analysis.

      Subotai Bahadur

    9. PenGun Says:

      Israel can no more use nuclear weapons than Iran could if it had them.

      The Pakistanis can just strike Israel and the Russians with one missile can remove Israel from the face of the earth.

      Do you think the US would start a nuclear exchange with Russia over an annihilated Israel?

    10. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      PenGun Says:
      February 3rd, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      The Pakistanis can just strike Israel and the Russians with one missile can remove Israel from the face of the earth.

      Do you think the US would start a nuclear exchange with Russia over an annihilated Israel?

      While the US under the current administration is just as likely to go along and join any Pakistani or Russian strike on Israel; you do realize that what you are saying is that Israel has the choice of either waiting passively for the inevitable Iranian nuclear strike to be wiped out or striking out at every enemy that it can reach while it still can, and then eventually being wiped out by those enemies? If you were backed into a corner like that, which would you choose?

      Subotai Bahadur

    11. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Jonathan: The only factor on the other side of the equation for Obama is Wag the Dog. If he is trailing in the polls in October, watch out.

      OTOH, I have always discounted the ability of Israel to strike at Iran. To the best of my knowledge their aircraft are all F-15/F-16 and Iran is at or passed the edge of their operational capability from Israel. Only USAF has the capability of conducting an operation of this scale.

    12. PenGun Says:

      “While the US under the current administration is just as likely to go along and join any Pakistani or Russian strike on Israel; you do realize that what you are saying is that Israel has the choice of either waiting passively for the inevitable Iranian nuclear strike to be wiped out or striking out at every enemy that it can reach while it still can, and then eventually being wiped out by those enemies?”

      I love straw men. There is nothing inevitable about Iran attacking Israel with nukes. As I pointed out no one can use them and survive.

      “If you were backed into a corner like that, which would you choose?”

      I will not be your straw man.

    13. dearieme Says:

      Why would Russia obliterate Israel?
      Why would Pakistan?

    14. tyouth Says:

      I love straw men. There is nothing inevitable about Iran attacking Israel with nukes. As I pointed out no one can use them and survive.

      PG, you’re suggesting that “Iran wouldn’t use WMDs because they wouldn’t survive retaliation”. Pretty good motivation for a stable, sane, group of national leaders; however, is that the conclusion that apparently hate-filled theocratic totalitarians will come to?

    15. Mike Doughty Says:

      The Israelis may not need longer range planes….they have submarines with cruise missiles capable of striking targets anywhere in Iran.

      http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/germany-may-sell-2-more-dolphin-subs-to-israel-for-117b-01528/

    16. PenGun Says:

      “Why would Russia obliterate Israel?
      Why would Pakistan?”

      If Israel nuked Iran … all bets are off. Either one of those scenarios is possible.

    17. PenGun Says:

      “PG, you’re suggesting that “Iran wouldn’t use WMDs because they wouldn’t survive retaliation”. Pretty good motivation for a stable, sane, group of national leaders; however, is that the conclusion that apparently hate-filled theocratic totalitarians will come to?”

      If you look at actions Iran is among the sanest nations in the area. They have attacked no one and the Jewish population there is protected and does fairly well. They have very good reasons to mistrust the west.

      The rhetoric has become so crazy that you cannot accuse one side or the other of producing sane statements.

    18. tyouth Says:

      Pen, you’re wacked.

    19. zenpundit Says:

      Pakistan would not attempt to avenge a nuked Iran because the Pakistani government secretly supports radical Sunni and Deobandi Islamist militias dedicated to killing Shiites. Many Pakistani Islamists think the only thing better than dead Jews are dead Hindus and dead Shiites.

      Russia nuking Israel on Iran’s behalf is simply daft. Why? For what possible strategic benefit?

      OTOH, Israel is highly unlikely to strike Iran with conventional air assets because Iran’s facilities are at the extreme of the IDF air force operational range. Iran is even less capable of attacking Israel with it’s badly trained air force of antiquated planes and IRBMs without modern guidance systems. All this public jabber is because they won’t do jack.

      Israel will keep doing what it is doing – targeting Iran’s nuclear weapons scientists, engineers and arms traffickers with covert ops, hiring proxies for sabotage and cyberwarfare – because it is cheap and an effective ROI.

      The US should not attack Iran unless we are attacked or our vital interests directly threatened. We can’t afford to occupy the Iranian plateau and if provoked we can simply kill their infrastructure with an air campaign, after which we should call it a day. Invading Iran is a sucker’s game.

    20. Percy Dovetonsils Says:

      “Pen, you’re wacked.”

      No, just a troll.

    21. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Of course only sane and cautious people say things like this:

      “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed,” Teheran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday. Khamenei addressed thousands of worshipers attending a Tehran University prayer service marking the Fajr celebration.”

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4184838,00.html

    22. PenGun Says:

      Thanks Percy.

      “Pakistan would not attempt to avenge a nuked Iran because the Pakistani government secretly supports radical Sunni and Deobandi Islamist militias dedicated to killing Shiites. Many Pakistani Islamists think the only thing better than dead Jews are dead Hindus and dead Shiites.

      Russia nuking Israel on Iran’s behalf is simply daft. Why? For what possible strategic benefit?”

      Ahh Mr pundit. You will excuse me leaving off the zen but I have been a follower of the Buddha for over 50 years now, and zen you ain’t.

      You don’t think Israel nuking Iran will change the whole ball game radically? I do. A state gone rouge is a danger to us all and will attract the usual rouge solving efforts. Removing it is something the Russians can do. As events today unfold I think this is more likely than ever. The push to demonize Syria is failing and those who do understand what is happening are somewhat upset by Rice among others.

      As for Pakistan’s Sunniness I think Israel will easily unite both Shia and Sunni with a nuclear weapon. I would not be at all surprised to see Pakistan respond. They would feel a responsibility to act as the Muslim state that can respond in kind.

    23. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The Center for Strategic and International Studies did an analysis of a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran assuming Iran initiated it. The estimate was that Israel would suffer 600,000 dead and Iran would cease to be a nation. It estimated 28 million Iranian dead. It would also be the end of middle east oil. That’s one reason I want to see US oil production resume and the XL pipeline built.

    24. Trent Telenko Says:

      The first rule of strategy is never do your enemy a “little hurt.” Make your attacks decisive or don’t do them.

      Israel has the military capability to drop a high altitude, ballistic delivered, nuclear EMP attack on Iran followed by a week long counterforce nuclear strike on Iran’s nuclear capability that will leave Israel safe from Iranian nuclear strikes for about 20 years.

      The issue with doing that is that such a strike would with a genocidal level countervalue collateral damage, simply because the Mullahs have put so many nuclear facilities in urban areas to deter American precision strikes.

      (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterforce for counterforce versus countervalue definitions in nuclear strategy)

      The problem with Iran for Israel is the government, not the people of Iran.

      If Israel uses less than a nation destroying level of nuclear firepower on Iran, the desire for revenge by the remaining people of Iran will be the problem.

      If Israel goes nuclear, it has to destroy the Persian state, which means it has to use genocidal levels of countervalue nuclear firepower on the majority Persian urban areas with lots of dirty nuclear ground bursts to poison the Persian majority rural areas near those cities.

      This will let the Balochi, Kurds and Shia Arab parts of the Persian empire-state to break away from Tehran while the Persians are down and leave the rump of Persian Iran prostrate for generations.

      Israel is not there in terms of its morals, yet, just as America war not there from the mid-1950′s through the mid-1960′s versus Russia.

      Israel, however, is a “one nuclear bomb state”.

      Iran is not, and its national leadership is Jihadi-irrational.

      That is why “Yet” is the operative term regards Israel.

    25. Jonathan Says:

      The first rule of strategy is never do your enemy a “little hurt.” Make your attacks decisive or don’t do them.

      I think it’s important to clarify what “never do your enemy a ‘little hurt’” means. If it means that you ignore small provocations and only respond militarily when a massive response is justified, I think that’s a mistake. Iran has been attacking us opportunistically for years and we have avoided responding directly. The result has been more attacks. If we had responded to Iranian proxy attacks against Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan by raiding or bombing bases in Iran, or to speedboat probes in the Gulf by sinking boats or bombing oil terminals, we might be in a better position now. It is possible in that case that Iran would have been just as or more dedicated to getting nukes as it is now, but we are already acting deterred so it may be that we have little to lose in this regard.

    26. Trent Telenko Says:

      Jonathan,

      Pearl Harbor, for America, was a “Little Hurt.”

      It hurt us, enraged us as a people, and propelled us to any means to get the Japanese to surrender.

      Israel is two orders of magnitude smaller as a nation than America, Iran says it wants to kill then, and is working to get nukes. Iran with a nuclear capability is an existential threat to the continued existence of Israel.

      The Israelis doing a preemptive pure counterforce nuclear strike on Iran that did not remove the Iranian people is very much is the same league as Japan striking America at Pearl Harbor, whether or not the Mullah Regime survived.

      Israel’s dilemma is that Iran may be so close to fielding nuclear weapons that a conventional strike now would simply generate a near term nuclear strike because Iran already has the fissionable material for one or more bombs.

      So the three horns of the Israeli dilemma is they have the power to remove the threat, but not the will.

      Using the lower level of power their politics allows may bring down the doom they are trying to prevent.

      And doing nothing will get them nuked by their irrational enemy no matter what level retaliation they reply with.

    27. PenGun Says:

      “And doing nothing will get them nuked by their irrational enemy”

      Ahhh … I see, you believe your own propaganda. That is definitely foolish.

    28. Sejo Says:

      @ Bill Brandt: sorry, I used «your» as in – well – yours as Americans. The «right or wrong still my federal administration» way. Not personally yours. I hope no offence was taken.

      And sorry for the late reply. Since Thursday most of Italy has been covered in snow, something truly out of the ordinary, and in my area we’ve been locked in our homes for at least 72 hours. Only today road connections, full electrical and telephonical services have been restored quite to normality. Quite.
      Still freezing below zero, though. And more snow is expected to fall in the next days with temperatures dropping again. Sigh.

    29. Bill Brandt Says:

      @ Sejo – certainly no offense taken – a lot of us think the government has become too invasive against its citizens.

      Unfortunately a sizable number of Americans think the opposite.

      That’s the problem these days ;-)

      Big Govt people vs Small Govt people – and almost equally divided.

      Out here (Northern California) we have had the opposite – the ski resorts are crying – we had one big storm a few weeks ago but before that nothing since November.

      So much (well most) of my European travel was done 40 years ago while in the Army – and I took a train to Italy.

      Always remember going though the Brenner Pass – waking up after riding all night and seeing the Brenner Pass – speaking of stereotypes so many here think of Italy as, say, Rome or Naples but around the Brenner Pass it is like Austria.

      There are probably 4-5 “Italys” I think…

      Modena area, Alps, Sicily, Roma, Capri (well I had better get back to work but I can easily surpass 5)

    30. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>>Ahhh … I see, you believe your own propaganda. That is definitely foolish.

      And I see you believe the Iranian apologists.