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The Iran Bluster Is All Talk … Right?

Trying to divine Israeli motives

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Prime Minister Netanyahu: crazy like a fox?(Jack Guez-Pool/Getty Images)

There has certainly been plenty of, shall we say, chatter about an Israeli strike on Iran—Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly trying to persuade the Cabinet of its wisdom; Bibi then ordering a probe of leaks of Israel’s preparation; dissension among the top brass; the frickin’ ballistic missile test outside Tel Aviv Wednesday morning; President Obama offering strong rhetoric; and even a Guardian report that Britain is amping up contingency planning for military action against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

None of this actually has to do with the International Atomic Energy Agency report due out next week that is expected to show further Iranian progress and intransigence, right? (Here’s a thought experiment: What if the United States has yanked its IAEA funding by the time the report comes out?) This is for real, and not just deliberate bluster designed to be the stick (the report being the carrot) to goad the international community to further isolating Iran, surely? “Reasonable citizens, at this point quite worried, should take into consideration that a great deal is happening covertly,” write our friends Amos and Avi in Haaretz (and incidentally, even in light of the latest machinations, the Israeli public appears divided on the question of military action). “At least some of these moves are part of a carefully orchestrated campaign whose purpose is not necessarily an Israeli attack. It could be a means of sparking a broad diplomatic maneuver to ratchet up sanctions on Iran.”

They add:

While many people say Netanyahu and [Defense Miniseter] Barak are conducting sophisticated psychological warfare and don’t intend to launch a military operation, top officials, including some in the forum of eight senior ministers, are still afraid.

Ostensibly, Israel is in a win-win situation. If its scare tactics work, the international community will impose paralyzing sanctions on Iran. If the world falls asleep at its post, there are alternatives.

But this is a dangerous game. A few more weeks of tension and one party or another might make a fatal mistake that will drag the region into war.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Israel and Iran Are Fighting a War of Nerves [Haaretz]

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Leaving aside the question of whether or not Israel actually has the capability to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat on its own-and given the margin of time Iran has had to prepare countermeasures, it seems improbable-the consequences of a pre-emptive strike would be catastrophic. Any advantage accruing to Israel would be short-lived, while the costs would be long-term.

To begin with, in the immediate wake of a strike, Russia and China would be competing for the contract to rebuild Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran would restore its capabilities in less time than it took to assemble them the first time, with the additional security in the form of support from a bevy of countries aligned against Israel and pledging their assistance against any further incursions into Iran.

Secondly, it would hand Israel’s legions of detractors the world over real fodder to step up a campaign to delegitimize Israel internationally, portraying it as a rogue nation operating outside international norms of conduct. They’ve been successful enough already; the added inducement of joining a large bloc of countries comprising most of the oil & terror producing states coupled with native antisemitism would be irresistible. Not even the U.S. could shield Israel from those diplomatic consequences.

Should, as recourse, Iran call on its terrorist proxies to exact retribution on U.S. troops and citizens globally, there would be stepped up calls in the U.S. to distances ourselves from our erstwhile ally. That constituency’s failures to achieve that goal thus far are largely owing to the fact that most of them are antisemitic lunatics. The battles ensuing after an Iran attack, however, would give them a demonstrable advantage, not heretofore one they’ve enjoyed. The benefits of supporting Israel for the U.S. have outweighed the cost. This might change that calculus.

All of this is not to gainsay the very real dangers of letting the ruling Iranian clique get their hands on a bomb.

…but this is a job for the U.S. and its allies.

Failing U.S. action, I think Israel is better off relying on mutually-assured destruction to keep Iranian hegemonic ambitions in check.

Acting without a material provocation, one in which Iran’s hand was unmistakable, risks fatal diplomatic consequences for Israel.

I hope Netanyahu understands this, and is just using Schelling tactics.

Incidentally, or not incidentally, had he been proactive on the peace front, he would have had considerably more clout in mustering an international consensus in favor of stopping Iran’s progress toward the bomb. But he has tried to have his cake and eat it. Moron.

For people that are all talk, for the last 7 years have been preparing for an attack on Iran, from training, strategy to procurements. It is worse now because we had hit Hizbullah in 2006 (it takes 3 to 5 years to rearm and rebuild the terror infrastructure), Hamas in 2008/09.

Those two are Iran’s strategic confidence/deterrent to an Israel attack. So even though we had to go back into Lebanon in early 2009 Hizbullah was not at complete readiness.

The goal is not to defeat Hizbullah, but deconstruct the terror infrastructure, the same for Gaza. After there will still be some terror from the north and the south but that can be contained via limited air assets and a small force structure. Gaza a couple of F-16′s and mostly drones, the same for Lebanon. The bulk of the force structure air assets etc will be used in the east. The IDF has said they cannot put an end date on operations in the east once they commence.

Israel has to destroy the air defense and gain air superiority over Iran, that includes the Iranian air force. So effectively Israel is setting up a no fly zone over Iran. With air superiority (no fly zone) deconstruction of crack IRGC units, a buffer zone will be established from Azerbaijan to the Arabian Gulf, an autonomous buffer zone inside Iran for PJAK.

Syria is in civil war Assad cannot divert his crack units to fight Israel and maintain country of his kingdom.

I hope Israel understands that if it intends to attack Iran it is completely on its own because the American people have no taste for being dragged into another devastating foreign war right in the middle of an economic depression.

JamesPhiladelphia says:

Let Iran melt by itself. Although reports indicate England is getting ready to attack Iran. Hum why? Iran has economic problems. On the other hand in the 1980,s Ayatollah Khoumeini went into war with Iraq,s Sadam Hussein. After 8 years and one million casualties they reached the Mexican standoff. No winners no losers. Just dead dead. Does Ahmadenijad and Ayatollah Khameini have the same guts? Iran Hezbollah Hamas Syria, what a bunch. Iran wants Assad to remain in power in Syria. Turkey is allied with the anti Assad Syrian opposition.
Pretty soon we will have these parties fighting among themselves and dragging Egypt and Lybia into the post Arab Spring developments. There it goes. As long ass we get our oil all will be fine. Lybia and Iraq are in full production of our oil. The petrodollars and the petroeuros are also flowing uninterrupted. All is fine that continues fine. New techniques in exploration, usages of ethanol, are reducing the usage of foreign oil. Thus pretty soon the Middle East and the Muslim world will be of no interest to us. The only reading will be One Thousand Nights, Ali Baba, Lawrence of Arabia. I kid you not.

philip mann says:

Maybe timing is driving this affair ,and as Matt concluded, Assad is seriously occupied right now.

No country really belives that Iran has peaceful intentions, and no country will budge to help Israel in any event,so diplomatic concerns are not that important. American support is,and there are probably all sorts of talks going on now.

The public debate now is odd,and probably meant to show the the world the Isralie mindset.

neal sturman says:

hezbollah has many thousands of missiles. what wouls israel do about them? is there missile defense that good? I don’t think Israel should go it alone but Obama would never join in an attack. Wait a year for the republican president to set the agenda on what to do.

Obama would never endorse nor support an insane action such as a preemptive attack on Iran which is one good solid and sensible point in his favor as our president.

Eric Weis "73 says:

I find myself in an odd position. I am a lifelong supporter of Israel and familiar in a very personal way with its nuclear program. I have also been involved in the nuclear industry for more than 50 years. The Persians are, without a doubt, embarked in risky business. All peoples on earth have a right to “Atoms for Peace” But every living soul on earth has to be concerned (if not existentially worried) about containing the nuclear genie, once he gets out of the bottle. In other words, the world MUST pursue nuclear non-proliferation by all means possible. Including pre-emptive military action. But one more comment. The IAEA (those lovable folks in Vienna) are NOT the enemy. They are our watchdogs. They must be empowered, not disemboweled. Give the IAEA real teeth – a paramilitary force if need be. Let them have real power – or else, we will all have to steel ourselves for individual nations to exert/project military power in order to contain the nuclear genie. Iran now. North Korea tomorrow. And some other nation next. I don’t want Israel to do the dirty work for Europe and the rest of the world. But consider 1938. What if Germany had possessed the means to destroy any adversary with a nuclear warhead mounted on a V2 rocket? Iran is getting close. The Iranian people need to rise up and remove their own hotheads. Until that happens – the west will be forced to act. If the IAEA had the ability to go in and shut things down – the world might be a far safer place.

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The Iran Bluster Is All Talk … Right?

Trying to divine Israeli motives

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