It’s no longer speculation to imagine an Israeli military attack on Iran. Following his visit to Washington, Netanyahu has made his ultimate intentions perfectly clear:
These are not regular times. The danger is hurtling toward us. The real danger in underestimating the threat. My job is first and foremost to ensure the future of the state of Israel … The leadership’s job is to eliminate the danger. Who will eliminate it? It is us or no one.
Never thought I’d live to find myself saying this, but here goes: the voice of sanity on this issue comes from the US Secretary of Defense:
The only way we can prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is for the Iranians themselves to decide that it’s too costly. And that it absolutely detracts from their security rather than enhances it.
If we or the Israelis or somebody else strike (Iran) militarily, in my view, it would delay the Iranian program for some period of time, but only delay it, probably only one to three years. You would unify the nation, you would cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them.
I have a sinking feeling about this. The Obama administration has painted itself into a corner by giving talks with Iran a six month deadline – a daunting task by any reasonable standard. Are Netanyahu’s threats mere bluster? I for one wouldn’t want to test that theory.
Pray for the peacemakers…
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I share your fear – but i believe also that humans are endowed with intelligence in order to use it. Yes, Israel is actively investigating a possible attack of Iran, but they know it will be difficult: a few days ago the Chief of Staff acknowledged both facts in a hearing in the Knesset, as Haaretz reported. Also, it is established that the Bush administration did not give a green light to an Israeli request in spring 2008. Whereas we don’t know why this request had been denied, we know how difficult such an operation will be: see A. Toukan’s report “a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran” in http://www.csis.org (March 16, 2009). Such an operation stretches to its limits even the means of Israel, involving a substantial amount of the Israel air force, and especially the safe return of a sizeable fraction of the aircraft involved is not at all likely. Israel, after such an attempt, might very well be much weakened, and without the protection of its airspace.
“Intelligence” here means: weighting the chances of success against the price to pay. The chances of success are slim at best, but the price to pay will be an extreme vulnerability of Israel. Israel will only attack if it is really desperate.
Time is on the side of Iran, Obama, and of “Intelligence”. Things are now (technically) much more difficult than 1 year ago, and more difficulties will accumulate. Israel will not attack, i am sure, if Israel leaders and Generals have some “Intelligence” left.
Still, my arguments are political ones, and what concerns me most that is the fact that Israel resorts more and more frequently to force, and tries to impose its will, rather than to consider that other peoples might have some good reason for their existence. The present anti-americanism and anti-semitism are also (but not only!) a consequence of the way how Israel acts (and Bush has supported it) with respect to its neighbours. This is a question of moral, or ethics, not of politics or military, or intelligence.
My hope is that Obama brings – at least – intelligence back into the political game, and that he convinces the other players: leaders in Israel, Iran, and elsewhere.
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