Feb 03, 2012
By Joel Moskowitz
This past Sunday’s New York Times magazine ran a cover story about Israel and Iran. The story focused on a few key points in the ongoing saga of Iran’s attempt at making a nuclear bomb. First there is a disagreement between the intelligence community in Israel, which feels that Iran can be stopped through sabotage, assassinations and penetrating the supply chain to sell defective materiel to Iran and with Israel’s the military establishment that favors an offensive strike. Then there is the United States who prefers sanctions and avoiding all of the ramifications a military strike will cause. Finally, there is the debate within all the parties about the price Israel will pay for striking Iran, mostly through Iran’s agents Hezbollah and Hamas who have tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel.
Political will and military urgency will trump the intelligence community on this one I think. Besides, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got rid of the last Mossad chief who did not prefer a military option so he’s indicated where his sentiments are and he has not been shy about promising the world that Iran will not get the bomb. But what to do about the United States and the 50,000 bombs that rain down on Israel after an Israeli attack on Iran?
The United States can be dealt with within a very short window. The Obama administration is simply against a strike, Obama’s statement in his State of the Union address that all options are on the table not withstanding. There is a segment of the U.S. population who are tired of war, sick of Afghanistan, fed up with Iraq who have no stomach for any more military operations, by us or an ally. An Israeli strike will be seen as having the acquiescence of the U.S. even if it doesn’t, thus making U.S. assets the target of counter attacks. They are Obama’s constituency, his base and he will not disappoint the base before an election. I don’t think there are many people out there that believe that if Obama is re-elected he will change his mind either.
All the Republican candidates except Ron Paul are in favor of a military strike against Iran by either Israel or the U.S. However, military and intelligence findings in the majority agree that waiting until January 2013 would be too late; that Iran will have already either made the bomb or will have gone beyond the point of no return to making one. Thus if like me you believe an Israeli strike is inevitable the question remains, when?
Politically, the best time for Israel to strike will be as soon as the Republican nominee is determined. This will hamper Obama from taking strong of an action against Israel. If he does, then the Republican nominee will clobber him over not supporting Israel. This is after all an election season and in an age where every demographic counts and every state is important, Obama cannot chance angering Jews in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states. If I were the guy posting the odds in Las Vegas on this I would give the best odds to June or July.
So what to do about all those rockets? Honestly, I’m a little less scared about that than in times past. Hezbollah’s last attack against Israel caused the destruction of a good portion of Lebanon for which they were blamed. However, then, they had Syria as back up along with Iran who were able to reinforce them through a supply chain that went through Syria. That option while still viable comes with many complications. Syria has internal problems of their own, the last thing the Assad regime needs now is fighting Israel while dealing with their own internal rebellion. This time when Israel threatens to return Lebanon to the Stone Age they won’t have to worry about Syria, or at least it will be a much weakened Syria.
Hamas in Gaza is still a problem but one that all military analysts believe is one the IDF can handle. Israel despite world condemnation in the past has been very soft on Hamas. A full scale war will force Israel to take the gloves off. They certainly will not care about U.N. condemnation if they respond to Hamas with force and the U.S., in this election season will have to have Israel’s back.
China and Russia seem to be protecting Syria and to a certain extent Iran. It is hard to imagine though that either one of them would be deeply upset about a nuclear setback in Iran. They also are perfectly happy to have the U.S. do all the fighting or taking all the hits from the fundamentalist Muslim countries. Finally, while the Arab Spring has given rise to the religious Muslim parties in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia I believe they are more concerned about bread and butter issues and will likely not be a factor. Let’s pray that all of Israel’s preparations will achieve similar results in Iran as did the strikes against Iraq and Syria when they crossed the nuclear line.
Filed Under: Joel Moskowitz
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