Israel to attack Iran in December —yet again?

Oil prices rose Nov. 6 to $95 a barrel, a more than seven-week peak, on heightened concerns about Iran's nuclear program and rumors of impending Israeli military strikes on the Islamic Republic. The tensions come as the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report finding that Iran is capable of developing a nuclear weapon, although stopping short of saying it intends to do so. (Reuters, WP, Nov. 7) Days earlier, Israel successfully tested a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The Jericho 3 missile, fired from Palmahim air force base, was seen by tens of thousands of Israelis. Many called the emergency services and radio stations in panic, believing it was an incoming missile. Defense minister Ehud Barak said: "This is an impressive technological achievement and an important step in Israel's progress in the missile and space field." (Irish Times, Nov. 3)

The Guardian stirred fears Nov. 2 with a report that "Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran," foreseeing the use of Diego Garcia as a staging ground by US forces.

Jeffrey Goldberg writes on Bloomberg Nov. 7:

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who once told me he believes that Iran is led by a "messianic, apocalyptic cult," is correct to view Iran as a threat to his country's existence.

And yet, a preemptive Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities could be a grievous mistake. For one thing, it may already be too late. The Iranians may have dispersed and hardened their nuclear program to the point that an Israeli strike would do only glancing damage. The Israeli Air Force, as good as it is, would be stretched to its limit by such an operation.

The morality of a strike, which could cause substantial Iranian casualties, would be questioned even by those sympathetic to Israel’s dilemma. Israel will have succeeded in casting Iran as a victim and itself as something of a rogue nation. The international isolation it would experience could be catastrophic in itself. A strike might also endanger Americans in the Middle East and beyond.

It seems like Goldberg is playing his cards more carefully than he did at this time a year ago, when he flatly predicted an Israeli attack on Iran by the end of 2010. In fact, speculation of an imminent attack on Iran has been raised in the media numerous times over the past several years.

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WikiLeaks: IAEA in US pocket

Iran's Press TV on Nov. 8 recalls an October 2009 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks. The cable concerns Yukiya Amano's ascendence to leadership of the IAEA, and notes: "Amano reminded [the] ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77 [the developing countries group], which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program."

Panetta, ex-Mossad chief rain on Iran alarmism parade

In words that will be very disappointing to the Chicken Little crowd, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta waxed considerably cautious on the possibility of military action against Iran. "You've got to be careful of unintended consequences here," Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon. "It could have a serious impact in the region, and it could have a serious impact on US forces in the region. And I think all of those things, you know, need to be carefully considered." (The Guardian, Nov. 11)

Ex-Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy also warned against military action, saying: "An attack on Iran could affect not only Israel, but the entire region for 100 years." He added that while Iran should be prevented from becoming a nuclear power, its capabilities are still "far from posing an existential threat to Israel." (YNet, Nov, 4)

Sorry, alarmists.

Meanwhile, media commentators are arguing over the identity of the "foreign expert" the IAEA says helped Iran develop detonators for nuclear weapons, and who was named in the Washington Post to be one Vyacheslav Danilenko. Gareth Porter on IPS tells us that Danilenko is not a nuclear scientist but a nanodiamonds expert (a claim seized upon with glee by the left-wing echo chamber). Global Post takes a more balanced view, pointing out that you don't have to be nuclear scientist to work on detonators for nuclear warheads, that nanodiamonds are actually produced by small explosions, and that Danilenko apparently did work at Russia's VNIITF nuclear weapons lab in the Ural Mountains.

Uri Avnery rains on Iran alarmism parade

The Israeli leftist commentator Uri Avnery joins the crystal ball set, but from the other side. Here's an excerpt from his latest piece, on Palestine Chronicle Nov. 3. The opening line is also the title:

Israel will not attack Iran. Period.

Some may think that I am going out on a limb. Shouldn't I add at least "probably" or "almost certainly"?

No, I won't. I shall repeat categorically: Israel Will NOT Attack Iran.

Since the 1956 Suez adventure, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered an ultimatum that stopped the action, Israel has never undertaken any significant military operation without obtaining American consent in advance.

The US is Israel’s only dependable supporter in the world (besides, perhaps, Fiji, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau.) To destroy this relationship means cutting our lifeline. To do that, you have to be more than just a little crazy. You have to be raving mad.

Furthermore, Israel cannot fight a war without unlimited American support, because our planes and our bombs come from the US. During a war, we need supplies, spare parts, many sorts of equipment. During the Yom Kippur war, Henry Kissinger had an “air train” supplying us around the clock. And that war would probably look like a picnic compared to a war with Iran.

Let's look at the map. That, by the way, is always recommended before starting any war.

The first feature that strikes the eye is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, through which every third barrel of the worlds seaborne oil supplies flow. Almost the entire output of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iraq and Iran has to run the gauntlet through this narrow sea lane.

"Narrow" is an understatement. The entire width of this waterway is some 35 km (or 20 miles). That’s about the distance from Gaza to Beer Sheva, which was crossed last week by the primitive rockets of the Islamic Jihad.

When the first Israeli plane enters Iranian airspace, the strait will be closed. The Iranian navy has plenty of missile boats, but they will not be needed. Land-based missiles are enough.

The world is already teetering on the verge of an abyss. Little Greece is threatening to fall and take major chunks of the world economy with her. The elimination of almost a fifth of the industrial nations' supply of oil would lead to a catastrophe hard even to imagine.

To open the strait by force would require a major military operation (including "putting boots on the ground") that would overshadow all the US misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Can the US afford that? Can NATO? Israel itself is not in the same league.

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman rains on Iran alarmism parade

Sorry, alarmists. From The Guardian, Aug. 30:

An Israeli attack on Iran would delay but probably not stop its nuclear programme, the most senior US military officer has claimed. General Martin Dempsey reinforced Washington's opposition to unilateral Israel military action...

Distancing himself from any Israeli plan to bomb Iran, Dempsey said such an attack would "clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear programme".

He added: "I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it."


Sorry General, but if those Israeli bombers even reach Iran they will have to fly across

"US 'controlled' airspace", and those words will follow every American and every Jew around the world.

Yeah, words matter, remember when Krushev said he would destroy America?

Something I learned a long time ago from Aristotle; "You can have second thoughts, and you may get a second chance, but there are no 'second choices'. Once a thing is done, it IS......and what comes next only follows.

"US 'controlled' airspace"?

Do you mean Iraq? Technically, I don't think the US controls that airspace anymore (as recent events have demonstrated), and theoretically they could go around it.