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August 25, 2010

Comments

When the focus is on Iran, Israel can ignore the Palestinians.

I think your claim here might be right, but it seems irrelevant. Obviously, the case for attacking Iran makes little sense to an informed rational unbiased observer. But who cares? Do you think the Israeli or US government or foreign policy elites or media are filled with such observers? I do not. So then the question becomes: how will these groups, which are not rational and have very large biases, react to the stimuli in Goldberg's article?

I honestly don't know. What I do know is that time and again, government and media and foreign policy elites systematically parse narratives so as see Israel as endangered and Arab/Persian regimes as hyperagressive monsters on the verge of devouring Israel. For all I know, when such people read Goldberg's article, they'll come away thinking "eh, we really need to do something about Iran..."; or maybe not. Their thinking is, as I said, very difficult for me to understand.

So Turb, you're saying that Goldberg's piece was not propaganda for the public, but for the leaders themselves - many of whom are interviewed in the piece?

And to follow up:

I think the Obama administration will conclude what the, at least nominally more reckless Bush administration concluded:

Bombing Iran is not an option. Full stop. As for Israel: ditto. And if they conclude otherwise, I don't think Goldberg's piece will have one iota to do with it. As I said, if anything, it undermines the case for war.

One thing that I haven't seen enough writing on is precisely how the Israeli military bureaucracy really feels about attacking Iran. Military elites often develop distorted views of their own capabilities. Bush found lots of support in the senior officer corps for all sorts of obviously militarily unsound policies in Iraq. Given that support, we can see that the intellectual quality of the senior officer corps is, at best, very uneven. I wonder what we don't know about the equivalent group in the IDF: do they see an Iran mission in the same terms we do? Or do they see it as far more likely to succeed at far lower cost? Are they desperate for a real mission after spending years on fruitless occupation duty? Are they desperate for a real mission to wipe out the stench of the Lebanon war failures?

These are questions that Goldberg can't answer. He can interview some generals but we don't know enough about his selection bias to have confidence that he's talking to a representative sample. Moreover, even if he is talking to a representative sample, we don't know that the reasonable generals are actually driving the show. There were plenty of reasonable American generals who thought invading Iraq was crazy but they didn't end up mattering much, now did they? They, like the rest of us, were just along for the ride.

No doubt Turb.

I'm not saying that Goldberg's piece means that Israel will not strike Iran. Or that Israelis are all rational.

Actually, reading Goldberg's piece, one comes away frightened about just how irrational many of them are. Including and especially Netanyahu and his daddy issues.

Although I am saying that Goldberg's piece does little to convince the reader (in general) that it is a good idea for either the US or Israel to strike Iran. Or that it is necessary.

In that, it is bad propaganda. Self-defeating actually. Whether or not that matters in the end in terms of the decision to launch a war is highly dubious, at best, in either direction.

So Turb, you're saying that Goldberg's piece was not propaganda for the public, but for the leaders themselves - many of whom are interviewed in the piece?

I honestly don't know. I don't travel in the circles Goldberg does and I have difficulty understanding the mind set of the people who do.

What I do know is that effective propaganda for the public need to be logically consistent.

Bombing Iran is not an option. Full stop. As for Israel: ditto.

I don't think the US is going to bomb Iran. For me the question is: will the US military in interfere with Israeli aircraft transiting through Iraq to bomb Iran. Perhaps the USAF will encounter some mysterious technical difficulties?

When you say it is not an option for Israel, I'm not sure. I'd counter by saying that doing nothing on the peace process while continuing settlement is not an option for Israel: sooner or later, such a path will force Israel to choose between being a Jewish state and a democracy and every day they wait price grows higher. I think many smart people believe this to be true, including you and some former Israeli prime ministers. But Israel has continued doing "that which is not an option" for years and years now. With no sign of stopping. Does it make sense? Not to me and presumably not to you. If we (you, me, an Israeli prime minister or two) can't understand internal Israeli dynamics well enough to make sense of this policy, why are you so confident that our notions of what make sense will guide Israeli elites regarding an attack on Iran? I'm worried that we're not grappling with just how different a world view these elites may have from us.

And if they conclude otherwise, I don't think Goldberg's piece will have one iota to do with it. As I said, if anything, it undermines the case for war.

See, I care a great deal more about whether bombing happens than about the effect of Goldberg's piece per se.

And Goldberg's piece only undermines the case for attack if you read it critically with a certain set of biases (which I think are reasonable). If you completely buy into Likudnik propaganda, I think you might read it as a decent brief for attack. I know people who simply do not accept that the Israeli government could commit atrocities or that Arab governments can be rational or honest. If you have those prior beliefs, everything in the article that mitigates against attack will be filtered out in your reading, so what's left? Well, all the stuff about Iran being scary to Israel.

I think you're maybe making some assumptions that everyone is an attorney/blogger/commenter who reads documents closely looking for logical inconsistencies. Most people really don't. Most people read a piece and have an emotional reaction without necessarily processing all the facts and verifying that they fit together. What we do here on this blog is really quite unusual. To put it another way: good propaganda often has contradictions. There were many contradictions in the Iraq war propaganda. But we still went to war didn't we?

I didn't take the proponents of the invasoin of Iraq seriously at first. I thought it was obvious that they were liars and flakes, motivated primarily by domestic politics. I thought that rational minds would prevail. I was naive.

I don't think you can fight those amygdalas with reason. I think you have to amygdala right back at them with rage, mockery, scorn, contempt.


People are very, very scarey animals.

What I do know is that effective propaganda for the public need to be logically consistent.

Er, this should be: What I do know is that effective propaganda for the public need not be logically consistent.

When you say it is not an option for Israel, I'm not sure.

I didn't actually say this - or at least, I conceded that they might.

To put it another way: good propaganda often has contradictions. There were many contradictions in the Iraq war propaganda. But we still went to war didn't we?

Yes, but good propaganda would have less than this piece. Iraq war propaganda was much better than this.

I didn't take the proponents of the invasoin of Iraq seriously at first.

I did. Scared me to the bone.

I thought it was obvious that they were liars and flakes, motivated primarily by domestic politics.

So did I.

I thought that rational minds would prevail.

I didn't.

I don't think you can fight those amygdalas with reason. I think you have to amygdala right back at them with rage, mockery, scorn, contempt.

I fight them with everything I've got.

I've been saying, consistently, since 2005 that the US would not attack Iran (this, when Bush/Cheney were in charge for 3+ more years). I say now that the US under Obama won't do it either.

Thus far I've been right, though that's no guarantee going forward.

Nevertheless, I fight tooth and nail to oppose it on the chance that I'm wrong, or to ensure that I'm right.

I'm not sure there would be much difference in effect between the US attacking Iran and the US military allowing Israel to attack Iran. Everyone outside of the US and Israel will conclude that the attack only happened because the US permitted it to happen and thus blame us for doing that. I'm not sure that this understanding is widespread in DC and Tel Aviv though; the same people who think that Israel's adorable little "do we have nukes? maybe, maybe not!" dance is so cute and effective might just be dumb enough to think that an Israeli attack would not be perceived around that world as an American attack as well.

"All that death, destruction, destabilization and economic turmoil to back a policy espoused by irrational actors in defense of a vague fear?"

I felt pretty good about this post until I reached that question.

Irrational (insane, gibbering lovers of death, destruction, destabilization and economic turmoil is more like it) actors are in powerful ascendancy in the United States and Israel. Iran, too, obviously, but I don't think they love war as much as Redstaters.

It's going to be like someone cloned Lenny Dykstra 20 million times, fed his nutcake steroid output through 20 million loudmouthed wurlitzer Jim Cramers and before you can say "mushroom cloud", someone (anyone) is bombing Iran.

In answer to the question posed by the title, I'd go for own goal.

LJ: Yes!

The bombs dropped on Iran would be Made in USA independent on who actually attacks.
A question bothering me is, is Israel's position among US politicians strong enough for Isreal to blackmail the US government with a threat of attack? I mean, could the Yahoo from Netanja call the WH and demand 100% support for Israel's position on the Palestinian question, otherwise Israel would bomb the Busheer reactor leading inevitably to an anti-US backlash? Given the behaviour of some congressbeings, Israel could drop a nuke on New York and would not be condemned by Congress.

Although I am saying that Goldberg's piece does little to convince the reader (in general) that it is a good idea for either the US or Israel to strike Iran. Or that it is necessary.

In that, it is bad propaganda.

Or good reporting.

I don't think you can fight those amygdalas with reason.

Why is everyone picking on Gary Farber today? Did I miss a memo?

There are no Own Goals in basketball.

The answer to the query is "airball." Or the classic, "missed slamdunk."

If we were to invent a term, I'd offer "whamdunk" or "slamshank" or "crang." Yeah, crang. "He drives the lane, reaches for the dunk ... and ... Oh, My! He's cranged it off the rim and Shaq snares the rebound and tosses it back upcourt..."

Here's, allegedly, the greatest crang ever.

Model 62: Your objections are taken under advisement.

If the Israelis could attack Iran, they would already have done so.

The Israelis do not hesitate to attack other countries, whenever they feel it is in their interest to do so. Their usual pattern is to attack with little warning.

For example, in their recent air raid on Syria, the attack came at a time when it seemed that there was a rapprochement between the two countries.

Therefore these years of nonstop Israeli whingeing are most uncharacteristic of them. It suggests that the Israelis face actual physical military impediments to waging war upon Iran.

For one thing, an Israeli campaign against Iran would have to be purely aerial. But the Iranian nuclear programme is highly dispersed, which makes the usual Israeli kind of coup de main ineffective.

Distance matters. Iran is a lot further away than the neighbours Israel normally likes to attack.

Intelligence. For an aerial campaign to be effective, they would need abundant and reliable information, preferably gained by agents on the inside of the Iranian programme. When the Israelis attacked Iraq, they not only had the help of a turncoat Iraqi scientist, but the French also sold the Israelis very detailed information about the what they had sold to Iraq. It looks like the Israelis have failed to penetrate the Iranian organization.

Moreover, the Israelis cannot probe the Iranian air defense system as frequently or as thoroughly as they do with their Arab neighbours. Again, distance matters.

Without good tactical intelligence, a quick victory and fait accompli against the Iranians is impossible. The only way, therefore, to smash the Iranian nuclear industry would be to conduct a long series of aerial assaults, to make sure that every likely target were destroyed.

Only the USA can launch and sustain that kind of war. Only the USA can scorn the complications of that kind of war.

Opinion on this thread seems to be that the USA won't do it. But I think they will.

I'm not sure that anything particular about Iran matters in the situation. The point is, they are pursuing the only kind of technological development that could ever possibly threaten US/Occidental dominance of an important region of the world.

If Iran succeeds in building an independent nuclear energy industry, not only does it challenge US and Western dominance in the Middle East, it is also an example to all other minor powers around the world that it is indeed possible to defy the West and chart one's own national policy.

It would be proof that sovereignty, in the full sense of the word, is possible for minor powers in today's world.

That's not the world the USA wants. That's not the world that the USA's Western allies want. That's not the world that the globalized elites in many developing countries want. A world with strong, nuclear-backed sovereignties is not a world that is safe for the current mode of globallization.

That's why the USA will probably go to war. The factions within their ruling elite will quarrel noisily over the methods employed. Countries like Canada will wring their hands, and maybe send over some blue helmets to feed the orphans.

In our age, that's the "usual."

Let's assume, just for a moment, that the US refuses to attack Iran, and that Israel decides to do so on its own. How does this work?

Well, if the Israeli airforce decides to fly direct from Israel, Syria and Jordan are in no position to stop them. So the only real choke point is Iraq and the Gulf.

Imagine a scenario where the US shoots down Israeli planes while they fly across Iraq or the Gulf. Now think about what would happen politically in this country if that happened. Think about it. IMHO, that pretty well means that it won't.

But there is another option. I hear reports of a large contingent of Israeli planes currently based in the Republic of Georgia. (The Georgians aren't all that thrilled with Iran either. Why is a separate discussion.) From there, they can strike Iran without crossing Iraq (or the Gulf) at all. Just a quick jaunt over Armenia (which isn't in a position to do anything about it, even if they were so inclined) and there they are.

I weep for Israel. The country that it was, and could have continued to be; not the one it has apparently become.

> If Iran succeeds in building an independent
> nuclear energy industry, not only does it
> challenge US and Western dominance in the
> Middle East, it is also an example to all
> other minor powers around the world that it
> is indeed possible to defy the West and
> chart one's own national policy.

It would be essentially impossible for Iran to build an independent nuclear energy industry; it doesn't have the industrial base. The US can barely sustain its own nuclear energy industrial base; for example I'm not positive but I don't think the US has the capability to build reactor vessels internally any more (needing to order them from Korea, France, or Japan). The Iranian Bushehr I unit is a German KWU design, started by that entity and finished by the primary Russian nuclear supplier.

Cranky

Since the content of the post is far too depressing to talk about, I'll rabbit on about crangs and own goals. I object to calling this a crang because at no point do you think Goldberg is going to ever make a slam dunk case for bombing Iran. The thing about a crang is that the person _should have_ made it and, thru their own hubris, is unable. As the link you gave says, Even though he missed, that totally gets a "wowee we wa" from this guy. The miss was so good that people immediately started calling it the best missed dunk of all-time.

It actually is possible to have an 'own goal' in basketball. David Halberstam mentions one in his book 'Breaks of the Game' when he talks about Kermit Washington, as a raw, untutored college player, getting set up for a jump ball facing the wrong way and have him take the ball and score a goal for the other team. Not sure how the scoring of that works, but this is much more what Goldberg has accomplished here, confidently driving thru the lane as everyone stands around and scores a goal...for the other team.

Well, obviously, Goldberg makes a persuasive case that no matter what, an Israeli strike on Iran would be a far greater disaster to the US than an Iranian bomb. Pity it'll be politically impossible to do anything about it.

I'm not sure but I think Israeli aircraft could only make it back to base after a sortie in Iran if they refuel in air somewhere over neutral or hostile territory. The tankers aren't stealthy, and refuelling in air is not something one can do at very low altitude. ECM itelf produces trackable emissions. There's no good solution, especially if you're relying on surprise.

That creates a situation in which even an obsolescent air defense network, such as Syria's, could create problems.

If the birds can't get home, the pilots have to bale where they might get captured--and eventually debriefed at leisure. Rather embarrassing. Sending commandos to rescue prisoners could also be quite embarrassing.

And remember that because the targets in Iran are dispersed, the Israelis can't hit them all at once. Because some of the targets are hardened, they might not be destroyed in the first attack. The Israelis will have to mount a whole campaign of bombing, at mounting risk.

Meanwhile, guerrillas in Lebanon might be launching rockets to harrass Israel. Trying to hunt mobile launchers requires a lot of fighter-bomber sorties, but those assets are going to be busy with Iran and/or Syria.

Nothing terribly menacing, but if things start to go wrong, they could go very wrong. Losses could be significant.

Georgia doesn't solve their problem. The distance is similar. Obviously the more different directions you can attack from, the better. However, aircraft departing from Georgia could be picked up on Russian defense radars or even spotted by Russian or Iranian agents in Georgia. Of course the Russians won't shoot at the Israelis any more than Americans would, but the Russians might alert the Iranians, just to watch the show.

And it's possible that the fairly modern Turkish air defense won't detect what's going on in Georgia. Turkey opposes an attack on Iran. Might they not tip off the Iranians?

When you don't have surprise, an enemy, even a poorly equipped one like Iran, could try to fight back.

The Israelis have no recent experience of air combat against an alerted enemy. None of the guys flying the missions would have done this before.

I don't think it's hard to see why the Israelis prefer to whinge and pressure the Americans to do it.

I might be very wrong--maybe it would all be a stroll in the park for the mighty Israeli air forces, but I do think my explanation better explains what I'm seeing in their conduct.

The comments in this thread lead me to imaginings of an Israeli attack on Iran leading to rapprochement of Sunnis and Shi'ites to the extent of joint military actions . . . but instead I'd rather mention the old basketball sitcom/drama White Shadow, in one episode of which Coach Reeves is pressured to put a developmentally disabled kid on his basketball team. The kid is finally put in in one game, and takes a shot at his own team's basket (although the episode ends with him taking the shot, so you don't see whether it goes in or not). (I should add that the other players on the team are sufficiently supportive of the kid to block out the other team, even though he's aiming at the wrong basket). (At least, this is how I remember the episode.)

Don't forget that Israel has submarines that could launch cruise missiles too.
If an air attack goes over Iraqi territory, I hope some US pilot will damn the consequences and shoot some down.

Wonkie,

I don't think you can fight those amygdalas with reason. I think you have to amygdala right back at them with rage, mockery, scorn, contempt.


People are very, very scarey animals.

Regrettably, there are a fair amount of amygdalas, or something, at work on the Iranian side as well. Did you read Goldberg's discussion of Shia's attitudes towards Jews? While I certainly do not favor an attack, I have to admit that the rhetoric gets my amygdala working as well.


But Jews in Iran are still safer and less persecuted than in about any other state in the region. This might of course change, should Israel attack.

I don't think most of the right-wing European Zionists ever gave a flying freak coserning Arab or Persian Jews.

Bernard,

If you think the attitudes of certain Iranian leaders toward Jews is worrisome, you should check out our close ally Saudi Arabia.

As Hartmut pointed out, Jews in Iran are treated quite well relatively speaking, and Jews serve in the legislature and hold key business roles as well.

Point being, it's a hell of a casus belli all things considered.

Hartmut,

But Jews in Iran are still safer and less persecuted than in about any other state in the region. This might of course change, should Israel attack.

True, probably excluding Turkey. I'm not sure about Morocco or Tunisia, or whether you include them. But Saudi Arabia is a low bar. My understanding is that there is one seat in the Iranian legislature reserved for a Jew (or perhaps there is just a limit of one Jew.) On the other hand, I doubt it's a very comfortable position.

A more provocative behavior is the rhetoric of Holocaust denial and destruction of Israel. It would be useful if they shut up about that. Like it or not, rational or not, this has an understandable impact on the attitudes of Israelis.

That said, given the tensions among the Muslim states in the region, it does seem to me, for various reasons, that Israel would be likelier to have sub rosa friendly relations with Iran than with the Saudis, though I'm hardly expert on this.

someotherdude,

I don't think most of the right-wing European Zionists ever gave a flying freak coserning Arab or Persian Jews.

Well, an awful lot of Jews from Arab countries and Iran found refuge in Israel after being expelled from their countries, so I'm not sure I agree.


My few thoughts:

This piece is only the opposite of a slam dunk if you expected it to be a pro-war propaganda piece, e.g. the thoughts in Eric's July 7 post. You can think of the content as failure only if you truly believe Goldberg's intent is to promote war rather than report and discuss.

As far as the "bomb Iran" question, I don't get Henley's "Brain drain. Sheesh" reaction. Frex, I didn't get from the article that "many don’t even worry that Iranian nukes would make it impossible for Israel to respond conventionally to Iranian “provocations”" or "they want to go to war against a foreign country* for extremely speculative concerns about “brain drain..."

Sure, that was one concern, but how do you go from "Israeli policy makers do not necessarily believe that Iran, should it acquire a nuclear device, would immediately launch it by missile at Tel Aviv . . ." to what Henley finds (hardly anybody important in Isreal thinks Iran will use them)? Those same policy makers (whoever they are) are also said to have firmly in mind that Iran "would like to see the Jews wiped out. . .” The only thing tempering the view that Iran would otherwise try to wipe out Israel is MAD. That's a terrible place to be if one country has the avowed purpose to destroy the other.

I have no doubt that a nuclear Iran would result in significantly increased terrorist activity around the world. Whether or not a nuclear strike is likely, isn't that a sufficient reason to make sure Iran doesn't become nuclear? Even if you think Iran won't bomb Israel?

And, Eric, you expressed concerns in your earlier post about Goldberg using the article to make the case of "championing the poor, fearful Arabs." He did that, actually, but I don't see much comment on that or any factual basis for not believing it to be true that many Arab countries really don't want Iran nuclear.

The article, I think, supports quite well the Obama administration stepping up the threat of attack. There isn't enough deterrent in the eyes of Iran yet. I'm actually o.k. with the graduated response; I just think it's going too slowly.

And I think the article in discussing the multi-faceted question of bombing Iran actually makes the case in a sleeper sort of way. But that's just my opinion.



This piece is only the opposite of a slam dunk if you expected it to be a pro-war propaganda piece, e.g. the thoughts in Eric's July 7 post. You can think of the content as failure only if you truly believe Goldberg's intent is to promote war rather than report and discuss.

Given Goldberg's track record in promoting wars, that is a fair assumption. Further, he still does gerrymander evidence to make the case for war, just not persuasively.

That's a terrible place to be if one country has the avowed purpose to destroy the other.

But Iran does not have that avowed purpose. This is simply not true, and there is no evidence to support it.

I have no doubt that a nuclear Iran would result in significantly increased terrorist activity around the world.

Why? What's your evidence? What do you mean "around the world"?

...isn't that a sufficient reason to make sure Iran doesn't become nuclear? Even if you think Iran won't bomb Israel?

That all depends on what you do to "make sure Iran doesn't become nuclear." If you're talking launch a war, then no.

First of all, you don't have proof, let along much evidence, other than your assertion, that terrorist activities will increase.

Second, there is no evidence that Iran is close to a nuclear weapon anyway - in fact, all evidence suggests that they'd be a year away if they decided to build one, and then broke out, and we would be able to detect the breakout.

Further, even if you managed enough evidence to constitute proof, if the increase in terror attacks were against Israel, that would not be a casus belli for the US - just as the US does not attack Southern Lebanon or Gaza due to conflicts there.

And, Eric, you expressed concerns in your earlier post about Goldberg using the article to make the case of "championing the poor, fearful Arabs." He did that, actually, but I don't see much comment on that or any factual basis for not believing it to be true that many Arab countries really don't want Iran nuclear.

Define "Arab countries." The people in those Arab countries, by sizable majorities, do not want either the US or Israel to bomb Iran. Do some regimes? It's possible, even probable in some instances, but so what? Those regimes would like us to do many things that we don't do. Their desires are hardly the basis by which we make foreign policy decisions as monumental as making war - especially when the results are likely so catastrophic.

And I think the article in discussing the multi-faceted question of bombing Iran actually makes the case in a sleeper sort of way. But that's just my opinion.

So maybe I was wrong about its propagandistic quality.

So maybe I was wrong about its propagandistic quality.

Yeah, so about that....I'm glad you brought it up, because I'd be a real prick if I pointed it out ;-)

Let's just say that bc, who I say with all sincerity is not a completely insane person, read the same article that we did and took away a rather different message. Judging by recent history, I fear that American and Israeli elites' approach to the world is more like bc's than our's.

Hartmut:

I'm not a weapons geek, but I don't think any cruise missile warheads--even nuclear--can destroy well-hardened targets.

So there would still no getting around the need for a fairly large number of manned bomber sorties. The other problem is that SLCM's aren't very fast and if they were the main mode of attack, surprise would be lost before they reach their targets, probably compromising other missions. They would be best employed to neutralize air defense targets along Iran's coast and frontier. But already, you see, this is no quick in-and-out, no instant fait accompli like Osirak: there would have to be a full-bore campaign to reduce Iranian air defense, followed by an intense and repeated bombing campaign.

Again, I don't find it surprising that the Israelis aren't do it themselves. If there was an assured, affordable, way for them to do it, it would have already been done. But to admit the difficulty of the task would affect others' perception of their strength, so they're reluctant to beg for help.

I suspect their ideal outcome would be a sort of replay of 1956, but with the USA bringing the beer, rather than spoiling the party like they did back then.

bc, who I say with all sincerity is not a completely insane person,

thanks turb! I'll stay with my partial insanity. ;)

But Iran does not have that avowed purpose. This is simply not true, and there is no evidence to support it.

Am I missing something here? Is it just the "Ahmadinejad isn't the Supreme Leader/Guardian Council" thinking? And do they (Supreme Leader/Council) really feel differently? Just trying to clarify.

First of all, you don't have proof, let along much evidence, other than your assertion, that terrorist activities will increase

Are you serious? I need proof more than what Iran's proxies have already done?

I guess if one believes that the current support of terrorists is only a projection of force by Iran that will be rendered obsolete when nuclear weapons are obtained (as there would now be a much greater projection of force), then the opposite would be true. Iran feels safe with a nuclear deterrent = no more terrorism. Hmmm. Don't think so, but what do I know?


Define "Arab countries." .

Yes, I meant the leadership, or regimes. In response to your "so what," IMHO if this is true (meaning some regimes also don't want Iran to go nuclear), the results would not be as catastrophic as you seem to think. And, again IMHO, most countries in the region don't want a nuclear Iran. I sure don't. Do you?

Second, there is no evidence that Iran is close to a nuclear weapon anyway.

Isn't one year close?

Here's my question: do you really think Iran having a nuclear weapon is not that big of thing? That's what this all boils down to. If one doesn't think a nuclear armed Iran is a big deal, then a strike obviously appears to be overkill/borderline insane. If one thinks a nuclear armed Iran would destabilize the region and put Israel at risk of nuclear annihilation, then a strike is not only rational, but necessary.

I happen to be somewhat in between but obviously think that an armed Iran is really not a good idea for many reasons. Even if I don't think Iran will use the weapon, the threat of use will provide cover for increased terrorist activities and aggression throughout the region.

Does this mean I support a strike? Since I don't really know exactly what's going on in Iran, I personally don't know. It should be pretty clear to those truly in the know, however. Based on what I can tell, I'd be stepping up the rhetoric from our end. The time for talking is quickly coming to a close. And I don't think a successful strike will be as catastrophic as many claim. A botched attempt, however, that would be a different thing.

Roland, I think we all agree that Iran's nuclear facilities cannot be taken out by a single strike (unless we are talking about a large scale nuclear strike on the whole country). I would not claim that cruise missiles could do all the work but they could/would imo be a part of it. Therefore it would be unwise to ignore them. Many who discuss potential strikes only see planes, many might not even know that Israel has submarines armed with cruise missiles.
A possibility would be a 'warning shot' like blowing up the Busher reactor combined with a threat that 'next time we get serious'. Not the most likely course of action for sure but I would not put it beyond the mindset of parts of the Israeli and US establishment. If my cynicsm has it right that the Israeli leadership wants to engineer a war between the US and Iran at one time, such a provocation could be the trigger. And if it is just about lighting the fuse, why risk your own pilots, if a cruise missile can do the job? A more 'subtle' way would of course be to provoke Iran by other means, like stopping Iran bound ships in international waters. Some US neocons already demand a total naval blockade and some of those even state that the goal is to provoke a violent reaction that can serve as a casus belli.
---
Something I don't know: Does Israel have ballistic missiles that could be used?
---
bc: Isn't one year close?
On that basis the US could bomb Japan or Germany (or for that matter South Africa or Brazil).
What most here, I think, would agree on, is that Iran wants capability, i.e. the ability to build a working bomb in a relatively short time should the perceived need arise. The countries named above could do that because they have the know-how and have (or could quickly convert) the necessary infrastructure. I personally doubt that Iran wants an actual arsenal. And that is imo independent of whether one takes the religious statements that the bomb is unislamic serious or not.

There have been numerous posts on this very blog pointing out that Iran has been "one year away" from having nuclear capability for at least ten years, if not longer.

If one thinks a nuclear armed Iran would destabilize the region and put Israel at risk of nuclear annihilation, then a strike is not only rational, but necessary.

In terms of the distances involved, Tehran nuking Tel Aviv would be approximately like Cleveland nuking Miami. Perhaps a grownup can explain to you why this is A Bad Idea.

Phil,
If the mosque in Murfreesburo is too close to Ground Zero, Don Johnson and the crew from Miami Vice having their collective fingers on the button is just too close for comfort.

Touche!

All the talk of "brain drain" makes me wonder... what if Israel hopes that being the sole nuclear power in the region will accelerate a brain drain from Iran?

If that's what they're hoping for, then surely an Iranian bomb would dash their hopes, stopping up the drain.

Am I missing something here? Is it just the "Ahmadinejad isn't the Supreme Leader/Guardian Council" thinking? And do they (Supreme Leader/Council) really feel differently? Just trying to clarify.

1. A-Jad never said that Iran has the avowed purpose of destroying Israel. Nor did A-Jad claim that was his purpose. Further, A-Jad does not control foreign policy, and most certainly would not control the offensive deployment of nuclear weapons. And, yes, the Supreme Leader and A-Jad have different opinions on many things.

So, take your pick.

Are you serious? I need proof more than what Iran's proxies have already done?

Wait, your saying that Iran's proxies have already increased terrorist activities because Iran has a nuke. But therefore we shouldn't let Iran get a nuke? Huh?

I guess if one believes that the current support of terrorists is only a projection of force by Iran that will be rendered obsolete when nuclear weapons are obtained (as there would now be a much greater projection of force), then the opposite would be true. Iran feels safe with a nuclear deterrent = no more terrorism. Hmmm. Don't think so, but what do I know?

While there is a plausible argument for that (Iran does feel insecure, and thus attempts to broaden its strategic depth with proxies), your argument was that terrorist activities would INCREASE. And that the increase would be so onerous that it would justify the USA (not Israel) starting a war with Iran. Thus, the status quo disprovies you.

Isn't one year close?

There is no evidence that Iran is one year away. That would be one year (maybe, at the earliest) IF Iran decided to go that route. Which it hasn't. And if it did, then we would still have time for a strike.

And, again IMHO, most countries in the region don't want a nuclear Iran. I sure don't. Do you?

No I don't. That doesn't mean I support any policy to prevent it, though.

Here's my question: do you really think Iran having a nuclear weapon is not that big of thing?

That's not really the question, though is it?

The question is multi-faceted, and it goes like this:

1. Is Iran attempting to build a nuclear weapon (current intel says no).

2. If yes, is Iran close? (obviously, current intel says still no since they don't even have an active weapons program)

3. If yes and yes, is there a way that we could forestall Iran short of war (we won't know until we attempt a real bargain, with real concessions)

4. If yes, yes and no, is going to war with Iran worse than Iran getting the bomb?

I would still argue that the answer to #4 is yes, but we still have to establish a yes, yes and no to #1-3.

Eric,

A-Jad never said that Iran has the avowed purpose of destroying Israel. Nor did A-Jad claim that was his purpose. Further, A-Jad does not control foreign policy, and most certainly would not control the offensive deployment of nuclear weapons.

Whatever. I doubt that Israelis are inclined to Talmudic analysis of A-Jad's statements or to study the subtleties of Iranian politics. Should they be, or is the average Israeli entitled to assume that there is some sort of threat there?

Exactly what standard applies in judging A-Jad's rhetoric from an Israeli point of view? It seems to me that dismissing Israeli fears as "vague" and "irrational" is unfair.

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