Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Israel will Attack Iran Soon

Posted by butalidnl on 7 March 2012

The trend is unstoppable. Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in a few months. PM Netanyahu and President Obama have finished their ‘talks’ about the Iran issue; but their real positions regarding Iran have not changed.

Hysteria in Israel
Domestically, the Israeli press is whipping up the hype against Iran as an ‘existential threat’ against Israel.  A sober person could say that even if Iran did have a nuclear weapon, it would not be a threat to Israel. An Iranian nuclear weapon launched against Israel, killing thousands, will not only kill lots of Palestinians, it will make Iran an international pariah for a very long time. Despite this, most Israelis believe the threat from Iran is real.

Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman recently brushed aside Western (especially US) misgivings about their plan to attack Iran. He is probably right in thinking that, for show, the US must publicly disapprove of ‘the plan’, but that it will support Israel in the event of war.

A war with Iran will probably have a limited effect on Israel itself. They do not share a border. Iran’s proxy Hezbollah will be too preoccupied with Syria to attack Israel. For Israelis, war would mean that the US will do most of the fighting, and absorb most of the damage.

Iran Leaders Want War
Iran is probably NOT developing a nuclear bomb. But the threat of a US attack is keeping it from conclusively closing that option. It knows that the US will attack it if it doesn’t have a nuclear bomb. The lesson of Iraq and North Korea is clear: Iraq didn’t have a bomb, it was attacked; North Korea has a bomb, it was not attacked.

So, Iran is now developing a capacity that will allow it to shift to producing a bomb at short notice. Since its access to bomb technology is limited, it may decide to make a bomb anyway by using lower technology and more uranium.

Iran is suffering economically. Soon, international sanctions will bite and cause massive protests against the government. The regime sees war as a possible uniting factor for its people, especially if the war is ‘imposed’ on Iran.

Ironically, economic sanctions make it more attractive militarily to have a war soon. Iran’s military is still quite strong; later, economic problems will sap its strength. Iran reckons that the US will enter the war on Israel’s side, but does not have the resources, nor the political will, to launch an all-out attack. The Iranian government thinks that a war held soon will have a minimal cost.

Iran will continue provoking Israel and the international community. It will make all kinds of destabilizing announcements, war exercises, etc. It will continue hardening potential targets of attack. It will hit Israel targets – mostly outside Israel.

Iran is preparing for war.

Obama Needs a War
The US has informed the Israelis that an attack on Iran now would be ‘ill advised’. This is diplomatic-speak which translates as: “Don’t attack now. Perhaps in the summer.” At the same time, the US says that sanctions need time to work. They are right – sanctions WILL work to stop the nuclear program, but much too slowly for the US.

The US has a big economic problem. It needs the world to concentrate on something other than the problems of the US economy. In 2011, the US hyped up the Euro crisis, exploiting it to the full, even stampeding Americans away from Euro holdings. But the Euro crisis has been solved in 2012. If the US did nothing, the dollar is poised to devalue, and interest rates will soon go up.

So now, the US plans to focus the world on Iran. The US knows that Iran will not do anything to block the Strait of Hormuz – Iran will be harming its own interests if it did so. In a sense, a war with Iran will be a limited one, with some attacks on nuclear installations and the Iranian military. So, the US really thinks that a war with Iran is one which it can afford to wage.

If a war with Iran is timed well, it may have the added advantage of increasing Obama’s chances of reelection.But only is the war is ‘forced’ on the US; a US first-strike will not be received favorably in the US.

Miscalculation
Another reason why a war is inevitable is that the party most likely to start it (Israel) stands to lose the least from this war. The other two parties (Iran and the US) will be the ones really at war. The ‘benefits’ of a war is disproportionately in favor of Israel.

Both the Iranian and US governments see a war as advantageous; but only if they are ‘forced’ into it. They will not do anything to prevent Israel from starting one.

At the same time, both Iran and the US may be underestimating the cost of a war. The Iranians want to unite their country, and maybe even ease sanctions. They would think that a war now will probably lessen chances of a more terrible and damaging war later. They may be wrong. Domestic opposition may still grow, even with a war. Economic sanctions will still bite, pushing people to overthrow the government. Or, the US may extend help to armed opponents of the regime.

The US may also have miscalculated. Even if the Strait of Hormuz doesn’t get blocked, a war will increase world oil prices, maybe even to $200/barrel. High oil prices will severely hurt the US, maybe even triggering a very deep recession.

One Response to “Israel will Attack Iran Soon”

  1. Harlan said

    This is one of the more rational attempts I have seen to evaluate the Israel / Iran problem. I think that what most experts don’t consider what will trigger an Israeli attack. Whether it is true or not, Israel sees Iran as an existential threat. What I don’t believe is the general assessment in U.S. quarters that the attack will be aimed in a surgical strike. More likely, Israel will seek to completely reduce Iran’s general infrastructure–short of hitting populated areas. Large city power and electrical supplies, domestic water sources, and military headquarters and petroleum production sites would be more likely to slow down Iran’s development of nuclear capability. If Iran is having a major problem just providing domestic liveability for their people, they will be more likely to become a little more flexible than they are now. Such events would be more likely to trigger regime change than just retaliation, or a major conflagration.

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