Monday, July 27, 2009

Will Israel Attack Iran?

In a recent meeting with the US, Israel reaffirmed that “no option should be ruled out” when dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. The meeting between US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, reconfirms the tensions created by the Iranian quest for nuclear weaponry.

Given Iran’s historical belligerence towards Israel, the tiny nation is correct to view Ahmadinejad and his cronies as an existential threat. The Iranian despot has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Jewish state. The achievement of an Iranian nuke would be the harbinger of the death of Israel. However, it is unlikely that Israel would allow the Iranian nuclear program to reach this terminal stage. Well before such a point, Israel would most certainly launch an attack on the Persian state. Such an attack would have profound effects on Israel and the entire Middle East.

An Israeli attack would lead to a heavy handed Iranian reprisal that would quickly embroil the Middle East into a regional war— which quite possibly could spread into a broader conflagration. Israel of course knows this and logically wants to avoid such a destabilizing act. However, the choice is clear when given an option between annihilation and fighting to prevent destruction. Barak stated, “We are not blind. We know everything we do has implications on our neighbors, we take this into account, but ultimately we are committed to Israel's security interests."

The crucial question is: ‘When do the Israelis feel they have reached the point-of-no-return?’ The Iranian nuclear program is far more complex than the Iraqi program which Israel successfully ended with the bombing of Osirak in 1981. A single surgical strike would be unable to end the Iranian program. This implies that upon deciding to attack Iran, Israel would have to use a considerable amount of force. Such a need of force will certainly delay an Israeli strike; however, only to a certain point. If Israeli intelligence indicates that a nuclear Iran is imminent, the country will strike.

All of this heightens the need for America, and the world community, to increase pressure on Iran. The Iranian nuclear program needs to be halted immediately. However, the Obama administration’s insistence on making nice with our enemies and bullying our friends is counterproductive to this aim. The administration’s warped view of foreign policy, as successfully slammed in The Wall Street Journal, is not only unwise but downright foolish. Obama continues to push Israel and court Iran. Ultimately, this will increase Israel’s insecurity and accelerate the ‘point-of-no-return’. After nearly eight months in office, it is time that Obama realizes his foreign policy is leading the world down a dangerous path. Hopefully, he will change his tune before a disastrous war in the Middle East forces him to.


  1. Maybe the title should be “When will Israel Strike Iran? I believe it may be sooner rather than later. Obama's actions around the world – bowing, limited reactions to Korea, and the message sent to Barak, for examples, only embolden Iran to move as quickly as they want to create the weapon. Israel must attack way before they are close to getting a weapon. If the war is long and difficult, and it will be, considering the size of the Iranian army, then Iran will continue to build its weapon and probably use it. Reuters reported in March that Gates indicated on Meet the Press that Iran is not close, which contrasted with Adm Mike Mullen (joint chiefs) stating that Iran has enough fissile material to make a bomb ( When may be sooner than many think – including Gates.

  2. It is scary how our own government doesn't seem to have a consistent understanding of Irans progress. That uncertainty can only increase Israel's anxiety and, as you point out, possibly lead to an earlier strike. "When" is probably a good question. I'm not sure of the answer myself; and while I'd support Israel if they felt the time had come, I'd like to see everything possible done to avoid it.


  3. Josh--

    I disagree with claims that the administration doesn't have an understanding of Iranian progress. The U.S. said today it will do everything it can to stop a bomb, and Gates named it the greatest threat to U.S. security a couple of weeks ago. (The State Dept. continues to list Iran as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism.)

    Obama and company, I believe, recognize the implications of a nuclear Iran. The question, of course, is how best to deal with it. Thanks to our military adventure in Iraq, we know that the U.S. is currently incapable and incompetent in occupying another Muslim country, and blowing Iran to smithereens won't work either -- a failed state (Afghanistan) is a sure bet to breed more terrorism.

    As you thoughtfully point out, a military strike against Iran will be costly, and if they decide to use low-yield nukes -- an option that was reported two years ago -- it will be beyond catastrophic, on a political and humanitarian level. We should be glad to have a president who recognizes these complexities and is trying to play every card he can in circumventing them, while implicitly indicating that military action is not just available, but the big stick to his soft talk.

    Of course, we can go back to declaring them members of the Axis of Evil, while beating our chests and lumping their angry population with that of their sick regime. After all, such Bush posturing was so successful in stopping Iran from advancing towards a bomb over the past eight years, wasn't it?

    I have more thoughts about recent developments concerning the Iranian threat on my blog today:


  4. There are many options outside of "beating our chests" and living in Obama world. Obama missed a prime opportunity to assist change in the Iran with the recent revolution. "Change" seems to be a talking point and not a reality for the man. Obama may very well fall into the same problem of an absolutist worldview that Bush supposedly fell into- albeit from a completely different angle. Sweet talk is the only thing Obama seems to know. That, unfortuantely isn't going to cut it with Iran, which contray to the adminstrations assertions does not just want to be heard. Obama is just falling into Iran's trap- buying them time to build their weapons.


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