Though defeating Iran is a given, the costs of a war with Iran would be dramatically high. This much has to be made clear.
Israel will never go it alone. The country does not have the assets currently to make any sort of unilateral assault sustainable against multiple foes at once. It would involve the United States, United Kingdom and probably most of NATO. That being said, it will never come to that level of shooting. The optimal idea would be to see the Arab Spring pay forward the revolutionary zeal and topple the Iranian domino.
That scenario has been in the dream box of international strategy for well over ten years. Sporadic riots at Tehran University in 1999 and 2003 fueled speculation something could happen. In 2009, a month of marches and riots protested an apparently fraudulent re-election for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Six months later, a revolutionary leader’s death kindled the spark again. 2011 has put the country’s leaders on edge. With its former ally Muammar Qaddafi gone and Syria’s brickwork becoming as shotty as the bullet-holed façade of its cities’ buildings, there is plenty to fear from losing another ally and then seeing the people’s reaction.
The speculation making waves here is coming from a sporadic amount of reports there would be some approval for a strike. Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is supposedly still vulnerable to a military assault, if only the meddling media did not constantly ruin the element of surprise. Note my sarcasm, but the string of coincidences slipping into Western and Israel news reports the last two weeks seem well-timed and point to something interesting. What that is happens to also be a matter of speculation, but that is why I write these things.
To recap, three reports having to do with the Israeli military have been featured recently. The Israeli Air Force was recently in Italy conducting [incoming self-promotion] “long-range” training, including mid-air refueling of fighter jets. The second piece has to do with a surface-to-surface missile test conducted in full view of the most-populated urban area in Israel. Couple that with the civil defense drill last week in case of an attack. Thirdly, news reports have slipped that there have been recent meetings where Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak have been trying to win over enough of the cabinet to approve a military strike against Iran.
All these things have gained denials and fits of frustration from spokespeople and ministers here. But all these events coincide with today’s release of a report on Iran’s nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency is going to report incriminating evidence there is a military angle to Iran’s research, and that is big. Knowing this report has been in the offing, there has been speculation the Israeli government is making the idea of war with Iran sound more rational and preparing to use a window of opportunity to gain global sympathy and attack. The Israeli military has denied the missile test had anything to do with the report and that it was scheduled months ago.
But so was the report. In other news, the United Kingdom is also talking up the military option. There seems to be some sort of consensus about preparing the military to go to war with Iran. The last time the element of surprise was sacrificed for an operation this big was Iraq. The US started moving troops into Kuwait in 2002 – six months ahead of the invasion.
I cannot say I am convinced though. Governments let things “slip” all the time in order to put something into the media’s purview – a desirable topic, a favorable opinion or a point of distraction. The fact that Israel conducted a missile test of all things in both broad daylight and right over the country’s center instead of its desert indicates they are trying to push the issue publicly. But it is not the Israeli public that needs convincing. All of Israel’s governments have been hawks about Iran – there is hardly a difference between Netanyahu and Olmert. It’s the rest of the world Israel is posturing toward. Iran is going to lose points and Israel’s military is going to gain some benefit of the doubt from this, even from European publics. “They are not warmongering,” so the thinking might go. “That’s the Iranians. I understand wanting to be ready just in case.”
Public relations and public perception are all important. That subject has driven Jews mad since the Obama-Netanyahu implosion started two years ago. If Israel does eventually decide to press the red button, global sympathy is going to play a role even if it will not be the major deciding factor.
One more thing to consider: Israel is trying to get advanced submarines from Germany. The last few weeks have seen that deal threatened by the apparent Israeli policy on settlements and the Palestinians. If it is more than that, it could be Germany suspects Israel IS moving toward a strike. Coordinating jets and offshore submarines might make the whole war thing a lot easier. Okay, my conspiracy theories are exhausted for today.
Gedalyah Reback graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s Dgeree in Middle Eastern Studies. He has made Aliyah and was married in 2011. He is pursuing a Master’s Degree. His column, Long-Range Israel, usually appears here on alternating Tuesdays.