April 18, 2009

If you want war, prepare for peace

The new basic data on Israel-Iran are these:

1."The peace process is based on three false basic assumptions; that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main cause of instability in the Middle East, that the conflict is territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict." Avigdor Lieberman, 2006.

2. "Past prime ministers were prepared to make wide-ranging concessions and the result of the Olmert-Livni government was the second Lebanon war, the operation in Gaza, severance of relations with Qatar and Mauritania, Gilad Schalit still in captivity and the peace process at a dead end.." Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Foreign Minister, 2009.

3. Iran now has the techniques to make and deliver a nuclear warhead within 2 years.

4. Obama is at least conciliatory to formerly outlaw states like Cuba, Venezuela and Iran.

5. Obama has a special relationship with Islam unlike any US President.

6. Influential Obama supporters include noted anti-semites and noted Hamas fellow-travellers.

7. Joe Biden says Israel will be "ill-advised" to attack Iran.

8. The US told Netanyahu that Obama will be "out of town" when the Israeli PM visits Washington in May.

9. Ahmadinejad is strong favourite to be re-elected in June.

10. The countries of the Arabian peninsula fear a nuclear Iran.

11. I doubt anyone exists who thinks Obama will undertake a pre-emptive strike against Iran. It's possible, but nobody thinks it.

12. Israel may need to cross Iraq to get to Iran.

13. The chance of a successful attack is much greater if the USA helps Israel.

14. Israel probably has far better intelligence than the USA.

If I were Israeli, especially an Israeli with Netanyahu and Barak's military background, I would not tolerate a nuclear Iran if it were in my power to prevent it. The Times' foreign editor:
What is significant is not their political affiliations but their military background. Mr Barak, the most decorated soldier in the Israeli army, once headed Sayeret Matkal, Israel's equivalent of the SAS before becoming the army chief. One soldier serving under him was Mr Netanyahu. Another veteran of this elite unit was Moshe Yaalon, also in the Cabinet. These men have taken part in assassination operations against Palestinian leaders and commanded daring raids deep inside enemy territory. In short, they have the experience and the confidence to plan and execute an attack on Iran.

Indeed, Mr Barak was Defence Minister in the previous Government when Israel carried out its latest secret raid in January - on a weapons convoy in Sudan. According to details released this week, Israeli F16 bombers, protected by F15 fighters, attacked targets in Sudan. Pilotless drones then filmed the wreckage, relaying back images which revealed that some vehicles were undamaged. The jets then flew a second sortie. The aircraft, which were refuelled in mid-air, flew 1,750 miles from Israel to Sudan and back. The distance from Israel to Natanz, the uranium enrichment centre in Iran, is 900 miles one way.

A factor in any Israeli calculation will be Iran's air defences, which are far more daunting than Sudan's. Here too there is good reason to believe that Israel may act sooner rather than later. Russia has sold Iran the sophisticated S300 surface-to-air system. Israel would want to launch an attack before these missiles are in place.

These military imperatives might make sense to soldiers, but surely the political cost of a pre-emptive raid - not to mention the risk of plunging the Middle East into another big war - would rule out an attack.

This argument might make sense from Europe but in the Middle East quite another logic is at work. Many Arab states, particularly in the Gulf, are more afraid of a nuclear-armed Iran than Israel is. A military strike that delayed that threat would be welcomed in some Arab capitals. The Israelis know that they would face a huge international outcry. But that happened after the raid on Iraq and many countries later thanked them privately. More recently they were widely attacked after the offensive against Gaza in January, but over time that criticism has died down.

Today the only serious obstacle to this battle is Barack Obama.

I'd deal with the opposition of this US administration rather than stake my children's lives on Iran's mercy or rationality, so I do think that Israel will attack with or without the USA because it makes sense, but unlike the surprise attack on the Osirak reactor in 1981, this time the USA has the chance pre-emptively to threaten Israel. Would the USA shoot down Israeli aircraft? Would the USA threaten to interdict Israeli aircraft? Obama will leave that possibility as an unspoken deterrent against Israel. Taste those words.."as a deterrent against Israel." How did we get here? You, Jewish-American liberals, how did we get here? We got here because your religion is liberalism.

Would Congress stand for an American President obstructing Israel to protect Islamo-fascists? Would Americans? That is the question for America. For Israel it's to be or not to be, that is the question.