Leaks about a possible strike at Iran (are there any hotter issues today?)
Here are several articles worth reading, discussing a possible strike by Israel at Iran’s atomic infrastructure. Esp note #2 and #3, which echo what I said last December in Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran. IMO many experts are too sanguine about both Israel’s capabiltiies and the consequences. Hat tip on these stories to Antiwar.com.
- “US Pentagon doubts Israeli intelligence over Iran’s nuclear programme“, The Telegraph (5 July 2008) — “Pentagon chiefs fear that Israeli plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear programme will fail to destroy the facilities because neither the CIA nor Mossad knows where every base is located.”
- “‘Iran leaks reflect internal US debate’“, Jerusalem Post (7 July 2008)
- “Living forever by bombardment“, Gideon Levy, op-ed in Haaretz Newspaper (7 July 2008) — So what is Israel’s “great plan”?
- Update: “Expert: ‘US won’t allow Israel to attack Iran’“, Jerusalem Post, 8 July 2008
I. “US Pentagon doubts Israeli intelligence over Iran’s nuclear programme“, The Telegraph (5 July 2008) — “Pentagon chiefs fear that Israeli plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear programme will fail to destroy the facilities because neither the CIA nor Mossad knows where every base is located.” Opening:
American commanders worry that Israel will feel compelled to act within the next 12 months with no guarantee that they can do more than slow Iran’s development of a weapon capable of destroying the Jewish state.
Gaps in the intelligence on the precise location and vulnerabilities of Iran’s facilities emerged during recent talks between Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Israeli generals, according to an official familiar with the discussions who has briefed Iran experts in Washington and London.
2. “‘Iran leaks reflect internal US debate’“, Jerusalem Post (7 July 2008) — Bold emphasis added. Opening:
The recent spate of leaks and reports from Washington about whether Israel will, or should, take military action against Iran, and what that would mean for the US, is a reflection of deep divisions on the matter inside the Bush administration, Israeli diplomatic and defense officials said Sunday.
The officials said that the two sides of the argument, the “hawkish camp,” led by US Vice President Dick Cheney, and the “dovish camp,” led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are leaking assessments about Israeli intent to further their own agendas, and in this regard using Israel as a “pawn” in their own political battles.
For instance, one official said, the recent remarks made by US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen to the effect that an attack on Iran and a “third front” would be bad for US interests were aimed not merely at deterring Israel from action, but also at “handcuffing” those inside the administration who are supportive of military action.
One Israeli diplomatic official said that as the debate rages in Washington, it was clear that Israel would be unable to take military action without a green light from the US.
“Everyone understands that we could not take action without US approval,” the official said, “both because we would need to fly through airspace controlled by the US, and we would need their help in dealing with repercussions from any attack.” The most direct air route to Iran is through Iraqi airspace, which is controlled by the US.
“We would need their help in carrying out the attack, and also afterward,” the official said. “We would have to deal with possible military action from Hizbullah and Syria, and also diplomatic fallout. Don’t expect the world to clap if we attack Iran, and as a result oil prices spiral from $140 a barrel to $300 a barrel.”
The official said Israel would need US diplomatic cover to deal with the world’s condemnation, and possibly even sanctions, in the aftermath of a raid.
3. “Living forever by bombardment“, Gideon Levy, op-ed in Haaretz Newspaper (7 July 2008) — So what is Israel’s “great plan”?
So what is the “great plan”? As things look now, this is the way Israel is planning its future: Every time some Middle Eastern country tries to obtain nuclear weapons, Israel will bomb it. Bomb – and bombard. Beyond the problematic assumption that we are allowed to do what others are not allowed, and what is secure in our hands is dangerous in the hands of others, this kind of conduct will lead to disaster. We tried twice, in Iraq and in Syria, and it worked; it is doubtful it was essential.
Now it seems we are going to try a third time against Iran. It may even be successful, but nothing lasts forever. It will end in catastrophe. From bombardment to bombardment, that is not the way for Israel to establish itself in the Middle East in the long term. But no one discusses the long term beyond tomorrow.
4. Update: “Expert: ‘US won’t allow Israel to attack Iran’“, Jerusalem Post, 8 July 2008 — Excerpt:
The US did not give the green light for an Israeli attack on Iran, Prof. Anthony H. Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and currently the top defense analyst at the ABC TV network, said Monday. Cordesman was speaking during a meeting with Israeli defense analysts held by the Institute of National Security Studies. He said IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was notified of the United States’ stance regarding Iran by Admiral Michael Mullen, the top uniformed US military officer, during Mullen’s visit here at the end of June.
The US has opted at this point to stick to the diplomatic track in its efforts to keep Iran from going nuclear, and has made clear to Israel that it shouldn’t attack Iran without White House approval, Cordesman said.
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My posts about a strike at Iran by Israel
Esp. note #2!
- Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger? (13 November 2007)
- Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran (22 December 2007)
- Does reading Debkafile make us smarter, or dumber? (15 June 2008)
- A new story about a possible war with Iran (21 May 2008) — About the 20 May Jerusalem Post story, originally reported by Army Radio.
- “As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon” (3 June 2008) — About the Fischer story in the 30 May Daily Star.
- “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable” (8 June 2008) — War-talk by a former Defense Minster of Israel.
- Der Spiegel: “Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran” (17 June 2008) — Rumors in Der Spiegel of a strike by Israel on Iran.
- More rumors of a strike at Iran by Israel (1 July 2008)
- The most expensive psy-war campaign - ever! (13 July 2008)
Here is the full archive of my posts about a possible strike at Iran by Israel or the US.