This 30 September Washington Times article reports that three Israeli members of the Knesset “from across the political spectrum” were in D.C., warning that if the world community doesn’t deal with the threat of Iranian nukes, Israel will be forced to go it alone. As I pointed out in this post, when the U.S. sold bunker busters and other ordnance to the Israelis that would facilitate a preemptive attack on Iran’s hardened nuclear facilities, the U.S. was doing the equivalent of throwing the steering wheel out of the car in a game of “Chicken” with Iran. Now elected Israeli representatives are officially asserting that they will preempt against Iran if no one else acts.
The Washington Times is not part of the MSM and no other establishment media outlet has interviewed the Israeli representatives so far as can be ascertained. The choice of outlet therefore suggests that Israel is quietly sending its own message to the members of the U.S. government (and foreign governments) and doing it in a way that will get noticed without generating a lot of undue media attention. It’s a very astute maneuver.
I stated before that I didn’t think that the Israelis would actually preempt against Iran – that the U.S. was running a bluff. I didn’t explain my reasoning before but I’m going to do so now because I think it’ll elucidate what the Israelis are doing.
Taking out the Iranian nuclear facilities cannot be accomplished in a single large raid. There are too many installations and many of them are hardened against air attack. It will be necessary to ascertain the effectiveness of each strike and allocate additional “strike packages” to targets that have not been eliminated. Multiple strikes on each nuclear target are likely. In order to make sure that these multiple attacks will not be interfered with, SEAD (suppression of enemy air defense) attacks will have to be part of the initial strike. SEAD attacks would target SAM sites, airbases, and aircraft. What I’m describing is actually an air campaign. If conducted by the Israelis, it would easily last several days – possibly a week – in order to vouchsafe that the most dangerous nuclear sites have been eliminated.
There is no way that an Israeli attack can take place without the U.S. condoning it. Israeli aircraft would have to pass through airspace controlled by the U.S. Thus, the universal view is going to be that the Israelis are acting as henchmen for the U.S. – doing America’s dirty work. Since this would be a political disaster of epic proportions, I have always assumed that the U.S. would never permit it to take place – that, in fact, the U.S. will attack.
At present, the U.S. does seem to be dithering. The U.N. is feckless and corrupt and will never authorize military action, yet the Bush administration has been working to bring the matter before the Security Council. The Israelis are obviously concerned that Bush’s domestic political problems may prevent U.S. action, hence the message.
Why did the Bush administration sell bunker busters to the Israelis, particularly given the political costs associated with an actual Israeli attack? I maintain that part of the reason was to send a signal to Iran. I expect that in policy circles, the stated reason was to provide a fail-safe in the event it became politically infeasible for the U.S. to attack. However, the real reason was to play a second game of “Chicken” – this one against members of the political opposition. Some people on the Democrat side are doing everything they can to thwart the execution of the Bush doctrine for purely short-term, partisan reasons. It’s irresponsible but politics tend to bring out the worst in people. Their gamble appears to be that if they can damage Bush and the GOP enough, they’ll be able to take over in time to carry out the Bush Doctrine under a Democratic administration – they’ll just call it the Hillary Doctrine (or whatever). In this game of Chicken, the threat on the Democrat side is to trash U.S. credibility and embolden our enemies unless Bush “swerves” and becomes a good little lame duck. Ah, but the Bush administration can’t swerve because they threw out the steering wheel – they have no control over the Israelis. To drive home the point, here are some Israelis come to town to say, “shit or get off the pot.” Democrats like Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer are going to have to distance themselves from the extreme left of the party, which is engaging in crypto-anti-Semitism. Most of the other Congressional Democrats will fall into line, which means they will back the Bush administration in dealing with Iran, at least to the level of an air campaign. It’ll split the party, with the moderates (or those with Presidential aspirations) on one side and the extremists on the other.
Bush’s “strategery” in “throwing out the steering wheel” – in terms of its depth and foresight – can only be described as brilliant. It required anticipating the development of an antiwar opposition that would make the Democrats go wobbly and preparing for that eventuality. And, it served the dual purpose of putting the Iranian’s on notice that they had to denuclearize or else. Bush is a genius.