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Is An Israeli Strike On Iran Imminent?

By Jalal Alavi


The answer to the above question would very much depend on what sorts of issues and constraints are taken into consideration.  To be sure, the Islamic Republic's nuclear program has been the focus of much international attention ever since it came to light in 2002, the sort of attention, of course, that has so far led to three devastating rounds of economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Nations Security Council.  Though the Islamic Republic is maintaining that its interest in developing nuclear technology is solely for peaceful purposes, the Bush administration has, albeit unsuccessfully, strived hard to prove otherwise.  A recent assessment by sixteen US intelligence agencies of the true nature of the Iranian regime's nuclear program is but one example of such lack of success on the part of the United States and its allies for substantiating the defense-related nature of Iran's nuclear program, one that has rendered the Islamic Republic's research and experimentation in the realm of nuclear technology as quite legitimate ever since 2003.  Perhaps one could even arrive at the conclusion that it is as a result of such careful assessments as the above that a Bush administration pre-emptive (or rather preventive) strike on Iran's nuclear facilities has hitherto been deterred.


Whatever the reasons behind such a lack of interest on the part of the Bush administration for attacking Iran, one thing is for certain: the war drums of the Israeli hawks are getting louder by the day, and for good reason: it was the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who declared only a few weeks ago, in July, that the United States would not stand in the way of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities due to Israel's sovereign nature.  It was John McCain, the now Republican presidential nominee, who, when asked about what to do with Iran's nuclear program, sang "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," suggesting not only the possibility but also perhaps the feasibility of a US military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.  And let us not forget the more recent remarks by Barack Obama and Joseph Biden, the Democratic nominees in the race for the White House, with the former calling the Islamic Republic a Shiite terrorist entity worthy of eventual destruction [1] and the latter calling Israel a sovereign state free to make its own security decisions, thereby providing Israel with both the pretext and the permission necessary to go to war with Iran.


It may be said, therefore, that, in tune with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent remarks, which called upon the Islamic Republic to reconsider the scope and potential ramifications of its nuclear drive for fear of an Israeli strike, the stage is nowadays set, or at least appears to be so, for Israeli military action against Iran, especially during such time as George W. Bush is still president.  Does all this, however, mean that an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is in the offing?  Not necessarily, due to various reasons the most important of which would have to do with a fear of retaliation on the part of Israel and its regional allies.  This, of course, is a legitimate concern that was made public just a few days ago by Israeli President Shimon Peres.


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Another important factor which, if adhered to by the US foreign policy establishment, would have a direct effect on potential Israeli plans for striking Iranian nuclear facilities would be the realization by US policymakers that US national interests must take precedence over those of Israel.  To this end, a simple calculation of what the US, and indeed the entire planet, can expect in terms of the economic, political, and environmental ramifications of a potential Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is all it should take for the United States to appreciate the strategic unfeasibility of such adventurism.  The European Union's hitherto reluctance to militarily side with the US in case there is an escalation of the standoff with Iran, and Russia's re-emergence as a global player worried about a wider US presence in its vicinity (as reflected by its Georgia offensive) must also be kept in mind when considering the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.


Accidents and miscalculations aside, it may be concluded, therefore, that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities is not as imminent as some would want it to be, again, mainly because the United States lacks the sort of credible evidence that would compel it to side with Israel in taking military action against Iran.  And this indeed is the kind of support that Israel would not be able to do without if it were to attack Iran anytime soon.  Of course, for those who wish to see the nuclear standoff with Iran escalate into a violent means of removing yet another Islamist dictatorship from power, the above conclusion is no consolation.  Let us hope, however, that a democratic Iran will eventually emerge as mainly a result of the efforts of its enlightened citizens and a sincere international community.


[1] See the rush transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, September 4, 2008.  Obama's plans to go after Iraqi oil dollars in order to pay for the costs of the US occupation of that country might also be of interest to viewers of this transcript.


About the author: Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator residing in Britain.

... Payvand News - 09/11/08 ... --

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