The odds of an Israeli military strike against
Iran's nuclear facilities within the next year have risen to above 50 percent,
according to a report in a leading U.S. magazine.
Iran's uranium-enrichment complex at Natanz in central Iran -- a
target for an imminent Israeli bombing?
In a lengthy
article in the latest edition of a monthly magazine, "The Atlantic," Jeffrey
Goldberg concludes that the possibility of an attack has increased amid concerns
among Israeli officials about President Barack Obama's readiness to act against
the Iranian nuclear program, which Israel and the United States believe is
geared to producing a nuclear bomb. Iran insists the program is peaceful.
Based on interviews with policymakers whom he asked about the likelihood of an
Israeli attack on Iranian installations in the near future, Goldberg judges
there is a "better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by
Israel's disquiet over what it
perceives as an existential threat is so great, he concludes, that it may even
do so without asking Washington's approval.
The assessment is based on interviews with dozens of Israeli, U.S., and Arab
officials, including Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. Israeli
policymakers estimate Iran is, at most, one to three years away from acquiring
"nuclear breakout capability," which is defined as the ability to build a
missile-ready nuclear device within about three months.
Goldberg assesses as unlikely the chances of Iran's nuclear aspirations being
foiled by economic sanctions, Western sabotage, the replacement of the current
regime by the pro-reform Green Movement, or a U.S. attack ordered by Obama.
"What is more likely, then," he writes, "is that one day next spring, the
Israeli national-security adviser, Uzi Arad, and the Israeli defense minister,
Ehud Barak, will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the White House
and the Pentagon, to inform them that their prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu,
has just ordered roughly one hundred F0-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft
of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran -- possibly by crossing Saudi
Arabia, possibly by threading the border between Syria and Turkey, and possibly
by traveling directly through Iraq's airspace, though it is crowded with
Goldberg predicts that Israeli officials will explain that they decided to act
because Iran is ruled by a religiously fanatical regime bent on Israel's
destruction and posing the gravest threat to the Jewish people since Hitler.
"They will tell their American colleagues that Israel was left with no choice,"
he writes. "They will not be asking for permission because it was too late to
ask for permission."
Any Delay Worth It
An Israeli bombing campaign would target nuclear facilities at Natanz, Qom,
Isfahan, and possibly even Bushehr -- where Russia has been helping Iran build a
reactor -- according to Goldberg.
The aim would be set back the Iranian nuclear program by three to five years.
The long-delayed, Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant could also be a target.
While U.S. officials have cautioned that a
military strike would be unlikely to do more than delay Iranian nuclear efforts,
Goldberg concludes that Israel and the United States are "talking past each
other" on this issue. "The Americans consider a temporary postponement of Iran's
nuclear program to be of dubious value," he writes. "The Israelis don't."
Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL,
Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201
Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
In support of that thesis, he quotes an unnamed Israeli cabinet minister
describing how in 1981, Israel's then-prime minister, Menachem Begin, ordered
the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak despite being told that it would
set the program back only one year.
Forcing U.S. Action
Such action against Iran could have catastrophic consequences, Goldberg says,
including "lethal reprisals and even a full-blown regional war that could lead
to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians and possibly Arabs and
Americans, as well."
It could also create an unparalleled crisis for the Obama administration,
rupture Israel's relations with the United States, inadvertently strengthen
Tehran's theocratic regime, send oil prices spiraling, cause a severe global
economic shock, and possibly expose the Jewish Diaspora to revenge-driven
terrorist attacks," he writes.
Goldberg quotes unnamed Israeli Air Force generals and strategists as saying
they would prefer any attack to be carried out by the United States. He quotes
one as saying: "Our time would be better spent lobbying Barack Obama to do this,
rather than trying this ourselves. The Americans can do this with a minimum of
difficulty by comparison. This is too big for us."
The article depicts Israeli policymakers as preparing to take military action
reluctantly only because they are unconvinced that Obama would be prepared to do
so, despite the U.S. president's repeated assertions that all options remain on
Goldberg says the Israelis are also unconvinced of Obama's sympathies for the
Jewish state. One official is quoted as comparing him to "J-Street Jews," a
reference to a liberal American Jewish organization. "If he is a J-Street Jew,
we are in trouble," the official says. "We are worried that he thinks like the
liberal American Jews who say, 'If we remove some settlements, then the
extremist problem and the Iran problem will go away.'"
If Not Bush, Why Obama?
But Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born analyst with the Israeli-based Middle East
Economic and Political Analysis Company, dismisses Goldberg's scenario as
"nothing new" and ridicules the possibility of Israel attacking Iran without
U.S. help and permission.
"I think that's very unlikely because Israel tried to do that during the
[President George W.] Bush era and Bush turned it down, and Bush was a sworn
ally of Israel. Obama is somewhat more objective in his support of Israel and
even less likely to condone such an attack," Javedanfar says.
"With U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, if Israel were to do this without
permission and there were U.S. casualties, it would put an unbearable strain on
relations between Israel and the U.S."
According to several accounts, in 2007 Bush dissuaded former Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert against sanctioning a strike on Iran's nuclear
Javedanfar thinks the underlying goal of the Israeli officials Goldberg quotes
may be to frighten Iran into compromising, while persuading Russia and China to
apply sanctions more stringently.
"The other target is the Iranian government of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad,"
Javedanfar says. "The aim is to rattle their cage and it aims to scare them
enough to bring them back to the negotiation table where they would accept
President Obama's nuclear swap offer, which was made last October."
Writing in "Foreign
Policy," Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett accuse Goldberg of raising
the specter of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran in an effort to manipulate
Washington into just that.
They write that Goldberg's article "reveals that the case for attacking Iran --
especially for America to attack so Israel won't -- is even flimsier than the
case Goldberg helped make for invading Iraq in 2002, in a 'New Yorker' article
alleging that 'the relationship between Saddam's regime and Al-Qaeda is far
closer than previously thought.'"
Calling for U.S. rapprochement with Iran's Islamic regime, they add: "Obama will
not achieve greatness by acquiescing to another fraudulently advocated and
strategically damaging war in the Middle East. He could, however, achieve
greatness by doing with Iran what Richard Nixon did with Egypt and China --
realigning previously antagonistic relations with important countries in ways
that continue serving the interests of America and its allies more than three
ISRAEL'S PILLARS OF SAMSON- NOT QUITE ARMAGEDDON,
As the US edges toward an unprovoked and utterly needless war with Iran, some
remarks by an eminent and experienced observer of that part of the world caught
my attention. First, he noted that "Israel and the US realize that the next war
will burn much of the Middle East and may well spell the end of Israel." - Dr.
The War Party: Who are they? What are they?
I often make reference to "the War Party" in this space: it's a convenient
shorthand, one that evokes an image of something sinister, even Satanic, and
this serves my rhetorical purposes well. But if we unpack the concept, and look
for examples in real life, what we find is a little more prosaic than Satan with
a sword. -Justin Raimondo, Antiwar
Obama Warned Israel May Bomb Iran
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President -- We write to alert you to the likelihood that
Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a
wider war. Israel's leaders would calculate that once the battle is joined, it
will be politically untenable for you to give anything less than unstinting
support to Israel, no matter how the war started, and that U.S. troops and
weaponry would flow freely. Wider war could eventually result in destruction of
the state of Israel. -consortiumnew
Bomb Iran?: Neocon Nutballs Ramp Up Campaign
Reuel Marc Gerecht's screed in the Weekly Standard seeking to justify an Israeli
bombing attack on Iran coincides with the opening of the new Israel lobby
campaign marked by the introduction of House resolution 1553 expressing full
support for such an Israeli attack. -Gareth Porter, Counterpunch
Who Voted for War With Iran, Mr. Obama?
House of Representatives resolution 1553, introduced by Congressional
Republicans, and currently working its way through the system will endorse an
Israeli attack on Iran, which would be going to war by proxy as the US would
almost immediately be drawn into the conflict when Tehran retaliates. -American
... Payvand News - 08/13/10 ... --