As some senior Israeli officials see signs the US may be willing to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, the Wall Street Journal says Israel is now considering unilateral military action.
Many Israeli military experts say Israel can easily cope with any military retaliation by Iran in response to a strike. Iran’s medium-range rockets would cause damage and casualties in Israel, but they aren’t very accurate, and Israel’s sophisticated missile-defense system would likely knock many out midflight. Israel has similarly proved it can handle attacks against Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel also hosts a contingent of U.S. troops attached to a radar system to help give early warning against incoming rocket attacks.
More worrying to Israeli strategic planners examining possible attack scenarios is the possibility that Iran would respond to an Israeli attack by ramping up support to groups battling U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to recently retired officials familiar with the military’s thinking on Iran. If American soldiers start dying in greater numbers as a result of an Israeli unilateral attack, Americans could turn against Israel.
Iran could also disrupt the world’s oil supply by cutting off exports through the Persian Gulf, roiling international oil markets.
“What will Americans say if Israel drags the U.S. into a war it didn’t want, or when they are suddenly paying $10 a gallon for gasoline and Israel is the reason for it,” says retired Brig. Gen. Shlomo Brom, former director of the Israeli army’s Strategic Planning Division.
And just as Israeli strategists weigh up that risk, so too Iranian strategists must be making some of the same calculations — ones that may well suggest that for Iran, the benefits of an Israeli attack may appear to outweigh the costs.
These benefits include:
- the financial reward from a hike in oil prices
- the silencing of the regime’s domestic critics
- the deepening of ties between Turkey, Syria and the non-aligned international community
- the further isolation of Israel, whose political vulnerability is far greater than its military vulnerability
Couple these to the fact that Israel might only succeed in doing limited damage to Iran’s nuclear facilities and it’s no wonder Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has seen little reason to temper his language.
So, as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard now begins large scale military maneuvers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz it is signalling not only its ability to deter an attack but its willingness to face one.