Can Israel suspend the law of unintended consequences?

Exceptionalism takes many forms but perhaps its most universal expression can be found among politicians and petty criminals. When contemplating doing something really stupid, they have an unusual capacity to become convinced that nothing can go wrong.

When it comes to Israel’s view of Iran, the contradictions seem boundless. The Islamic republic is the modern equivalent of Nazi Germany, Netanyahu and others like to say. But as for the risks involved in attacking Iran, the same fear-mongers claim that these risks have all been wildly overstated.

The lesson of the Holocaust, Netanyahu says, is: “We can only rely on ourselves.” So why does Israel still accept massive amounts of U.S. military aid and the support of such a powerful lobby in Washington?

The New York Times reports: Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events like a regional conflagration, widespread acts of terrorism and sky-high oil prices.

The estimates, which have been largely adopted by the country’s most senior officials, conclude that the threat of Iranian retaliation is partly bluff. They are playing an important role in Israel’s calculation of whether ultimately to strike Iran, or to try to persuade the United States to do so, even as Tehran faces tough new economic sanctions from the West.

“A war is no picnic,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio in November. But if Israel feels itself forced into action, the retaliation would be bearable, he said. “There will not be 100,000 dead or 10,000 dead or 1,000 dead. The state of Israel will not be destroyed.”

The Iranian government, which says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz — through which 90 percent of gulf oil passes — and if attacked, to retaliate with all its military might.

But Israeli assessments reject the threats as overblown. Mr. Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have embraced those analyses as they focus on how to stop what they view as Iran’s determination to obtain nuclear weapons.

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4 thoughts on “Can Israel suspend the law of unintended consequences?

  1. Tom Hall

    There are plenty of people in positions of political and economic power in developed capitalist countries who would not regard a war-inspired oil price hike as unwelcome. In such an event, already weakened societies will come under increased pressure to institute further “austerity” measures (a desired outcome for elites), the security apparatuses of numerous states will redouble their claim on budgets and legal systems, and energy sector profits will rise to new levels. Whether Iran could or would close the Strait of Hormuz is of secondary importance. An Israeli/US attack on Iran would supply the pretext for another round of neoliberal policies, necessitated by an “oil crisis” and upheld by mass media throughout the West. At the moment, there seems little standing in the way of a war so advantageous to so many concentrated antidemocratic forces.

  2. Colm O' Toole

    “Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events ”

    They are either fools or paid to peddle B.S.

    Only few facts you need to know is that Israel is the size of New Jersey and has a population of 5 million Jews. Iran is twice the size of Texas and has a population of 74 million. Any Israeli who says a war between Israel vs Iran would not even cost 1,000 Israeli lives in dreaming. Saddam Hussein killed 800,000 Iranians in the war of the ’80’s and Iran didn’t back down.

  3. Paul Woodward

    WTF? 5 million Jews in Iran? That would certainly change the picture. The Jewish population in Iran — which is by most accounts content to remain in the Islamic republic — is actually much more modest in size. While it does rank as the largest Jewish community in the Middle East (outside Israel) it is only about 25,000.

  4. Norman

    Careful what you wish for. If the M.E. explodes, the elites of the West will be the biggest losers insofar as their bank accounts go, along with their position. Israel will get their death wish as will many others. Considering how many rockets are already in position & aimed, those patriot missals wont be able to handle the incoming, nor will the “Iron” what ever it is they call their “star wars” umbrella. Reduce the I.D.F. to being without its air power, there wont be anything to stop the onslaught. Forget the U.S. risking American lives for the mad men in Israel, because if they do, then that will be the start of the revolution in the U.S.A. Not even the Military will be able to stop it, regardless of what the elites think. All bets are off if the U.S. falls for this latest B.S. game from the Israelis.

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