Meanwhile on the Iran front…

While a lot of the media focus in the run-up to the elections has been on domestic US politics, we should not ignore the fact that the government of Israel has been dropping hints of imminent war with Iran. As Stephen Walt says, Israel has raised the stakes by saying that they not only will they not let Iran develop nuclear weapons or the capability of making them, they will not even tolerate the Iranians having the theoretical capacity of doing so at some unspecified time down the road, a much lower threshold.

Walt says that despite this belligerent rhetoric, Israel realizes that it simply does not have the military or political muscle to attack Iran on its own, and so they and their allies in the US have been trying to get the US to do its work for them.

Together with the Netyanyahu government, these groups want to keep ramping up the war talk in order to slowly paint the United States into a corner. The reason is simple: Israel does not have a strategically meaningful military option of its own, because the IAF cannot do enough damage to Iran’s nuclear facilities to end its program once and for all. To prevent any sort of Iranian nuclear capacity, therefore, requires the United States to take the lead in enforcing sanctions and if necessary, to fight another war.

The Israelis know that they cannot do the job themselves, and their larger aim is to keep attention riveted on Tehran (and not on settlement expansion) and to make sure that if war does come, the United States does the heavy lifting.

In short, all this war talk is a bluff, but one can scarcely blame Israel for employing a tactic that keeps working so well. It’s our fault we keep falling for it.

The election season is a time when the two parties are even more eager than usual to pander to Israel so it is a dangerous time, not necessarily because they will initiate a war in the run up to the elections but because Obama and Romney will be so eager to show their fealty to Israel that they might up their own warmongering rhetoric to a level from which they will find it hard to extricate themselves after the elections.


  1. says

    Israel knows all about the dangers of proliferation! They taught South Africa how to make nukes, then realized that proliferation is really really really bad – if it risks breaking your nuclear monopoly, that is.

  2. Brad says

    It’s not like Israel’s enemies want to wipe them off the map or anything… Unlike the rightwingers, I find Israel capable of wrongdoing, but my opinion of Zionism being an illogical bad idea aside, to not support Israel in their current geopolitical situation would be victim blaming.

    That said, they should have moved to North Dakota instead of the middle of the concentration of the people who most want them dead.

  3. slc1 says

    Actually, Prof. Walt is incorrect in his statement that Israel can’t do the job by itself. If Bibi was willing to use nuclear weapons to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, they could do the job. However, that ain’t going to happen.

  4. M Groesbeck says

    The right wing of the government of Israel is pushing for a first-strike total war against Iran based on the claimed existence of a program that U.S. and Israeli intelligence say hasn’t actually been doing weapons development for awhile now. This isn’t about self-defense.

  5. sailor1031 says

    ‘…they will not even tolerate the Iranians having the theoretical capacity of doing so at some unspecified time down the road…”

    Any nation with a peaceful nuclear program has the “theoretical capacity” to establish a program to develop nuclear weapons “at some unspecified time down the road”. So Iran is not even to be allowed a nuclear power program now? Even though the UN says such programs are legitimate? Even though UN inspectors can’t seem to find any evidence? Even though the USA, and many others have nuclear power and some also have weapons? Even though Israel has had its own nuclear weapons program (not based on a nuclear power program – Israel does not use nuclear power) since the 1950’s or earlier? Even though Israel’s nuclear weapons are a clear and constant existential threat to Iran?

    Yes, I see. It all makes sense.

  6. says

    to not support Israel in their current geopolitical situation would be victim blaming

    Can’t possibly imagine why anyone would hate Israel. (eyeroll)

    Here’s a hint for you: you need to reflect upon what “victim” means in this context.

  7. grumpyoldfart says

    Let’s take bets on where Iran’s first atomic bomb will drop. I’m guessing just far enough away from Jerusalem so that the Dome of the Rock doesn’t fall over.

  8. kraut says

    a bit of sanity among the idiots:
    “One of the most striking aspects of the situation is that our army chief and the entire General Staff, as well as the chiefs of the Mossad and the Shin Bet, and almost all their predecessors, are totally and publicly opposed to the attack.

    It is one of the rare occasions when military commanders are more moderate than their political chiefs, though it has happened in Israel before. One may well ask: how can political leaders start a fateful war when practically all their military advisors, who know our military capabilities and the chances for success, are against it?”

    and a bit of strategy analysis:
    “Israel is desperately trying to raise the alarm level regarding an imminent attack on Iran, hoping that this will dissuade some NAM leaders from attending the Tehran summit.

    This familiar noise from Israel, heard persistently over the years, is channeled through “leaks” from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, among other venues, and is unlikely to have the slightest effect on Iran’s march to become a focus of global diplomacy two weeks from now; already more than 43 world leaders have committed to participate at the NAM summit and this number is sure to grow in the coming days. ”

    Relations might also change between Saudis and Iranians, not necessarily to Israels benefits:
    “This is where the “subtext” makes its presence felt as the real narrative. By any reckoning, the gesture to Ahmadinejad was an overture by the Saudi king to the Iranian nation that no matter what happens in Syria (or over Syria) in the coming period, “we are both Muslims”.

  9. fishy! says

    Theyre being really really hitlery. I know its rude to say that, but thats why theyre getting away with it. Theyre hiding behind our politeness. Why are we letting them do that?

  10. Chiroptera says

    fishy!, #7: Why are we letting them do that?

    We aren’t. It’s just that as a practical tactic for changing policy, making reasoned analysis of the facts may be a bet strategy than using words like “hitlery.”

  11. KG says

    Yes, the fact that so many Israeli military and security people, as well as President Peres and other senior Israeli politicians, are making clear their opposition to an Israeli attack on Iran – or at least a unilateral one, makes me dubious about Walt’s argument that it’s all bluff. I suppose it’s possible they’re all in on the bluff campaign, but that seems rather far-fetched.

  12. KG says

    Or, since Israel actually has nuclear weapons and Iran doesn’t, we could take bets on where Israel’s first will fall. Or since there’s very little chance of anyone using nuclear weapons in the near future, we could avoid this sort of stupid nonsense altogether.

  13. says

    Here’s a question: if Iraq is so bugfucknuts that they’re a bunch of suicidal nihilists who are willing to trade their lives for a chance to destroy Israel, then why haven’t they just launched a bugfucknuts suicidal conventional military attack?

    They have cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, artillery, tanks, etc, etc. They could do some serious damage. Sure, they’d probably lose (especially if the Israelis used nuclear weapons) but if they’re bugfucknuts suicidal nihilists that wouldn’t bother them, right? And their women and children would probably survive, so it makes extra good bugfucknuts sense to launch a massive conventional attack right this minute, right?

    Oh, wait, you say “but they’re not that bugfucknuts” did I hear you correctly?

    The problem with the “they are a bunch of crazed nihilists who want nukes” argument is that it’s being made by a bunch of crazed nihilists with nukes.

    In another forum I asked the question I asked above and added (for good measure): Pakistan. I guess that not all muslims are bugfucknuts who’ll just nuke Israel as soon as they get a bomb. Hmmmm…But my correspondent came back with some claim that Iranians believe in a 13th imam and that makes them extrasuperbugfucknuts and that is why they’d nuke Israel. Of course I had to ask whether messianic faith should disqualify a government from having nukes… You can guess where that discussion went.

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