Sunday, August 22, 2010

How an Israeli attack on Iran might proceed.

Glenn Greenwald is engaged in another argument with Jeffrey Goldberg over the latter's article in the Atlantic in which he is very clearly beating a drum for a US war on Iran.

Greenwald initially pointed out that Goldberg had something of a credibility problem given his earlier role in peddling some of the stories used to claim a casus belli for the US invasion of Iraq. Since then it appears that he has caught Goldberg in an outright lie. Even so, Goldberg appears to have been largely successful in framing the debate on war with Iran as to whether the US should attack first or let Israel start the war.

The argument from Goldberg et. al. appears to be that if Israel attacks Iran, Iran will retaliate and that this will force the US to come to Israel's defense following Iran's inevitable retaliation. I find this a rather unlikely scenario as it leaves out of consideration the reaction of China, Russia and US public opinion and the fact that any US response would be constrained by time and logistics.

Planning for wars takes a considerable amount of time. Even if the US was minded to immediately declare war on Iran, it could not do so immediately and the costs of doing so would be rather obvious. The US public would wake up to the possibility of being drawn into a third neo-con war in defense of the country that was unambiguously the aggressor. It is doubtful that a majority of Republicans would support that proposition, let alone Obama's base.

When Obama addressed the nation from the oval office, his only real option would be to call on all sides to accept a cease fire on the basis of a US-Russian-Chinese plan being voted on by the UN security council and look to take credit for saving Israel from its own foolish leaders.

Netanyahu is no fool, he knows that he can't launch an attack against Iran and then go run crying to the US's skirt after the inevitable retaliation. Those are the tactics of cowards and schoolyard bullies. Netanyahu would only launch an attack if he is certain he knows where the nuclear material is and he is certain that Israel would win the inevitable war that would follow. Since only a lunatic would be certain of either proposition the prospects of an Israeli attack on Iran are rather small.

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