Would Israel’s Netanyahu really Drag US into war with Iran?

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged at the United Nations on Tuesday to attack Iran himself if Washington won’t do it, and in order to stop what he characterized as an Iranian nuclear weapons program:

But the fact is that a solo Israel-on-Iran military attack would not remain solo. If Israeli jets managed to reach all the way to Natanz near Isfahan and Fordow near Qom (it is a long way), they would provoke a regional conflagration.

Pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq would be in a position to launch mortar and other attacks on the dwindling employees at the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. There are no longer any substantial number of US troops to protect them, and the security of embassies is considered the host country’s responsibility. That is, US personnel in Iraq are being protected by the Iraq army, which so far hasn’t shown itself good at counter-terrorism.

Likewise, US military installations in Kuwait and Qatar are not immune from retaliation. The US navy base in Manama, Bahrain, is on an island with a 60% Shiite majority, which already feels frustrated by repression by the Sunni monarchy.

American businesses and facilities and individuals in Lebanon would also be vulnerable to reprisals by militant Shiites in that country.

People in the Middle East tend to view Israel as an extension of American imperialism in their region, and the consistent US exercise of a veto against any resolution at the UN Security Council criticizing Israeli actions contravening international law have created resentments. So too has the US arming of Israel to the teeth. An Israeli attack on Iran will almost certainly drag the US into the subsequent conflict.

Precisely because the US officer corps is keenly aware of this danger, chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have consistently cautioned Tel Aviv against a military action against Iran.

Netanyahu, an expansionist hawk, has been crying wolf about an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons ambition since the early 1990s. Netanyahu is a cultist from the far right wing Jabotinsky branch of Revisionist Zionism. As with other Central European extreme nationalist movements, the Likud Party is about grabbing one’s neighbor’s land and resources and hitting them hard if they complain.

But his threats on Tuesday are likely empty rhetoric, of a sort we have often seen from the bombastic and duplicitous Netanyahu. They are his way of putting pressure on President Obama via the Israel Lobbies on capitol hill, who will take the hint to press for some action against Iran that will derail US negotiations with President Hassan Rowhani.

The threats and noise about Iran also serve the purpose of taking the spotlight off Israel’s continued colonization and usurpation of the Palestinian West Bank, which has accelerated even as Netanyahu dishonestly represented himself to Secretary of State John Kerry as open to a diplomatic settlement with the Palestinians.

If Obama can outmaneuver Netanyahu and keep negotiations with Iran on an even keel, he could well have a significant diplomatic breakthrough. Without the Iranian bogeyman, Netanyahu won’t be able to practice his misdirection about his oppression of millions of Palestinians. The Israeli Right Wing, having consistently insulted and denigrated Obama and having campaigned for Mitt Romney, may be in a downward spiral with regard to influence in the White House.

56 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    Shouldn’t an unprovoked attack by Israel on Iranian Civil Infrastructure not provoke cruise missile strikes on Tel Aviv?

  2. Whatever one may think of the Iranian and Israeli policies, the speeches by Rouhani and Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly were in sharp contrast to each other. While Rouhani’s speech was measured and conciliatory, Netanyahu’s was rude, provocative and war-mongering. Rouhani did not mention Netanyahu or Israel once by name, but Netanyahu referred to Rouhani 29 times as a liar, as a charlatan, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and as being responsible for many crimes, none of which has been proven. He said that Iran with a bomb was worse than 50 North Koreas, and he also practically threatened to attack Iran directly if America fails to do so. It was even worse than his speech last year with its crude diagram.

    Sadly, it seems that what you say about Netanyahu as an expansionist hawk is true, but the speech shows that he is becoming unhinged. Even if he wishes to play his familiar spoiling game he should have done so in a more acceptable tone.

    It is time for the US to tell Netanyahu that he does not make American foreign policy. He should not be allowed to sabotage a more rational diplomacy towards Iran after 34 years of estrangement. Israel’s bluff of being under “existential threat” from Iran’s non-existent nuclear bombs should be called, not behind closed doors but in public, and they should be told in no uncertain terms that while America is willing to ensure Israel’s security and to pay billions of dollars each year to a country with a high GDP, it is not willing to have her larger interests sacrificed for the sake of extreme Israeli ambitions. I believe that Netanyahu’s disgraceful speech has made that task easier. A comparison of that ill-tempered and violent speech with President Rouhani’s conciliatory speech should show everyone who is the true aggressor.

  3. Juan, I cannot speak of Netanyahu without going into a hyperbolic tirade; so, let’s just say I hope, I pray (I’m not Christian), and I entreat the god’s who be; that you are correct.
    Further I…
    Oh, never mind. Cheers.

  4. If there was any lingering doubt Netanyahu is an idiot it was all erased when he uttered…”They can’t have their yellow cake and eat it too.” This on the heels of his Wile E Coyote bomb graphic makes me think he has Mel Brooks writing his material.

    If I had a protest sign it would read… Netanyahu is a terrorist!

    • If Mel Brooks had written Netanyahu’s lines, they would actually have been funny.

      It is extremely sad to see Israel hammer on the nuclear weapons dead horse all the time.

      The new government of Iran should get the chance to prove themselves to be of good faith.

    • Very little. There is nothing at that link that deserves to be called evidence, and virtually nothing that can even be called a rational argument.

        • The writer seems to be unwilling to take Yes for an answer.

          He appears to be more worried that negotiations would succeed than that they would fail.

          For many people, the Iranian nuclear question is merely a pretext for a hostile foreign policy, and the author of piece seems to be one such person.

  5. Too bad, for so many reasons, that “the US,” as the whole lumbering thing is so Informedly and Seriously called, may be functionally incapable of what might be called “leadership.”

    “We” have been pretty good at playing the bully, and helping a few of us take the lunch money and blacken the eyes of other kids and strut around the block. We had a “socially impaired” teenager in my young neighborhood who did that, until one day us little kids mobbed him thanks to the leadership of one of us (not me), shamed him, and that was the end of that. That leader kid had a goal of peace in the neighborhood, at least as far as the Big Kid bullying went, and concentrated on achieving it. That ain’t what “our” rulers (not leaders) are all about.

    Super390 castigates some on the “Left” for simplistic cheering at the pounding and shaming of the bully, and posits the inability of the Great Game world structure to operate without some Big Kid around to twist arms up behind backs and make the little kids say “Uncle (Sam).” Agreed that there are wishful and mean idiots of all stripes, especially in an environment where the Rulers so blatantly are stealing and beating down left, right and center. “We” don’t seem to have the power of actual leadership any more, since for too many years “we” have been a shallowly self-interested bully-of-many-parts, one too venal and arch in many ways and idiotic in others, just clumsy and stupid, if muscularly ponderous, to avoid being activated and directed by people like Kissinger and Netanyahoo and Karzai. “We” never seem to be “sophisticated” enough to perceive the deeper levels and chutes and ladders of the Game, let alone direct them, and the folks who seek and get power in the Bullydom game have no interest in changing the larger behaviors or rules of play.

    And now “we” are discovering that all that seemingly crushing military power, from nukes to networkcentricity to nanodevices, might not be able to “defeat” those 4th Generation warriors, whether they are acting singly or in a reaction-driven bunch.

    Too bad “we,” all the individuals and corporate entities (including military Commands) don’t have much of any interest in, or incentive to be working on, leading from real intelligence and wisdom and strength, the kind that keeps the whole tribe alive and fed, so creatures like Cheney, and elsewhere Yahoo and even Arafat, get to rise to the top and twist, and twist, and twist those little kids’ arms…

  6. With its missiles, Iran could target Saudi oil production facilities , instantly creating oil shortages and thus hurting economies around the world. This is the reason why it’s unlikely the US will attack Iran. I doubt Israel would dare defy the US and launch an attack on its own since it would be blamed for hurting the US economy.

    If Israel were to attack, Iran could just push back the Israeli air force with SAMs. Remember, Egyptians were able to cross the Suez Canal by using SAMs to neutralize Israeli air power during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

  7. Why would Iran sic its proxies on American targets instead of Israeli ones, in a situation in which the U.S. wasn’t, on its own, eager to attack Iran?

    I can see a whole lot of downside to Iran in having the United States attack it, and not a whole lot of upside. Iran is generally a rational actor on the world stage. What interest would it have in painting a target on its back?

    • The US is obliged to cover Israel against retaliation Besides, who’s going to believe the US did not know about or green light an attack.

      • My question was about Iran, and its actions.

        Professor presupposes that Iran would act to bring the United States into the conflict – to conduct actions that would generate a direct American military response.

        Why would Iran want to do that? They aren’t al Qaeda, with no compunction about generating massive casualties among the civilians in the country they’re operating in in order to make a political point. They’re a reasonably-responsible government that hasn’t courted military conflict with the United States before.

        • The United States has repeatedly, openly and unambiguously affirmed its intention to defend Israel from the consequences of their aggression, both militarily and diplomatically.

          Iran isn’t alone in believing that the two countries are heads from the same hydra. We’ve seen American political figures pledge that there could be no daylight between the policies of their country and Israel and the seemingly reflexive abuse of the UNSC veto power to protect Israel from the consequences of their aggression.

          I agree that Iran is a rational actor, but the last few decades have seen American officials make it clear that they would regard actions against Israel in the same light as actions against the United States.

          If Israel attacks Iran, then Iran will either retaliate or invite further belligerence by restraining themselves. If they choose to retaliate then it would be prudent for them to assume that they will be fighting the United States shortly thereafter.

        • Adam,

          “The United States has repeatedly, openly and unambiguously affirmed its intention to defend Israel from the consequences of their aggression, both militarily and diplomatically.”

          That’s nice, but it’s a complete non-sequitor. The question was why Iran would act in a way to bring the United States into a war. You canned speech about how much you hate Iraeli-American relations doesn’t answer my question.

          Also, I’ll note that the United States’ security guarantees to Israel haven’t included doing anything about the sorts of “ordinary” attacks against Israel, such as Hezbollah incursions, or rocket attacks, that have happened. It only seems to apply to actual state-on-state warfare.

    • Joe – While Iran could easily attack US outposts around the world after being attacked by Israel, I suspect they will not unless there is real proof the US helped.

      Iran, with the backing of Russia and China could very easily put the US in a terrible box in the UN, further weakening the US. The US would be forced to either abstain on a UNSC resolution severely punishing Israel (throwing Israel to the wolves) or veto it and destroy all its diplomatic capability. Then Iran, Russia and China would simply use UNGA-377 to over-ride the US veto and further isolate the US. Note that UNGA-377 was designed to over-ride a USSR veto and humiliate them, so Russia would gleefully use the US “weapon” against the US.

      I think that Iran has thought long and hard about what to do when Israel or the US attacks and I suspect they will go for maximum LONG TERM damage to the US and Israel rather than an immediate blind strike. Iran has more than enough missiles that will not be damaged in any attack, so they can afford to torture the US for a few months before striking, if necessary. While Iran can easily destroy all the Mideast oil terminals, since is no practical way for those oil terminals to be protected, they will still be as vulnerable a few weeks after any Israel attack as they are today.

      When Israel attacks, it may damage parts of Iran and kill thousands to millions of Iranians, but in the long term Israel will lose everything. If the US is smart enough to throw Israel to the wolves immediately, it might make it through OK, but any attempt by the US to shield Israel will severely damage the US for decades.

      Note that there is NO US treaty in place with Israel. All there is, is an informal “gentleman’s” agreement, which can easily be walked away from. As for those that worry about the US “breaking its word,” they should note that during the 200+ years the US has existed, it has “broken its word” almost constantly and screwed over each and every “friend” it has ever had. If the US throws Israel to the wolves, it would be normal and proper behavior for the US (as well as all other countries).

      • An attack by Israel on Iran would be illegal under international law and would make a mockery of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty where a signatory country in accordance with the treaty and verified by international inspection is attacked by another country which has never signed the NPT.

        Of course illegality has never worried the US in the past but world public opinion is changing. The General Assembly vote on Palestine showed how truly isolated the US and Israel are while the intentional support for the US bombing of Syria came down to Syria and the odious Saudi regime. I suspect even less support for backing Israeli attacks.

        Putin played a shrewd hand last time around and in the UN the criticizer of the Russian veto will have to veto any resolution condemning Israeli aggression while facing near unanimous criticism in the General Assembly. Iran could tough it out, knowing there will be no invasion and facilities can be rebuilt. Has US thought through the consequences of a decade long war alongside Israel?

      • Spyguy,

        While Iran could easily attack US outposts around the world after being attacked by Israel, I suspect they will not unless there is real proof the US helped.

        I think you’re exactly right here. There is no angle that makes it a good idea for Iran to do anything to bring the US into a conflict, and they are as adept at geopolitical thinking as you say. They’re not loons like Saddam or Gadhaffi, likely to do something stupid out of a fit of pique.

  8. Great column. Particularly as to Netanyahu’s revisionist ideology and his game of misdirection.

    • Georgia may be somewhat willing, but any attempt by Israel to attack Iran via Georgia just may see a lot of Israeli jets blown out of the sky by Russian S-300, S-400 and S-500 systems that are ringed around Georgia.

      Right about now, I think Putin is in no mood for any crap from Israel or Georgia and would shoot first and tell Israel to go f*** itself after.

  9. Perhaps the best answer to your question is the comment Uri Avnery made last year when Netanyahu was on another of his rants: “Striking Iran: Mad or Crazy?: Netanyahu’s Scare Tactics” by Uri Avnery – link to counterpunch.org

    • Uri Avnery is mistaken about Netanyahu and Iran.

      Netanyahu was on The Charlie Rose Show last night. He told Rose that Iran controls Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza. Bibi thinks the settlements in the West Bank are important because they keep Iranian agents out.

      Netanyahu’s own words last night.

      People who take Netanyahu and Barak lightly don’t realize how precarious this situation has become. They don’t just talk and they’ve proven it time and time again. In the last few years, Israel has gone to war with Hezbollah and Hamas. Plus, they’ve bombed Syria twice.

      • I have followed Uri Avnery for years and have found him to be one of the most reliable commentators on Israel.

        “People who take Netanyahu and Barak lightly don’t realize how precarious this situation has become.”

        People who have bought Netanyahu’s snake oil in the past should have learned by now he is a charlatan and with Barak supervising the Israeli Defense (sic) forces during Operation Cast Lead they should show him no more respect than anyone else accused of war crimes. Given their character, however, I wouldn’t put anything past them.

        • “Given their character, however, I wouldn’t put anything past them.”

          That’s the point I’ve been trying to make. Netanyahu is much more dangerous when he’s desperate.

    • Uri Avinery, a former Knesset member and journalist, is one of the most left-wing political commentators in Israel and a former friend and admirer of Yasser Arafat.

      While the 90-year old Avinery has undoubtedly experienced much of Israel’s history and is scholarly on the subject , including service in the Irgun, his viewpoints are cleary pro-Palestinian and far outside the mainsream of Israeli political thought.

      • “…his viewpoints are cleary pro-Palestinian and far outside the mainsream of Israeli political thought.”

        If supporting human a civil rights for Palestinians is “pro-Palestinian” then Avnery is pro-Palestiians.

        “Israel is an apartheid state (no poll required): A new Ha’aretz poll indicates a majority of Jewish Israelis favour apartheid – but that’s nothing new.” By Ben White – link to aljazeera.com – So much for mainstream Israeli political thought.

  10. “If Obama can outmaneuver Netanyahu and keep negotiations with Iran on an even keel, he could well have a significant diplomatic breakthrough.”

    So far Netanyahu with the support of the Israel lobby has outmaneuvered Obama, but circumstances have changed. Obama is not running for re-election and more people are waking up to Israel’s negatives. There may also be a re-awakening of the sympathy Senator Obama had for the Palestinians before he sold out to the Israel lobby to get elected.

    • Obama is playing a long game. He’s been embarrassed, if not humiliated, by Netanyahu. But he has not as yet been outmaneuvered by him. IF Israel bombs Iran, Obama will have been taken for a ride by Netanyahu. But right now, Obama has outmaneuvered Bibi on both Iran and Syria. Bibi can call Rouhani anything he wants, but the framework for ‘what to do about Iran’ has fundamentally shifted under his feet.

      • I would say if Netanyahu embarrassed and humiliated Obama and got away with it he outmaneuvered him – at least in the short term. With some degree of rapprochement between Obama and Rouhani, it could be the situation is in the process of reversal. If Obama has the political skill (questionable) and can stand up to the pro-Israel camp that might include his secretary of state (remains to be seen) then he has a chance of winning in the long term. Let’s hope so.

        • “I would say if Netanyahu embarrassed and humiliated Obama and got away with it he outmaneuvered him – at least in the short term.”

          Because feelings, and not outcomes or political power, are the measure of geopolitics?

          Most people would use the term “outmaneuvered” to refer to a situation in which one political accomplishes something by somehow getting around the efforts of another political actor to prevent it.

          Netanyahu has been disrespectful towards Obama in public. Bully for him.

        • “Because feelings, and not outcomes or political power, are the measure of geopolitics?”

          There was a recognition during the Johnson administration that the Vietnam war was lost, but Johnson, McNamara and the generals didn’t feel they could bring themselves to admit to it. That is just one countless examples throughout history of “feelings” taking precedence over reason and a temporary hold on power.

          “Netanyahu has been disrespectful towards Obama in public. Bully for him.”

          Except for the offense against the office of the president of the United States, which just goes to demonstrate Netanyahu’s contempt for any part of the United States that isn’t useful to him.

        • “There was a recognition during the Johnson administration that the Vietnam war was lost, but Johnson, McNamara and the generals didn’t feel they could bring themselves to admit to it. That is just one countless examples throughout history of “feelings” taking precedence over reason and a temporary hold on power.”

          Although Johnson and his top civilian and military advisers recognized they could not prevail in Vietnam, they continued pursuing the war not because they could not admit it, or because their “feelings” prevented them from doing so. Johnson and his advisers knew they could not prevail, but they were driven onward in the war’s pursuit because they thought that to opt out would send a disastrous signal to our allies that the US would not stand by its commitments. That and the slim hope that some sort of Korea-like “truce” might eventually be engineered. They may have been misguided in this approach, but “feelings” had nothing to do with it.

        • Read General McCalister’s book, “Dereliction of Duty” which documents 1960=1964. He and other historians believe the key reason Johnson continued the war was straight up politics. He needed something to trade with hard line war advocates for their votes on civil rights legislation.

        • Yes, Bill, allowing feelings to take precedence in one’s analysis is a terrible idea.

          That’s why you should stop doing it (for instance, by saying that Netanyahu has outmaneuvered Obama based on his accomplishment of nothing), and try to be more like the Vulcan-in-Chief currently sitting in the Oval Office in your perception of geopolitics.

          Except for the offense against the office of the president of the United States, which just goes to demonstrate Netanyahu’s contempt for any part of the United States that isn’t useful to him.

          Certainly. Netanyahu seems to one of those irrational actors who views the indulgence of his feelings as more important than substantive accomplishments or advancement of his own or his nation’s interests.

        • Read General McCalister’s book, “Dereliction of Duty” which documents 1960=1964.”

          The book “Dereliction of Duty” was written by Major General H.R. McMaster, (not McCalister).

        • My recollection from “Dereliction of Duty” is that Johnson couldn’t bring himself to admit in the 1960s the war was lost was because he believed the American people wouldn’t accept that opinion and the outcome of defeat in Vietnam that occurred in May 1975 after several more thousand military personnel died.

    • “Most people would use the term “outmaneuvered” to refer to a situation in which one political (politician?) accomplishes something by somehow getting around the efforts of another political actor to prevent it.”

      Netanyahu wanted to increase the number of settlements in Palestine. Obama claims he wanted expansion of the settlements curtailed. Expansion continued without any serious damage to Netanyahu. He won. Obama lost. He was outmaneuvered, at lest in the short term.

  11. I have been saying this for years. Israel would not dare to attack Iran is all just a hot air. Netanyahu is just talking out of his royal ass.

  12. Netanyahu is revealing his ideal situation but I dont think it will play out this way.

    Sure he has the US congress in his back pocket, no matter which party is in the majority. And sure it helps to have a compliant Executive. But Iran is no pushover – they’re unlikely to be silenced by what would likely be the most massive Israeli campaign ever conceived of. I get the feeling this is Iran’s own ideal situation, and they’ll be waiting for it.

    The fact that Netanyahu tries so hard to bring the US into his fight shows that he knows he CANT act alone. He is standing on the edge making big threats all the while praying that sane minds talk him down. Convincing evidence that Iran has da bomb cant just be agreed upon in a backroom deal where the US has Israel’s back. An open public discussion must be had. Yes, spin comes later. However if the Syria bombing debate tells us anything, its that in the aftermath of Iraqi WMD it will be harder to sway a majority of public opinion. The skeletons of Rumy/Cheney have gone nowhere.

    And Nety is no foole. By threatening destruction he is still putting pressure on Obama and future Executives to continue the economic blockades in the hopes of extracting rewards he really wants. And this certainly helps him domestically. Maybe he is impersonating the John Kerry of late August.

  13. Middle east policies has always been based on divide and conquer. Bogymen are always central to policies on each side, Ahmadinejad using Israel, and Bibi or Saudi King using Ahmadinejad. The experience of Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria is that conflicts are not producing results.

    America has a chance to have huge and lasting influence in the region if it shifts its policies from military to economic competition. All sides in the middle east from governments of Erdogan of Turkey, Iranian leadership, Egypt…. to people that are fed up with the central governments have embraced free market capitalism. Islamic groups in Turkey or Iran (and elsewhere) have been advocating privatization that not even Reagan and Tatcher could have practiced.

    I think the fundamental problem that Israel sees, and indeed it is an existential threat to the current leadership of Israel (not to its people), is that if the rules of the game changes toward economic competition then there may not be a role for Israeli militaristic policies. This must make the elite in Israel very uncomfortable and paranoid that future may not be as easy as the past.

    Ironically, if Israelis embrace such a future they could indeed prosper but with their current leadership all they get is prospect for more conflict.

  14. Why did Netanyahu’s attempts over the past years to convince the American President that Iran is the world’s number one security threat, akin to but more dangerous than North Korea? It was needed to get the Palestinian issue out-focused. Though Israel is believed to have technical and practical difficulties of mounting unilateral strikes against Iran, he has to survive, at least, in the face of radical Israelis’ mounting attack on him that he has missed the goal, as according to a recent poll, 78% of them are sceptic about his performance, as do numerous American and Israeli commentators, and Israel’s political right. So, he, perhaps has little option but to engage the U.S. somehow in a war with Iran.

  15. Netanyahu’s attempts over the past years to convince the American President that Iran is the world’s number one security threat, akin to but more dangerous than North Korea has failed. And now, with the new ‘charm offensive’ by the new Iranian President, he seems to have run into the sand. Now, Netanyahu’s leadership is under challenge as well as his personal survival as the leader of the Israeli nation because majority of his countrymen including the political right believe that e failed to pursue the goal, ultimate destruction of Iran. So, though he know well that his unilateral attack plan has technical and practical difficulties, he might well be seriously thinking a ssuch to bring in the American military into the conflict.

  16. Sept. 9, 2013 The Charlie Rose Show–Ehud Barak was much more subtle but made many of the same points as Netanyahu.

    According to Barak, behind closed doors, the Israeli govt. has warned the Iranian govt. that if they don’t halt their nuclear weapons testing there will be military consequences.

    Barak was completely up front about it.

    • … except there has never been a “nuclear weapons testing” to halt. Either they live in their own virtual reality, or they just need to sound tough.

      • Before I heard Barak, I thought Iran’s nuclear enrichment was strictly for civilian purposes. However, Barak, a trained engineer, gave examples of some Iranian nuclear tests which aren’t needed for civilian nuclear power. Or so he said.

        I suggest you watch the interview and judge for yourself.

        9/9/2013…The Charlie Rose Show.

        P.S. I’m no fan of nutty Netanyahu, the neocons, the Lobby or Israel’s war mongering, but listening to Barak convinced me this wasn’t just tough talk. That’s the point I’ve been trying to make.

        • “… but listening to Barak convinced me this wasn’t just tough talk.”

          Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett at http://www.raceforiran.com would be more reliable sources than Barak who appears to be given to remarks that are of questionable value.

  17. The assumption is an air strike. Saw an article in Der Spiegel website a few months ago describing advanced German made conventional submarines owned by Israel. After reading the article, could it be more likely that an attack would be via submarine launched missiles?

    • There are only 5 active dolphins each with ten total tubes, so there is very limited fire-power in the subs if non-nuclear warheads are used (I suspect that the subs do not have any non-nuclear cruise missiles loaded).

      As for the sub-launched cruise missiles, they have very limited range (less than 200 km) and very limited payload capacity – they can have either very small conventional explosive capability (several square blocks) or very small nuclear capability (several square miles and lots of crap into the atmosphere).

      In reality, without using nukes, Israel has very limited capacity to damage Iran other than to kill several thousand humans.

      Also the air strikes will be mostly ineffective, except killing thousands of innocent humans. Israel has about 400 F-15 and F-16 aircraft, which have limited bomb load capacity and limited fuel range, even with in-flight refueling, the aircraft can not carry very big bomb loads, so damage from each aircraft will be minimal and as much as 65% of the attacking aircraft will be blown from the sky by Iran. Note: Israel does NOT have any aircraft capable of carrying a “bunker-buster” which rely on a massive explosive capacity in an extremely heavy case.

      Any attack on Iran will be ineffective and could be extremely costly to Israel in losses of aircraft and pilots and possibly sunk subs.

  18. I see one of the paths crosses Turkish airspace. If Turkey defended its territory and shots were fired, could Turkey call on fellow NATO members to protect itself from aggression?

  19. Like many other visitors of this site, I have watched Bibi’s formulaic shrill Iran/nukes hysterics at the UN podium still being rebroadcast continuously and mined for bumper stickers by the well paid accompanists of the Likud Orkestra, ad nauseum.

    A refreshingly brusque no nonsense take on this charade of an international public discourse comes from the Independent’s middle east veteran journo Robert Fisk

    xxx
    US cowardice will let Israel’s isolated right off the hook
    The Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war

    Robert Fisk
    Tuesday 01 October 2013
    Independent
    link to independent.co.uk

    These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war. Brits and Americans didn’t want to go to war in Syria. Now, with the pleasant smile of President Rouhani gracing their television screens, fully accepting the facts of the Jewish Holocaust – unlike his deranged and infantile predecessor – the Americans (75 per cent, if we are to believe the polls) don’t want to go to war with Iran either.

    Having, live on television, forced President Obama to grovel to him on his last trip to the White House – Benjamin Netanyahu brusquely told him to forget UN Security Resolution 242, which calls for a withdrawal of Israeli forces from lands occupied after the 1967 war – the Israeli Prime Minister did a little grovelling himself on Monday. He no longer called for a total end to all Iranian nuclear activities. Now it was only Iran’s “military nuclear programme” which must be shut down.

    And, of course, like Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction programme” which President George W Bush had to invent when the weapons themselves turned out to be an invention, we still don’t know if Mr Netanyahu’s version of Iran’s “military nuclear programme” actually exists.

    What we do know is that when Mr Rouhani started saying all the things we had been demanding that Iran should say for years, Israel went bananas. Mr Netanyahu condemned him before he had even said a word. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” “An anti-Semite.” Even when Mr Rouhani spoke of peace and an end to nuclear suspicions, Israel’s “Strategic Affairs” Minister – whatever that means – said time had run out for future negotiations. Yuval Steinitz claimed that “if the Iranians continue to run [their nuclear programme], in another half a year they will have bomb capability”.

    Mr Netanyahu’s own office joined in the smear campaign.

    “One must not be fooled by the Iranian President’s fraudulent words,” one of Mr Netanyahu’s men sneered. “The Iranians are spinning in the media so that the centrifuges can keep on spinning.”

    The Rouhani speech was “a honey trap”. Mr Netanyahu himself said Mr Rouhani’s address to the UN, a speech of immense importance after 34 years of total divorce between Iran and the US, was “cynical” and “totally hypocritical”.

    Israel Hayom, the Likudist freesheet, dredged up – yet again – the old pre-Second World War appeasement argument that the Israeli right have been reheating for well over 30 years. “A Munich wind blows in the west,” the paper said.

    Perhaps it had its effect. If he was not so frightened of Israel – as most US administrations are – President Obama might actually have shaken hands with Mr Rouhani last week; though Mr Rouhani himself might have preferred not to touch the hand of the “Great Satan” too soon. Instead, President Obama settled for a miserable phone call and proved that he knew how to say goodbye in Farsi. Pathetic is the word for it.

    In the past, Arab delegates would storm out of the UN General Assembly when Israelis took the stand. When the crazed President Ahmadinejad spoke, Western nations and the Israelis stormed out. But when Mr Rouhani came to speak, Western nations crowded into the chamber to hear him. But Israel stormed out.

    “A stupid gesture,” according to that wise old Israeli sage, writer and philosopher Uri Avnery. “As rational and effective as a little boy’s tantrum when his favourite toy is taken away. Stupid because it painted Israel as a spoiler, at a time when the entire world is seized by an attack of optimism after the recent events in Damascus and Tehran. Stupid, because it proclaims the fact that Israel is at present totally isolated.”

    Mr Avnery’s contention is Israel wanted two wars, the first against Syria, the second against Iran.

    As he wrote last week, when Congress hesitated to strike Damascus, “the hounds of hell were let loose. Aipac (the largest Likudist pro-Israeli lobby group in the US) sent its parliamentary rottweillers to Capitol Hill to tear to pieces any senator or congressman who objected”.

    Yet at the White House on Monday, the Israeli Prime Minister had calmed down. I doubt if it will last. Israel, I suspect, will do everything it can to cut down Mr Rouhani’s overtures, whatever American public opinion might say.

    For there was President Obama at Monday’s meeting, praising Mr Netanyahu for his support for a two-state solution. And what did President Obama actually say? That there was “a limited amount of time to achieve that goal”.

    So why was there only a “limited amount of time”? Not a single scribe asked the poor fellow.

    There is, of course, only a “limited amount of time” – in my view, no time at all – to achieve this illusory goal because the Netanyahu government is thieving, against all international law, yet more Palestinian Arab land for Jews and Jews only, at a faster rate than ever, to prevent just such a Palestinian state ever existing.

    The Israeli right are well aware of this. And when President Obama can’t even explain this weird “limited amount of time”, the Israelis know that he is still a groveller. This is what real “appeasement” is all about. Fear.

    And even if President Obama had the courage to say boo to a goose in his final term in office, you can be sure that Madame Clinton – to quote Sir Thomas More – doesn’t have the spittle for it. For she wants to be the next appeaser-president.

    The Likudists have isolated Israel from the world just now but be sure American cowardice will let them off the hook.

  20. I don’t believe that Mr. President has sold out
    to the Plantation Owners.
    My guess is as good as all of the Commenters
    factual-guesses.

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