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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Israel strike Iran? Will the US try to stop them?

Imagine the scenario. A cluster of Israeli F-15I fighter jets takes off from Israel's Palmachim air base. It quickly crosses Israel, makes its way across the Jordan River and within 20 minutes or so reaches the Iraqi border. As the squadron crosses into Iraq, it is met by American F-16 fighters, which demand that the Israeli jets turn back. The Israelis refuse. There's a dogfight. Could it happen?

Although no one is saying for sure, it apparently could happen. Let me explain why.

In the near term, at least, the United States has ruled out any military action against Iran.
The US has ruled out a military strike against Iran's nuclear program any time soon, hoping instead negotiations and United Nations sanctions will prevent the Middle East nation from developing nuclear weapons, a top US defense department official said Wednesday.

"Military force is an option of last resort," Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said during a press briefing in Singapore. "It's off the table in the near term."


"Right now the focus is a combination of engagement and pressure in the form of sanctions," Flournoy said. "We have not seen Iran engage productively in response."
Israel is considering going it alone (Original article here - Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The Israeli security establishment is divided over whether it needs Washington's blessing if Israel decides to attack Iran, Israeli officials say, as the U.S. campaign for sanctions drags on and Tehran steadily develops greater nuclear capability.

Some senior Israeli officials say in interviews with the Wall Street Journal that they see signs Washington may be willing to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, an eventuality that Israel says it won't accept.

Israel says it supports the U.S.-led push for new economic sanctions against Iran. But Israeli officials have increasingly voiced frustration over the slow pace of diplomatic efforts to get sanctions in place.

Former senior members of Israel's defense establishment have weighed in recently on both sides of the debate.
The two precedents cited - Iraq and Syria - are a mixed bag. In Iraq, Israel did not notify the Reagan administration before striking. At the time, Israel did not have particularly warm relations with the Reagan administration (either before or after the strike). In Syria, Israel did notify the Bush (43) administration before striking. At that point Ehud Olmert had a close relationship with George W. Bush. On that basis, I would have to say that there is almost no chance Israel would notify the US in advance that it intends to strike Iran.

Read the whole thing.

Here's where it gets dicey: Could the dogfight happen? The US won't say (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
In a town hall on the campus of the University of West Virginia, a young airman asked Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen to respond to a “rumor.” If Israel decided to attack Iran, the speculation went, those jet would need to fly through Iraqi airspace to reach their targets. That airspace is considered a “no-fly” zone by the American military. So might U.S. troops shoot down the Israeli jets, the airmen asked the chairman, if they breached that airspace?

Mullen tried to sidestep the question. “We have an exceptionally strong relationship with Israel. I’ve spent a lot of time with my counterpart in Israel. So we also have a very clear understanding of where we are. And beyond that, I just wouldn’t get into the speculation of what might happen and who might do what. I don’t think it serves a purpose, frankly,” he said. “I am hopeful that this will be resolved in a way where we never have to answer a question like that.”

The airmen followed-up: “Would an airmen like me ever be ordered to fire on an Israeli – aircraft or personnel?”

Mullen’s second answer was much the same as his first. “Again, I wouldn’t move out into the future very far from here. They’re an extraordinarily close ally, have been for a long time, and will be in the future,” the admiral said.

Does this represent a shift in American policy towards Israel? Some signal that the U.S. would stop an Israeli first strike at the final moment? Probably not. I’d guess this is Mullen trying not to wade further into treacherous waters. But it was interesting to hear America’s top military officer decline to knock down the idea that U.S. troops might fire on America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
I don't believe the US would shoot down Israeli planes on their way to bomb Iran. I believe that even President Obama understands that he would never live down the image of stopping an embattled Jewish state from striking the ultimate blow against Islamist terror. He would never live down the image of defending Iran against Israel. And neither would anyone who supported such a strike. This isn't Iraq in 1991. The consequences of an Iranian nuclear weapon are much more stark than a bunch of Iraqi scud launchers on a desert floor. But Jennifer Rubin is right:
It’s a bit mind-boggling that the answer wouldn’t be “no,” or at least “we’d never reach that point.” Something better than leaving the suggestion hanging that Zbigniew Brzezinski’s advice about shooting down Israeli planes might be in the cards. It’s fascinating, really: the administration goes to great pains to rule out military force against Iran but thinks it’s important to leave strategic ambiguity with respect to our ally Israel. Only in this administration could we reach such a dismal point.


At 8:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

All military planners have contingency plans if Plan A doesn't work out. Israel almost certainly has several alternatives to deal with Iran if they can't make an airstrike (and, for that matter, an airstrike might not even be Plan A - this might all be a diversion). However, if it was and the US stopped it (or it didn't work for a variety of other reasons), I'm pretty confident that there will be missile attacks - some coming from Israel itself, and some from Israeli subs in the Persian Gulf. It may not have the resources and options of a superpower, but Israel isn't a one-trick pony.

If I was the Iranian leadership, I'd be certain to be near a toilet at all times, and to have several changes of underwear. I'd also have my Will updated.

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Israel has a challenge in securing its military communications ahead of any possible actions.

Also, the US, Russia, and China are likely to be capable of detecting movements as they happen.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger nomatter said...

Great thread Carl. Lots to think about for sure.

Dershowitz wrote about Brzezinski’s advice to Obama in an outstanding piece in today's Frontpagemag.com

Truth of the matter, any scenario could happen both very bad and very good. The fact remains, with no where to land in case of emergency or needed re-fueling that alone is quite problematic wouldn't you say?

Jews finally return to their biblical homeland and when it comes to self-defense they slammed us in a ghetto one way or another. (again)

Of course we could look at all of this as disinformation and the plan on how Israel would refuel has already been solved. I mean, perish the thought anyone help Jews "out loud." (G-d forbid it is known as an accepted fact verbally by heads of state how much we deserve to be saved and mean it by actions..!)

What grinds me is Iraq. We supposedly "liberated" that country by the blood of our boys and vasts amount of treasure. I thought that Iraq was a democratic country. Truth remains, that country is no more democratic than all the rest of their neighbors.
But, shh, we are not supposed to talk about it or the consequences befallen Israel because of that war which I supported with all my heart. I expected more out of Iraq, but then I allowed myself to be brainwashed.

For all groveling and scrapping by past administrations to the Arab world and those who appease it, Israel is no better off. Matter of fact, we are blamed for it along with lack of stability throughout the region. For all of that in the past 6 or 7 years, pariah status has taken hold.

I pray Israel strikes Iran but I want my boys safe. Without those brave souls Israel is nothing. And no, they are not replaceable.

Bottom line here, I am angry as hell at the evil narcissist Obama but equally as angry with those before him who knew this day was fast approaching and did absolute nothing of substance to stop it. (typical story of human nature where the security of Jews are concerned.) But I forgot, we have so many friends or so we allow ourselves to think...

Speaking of Iraq, here is another good read:
This is Why We “Liberated” Iraq?: Your Day in “Religion of Peace” “Peacefulness”

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Chrysler 300M said...

A'djad and Chamenei have to be eliminated, a BIG step forward

At 3:45 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - there is no need to use jets. An Israel nuclear strike will be forever eliminate Tehran's capability to destroy Israel. And I don't see the US can do a damn thing to stop it from happening. It has no means to intercept Jericho II missiles flying under American radar. And Israel won't inform the Obami if it has decided to attack.


At 2:43 PM, Blogger albert amato said...

Norman let's hope non-n8ke tactical weapons can be used if needed.
I hope we never witness the alternative in our lifetime or that of our grandchildren......that being said, I am hoping that all of this dust-up between US and Israel is a deflector for what is going on behind the scenes so the US can claim plausible deniability to any attack.
We do indeed live in interesting times.
Keep up the good work, Carl.


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