The Case For War - Israel and Iran

As I posted a week ago, it appears that Israel in conjunction with the USA is putting assets in position to launch a devastating attack by Israeli aircraft on the Iranian Nuclear Industry.

And right on schedule we get this article outlining the case for such an act.

It is a difficult proposition and will need a fair number of planes.  It is unlikely that US air assets will participate unless it is as a interdiction force countering the Iranian Air Force.  This would allow Obama to be seen as merely a helpful bystander.  I do not think it works but who knows?  A USA presence also allows loyal Iranian pilots to sit on the ground.

Of course, he may use it to build credit to overcome the present weak perception in these matters.  However, the destruction of the infrastructure will be an Israeli show.

It is always remarkable how a well researched article will conveniently appear as the point of decision is approached.

I actually think that Islamic Fascism is confronting us with War sooner or later.  It behooves us to derail this odious movement every chance we get.  This is a good chance with Iran.  The people want out of it and will be happy to finish the job for us.

I only wish that the US army would transition its forces into Kurdish Iraq to act as a support base and threat to the reckless while allowing a transition to Iraqi rule to be completed without US presence. Strategically it would have the same effect that NATO had in Europe because it denies potential belligerents the option of war.

Should Israel attack Iran?
Reuel Marc Gerecht, National Post · Tuesday, Jul. 20, 2010

There is only one thing that terrifies Washington's foreign policy establishment more than the prospect of an American airstrike against Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities: an Israeli airstrike.
Left, right, and centre, "sensible" people view the idea with alarm. Such an attack would, they say, do great damage to the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Tehran would counterattack, punishing "the Great Satan" (America) for the sins of "the Little Satan" (Israel). An Israeli strike could lead to the closing of the world's oil passageway, the Strait of Hormuz; prompt Muslims throughout the world to rise up in outrage; and spark a Middle Eastern war that might drag in the United States.
An Israeli "preventive" attack, we are further told, couldn't possibly stop the Islamic Republic from developing a nuke, and would actually make it more likely that the virulently anti-Zionist supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, would strike Israel with a nuclear weapon. It would also provoke Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps to deploy its terrorist assets against Israel and the United States. Hezbollah, the Islamic Revolution's one true Arab child, would unleash all the missiles it has imported from Tehran and Damascus since 2006, the last time the Party of God and the Jewish state collided.
An Israeli pre-emptive strike unauthorized by Washington (and President Barack Obama is unlikely to authorize one) could also severely damage Israel's standing with the American public, as well as America's relations with Europe, since the "diplomacy first, diplomacy only" Europeans would go ballistic, demanding a more severe punishment of Israel than Washington could countenance.
These fears are mostly overblown. Some of the alarmist scenarios are the opposite of what would more likely unfold after an Israeli attack. Although dangerous for Israel, a preventive strike remains the most effective answer to the possibility of Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards having nuclear weapons. Provided the Israeli air force is capable of executing it, and assuming no U.S. military action, an Israeli bombardment remains the only conceivable means of derailing or seriously delaying Iran's nuclear program and -- equally important -- traumatizing Tehran. Since 1999, when the supreme leader quashed student demonstrations and put paid to any chance that the Islamic Republic would peacefully evolve under the reformist president Mohammad Khatami, Iran has calcified into an ever-nastier autocracy. An Israeli strike now -- after the rise of the Green Movement and the crackdown on it -- is more likely to shake the regime than would have a massive American attack in 2002, when Tehran's clandestine nuclear program was first revealed. And if anything can jolt the pro-democracy movement forward, contrary to the now passionately accepted conventional wisdom, an Israeli strike against the nuclear sites is it.
One can certainly doubt whether Khamenei would be so rash as to hurl an atomic weapon at Israel, given Jerusalem's undeclared force de frappe. But this is a huge unknown for the Jewish state. Iran has already embraced terrorism against Israel and the United States. Via Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas in Gaza, and Fatah on the West Bank, the clerics have repeatedly backed suicide bombers and helped launch thousands of missiles against Israeli civilians. Iranian-guided terrorist teams bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and slaughtered Argentine Jews at a community centre there in 1994. And that was when Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani was Iran's "pragmatic" president; Rafsanjani's once awe-inspiring power network at home has been nearly gutted by his former protege, Khamenei, who has always been more Trotskyite when it comes to exporting the Islamic Revolution.
Iranian violent adventurism abroad diminished after Khatami was elected president in 1997, as the Islamic Republic's domestic agitation heated up and its clandestine nuclear program accelerated. If Khamenei can suppress the Green Movement and develop a bomb, he might choose to move beyond suicide bombers and Hezbollah and Hamas rocketry in his assaults on Israel and "global Jewry." Who would stop him? It's not hard to find Iranian dissidents grieved by their government's love affair with terrorism, but it's impossible to find any among the ruling elite who ruminate about the wrongness of terrorism against Israelis or Jews.
Anti-Zionism has deep roots in Iran's left-wing "red mullah" revolutionary ethos. Iran's hard core seems even more retrograde than the many militant Arab fundamentalists who once gave intellectual support to al-Qaeda but have lost some enthusiasm for the organization's insatiable and indiscriminate killing.
Revolutionary Iran hates its main enemies -- America, Israel, and the anti-Shiite Wahhabi Saudi court -- with a special, divinely sanctioned intensity dwarfing the class-based hostility that the vanguard of the proletariat had for capitalists. And the hard core among the regime's leaders--who have squeezed out of power just about anyone who could have worn a "moderate" label -- revile Jews above all. Third World-friendly radical Marxism, which depicts Jews as the most nefarious members of the Western robber-baron class, provides half the fuel for the Iranian revolutionary mind. Classical Islamic thought, now given a nasty, modern anti-Semitic twist, provides the rest.
In the Koran, Jews are depicted as intelligent, well educated, and treasonous. The Prophet Muhammad's slaughter of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, which occasionally caused moral indigestion and apologias among later Muslim commentators, serves as a leitmotif for contemporary radical Muslims, who often see Jews, as the Nazis once did, as innately and irreversibly evil. Modern Islamic fundamentalism has turned a scorching spotlight back on the faith's foundation, when Jews, as the Koran tells us, stood in the way of the prophet and his divine mission. The tolerant, sometimes even philo-Semitic, attitudes of the Ottoman Empire have been almost completely forgotten by Islam's modern militants. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wrote in the foreword to his masterpiece on Islamic government, "The Islamic movement was afflicted by the Jews from its very beginnings, when they began their hostile activity by distorting the reputation of Islam, and by defaming and maligning it. This has continued to the present day."
It is important to dwell on the matter of anti-Semitism in Iran and the Muslim Middle East since American and European officials and academics usually refrain from doing so. It is a complicated and invidious subject. In the decade that I served in the Central Intelligence Agency, I can recall only a few diplomatic or intelligence cables and reports even mentioning anti-Semitism among Muslims. Yet the disease permeated Sunni and Shiite fundamentalist thought, and it's only gotten worse since I left the agency in 1994.
The average Iranian, including the average well-educated Iranian, who even under the shah was fairly likely to be obsessed with Jewish conspiracy, is free of the personal contempt for Jews that marks the classical European or American anti-Semite. The Green Movement even mocks the Iranian regime for its fixation on Israel and Palestine and Holocaust denial (which really means Holocaust approval). Young Iranians want to talk about Iran, not Palestine. The average Iranian, however, controls neither his country's nuclear program nor the clandestine network Tehran has built up to support its ideological proxies. As Bret Stephens pointed out in Commentary magazine, Iran's psychological state more closely resembles the militarist Japanese mindset in the 1930s -- "a martyrdom-obsessed, non-Western culture with global ambitions"--than it does that of the Soviets of yesteryear, whose worst instincts were deterred at enormous cost. Japan made a series of gross, hubristic miscalculations--especially misjudging the United States -- that led it into a world war that killed millions of its own people and destroyed the militarists' cherished way of life.
The key to stopping all of this is Khamenei. Like the former shah, he is the weak link in the regime. Once a relatively broad-based, consensual theocratic dictatorship run by Khomeini's lieutenants, the Islamic Republic today is an autocracy. The supreme leader's office has become a de facto shadow government, with bureaus that mirror the president's ministries. In matters of security and intelligence, Khamenei's men reign supreme. His arrogation of power has made the regime more fragile. Only someone of the supreme leader's short-sighted, insecure arrogance could turn most of the Islamic Republic's founding fathers into enemies of the state. Mir Hossein Mousavi, for instance, now leader of the Green Movement, was a loyal son of the regime who -- if he'd been left unharassed during the 2009 election, if he'd not been personally belittled by Khamenei and told he was not really an acceptable candidate--probably would have proved a relatively uncontroversial president. Mousavi might even have lost a fair election, given the status-loving conservatism of many Iranians.
Khamenei has now turned a man with an iron will into his sworn enemy. Worse, he's turned him into a democrat. The supreme leader's rash decision to throw the election to Ahmadinejad has also compromised all future elections. He has permanently destabilized the country. National and municipal elections will now get postponed, perhaps indefinitely, or be so grossly controlled that they can no longer be viewed as legitimate.
And the supreme leader has regularly played musical chairs with the leadership of the Revolutionary Guards, purging those who rose to fame in the Iran-Iraq war and had respectful and affectionate connections to others in the republic's founding generation. Since June 12, 2009, he's alienated even more members of Iran's senior clergy, who've never been particularly fond of Khamenei, a junior cleric until his elevation to Khomeini's office. The use of rape by the regime to pacify the political opposition in the past year sent shockwaves through Iran's clergy, even though their institutional conservatism and government paychecks have inclined mullahs to avoid discussing the regime's worst abuses.
The Islamic Republic is not without ethics -- it's not nearly as morally flexible as the Orwellian
states of the former Soviet empire or the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. Political-religious legitimacy really does matter in the country, and
Khamenei in his paranoid quest to make himself the "shadow of God on earth" has thrown it away. He has countered his loss of legitimacy by massively increasing the size of the security forces. The once proud Revolutionary Guard Corps, whose ethos was built in combat with Baathist Iraq, has become more like a mafia, where senior members make fortunes and those below try to advance through the gravy train. Greed and envy are rotting the state's over-muscled internal defences and making guardsmen, like the favourites of the late shah, the objects of Iran's still lively class-based anger.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others have described Iran as an emerging "military dictatorship" where "the space of decision making for the clerical and political leadership is shrinking." That might be news to Khamenei, who has allowed the corps to grow and had his way with its leadership, promoting men who profess unrivaled religious zeal. It is certainly possible that if Khamenei were to fall, a military dictatorship would follow. But such an "evolution" would place the Guards in ideological opposition to the entire clergy and everything that is Shiite in the republic's identity. If Khamenei's rule cracks, the corps, riven with rivalries, will probably crack with it.
What the Israelis need to do is rock the system. Iran's nuclear-weapons program has become the third pillar of Khamenei's theocracy (the other two being anti-Americanism and the veil). If the Israelis, whom the regime constantly asperses as Zionists ripe for extinction, can badly damage Iran's nuclear program, the regime will lose enormous face. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have said repeatedly that the Israelis wouldn't dare strike the nation's nuclear program; if the Israelis do dare, it will be a stunning blow. And military defeats can be deadly for dictatorships -- historically, there's nothing deadlier. Khamenei's foes and the population as a whole would question the leadership of the men who provoked the Israelis, then couldn't stop them from blowing up the nuclear program that has taken Iran 20 years to construct.
Too much has been made in the West of the Iranian reflex to rally round the flag after an Israeli (or American) preventive strike. Iranians aren't nationalist automatons.
They are an old and sophisticated people quite capable of holding multiple hatreds simultaneously in their minds.
Iran's defeat in the Iran-Iraq war did not make Iranians rally to the regime. On the contrary, that defeat by Saddam Hussein helped to unleash an enormous wave of reflection and self-criticism. Without it, we likely would not have seen the rapid transformation of the Islamic Republic's religious and political culture -- a second intellectual revolution, which created the Green Movement. After that transformation, we have a supreme leader whom millions loathe and even more distrust. If the Israelis can make Khamenei look pathetic (and Khamenei has a nearly flawless talent for doing the wrong thing at the
wrong time), they can conceivably crack the regime. Jerusalem needs to put the supreme leader under tremendous pressure and see if he can hold it together. Neither the Israelis nor anyone else need
fear for the Green Movement. (Always skeptical of democratic movements among Muslims, most Israelis probably wrote it off as soon as it was born.) If Khamenei were so foolish as to arrest and kill Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, another Khomeini loyalist who has become a leader of the Greens, he would create martyrs in a martyr-obsessed society.
And the other concerns about an Israeli bombing are no more persuasive. Right now, Israel has to deal with a Hezbollah backed by a nonnuclear Iran. Once the Islamic Republic goes nuclear, this relationship can't get
easier. Hundreds of Israelis could die from Hezbollah's new and improved store of missiles. Israel might have to invade Lebanon again, which would cost more lives and certainly upset the "international community." These concerns have tormented a few Israeli prime ministers. But if nuclear weapons in the hands of Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards are an existential threat to the Jewish state, Jerusalem has little choice. Bombing is the only option that could likely alter the nuclear equation in Iran before Khamenei produces a weapon.
The Israelis are well aware of the United States' global security interests: The American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan figures in any Israeli discussion of striking Iran. But American fear of Iranian capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan has been exaggerated. The Americans are leaving Iraq; within a year, most of our troops are due to be gone. This might not be the best thing for the long-term health of Iraqi democracy, but President Obama appears more determined to exit than to ensure that Iraqi governance doesn't fall apart. The Shiite Arabs now lead Iraq. Is the supreme leader of Shiite Iran really going to wage war on the Iraqi Shia? Khamenei has considerable difficulty with his own clergy. Is he now going to provoke the Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the preeminent divine of Iraq and the most popular ayatollah among Iranians?
Iran could ship more improvised explosive devices to the Afghan Pashtun Taliban, but eventually anti-Taliban sentiment in Iran and in Afghanistan would get in their way. If the Iranians tried their mightiest, they could give us only a small headache compared with the migraine we've already got courtesy of the Pakistanis, who are intimately tied to Afghanistan's Taliban. And the Israelis know the U.S. Navy has no fear of Tehran's closing the Strait of Hormuz. If Khamenei has a death-wish, he'll let the Revolutionary Guards mine the strait, the entrance to the Persian Gulf: It might be the only thing that would push President Obama to strike Iran militarily. Such an escalation could quickly leave Khamenei with no navy, air force, and army. The Israelis have to be praying that the supreme leader will be this addle-headed.
It is possible the Israelis have waited too long to strike. Military action should make a strategic difference. If the Israelis (or, better, the Americans under President Bush) had struck Iran's principal nuclear facilities in 2003 and killed many of the scientists and technical support staff, Khamenei's nuclear program likely would have taken years, even decades, to recover. Now, by contrast, the Iranians may be sufficiently advanced in uranium enrichment, trigger mechanisms, and warhead design that they could build a device quickly after an Israeli raid, and the attack would have accomplished little. Khamenei could emerge from the confrontation stronger.
A spate of Iranian defections to the West (including Ali Reza Asgari, a former Revolutionary Guard commander, in 2007, the somewhat bizarre case of the nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri in 2009, and the country's former nuclear negotiator with the EU, Hossein Moussavian, in 2010) may have allowed the Israelis and other Westerners a clearer picture of how advanced Tehran's nuclear-weapons program is. If we're not at the end of the road, then the Israelis probably should waste no more time. Khamenei is still weak. He's
more paranoid than he's ever been. The odds of his making uncorrectable mistakes are much better
than before. Any Israeli raid that could knock out a sizable part of Iran's nuclear program would change the dynamic inside Iran and throughout the Middle East. There is a chance that it would spare the Israelis the awful, likely possibility that other Middle Eastern states -- especially the Saudis, Iran's arch-religious rival--would go nuclear in response to a Persian bomb. The Israelis know that many in the Sunni Arab world would be enormously relieved if the Israelis did what the Americans have declined to take on. The United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the United States recently revealed what is likely a Sunni Arab consensus: Bombing Iran might be bad; allowing Khamenei to have a nuke would be worse.
Unless Jerusalem bombs, the Israelis will soon be confronting a situation without historical parallel. The Islamic Republic currently has 8,528 uranium-enrichment centrifuges installed at the Natanz facility. Almost 4,000 of these are operational. A 3,000-centrifuge cascade could produce fuel for one warhead in 271 days. Natanz is designed to hold 50,000 centrifuges, which could produce enough fuel for one warhead every 16 days. Ignoring the possibility that Khamenei's nuclear experts will transfer Natanz's cascading centrifuges to covert facilities once they figure out how to maintain and array them (hence the urgent need to blow up the facility), uranium production will soon create a command-and-control nightmare. Envision nuclear warheads on missiles and on planes, dispersed throughout Iran to ensure that an American or Israeli first strike couldn't take them out. Now focus on the fact that the Revolutionary Guards Corps will have possession of these weapons. Khamenei isn't likely to give command-and-control to "moderate" guardsmen; he'll likely give it to the folks he trusts most -- a nuclear version of the Quds
Force, the expeditionary terrorist-and-assassination unit within the Corps that does most of the regime's really dirty work and has direct access to the supreme leader.
We're not talking about the stolid (but at times dangerously foolish) Pakistani Army controlling nuclear weapons; we're talking about folks who've maintained terrorist liaison relationships with most of the Middle East's radical Muslim groups. It's entirely possible that even with Khamenei in control, an Iranian atomic stockpile could lose nukes to dissenting voices within the Guards who have their own ideological agendas. Now imagine the ailing Khamenei is dead, the Guard Corps has several dozen nuclear devices in its "possession," and the country is in some political chaos as power centres, within the clergy and the Corps, start competing against each other. The Green Movement, too, will probably rise in force. The whole political structure could collapse or the most radical could fight their way to the top -- all parties trying to get their hands on the nukes. Since there is no longer a politburo in Iran to keep control (Khamenei gutted it when he downed his peers and competitors), this could get messy quickly.
So then, does the Israeli air force think it can do it? Historically, Israeli politicians have taken the assessments of their air force as canonical. If the air command believes it can, will Bibi Netanyahu and his cabinet proceed with preemption, which has, most Israelis will tell you, repeatedly saved the Jewish state from terrible situations?
The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, an acute observer of the Israeli prime minister, holds that Netanyahu will favour a strike if he has no other serious option. For Netanyahu, the Iranian-nuke question touches the core of his own Israeli identity-- what he was taught by his historian father, whose specialty, the Jews of Spain, is a tragic saga of helplessness, flight, and conversion, and what he learned from the death of his elder brother, the only commando killed in the Entebbe raid to free Israeli hostages in 1976.
Most Washington foreign-policy commentators just don't believe the Jewish state will strike because of the limitations of Israel's airpower. But they are probably underestimating Netanyahu personally and the Israeli-Jewish reflex to never again be passive in the face of an existential danger.
- Reuel Marc Gerecht is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. This article is reprinted with permission of The Weekly Standard, where it first appeared, in longer form, on July 26. For more information, visit weeklystandard. com.

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