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The definitive piece on Iran and Israel


141 replies to this topic

#21 Triskan

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:27 PM

Bibi at AIPAC tonight

setting the stage for bombing Iran


Did you read the article, by chance? I haven't watched the speech yet, but I will now. Bibi is a very bright guy that I don't particularly like very much.

I do understand why Israel would be concerned about Iran, but the bottom line is that the thing that they profess to be most afraid of is almost unimaginable. The Iranian leadership is not suicidal. Or do you think that they are?

ETA: I really hope that people in this thread will take the time to read this article. I'm not sure it's perfect as nothing is, but it takes the discourse to a level that is sorely lacking in most of the discussion from my perspective.

Edited by The Sinister Kid, 05 March 2012 - 11:30 PM.


#22 Robin Of House Hill

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:35 PM

It isn't the speech that worries me. It's AIPAC. They will drag the US into whatever Israel starts.

#23 Triskan

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:40 PM

OK, this speech doesn't seem to even be going over all that well near the midway point.

#24 Commodore

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:57 PM

I agree that article is the best case for allowing a nuclear Iran.

But it's the same arguments that were made about the Soviets in the 70's, or in the runup to WWII by those opposed to stopping Germany. Assurances that the enemy is rational, that action would be too risky and a provokation.

The author is basically saying Israel should allow a circumstance where they could be wiped out at the push of a button, and then gives a bunch of reasons why Iran won't push that button.

#25 Triskan

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:17 AM

I agree that article is the best case for allowing a nuclear Iran.

But it's the same arguments that were made about the Soviets in the 70's, or in the runup to WWII by those opposed to stopping Germany. Assurances that the enemy is rational, that action would be too risky and a provokation.

The author is basically saying Israel should allow a circumstance where they could be wiped out at the push of a button, and then gives a bunch of reasons why Iran won't push that button.


I agree with much of that, but it's not perfectly analogous to those other situations. As RBPL said, Iran may be seeking mutually-assured distruction. That requires the Israeli response which is likely already automated. Iran would be crazy to strike them. Tinfoil hat...batshit insane...choose your descriptor.

One of the other things the article touches on is that people have dealt with more frightening scenarios many times in the past. Mao getting the bomb was markedly more dangerous to US interests (or at least could be sold as such). The cold war makes Iran look like a pittance.

I realize that it's fiction, but everyone needs to see Dr. Strangelove (I've heard the same thing about Failsafe but haven't seen it yet). The Cold War was the most frightening situation in world history in a way that makes Iran look like nothing more than the Neocon obsession du jour. It's an issue for Israel for sure, but for the US it's just one of many world issues to keep track of.

#26 Shryke

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:36 AM

I agree that article is the best case for allowing a nuclear Iran.

But it's the same arguments that were made about the Soviets in the 70's, or in the runup to WWII by those opposed to stopping Germany. Assurances that the enemy is rational, that action would be too risky and a provokation.

The author is basically saying Israel should allow a circumstance where they could be wiped out at the push of a button, and then gives a bunch of reasons why Iran won't push that button.


Iran won't push the button. Iran is not fucking crazy.


The problem here is Israel CAN'T stop Iran. They don't have the capability.

At best they can start shit and try and force Obama's hand into aiding them. Something he REALLY doesn't want to do.

Edited by Shryke, 06 March 2012 - 12:38 AM.


#27 Roose Boltons Pet Leech

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:37 AM

The Cold War was only genuinely scary when the two superpowers (neither of whom wanted a war) thought the other was going to attack first. Apart from Kennedy's attempt at playing chicken over Cuba, and the over-heated rhetoric of the early 1980s, the rational basis of MAD worked. Of course, the problem with that (as Dr Strangelove pointed out) is the possibility of accidents: the Soviets had one in 1983 that almost set off their arsenal. Also, the nature of MAD rewards you if you get the other side to think you're irrational, since they'll be scared into giving in (Nixon played this card in the early 1970s, and North Korea does it today). Or if you're dealing with a genuine fruitcake like Mao, who believed that you could win a nuclear war if you start with enough people (again, Dr Strangelove territory).

But on the whole, I don't think a Middle-eastern MAD is something to worry about. It might even encourage a bit of detente further down the line, when Tel Aviv realises that its future rests of negotiation rather than a simply nuclear monopoly.

#28 Shryke

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:39 AM

Perhaps I should have said before they got the bomb, but of course Nth Korea got the bomb when America wasn't really paying attention.

So, Iran did do it all wrong. They should have taken a lesson from Nth Korea and done it while America wasn't looking. That and they clearly need to act more crazy, like North Korea.

Obama is also hamstrung by the fact that they can't hope to get a resolution through the UN allowing pre-emptive military action (China might only abstain, but Russia will veto their way to an Iranian nuke I'm prettty sure). If he goes in without a UN military mandate he's going to be committing a worse crime against international law than Bush jnr did with his Iraq fig leaf. Obama would find himself with arrest warrants in more countries than Bush jnr, which would be a turn up for the books.

Israel, on the other hand, routinely thumbs its nose at international law, so they are more than capable of going pre-emptive without anyone's approval, even the USA's; knowing that the USA has their back and will veto any counter-resolutions in the Security Council. Netanyahu might find he has arrest warrants out on him in most continental EU countries, but he would care about that about as much as he would care about an arrest warrant for him in Iran itself.

End of the day, if Iran wants the bomb, they will get the bomb. Anything the US and Israel try to do militarily to prevent it will simply harden their resolve, and shorten the timeframe. If iran really doesn't have ambitions towards the bomb (unlikely IMO, but not every nation intent on using nuclear energy is also intent on having the bomb so it's possible) then Israel and the USA's actions are certainly a major incentive for getting one ASAP, to shut them the hell up, or at least move the animosity to a different, and more comfortable, level for Iran.


The US isn't hamstrung by the UN. The current administration doesn't want to get involved in a war with Iran. The only people who do are the GOP, the US Pro-Israel lobby and Israel.

#29 Lian

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 01:31 AM

The US isn't hamstrung by the UN. The current administration doesn't want to get involved in a war with Iran. The only people who do are the GOP, the US Pro-Israel lobby and Israel.


Israel doesn't want to go to war with Iran. If more crippling sanctions can stop Iran from getting the bomb, then Israel would be perfectly happy leaving them alone.
Also, you might express your confidence that Iran would never, ever use nuclear weapons, but please understand the Israelis can't rely on that position, seeing as the Iranian top leader Khamenei talks about Israel as a cancer that needs to be cut out. Sure, it could be just rhetoric. But... y'know... those paranoid Israelis...

#30 Anarchosaurus Rex

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 03:49 AM

http://www.csmonitor...-the-bomb-video

This is a good article which describes Iran's legitimate motives for obtaining nuclear technology (Israel's own nuclear arsenal and the U.S.' habit of deposing non-nuclear regimes), and the U.S. government's own simulations of what would happen if Iran acquired nuclear technology (Israel would lose its undisputed dominance of the Middle East, and a more competitive balance of power would emerge, but no hostilities).

The "case" for besieging, bombarding, invading, and occupying Iran is just as spurious as the cases to do the same to Afghanistan and Iraq. For the alleged actions of the Iranian government, which has lost much of the consent of the governed and commands a relatively impotent military - the U.S. government wants to wage war on the Iranian people, dub anyone who defends themselves "terrorists," and establish a U.S.-friendly government that will award government contracts to politically connected U.S. firms instead of state-owned Russian ones. This is the classic fallacy of conflating "government" with "society." People should not be punished for the crimes of their government. The U.S. government, however, is in its death throes, and is desperate to prop up its empire with more imperialism, so war with Iran is likely. When Hussein declared that Iraq would begin trading oil in euros instead of dollars - threatening the already precariously weak dollar's status as the "world's reserve currency" - his government was overthrown shortly thereafter. Iran has publicly discussed denominating its oil trade with Russia and India in gold, repeating Saddam's mistake of threatening the dollar's privileged position.

Sadly, Obama and all the Republicans - except for Ron Paul, of course - sound exactly the same on the issue of Iran.

#31 Samalander

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:43 AM

1) The USA didn't bomb the hell out of Nth Korea when they got da Bomb. And they are a way more scary lot than Iran.
2) Funny I was just reading an article (sorry can;t find the link any more) where Netanyahu is quoted as saying Israel needs to be the master of it's own fate, and it needs to be able to defend itself by itself. Conveniently both statements forget that fact that US aid helped and continues to help Israel pursue its chosen fate, and its ability to defend itself. If nothing else I think that buys the USA the right to tell Israel whether it can push the big red button or not. If israel actually attempts to destry Iran's Nuclear infrastructure that will set off a fire storm, and the USA will have no choice but to commit men, machinery and money to help Israel defend itself.
3) If the USA said to Israel (which it never will): "You started it against our express wishes, so you're on your own on this one." Israel would soon find itself in a rather dire situation.

1) But they can't reach the continental US. Big difference.
2) Obama needs to get re-elected. We need Iran stopped ASAP. Conflict of interests ensues...
3) True. Not sure how long the "you're on your own" will stick, though.

Israel, on the other hand, routinely thumbs its nose at international law, so they are more than capable of going pre-emptive without anyone's approval, even the USA's; knowing that the USA has their back and will veto any counter-resolutions in the Security Council. Netanyahu might find he has arrest warrants out on him in most continental EU countries, but he would care about that about as much as he would care about an arrest warrant for him in Iran itself.

I beg to differ regarding nose thumbing. We do have a right to self defence, and it does extend to not letting people who publicly state they want to kill us, get the means to do it.

Iran will not bomb Israel for the very simple reason that Israel has a forty year head start in the development of nuclear weaponry. At most, Iran wants to achieve a Middle-Eastern MAD.

Israel is tiny. One bomb and we are out. Iran can sustain multiple hits and survive.

I do understand why Israel would be concerned about Iran, but the bottom line is that the thing that they profess to be most afraid of is almost unimaginable. The Iranian leadership is not suicidal. Or do you think that they are?

I'm not happy about using this this argument, but since it still holds water: "That's what they said about Hitler".

I agree with much of that, but it's not perfectly analogous to those other situations. As RBPL said, Iran may be seeking mutually-assured distruction. That requires the Israeli response which is likely already automated. Iran would be crazy to strike them. Tinfoil hat...batshit insane...choose your descriptor.

No. Israeli response depends on our submarines commanders willing to do what needs to be done.

Edited by Samalander, 06 March 2012 - 05:43 AM.


#32 Roose Boltons Pet Leech

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:10 AM

Israel is tiny. One bomb and we are out. Iran can sustain multiple hits and survive.


Israel is the regional superpower, with the fourth most powerful military on the planet and a regional nuclear monopoly for over four decades (it also has the complete backing of the only world superpower). Israel could quite probably reduce Tehran to a carpark in about half an hour: I doubt the Ayatollahs are *that* desperate to meet Allah.

#33 Samalander

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:19 AM

1) Israel is the regional superpower, with the fourth most powerful military on the planet and a regional nuclear monopoly for over four decades (it also has the complete backing of the only world superpower).
2) Israel could quite probably reduce Tehran to a carpark in about half an hour

1) True, but those are offensive capabilities, not defensive.
2) Sure, so what? Iran is not Tehran. Somebody might decide that one city is a fair price to pay to be rid of the "Zionist Entity".

#34 mormont

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:27 AM

I beg to differ regarding nose thumbing. We do have a right to self defence, and it does extend to not letting people who publicly state they want to kill us, get the means to do it.


I think that people are questioning whether nuclear weapons really would be a means to achieve the aim of ridding the Middle East of the state of Israel. MAD is one obstacle: yes, in theory this would achieve the aim, but only if Iran were willing to accept enormous devastation in the process. Another point is that there is a difference between destroying the state of Israel and turning the real estate it sits on into a glowing patch of glass. Since Iran's differences with Israel are largely about who is entitled to that real estate, again it would seem that nukes offer only a rather pyrrhic method of fulfilling these aims. I'm not aware of any Iranian rhetoric that suggests they want to reduce the area to slag, in the process killing off many Palestinians and ending the hope of an Arab state in Israel's place, and accepting that this will result in the devastation of (at the very least) large bits of Iran in the process. This strikes me as very different to wanting the state of Israel gone. There is a crucial difference between that state and the land it sits on.

I'm not happy about using this this argument, but since it still holds water: "That's what they said about Hitler".


Yes, and they said it about lots of other people too. Sometimes they were right and sometimes they were wrong. This is how the world works. The question is, are they right in this case? Comparisons to Hitler won't help us judge.

No. Israeli response depends on our submarines commanders willing to do what needs to be done.


Quite true, but equally true of the hypothetically-nuclear-armed-state-of-Iran. Is there any particular reason to think their commanders would be more willing to hit Tel Aviv than yours would be to hit Tehran?

#35 Anarchosaurus Rex

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:30 AM

Israel is the regional superpower, with the fourth most powerful military on the planet and a regional nuclear monopoly for over four decades (it also has the complete backing of the only world superpower). Israel could quite probably reduce Tehran to a carpark in about half an hour: I doubt the Ayatollahs are *that* desperate to meet Allah.


Wise words. Israel markets itself as this lonely nation standing stalwart against the forces of evil, but in reality it is a hegemonic power in the Middle East, thanks to a strategic alliance with the American Empire. Far from being the refuge of the historically oppressed Jews wandering in the wilderness, Israeli is a harsh police state, complete with compulsory military service and the subjugation of ethnic minorities. In fact, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has largely been conducted at the behest of the Israeli lobby. The results speak for themselves. A half-century of sanctions, bombardment, coups, invasions, and occupations have left the Middle East a violent region full of strife.

Israel's government is afraid of a nuclear Iran not because it is an "existential threat" (the U.S. government peddled these types of doomsday scenarios throughout the Cold War to seize more power for itself), but because it is afraid of losing its status. The Israeli government wants to outsource its preemptive strike to the U.S. government so it can reap the rewards without assuming any of the risk. Obama or his potential Republican successors will most likely oblige.

Edited by Justice for Elia, 06 March 2012 - 06:51 AM.


#36 Ser Scot A Ellison

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:34 AM

RBPL,

The Cold War was only genuinely scary when the two superpowers (neither of whom wanted a war) thought the other was going to attack first. Apart from Kennedy's attempt at playing chicken over Cuba, and the over-heated rhetoric of the early 1980s, the rational basis of MAD worked. Of course, the problem with that (as Dr Strangelove pointed out) is the possibility of accidents: the Soviets had one in 1983 that almost set off their arsenal. Also, the nature of MAD rewards you if you get the other side to think you're irrational, since they'll be scared into giving in (Nixon played this card in the early 1970s, and North Korea does it today). Or if you're dealing with a genuine fruitcake like Mao, who believed that you could win a nuclear war if you start with enough people (again, Dr Strangelove territory).

But on the whole, I don't think a Middle-eastern MAD is something to worry about. It might even encourage a bit of detente further down the line, when Tel Aviv realises that its future rests of negotiation rather than a simply nuclear monopoly.


Very well said. MAD does work but it is truly, to borrow from Star Trek, a "Balance of Terror". If someone flinches or makes a mistake and the other side misinterprets that flinch or mistake things get really bad really fast.

I doubt very seriously that Israel has the logistic capacity to launch an effective strike against Iran. It has no forward bases from which to launch that strike and if its planes are flying across Jordan, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia they are going to be attacked by the forces of those States. They will not make it to Iran in the first place and if they do it will be with such a diminished strike force that they will do very little damage. Finally, those pilots aren't coming home. They'll have to run the same gauntlet they ran getting there coming home.

Only the US has the capacity to target Iran this way and I do not want to see the US entangled in another fight with a majority Muslim nation. It doesn't end well for us. Ultimately, all air strikes do is delay Iran, maybe, and further radicalize the Iran's population. There is a strong reform movement there already. Air Strikes would serve the existing government well and give them an excuse to crack down harder on the reformers. I hope we continue with soft power attempts to prevent Iran's nuclear ambitions. Military options are of highly limited utility.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison, 06 March 2012 - 06:39 AM.


#37 Usotsuki

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:42 AM

Ser Scot, it is almost certain that Saudi Arabia would be profoundly outraged by this shocking violation of its territory after it happened, but also entirely possibly that the Saudi military would for some obscure technical reason be completely unable to intervene till the Israeli planes had exited Saudi territory on the return journey. Though finding a second or third excuse in the event of repeated strikes might prove a tad challenging.


More generally the right to self-defence is constrained, there's no clear case for an attack on Iran's nuclear sites that meets the Caroline standard so it is hard to justify as the initial act of a preemptive war

The best case Israel can make is that Iran and israel are currently engaged in an ongoing conflict even if it is generally conducted through proxies and that any Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is simply part of that.

Whilst technically that argument would also justify an Iranian strike against Israel's military Iran, by all accounts, lacks the capacity to do anything of the sort so the point is fairly moot.

#38 Ser Scot A Ellison

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:47 AM

Usotsuki,

So, the Saudis would use the Israelis as their proxies against Iran?

#39 danro

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:50 AM

It has no forward bases from which to launch that strike and if its planes are flying across Jordan, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia they are going to be attacked by the forces of those States.

As long as the US sits on their hands I think Iraq could safely be flown over without the consent of the Iraqi government. For now. In something like a years time they will have the means to better protect their airspace. Not that this makes the idea of Israel attacking Iran any better. (But maybe more tempting for Israel, seeing as it is a window of opportunity.)

The Saudi ruling family really don't like the idea of a nuclear Iran, but if they let Israel launch an attack using their airspace they may well have a revolution on their hands.

Jordan, I don't know much about.

#40 danro

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:52 AM

So, the Saudis would use the Israelis as their proxies against Iran?

Hell yes! If they thought they could get away with it.

Is there anything as delightful as having your competitors and enemies weaken eachother at no cost to you?

*edit* Though I must add that it's not at all certain that the Saudis favour strikes against Iran. They hate the idea of a nuclear Iran, but may fear the consequences of armed conflict in the region more.

Edited by danro, 06 March 2012 - 06:53 AM.




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