Monday, October 12, 2009

Ephraim Sneh wrongly predicts sanctions or war this year

"If no crippling sanctions are introduced by Christmas, Israel will strike"

George Friedman's prediction of either sanctions harsh enough to force Iran to dismantle its nuclear program or war "in the near future" was close to absurd.

Now former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh claims that either crippling sanctions will be imposed on Iran or Israel will strike by Christmas this year. That prediction is so ridiculous that it brings into question his mental health.

I've gone over the reasons the US is not going to either attack Iran or impose unagreed sanctions on Iran. Iran has a lot of leverage in Iraq and Afghanistan that it would use to retaliate either in the case of war, and a military strike means war, or sanctions that actually put Iran's economy, people or leadership into distress.

It may occur that there may be tacitly agreed-upon sanctions, where in order to placate US constituents who want to see some sanctions on Iran, a deal is reached where the sanctions are set to a level the Iranians consider reasonable while Iran increases its enrichment rate by an amount the US considers reasonable. Agreed-upon sanctions such as this are unlikely but not impossible like "crippling" sanctions.

I have not recently discussed why Israel will not attack Iran on its own. The answer is that it cannot. Of course there is the issue of flight over US-controlled airspace, but more importantly Israel is a supplicant in its relationship with the US. Any Israeli policy that would predictably and drastically harm US interests, regardless of flight-paths, is off of the table just because Israel cannot survive as a Jewish state even over the medium term, even for a decade or so, without large outlays of material, financial and diplomatic support from the US. An attack on Iran that the US predicts would be seriously harmful would put needed US support for Israel in jeopardy.

US voters would definitely choose Obama over Israel if the two were to come into conflict - and this is before the consequences of the attack become visible. As US casualty rates go up in Afghanistan and Iraq, Israel could expect a severe punishment. Severe enough that Israel may not after that be viable as a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Iran has already said, if it was not already obvious, that an Israeli attack would be interpreted by the Iranians as a US attack.

[MSNBC Interviewer Ann Curry]: If Israel strikes Iran and the U.S. says it did not approve that strike, would you believe that Israel acted alone?

[Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]: First of all, the Zionist regime is much smaller to entertain ideas of ever attacking Iran. Today, it's very well known, it's very clear that this illegal, murderous regime, which is killing children and women and innocents. This regime is being influenced by parties which are, in Europe and the U.S., in political corners, if you will. As far as we're concerned, the Zionist regime is not alone. And it’s continued life and – all the murderous activity it engages in has something to do and is connected with – the arms industrial complex in Europe and the U.S.
Such an attack would have all the drawbacks of a US attack from Iraq and the Persian Gulf, but Israel doesn't even have enough planes to inflict substantial damage. The idea of it is just nonsensical.

So Sneh is bluffing. He doesn't usually give a date as specific as he has given here. On December 26, he's clearly hoping that his prediction has been forgotten so he can claim Iran has to stop enriching by March and someone somewhere may take him seriously.

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