Friday, February 17, 2012

Why the US and Israel will not attack Iran

There is a consensus in the US policy establishment that attacking Iran would not resolve or improve the US' position with respect to the nuclear issue, while Iran's responses would be costly for the US. I've recently come across two expressions of that idea that I want to leave here.

The first is from a former US intelligence official.
U.S. intelligence officials are skeptical. Former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told a group of foreign policy experts last month that Israel is not capable of inflicting significant damage on Iran's nuclear sites. Some are situated at the outer range of Israeli bombers, and others are underground, he said.

"The Israelis aren't going to [attack Iran] … they can't do it, it's beyond their capacity," Hayden said. "They only have the ability to make this worse."

A monthlong U.S. bombing campaign would inflict far more damage, Hayden said, but it wouldn't be worth it. The George W. Bush administration studied the issue, he said.

"The consensus was that [attacking Iran] would guarantee that which we are trying to prevent: an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon and that would build it in secret," Hayden said.
Suzanne Maloney expressed the same idea at a Brookings Institution panel earlier this month.
In terms of the New York Times Magazine article, I think we could do a whole session on that and I think all of my colleagues would have opinions on the number of questions that you posed. I will answer very briefly that I think -- I remain a sort of hopeful skeptic on the prospect of an Israeli attack, although I think the prospects today are higher than they have probably ever been, even after years of anticipation and expectation that such a strike would be imminent. I think the world jitters are legitimate this time around. I think the after-effects would be disastrous for U.S. interests and, for that matter, for Israeli interests, and it would not set back the program significantly enough to justify those after-effects.
It is fairly well understood in the United States that an attack on Iran would not achieve any US objective worth the risks and costs. As long as that is the case, we can be confident that we will not see an attack from either the United States, or from Israel, a country that, to the degree it is viable, is only viable because of US support.


Kooshy said...

One major part of western defense for Israel has always been to create a perception that Israel is untouchable to her hostile neighbors, in other  words the best line of defense is always is to scare everyone to attack, within that posture west allowed and helped Israel to become a nuclear armed country in knowingly unknown way . This defense posture was twice broken which both times cost the western side dearly once in 1973 when Egyptian where able to inflict heavy damage to Israel military’s untouchably which Israel wasn’t even able to threaten the use of her nuclear capability, and the second time was during the 2006 Lebanon war when Israel received a barrage of Hezbollah missiles, which Israel’s interior was directly attacked and again Israel was not able to threaten use of her ultimate weapon.
Militarily the west does not want to attack Iran if she can retaliate and break this perception of untouchably with the possibility that Iranian missiles can damage and create fear in military/civilian areas, braking this notion of psychological untouchability for the Israel’s residence is more damaging than the actual damage from the missiles. That is Lebanon 06 in a larger scale. The psychological security of Israel’s interior is always been yes we are living in a hostile dangerous region but we can’t be damaged and we always win, that perception was broken in 06.

Lidia said...

A good insight. Yes, 2006 was very damaging for Zionist hubris. IOF running without shoes from part-time Lebanese resistance warriors - it was hilarious to watch are hear. 

George Carty said...

I read that the Syrians were easily defeated in '73 because the Soviets withheld vital parts from the equipment they supplied to Syria.  (The reason is because the Soviets feared that if Israel was defeated conventionally, either they'd be on the receiving end of the Samson Option, or there'd be a massive Islamic resurgence that would threaten their domination of the Central Asian "stans".)

Is there any truth to this claim?

Dermot Moloney said...

"a country that, to the degree it is viable, is only viable because of US support."
Are you implying that israel as a country could not operate without us support or you iimplying that israel couldnt be doing certain things without us support?