Sunday, July 5, 2009

More Talk of an Israeli Attack on Iran

There are various articles about a possible Israeli strike on Iran in news sources today. Most mention two significant developments. First, the Israelis supposedly have received overflight approval from Saudi Arabia, which means they would not have to violate U.S.-controlled Iraqi airspace. And second, Vice President Joe Biden said,

“We cannot dictate to a sovereign nation what it can and cannot do,” Mr. Biden said. Pressed further, he added: “Israel has the right to determine what is in its best interests.”
Naturally there's no way to know if the report about the Saudis is true. And it's always dangerous to read too much into the words of Joe "Loose Cannon" Biden.

I'm on record opposing an Israeli strike at this time, although it they are going to do it, overflying Saudi Arabia would be preferable to crossing Iraqi airspace from the U.S. standpoint. According to a report from back in 2007 in the The Sunday Times, the Israelis have trained to use low-yield nuclear weapons to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities.  I find it difficult to believe that Israel would actually carry out a first strike with nuclear weapons, even small tactical ones. But if they are going to attack, that's exactly what they should do. There is little point in launching a strike that merely delays Iran's nuclear program, while incurring all the possible consequences. I do not think an Israeli attack is a good idea from the U.S. perspective. But if they do it anyway, I hope they use sufficient force to inflict massive damage, cripple Iran's nuclear program, and kill as many people at those facilities as possible. Skilled technicians and scientists will be at least as hard to replace as the equipment. 

But overall I continue to believe that the U.S. and Israel should work behind the scenes to sabotage & delay Iran's nuclear program, while at the same time doing everything possible to destabilize the regime. An attack, even if successful in wrecking Iran's nuclear facilities -- unlikely unless Israel really does use nuclear weapons-- may produce an Iran more united behind the clerical regime in a desire for vengeance. I may be wrong, but I don't think Iran will simply sit back and accept the destruction of its prized installations without major retaliation. 

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