Is Israel bluffing on Iran?
When it comes to threatening a massive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities [and by extension launching a full-scale war against Iran and its proxies] is Israel bluffing, or are we really going to do it? If the government believes that it can do it alone, without even informing the Americans, will it? This is what everybody from Washington to Tehran, and everyone in between, wants to know.
But with all the recent talk of attack, is Israel bluffing?
The question goes to the very heart of how we see ourselves in this neighborhood. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is fond of saying two things:
1. We’re a villa in the Middle East jungle
2. We’re the strongest power within a 1000 mile radius, including those on the edges of that radius.
How do we want to be seen? As a country that never, ever bluffs when it comes to its security? Or a country that bluffs sometimes, and sometimes doesn’t? What’s better for our deterrence?
As the New York Times reports:
Israelis like to say that when it comes to military and security operations, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know. The standard view has been that successful attacks rely on secrecy and surprise, so the more talk there is about an operation, the less likely it will occur.
This seems to me like classic Ehud Barak. The more we talk about hitting Iran, the more people say that we’re not going to hit them because we don’t actually have a credible military option, so we’re talking a big game to make it seem as if we have a credible military option. And then we attack. It’s reverse-reverse psychology. It’s Ehud Barak.
The sense we’re trying to give you is that we’re crazy; we’re unpredictable. We keep you on your toes. Just like Ehud Barak.
Why else would Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keep Barak around? Because he’s an electoral asset??
“I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” President Obama said Sunday in an interview with NBC.
I think the Israelis have made a decision, Mr. President, but they’re just not telling you.
We’re sorry about the unfortunate timing, what with the U.S. election looming and the global economy “hanging by a razor’s edge.”
But these things really are not all that important to us. Elections come and go. Economies go and up down in cycles. We’re interested in the price of our blood, not the price of your oil.
We’re talking about our lives here.
If anyone is bluffing, Israeli security officials believe it’s the Iranians, with their threats of massive retaliation.
A top security official tells me that Iran’s retaliation will likely be a combination of Argentina in 1994, Iraq in 1991 and Lebanon 2006. Take these three things and multiply them by three – that’s all they’ve got. They can’t send divisions to our borders – they’ll die in the desert. They can’t choke the world with their navy.
Personally, I don’t think the Israeli government is bluffing.