Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter, two respected American experts in international
relations, developed a thesis in the 1950s to diagnose and differentiate between
“noise” and “signals” in understanding intelligence.
They defined noise
as confusion (either deliberate or coincidental), which makes it harder to
understand reality, whereas signals are real indicators to which one must pay
attention to better understand the intentions of one’s enemies.
have been hearing and seeing over the past few days regarding an attack on Syria
is noise from all parties concerned, as they try to influence their opponents to
make the “right” decision. This is a battle for hearts and minds, a struggle for
public opinion against the backdrop of a countdown (that has already begun) to a
US attack, which could well take place next week.
Syrian President Bashar
Assad is trying to use sweet talk to sway American public opinion and convince
the American people that he did not use chemical weapons (this is of course a
He is also using threats and insinuations that military
action would drag the US into a war it does not want, and that Syria’s allies
(i.e., Iran and Hezbollah) would respond against Israel. These formed the basis
of his interview with American journalist Charlie Rose of CBS, which was to be
broadcast in full on Monday afternoon, Israel time.
On the other side,
the US administration is wheeling out its heavy artillery (cabinet members,
senior officials and generals) to convince members of the House – conservative
Republicans and leftist Democrats alike – to support the decision to attack.
(Apparently, President Barack Obama has a majority in the Senate.) Furthermore,
Secretary of State John Kerry has been dispatched to win support from the
European Union and the Arab League (France has always been with him, Saudi
Arabia pledged support and probably even active participation, while Qatar has
offered support only).
Meanwhile, in Israel the cabinet heard a further
assessment on the likelihood of the country coming under attack following an
American military strike. The assessment stays as it was before, that the
chances are not high; but it still cannot be ruled out that the country would be
a target in a Syrian response. And therefore the IDF is prepared for any
scenario, even ones whose chances of coming true are negligible.
reason, and according to the assessment of the situation, it was decided to
deploy the Iron Dome antimissile battery near Jerusalem.
But truth be
told, what will really protect the public are Israel’s deterrent capabilities,
the IDF’s offensive capabilities, and the bomb shelters.
Iron Dome cannot
intercept the Scud missiles so loved by the Syrians and Iranians. It can only
intercept missiles that carry smaller warheads, such as the Fajr, used by Hamas
and possessed in abundance by Hezbollah.
Therefore it’s likely that the
relocation of the Iron Dome battery from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this week was
presumably intended to meet primarily psychological needs, in other words – to
reassure the public.