Analysis: Deploying Iron Dome near Jerusalem is purely psychological

What will really protect the public are Israel's deterrence capabilities, the IDF's offensive capabilities, and the bomb shelters.

September 9, 2013 15:44
2 minute read.
Iron Dome displayed at Ben Gurion airport for Obama's visit.

Iron Dome displayed at Ben Gurion airport 370. (photo credit: Alon Basson/Defense Ministry)


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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.

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What we 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 blatant lie).

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.

For this 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.

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