YAK-130 military airplane jew fighter 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)
Following failed efforts to argue and persuade, the Americans seem to be taking
a new approach – trying to undermine Israel’s confidence in its military
A report in The New York Times on Monday was aimed at doing
just that – showing Israel how difficult a strike would be and explaining that
if possible regional fallout is not enough of a deterrent against attacking
Iran, a military failure should be.
The problem is that something might
be getting lost in translation between Jerusalem and Washington when it comes to
Israel’s goals in launching such a strike. Israel does not pretend it has the
resources to obliterate Iran’s nuclear facilities – something the US could
probably do – or to ensure that the Islamic regime would never build a bomb in
Instead, what Israel has claimed over the years is that it
could delay the Iranian program, which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Gen. Martin Dempsey, said he thought Israel could do in his CNN interview on
One IDF general has called such an attack a “bridge loan,” in
reference to the type of bank loan many home-buyers take to close on a property.
It would set the army back a few years – but probably not much more.
is mainly because Iran has already mastered the technology, and even if Israel
causes significant damage to a number of key facilities in the
nuclear-production line, it is just a matter of time before Iran makes the
necessary repairs to get the facilities up and running again.
question is whether this will be enough. Some assessments have claimed that if
Israel bombs Isfahan, Natanz and the other Iranian nuclear facilities, it would
solidify the regime, rally the people behind the ayatollahs and postpone the
possibility of a regime change for years.
Speaking in Jerusalem on Monday
at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Prof.
David Menashri, one of Israel’s leading experts on Iran, said it would
ultimately depend on how surgical Israel would be in its strike.
strikes are just against the facilities and succeed without major domestic
fallout, the Iranian people will not be overly disturbed, Menashri said. If
there is a “mess,” this will not be the case.
Working with this
assessment, some Israeli defense officials have raised the possibility that
after the initial strike, Israel would need to attack Iran again in a few years
to ensure that the program is not rebuilt.
Other officials have referred
to the debates that led up to the 1981 bombing of the Osirak reactor outside of
Baghdad. Then too, there were elements within the defense establishment –
particularly from the Mossad – who claimed that the strike was pointless because
Saddam Hussein would just rebuild the reactor and obtain a weapon.
however, never happened.
In their talks with Israeli officials, the
Americans refer to a strike against Iran as something so horrific and
destabilizing for the region that it is questionable if a delay of just one, two
or three years is worth it. There is no question that Israel probably cannot do
Ultimately, there are three major questions Israeli military
planners need to ask themselves before embarking on such an
First, can the Israel Air Force’s F-15s and F-16s fly to where
they need to go with the appropriate munitions? Second, will they be able to
overcome Iran’s air force and air defense systems? And third, will they be able
to penetrate the facilities, some of which – like Fordow and Natanz – have been
built deep underground? For now, the positive aspect of the increased dialogue
between Israel and the US on the Iranian issue might mean that there is also
This would be a step in the right direction,
since even if Israel attacks Iran without American assistance, a diplomatic
process would need to be in place to end the ensuing war and hopefully prevent
Iran from rebuilding its facilities.
The US would be the likely candidate
to lead such a process.
If Israel were, however, to attack Iran against
US President Barack Obama’s wishes, the US might not be there to fill that role.