Tomorrow, March 5, 2012, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet US President Barack Obama in the White House. Yesterday, in Netanyahu Wags the Dog, I commented on the positions to be adopted by each one of the leaders. Almost three years after the initial Obama-Netanyahu meeting, it is clear that Netanyahu has at least defined the agenda of tomorrow’s meeting.
Moreover, Netanyahu can exert substantial pressure on Obama through the American-Jewish vote in November’s presidential elections. On the other hand, Israel depends pretty much on America’s financial, military, and civil help; Obama can put pressure on Netanyahu on a wide range of fields.
The name of the game will be “attack on Iran’s nuclear installations,” with each participant wanting the other one to be the aggressor. How will the talks look? A key component will be an analysis of the options open to each side. The presentation of these would be the arena where the struggle of each leader to lock the other into an attack on Iran would take place. What are the options?
Considering the nature of the meeting, one would expect Iran to participate. If either the USA or Israel were peaceful nations, they would try to talk out the differences with Iran. Yet, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be absent. Despite that, he and his nation enjoy the strongest position.
There is no question about Iran having all the legitimacy needed to defend itself against external aggression. The UN Charter prohibits signatory countries from engaging in war, except as a means of defending themselves against aggression, or unless the UN as a body has given prior approval to the operation. There is no doubt Iran would attack no other nation.
It never did. Even the CIA agrees Iran forces are arranged in a defensive fashion. The UN won’t sanction an attack against Iran; at least China, and probably also Russia, would veto such an outrageous Zio-American proposal.
Among these three, Israel is in the weakest position. Its main problem is its geography; in its tiny territory there is no room for secrets. Everybody knows where its strategic locations are. Nuclear missiles, air force bases, submarine bases, strategic junctions… all of them are in the open. This is so obvious, that Israel’s deterrence is based upon a nuclear second strike to be carried out from submarines.
If Netanyahu fails forcing Obama into an attack on Iran, he would need to take a harsh decision.
The only chance Israel has to win such a war is by utterly destroying the decision making bodies of the Iranian regime, as commented in Netanyahu Wags the Dog. Such decapitation cannot be achieved with planes; the long fly time of planes would give the Iranian regime a much better chance of taking defensive steps.
Instead, Jericho missiles—conventional or nuclear—would be used. Israel already admitted other options are not feasible (see Israeli Defense Ministry Acknowledges Defeat). Even if Israel would succeed in the decapitation, it would be unable to carry out a land occupation of its latest victim. Uncle Obama will be called to help his ugliest niece. Thus, Netanyahu can force the USA into another unnecessary war.
Obama Carpets Iran
With no doubt, the USA is the militarily strongest county in the trio. An American attack on Iran will look different from an Israeli one. Obama will try to destroy all strategic points in the country at once, carpeting Iran’s large territory with explosives. Considering the large amount of offensive weapons of mass destruction owned by the USA, it has a good probability of achieving a high degree of success.
Yet, a few months ago a mysterious incident was reported (see Iran Hits American Satellite); if that event was true—and considering the downing of the American drone by Iran on the same period of time it may well be—we may witness some surprises in such a confrontation.
Eventually, if America succeeds in the decapitation, it would need to occupy the land. America will find itself occupying a hostile territory larger than Alaska, and confronting a well organized opposition that would make the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam look like kindergarten picnics. Obama should think not only about his political future here, but also on the future of the USA as an acceptable and viable nation.
The USA may win the war only to find itself the most despicable outcast among the nations. It is unclear if Obama has the moral preparation and strength needed for taking such a decision. He may surrender to Israeli pressure.
Nobody claims the Iranians are about to attack anyone; not even the manipulative CIA. Yet, Israeli and Iranian sources claim Iran has an incredibly large arsenal of missiles. The latest numbers place it at around 200,000 missiles. Many of them can reach Israel. Even if the reports are highly exaggerated, it doesn’t matter. If Israel—or the USA—attacks Iran, the latter will have the right of self defense.
This is an unalienable right; being the victim a nation or a person. A few hundred well-aimed missiles are enough to shut down Israel. They don’t need to destroy the IDF Northern Command (they can’t; it is over 180m underground); it is enough to destroy Israel’s main roads and its main industrial complexes. The Israeli society would step back a few generations and disappear from the international arena.
Even if Iran is decapitated, its allies in Lebanon and Gaza would probably launch an answer without waiting for directives from Tehran. Gaza has still limited capabilities (see Grad Missile Hits Beer Sheva); yet, it still can bypass the Iron Dome Missile Shield system and disrupt local life even in Beer Sheva (beyond the reported events in the article, others take place on a daily base). Hezbollah in Lebanon is a different story (see Hezbollah Announces Next Targets).
Already in 2006, it proved being capable of hitting major cities along Israel’s backlines (namely Haifa). All involved sides agree it is much stronger now.
Moreover, new regional alliances fighting over the large reservoirs of gas (see Greece’s Fadeaway: Iran and Israel Battle over Cyprus and Gas, Oil … Uranium) in the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea may be activated in order to open another front against Israel. Two clear bands had been created around the gas field issue: Turkey-Lebanon-Northern Cyprus-Iran, and Israel-Cyprus. If Israel is at war with Iran, this may trigger a regional reaction aimed at fixing the askew regional maritime borders as per international standards. Turkey and Lebanon have already declared this is a casus belli issue.
On paper, Iran cannot reach the USA mainland with its missiles. Yet, it can still answer an American attack by targeting American military installations surrounding Iranian borders. The United States Fifth Fleet home base is Bahrein, just next door from Iran. Overall, it includes around fifteen thousand people serving afloat.
This would be the main body deploying ground forces into Iran; secondary routes through Iraq and Afghanistan would be far less efficient, and probably lead to the slaughter of American forces in a scenario similar to the one experienced by the Soviet Union army in Afghanistan. Iran has already warned that if attacked it would block the Straits of Hormuz, causing a dramatic worldwide raise in fuel prices.
If Iran has access to advanced jamming technologies (see Pax Iraniana) then the USA may become the one blocking the straights, though with a large pile of very expensive American iron-junk floating nearby the Straits of Hormuz. Also small conventional forces may achieve similar effect.
It is very difficult to predict how an armed conflict would develop. The amount of variables is practically infinite. Yet, the situation described here encompasses the core of the issue. There is no doubt Iran has moral superiority over Israel and the USA. There is no doubt the USA possesses an overwhelming military power; but it is also clear that brute force has limited capabilities.
There is no doubt Israel has the will to destroy Iran, but lacks the capability. Following one of my latest articles on the issue, an American reader contacted me saying “America can transform Iran into glass,” hinting at the nuclear option. Actually, that’s not true. Brutal attacks like Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not acceptable anymore. The USA will win the war to become an outcast.
Returning to tomorrow’s crucial meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, it is difficult to see how can they coerce the other into war. Despite all the macho-talk and their beating on their chests, gorilla-style, neither of them would endanger their violent fiefdoms for the sake of a questionable victory. Most probably, the talks will end with yet another threatening statement against Iran, while both leaders would thank God for Iranians posing no threat. Pax Iraniana is in the air.