The drums of war on Iran have been beating, in both Jerusalem and among the usual suspects in the US (Republicans, the Israel lobby, the so-called neocons, etc). I’ve had posts over the past year arguing that Israel won’t attack Iran because it logistically cannot do so (e.g. here and here) and that if such an attack were to happen, the consequences would be catastrophic (most lately here). Not just for a generalized conflagration in the region but also for the world economy, which would plunge into recession—if not depression—following the inevitable spike in the price of oil and as high as $200 a barrel (asserted most recently by Nouriel Roubini and Ian Bremmer here). This is rather obvious, I think. On the conflagration, Israel would be hit not only by Iranian missiles but also by Hizbullah’s, which, as one may read in Nicholas Blanford’s new book, Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah’s Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel—favorably reviewed here by the right-leaning, Israel-sympathizing journalist Michael Totten—, can hit the Dimona nuclear power plant and take down any skyscraper in Tel Aviv. Lovely. It seems to me that anyone who seriously advocates an Israeli strike on Iran needs to have his or her head examined.
But as I’ve been saying, an attack on Iran simply won’t happen. America will not allow the Israelis to do it on their own and will not launch one itself. À propos, the Vanity Fair web site had a must read interview on the subject earlier this month with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, who explained “why Israel couldn’t take out Iran’s nuclear program even if it wanted to.” Voilà the conclusion of the interview:
Who in the administration or in the Department of Defense is pressing for a military strike?
Inside the Pentagon, civilian and military, I cannot find a single voice in favor of striking Iran.
What happens next?
Here’s another tidbit for you. I was in Havana when Ahmadinejad was there. I can’t reveal my sources, but not only did the Cuban government give him a third- or fourth-level award—which really made him angry because it wasn’t the top or even the second-level award—they also delivered him a message from Fidel Castro: get off this nuclear kick. Fidel is very anti-nuclear, as you might imagine, given his experience with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I think he, Kennedy, and Khrushchev all realized that they took the world to the brink of extinction. Here’s our archenemy in Cuba advising our archenemy in Iran that they’re on the wrong track.
Mind you, if we attack Iran, the Chinese will be ecstatic. Not only will we be mired in yet another interminable war, but from this one we might not recover for half a century.
As it happens, the Israeli public is also not keen on bombing Iran, as has been reported in several sources the past few days, e.g. here and here. But… Aluf Benn, the sharp editor-in-chief of Haaretz, had a column the other day on how Netanyahu has rhetorically painted himself into a corner and may willy-nilly be compelled to launch an attack on Iran. And there’s this from Daniel Pipes, who no doubt has good sources in the Israeli power structure
The perception may be, in the words of a Washington Post headline, “Obama assures Netanyahu on efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program” but I am not convinced that is the real story. For example, it might in fact be the possible Israeli use of nuclear weapons to attack the Iranian infrastructure.
I don’t believe for a second that the Israelis would be this insane. But still… As we say here, ça fait froid dans le dos. And then some…