Many folks don’t know that The Forward editor Larry Cohler-Esses lived in Iran for five years and speaks fluent Farsi. So when he and Nathan Guttman report on a new and most comprehensive analysis by one of the leading mideast military strategists and a former advisor to the King of Jordan which spells catastrophe for an Israeli military strike against Iran, we sit up and listen.
The heart of the 114-page report spells the costs: a crippling rate of aircraft attrition, the opening of renewed all-out war by Arab-Muslim states against not just Israel but the United States’ personnel, and the weakness of Israel to defend against the number of hostile rockets likely to be used in retaliation.
Their March 14 study notes that these defenses may include a deadly, ultra-sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft system that could down 20% to 30% of Israel’s attack aircraft — “a loss Israel would hardly accept in paying.” They note reports that Russia has secretly supplied Iran with this system, the SA-12 Gladiator/Giant. Also, even a successful Israeli attack on these three sites could prove futile, they warn, if Iran maintains secret facilities for uranium enrichment, as some suspect.
Meanwhile, in the event of an attack, Iran and its Shi’ite allies in neighboring countries would launch retaliatory attacks against Israel, American military forces in Iraq, and Western interests regionwide, Cordesman and Toukan suggest. They predict that these attacks would include ballistic missiles — including some with chemical, biological and radiological warheads — targeting “Tel-Aviv, Israeli military and civilian centers and Israeli suspected nuclear weapons sites.” Israel’s air defenses would not be adequate to counter the tens of thousands of missiles likely, they add.
The report notes that Iran has taken steps to not repeat Iraq’s mistake in putting all its nuclear eggs in one facility. Repeated strikes against underground bunkers still may not set back the country but a few years. Israel relies on Egypt and Jordan to triage with the Palestinians, negotiating for Gilad Shalit and ceasefires with Hamas through them. The Arab League offered Israel universal recognition and diplomatic ties in its 2006 peace proposal. In effect, pushing the nuclear horizon out a few years but pushing Israel back to 1967 in all-out Arab War.
I want our homegrown Iran-baiters to consider this heavily: An Israeli attack risks the lives of American personnel in Iraq, Afganistan and elsewhere. I, as an American, cannot condone this. My father was in the US Army for the first 14 years of my life. If he were presently serving, he’d be on his third tour in Iraq (like some of my high school friends are). To be killed because of Bush’s stupidity is bad enough. But to be killed because of the recklessness of a supposed ally like Israel would be infuriating. I cannot say that Israel’s warm standing in America would survive.
And I agree with Israeli military experts like Reuven Pedatzur, quoted at the end of the report, who say that Israel needs to accept the coming day of nuclear Iran and bolster its deterrance occordingly. “The key, of course, is deterrence. Only a clear and credible signal to the Iranians, indicating the terrible price they will pay for attempting a nuclear strike against Israel, will prevent them from using their missiles.”
The military option is no option. It’s suicide for Israel and deadly for Americans.