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22 March 2009


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If I may humbly submit an idea.

The second strike capability from any Israeli subs at sea when/if an Iranian first strike hits Israel is no comfort to Bibi and all his countrymen not abroad.

The naval lads at sea need only enough fuel (are they diesel/electric boats?), to make it to a friendly/neutral port of call (That might be challenging).

If, on the other hand, there's an "On the Beach" scenario, they might get a little liberty call, before calling it a night; so to speak.

David Habakkuk


While the directions in which anxieties about the viability of MAD are leading Israel are catastrophic, it is important to grasp that these anxieties are not actually wholly without foundation, by any means. In fact the whole notion of an assured second-strike capability is acutely problematic, even for countries in a far more favourable position than Israel is.

In thinking about MAD, it is important to distinguish between two separate things. One is a fact -- that given the destructiveness of nuclear weapons, even the prospect of a small number of these hitting one's cities provide cogent reasons for seeking to avoid war.

The other is a body of theory, according to which a key requirement for the stability of a nuclear balance of terror is that each side should have the capability to be able to ride out a first strike by the other, and inflict a devastating retaliatory strike.

Unfortunately, much theorising about this subject suffers from pathologies not infrequently found in attempts to remodel the social sciences -- in which I include the study of military strategy -- on the model of the 'hard' sciences. One of these is a disdain for the dirty work of empirical investigation.

Consider for example the famous 1958 paper by Albert Wohlstetter entitled 'The Delicate Balance of Terror'. In this Wohlstetter described six 'hurdles' that had to be surmounted if an assured second-strike capability was to be achieved -- and remarked that: 'Prizes for a retaliatory capability are not distributed for getting over one of these jumps. A system must get over all six.' Among the 'hurdles' listed was 'to make and communicate the decision to retaliate'.

(See http://www.rand.org/publications/classics/wohlstetter/P1472/P1472.html.)

According to Wohlstetter's own logic, if it is not possible to design a command and control system which can 'make and communicate the decision to retaliate' after an all-out thermonuclear attack, an assured second-strike capability is a mirage: just as if one of the obstacles in a steeplechase is too high or wide for a horse to cross, that horse cannot get to the end of the course.

But at no point in the paper does Wolhstetter confront the question as to whether the goal is attainable. Remarkably in my view, having painted Soviet capabilities for surprise thermonuclear attack in distinctly alarmist colours, he simply took for granted that it was within the power of USAF planners to devise a command and control system which would still be functioning when the United States was an irradiated wasteland.

So the problem was, in effect, handed over to those lesser mortals who would have to try to operationalise the strategy.

According to Bruce Blair, the former Minuteman launch control officer who is one of the world's leading authorities on nuclear command and control, those who had to operationalise the ideas of theoreticians like Wohlstetter did not think the command and control 'hurdle' could be crossed. They anticipated that their command and control system would collapse under the weight of a Soviet attack, calling their ability to make an effective second strike in question.

The implications were set out by the former commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command, General Lee Butler, in an interview published in Jonathan Schell's 1998 study The Gift of Time, from which Blair quotes on his website:

'Part of the insidiousness of the evolution of this system … is the unfortunate fact that, whatever might have been intended by the policymakers (who, incidentally, had very little insight into the mechanisms that underpinned the simple words that floated onto a blank page at the level of the White House), in reality, at the operational level, the requirements of deterrence proved impracticable…. The consequence was a move in practice to a system structured to drive the president invariably toward a decision to launch under attack…. Launch under attack means that you believe you have incontrovertible proof that warheads actually are on the way….. Our policy was premised on being able to accept the first wave of attacks. We never said publicly that we were committed to launch on warning or launch under attack. Yet at the operational level it was never accepted that if the presidential decisions went to a certain tick of the clock, we would lose a major portion of our forces… Notwithstanding the intention of deterrence as it is expressed at the policy level – as it is declared and written down – at the level of operations those intentions got turned on their head, as the people who are responsible for actually devising the war plan faced the dilemmas and blind alleys of concrete practice. Those mattered absolutely to the people who had to sit down and try to frame the detailed guidance to exact destruction of 80 percent of the adversary’s nuclear forces. When they realized that they could not in fact assure those levels of damage if the president chose to ride out an attack, what then did they do? They built a construct that powerfully biased the president’s decision process toward launch before the arrival of the first enemy warhead.'


A submarine based nuclear capability would certainly be more 'survivable' than a land-based capability, for the Israelis. But it certainly does not wholly get round the problem.

None of this should be taken as indicating that I think that Israeli policy is wise. But if we are all to step back from going to hell in a handcart in the Middle East -- which is what I very much fear we are doing at the moment -- it is important to grasp the rational foundations of Israeli anxieties.

By the same token, of course, it is equally important to grasp the rational foundations of Iranian anxieties -- confronted by an Israel already possessed of a large nuclear arsenal and effective delivery systems, and led by figures like Netanyahu and Lieberman. There are I think, vastly stronger grounds for the Iranians to fear Israeli attack than for the Israelis to fear Iranian.

But then one also needs to take into account other Israeli fears -- including the fear that even more of the young and the educated will decide the Middle East is too dangerous a neighbourhood.


One of Israel biggest strategy problem and they have always been worrying about it in their military doctrine is "lack of geographical depth"

And we are talking about conventional land battle. If we are talking about nuclear attack, I think one can pretty much figure out how to drop 4-5 nuke that will evaporate state functions permanently. It doesn't matter how deep of a bunker they build.

for eg. at radius of 10-20 miles blast taking out 80% Israel industrial base, port and military facility would only take 3 nukes. Iran should be able to achieve such second strike capability in less then 5 yrs.

Anyway, you can play your own "nuke 'em' on real map here. Have fun


Israel command and control?

They can't even form a government yet. So let's just say, I doubt they can get their act together if they lost Haifa, Tel Aviv, and all their runways.

I think the most interesting question at this moment is when will Iran achieve minimum second strike capability? Because at that point, The equilibrium of power between Israel and Iran is achieved. (both sides pretty much know they are at stalemate point without investing in significant technological leap.)

All the rest are standard song and dance.

Babak Makkinejad


portion of Mr. Khamenei's speech may be found, tranlsated, @ http://www.juancole.com/2009/03/osc-khameneis-speech-replying-to-obama.html


Thanks, David. This was, for me at least, some very valuable background. The breadth of your knowledge (and interests, it would seem) borders on the alarming.

Granted, then, that at least some of Israel's fears in this direction are well founded, do you have any thoughts on what might coax them back from the brink of making truly catastrophic policy decisions? After all, I think there's at least some truth in the old saying that " what we fear most, we bring upon ourselves."

I'd also be most interested in your take on whether Iran is aiming to acquire nuclear weapons. FWIW, I've long thought they probably are, if only because their possession seems to offer the only realistic guarantee against external aggression and for Iran, that must surely seem particularly desirable. In that sense, US policy in recent years has long struck me as unusually counter-productive.

By the way, like many here I suspect, I'm always pleased when I see there's a David Habakkuk comment on a thread. It invariably means the calibre of the conversation will take a further step up, even if it's already exceptionally good.


Colonel, here is another assessment of that message from Iran ... in case you might be interested.


portion of Mr. Khamenei's speech may be found, tranlsated,
Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 24 March 2009 at 03:26 PM "

yeah I saw that. Should just post it as subtitle along with the video upload file. Are you guys still blocking youtube? That tool is important, and still relatively open global soap box. Plus, can't control everything, might as well let it all out.

People in general figure out which is which with enough information.

David Habakkuk


Thanks for your compliment on the breadth of my knowledge. Unfortunately breath is one thing, depth another.

Following the 2006 Lebanon war, someone who has real depth of knowledge on the Middle East, the former CIA Saudi Arabian station chief Ray Close, noted that there was a strategic logic behind the Israeli attack on Hizballah, given that developments in missile technology were going to make more and more of Israel vulnerable to missile attack.

And the same logic created an immense pressure to 'do something decisive about Iran', as only by such decisive action, it was believed, could the threat from Hizballah and Hamas be neutralised. And in looking at perceptions of Iranian nuclear threats, one needs to take into account the anticipated effect upon risk-taking, quite as much as any direct threat.

As a result the possibility of an Iranian nuclear capability is doubly significant in relation to Israel's most serious vulnerability, which is that the new generation of the educated elites upon whom the country depends may decide they have a better future elsewhere.

What Close went on to suggest was that U.S. policy was heading into a potentially acutely dangerous blind alley, where the alternatives were either '1. War with Iran (with negative consequences beyond anyone's ability to imagine); or 2. Another humiliating demonstration of impotence.'

(See http://www.juancole.com/2006/08/close-building-war-on-iran-ray-close.html.)

The voices of prudence fortunately prevailed in Washington, with the aid of the November 2007 NIE, which judged 'with high confidence' that the Iranian nuclear weapons programme had been halted in fall 2003, and 'with moderate-to-high confidence' that Tehran 'at the minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.'

Others who have followed this more closely than I have, and have expertise I lack, may have seen evidence suggesting that these judgements were wrong or outdated. But what the NIE argued the Iranians had done is what it seems to me it would be sensible for them to do.

It is precisely when a state is engaged in a crash programme to develop nuclear weapons and the systems to deliver them that its adversaries are liable to feel that they have a 'window of opportunity' of which they must take advantage before it is too late.

According, even if they are hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons -- which they may or may not be -- it could very well make sense for the Iranians not to go for an all-out attempt to acquire them until their civilian programme and related military programmes are more developed.

And this is all the more so as they need to find what counters they can to U.S. and Israeli power in the present and immediate future, and other ways of spending scarce resources may be more promising than a crash programme which could still take years to produce a functioning capability.

As to the Israelis, I think 'what we fear most, we bring upon ourselves' is very much to the point. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy recently produced a document arguing that Israeli leaders believed that they did indeed have a 'window of opportunity' to take unilateral action to check the Iranian nuclear programme, which was not dependent upon U.S. assistance, but that they saw this closing rapidly, and so might act unilaterally.

(See http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/pubPDFs/PTF-Iran.pdf.)

Of course, this may very well be bluff, intended to convince the Obama Administration that the potential 'negative consequences' of an attack on Iran are likely to be less if the U.S. is involved than if Israel goes it alone. But I am no longer confident of this.

Facing very real security threats, and with no very good options, the Israelis have made matters immensely worse for themselves by seeing Middle East realities through lenses formed by the traumas of the Holocaust. They may indeed have come to see a nuclear Iran as such an apocalyptic threat that they have to try and stop it, whatever the costs and risks -- and even if the prospects of eventual success are poor.

As a result, the current situation is fraught with potential for complete catastrophe. What might coax the Israelis back? Real pressure from the U.S. government might -- but that is unlikely for the foreseeable future.

As to persuasion -- the assumption that criticism of Israel can only be a manifestation of anti-Semitism seems widespread in Israel, so persuasion from fellow Jews would be more likely to have traction than persuasion from Gentiles.

FB Ali


I’d like to second your closing remark re David Habakkuk. His appearance on a thread is alone worth the price of admission! We are indeed fortunate to have him on this site.

I haven’t followed this discussion too carefully, but let me say that this second-strike business is a considerable red herring. For it to function in any way as a deterrent, you have to make a firm assumption that the other side is going to make rational decisions. Anyone who contemplates the use of nuclear weapons today is not rational.

What is scary about Israel now is that both its political and military leaders seem to display such poor judgement as to border on irrationality. There was a time when one could depend on Israeli generals to be cold rationalists, however feckless the reigning politicians might be. Unfortunately, no longer.

An Israeli strike on Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for the USA. One only hopes this is realized in Washington.


After Gaza, it is abundantly clear that Israel is not a country that can be trusted w/ deliverable nukes.

I understand there are contingency plans to seize Pak nukes to keep them out of the hands of fundamentalist radicals. I pray & trust there are likewise plans to sieze Israeli nukes to keep them out of the hands of the likes of Avigodor Lieberman. (b/ I won't hold my breath till the near east glows in the dark)

A way out of this Iran/Israel/conundrum is to declare that the National Security of the United States requires that the Middle East exist as a NewClear Free Zone due to the presence and vulnerability of our troops there, period!

A little audacity per A. Lincoln pursuant to the War Powers of the Presidency. (See Emancipation Proclamation & Gettysburg Address)

Babak Makkinejad


There is absolutely no possibility of any Israel-Iran war. The leaders of Israel have known, at least since 2006, that the power to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-capable Iran does not exist in the international arena. And Israel does not want to loose Dimona nuclear complex.

While Don Americo is using the threat of a nuclear rogue state, i.e. Israel, to maintain his position in Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant & Persian Gulf - the self-same rogue nuclear state is trying to manipulate the Don. And the Don knows this too.

This is patently silly but this is where we are now as far as I can tell.

Patrick Lang


Unfortunately, you are quite wrong. The Israelis believe thatt here is a window if opportunity which has not yet closed. pl


David, the more I read and hear about Israel, the more I wonder if Avraham Burg isn't right in his dark view of his country. He was (as you no doubt know) Speaker of the Knesset, chairman of the Jewish Agency (and so on) before deciding to leave public life about five years ago.

There's a long and fascinating interview available on Haaretz (see below) in which he and an old friend discuss, often contentiously, where things have gone so wrong. Consider this, for example (interviewer in italics):

What you are saying is that the problem is not just the occupation. In your eyes, Israel as a whole is some sort of horrible mutation.

“The occupation is a very small part of it. Israel is a frightened society. To look for the source of the obsession with force and to uproot it, you have to deal with the fears. And the meta-fear, the primal fear is the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.”

That is the book’s thesis [the book is "Defeating Hitler", written by Burg]. You are not the first to propose it, but you formulate it very acutely. We are psychic cripples, you claim. We are gripped by dread and fear and make use of force because Hitler caused us deep psychic damage.


Well, I will counter by saying that your description is distorted. It’s not as though we are living in Iceland and imagining that we are surrounded by Nazis who actually disappeared 60 years ago. We are surrounded by genuine threats. We are one of the most threatened countries in the world.

“The true Israeli rift today is between those who believe and those who are afraid. The great victory of the Israeli right in the struggle for the Israeli political soul lies in the way it has imbued it almost totally with absolute paranoia. I accept that there are difficulties. But are they absolute? Is every enemy Auschwitz? Is Hamas a scourge?”

You are patronizing and supercilious, Avrum. You have no empathy for Israelis. You treat the Israeli Jew as a paranoid. But as the cliche goes, some paranoids really are persecuted. On the day we are speaking, Ahmadinejad is saying that our days are numbered. He promises to eradicate us. No, he is not Hitler. But he is also not a mirage. He is a true threat. He is the real world - a world you ignore.

“I say that as of this moment, Israel is a state of trauma in nearly every one of its dimensions. And it’s not just a theoretical question. Would our ability to cope with Iran not be much better if we renewed in Israel the ability to trust the world? Would it not be more right if we didn’t deal with the problem on our own, but rather as part of a world alignment beginning with the Christian churches, going on to the governments and finally the armies?

“Instead, we say we do not trust the world, they will abandon us, and here’s Chamberlain returning from Munich with the black umbrella and we will bomb them alone.

(http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/868385.html )

He's extremely controversial, of course, indeed many view him as a traitor. Still, much of what he says fits in disturbingly well with some of the points made here. One thing seems clear; discussion of these issues is more wide open in Israel than it is in the US.

Have you, by any chance, read Walter Russell Mead's recent essay in the Foreign Affairs journal? He made what I thought was an interesting attempt to reframe the conflict by refocusing on the failure of the international community to provide security when the British withdrew. By doing so, he hoped to strengthen the international will to accept true responsibility for their part in this unfolding catastrophe and also, perhaps, to enable some of the anger felt by both Israelis and Palestinians to be usefully directed somewhere else other than at each other.

Like Burg, he considers just how badly damaged both these societies actually are:

"The conflict is not just fiendishly hard to resolve; history and culture make it difficult for both the Israelis and the Palestinians to make the necessary choices. The two peoples had very different experiences in the twentieth century, but both have been left with a fractured national consciousness and institutions too weak to make or enforce political decisions." (my emphasis)


Iran, by contrast, seems comparatively well-balanced. Even the occasional tirades appear to be done with a cold and conscious purpose. Rebuilding a relationship with them might require little more than that the US (and much of the rest of the west) acknowledge, and thereby begin to deal with, their pride. Not likely to happen anytime soon, I fear.

It's such a shame that Obama didn't fight for Freeman's appointment; I sometimes wonder if this may not have been a truly critical crossroads.


There is absolutely no possibility of any Israel-Iran war. The leaders of Israel have known, at least since 2006, that the power to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-capable Iran does not exist in the international arena. And Israel does not want to loose Dimona nuclear complex.
Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 25 March 2009 at 11:07 PM "

you are definitely underestimating possible US involvement after the initial opening skirmish.

Nobody in the US establishment dares to think what happen if Israel pulls the trigger and attacks, followed by Iran crossing Iraq to retaliate. In such event, the only thing that can prevent US involvement is Russia. If Israel goes to war and looks under distressed, US military involvement is 100% guarantee. It doesn't matter if Israel launch 50 nukes against Iran and Iran retaliate using conventional weapon and loosing. US tanks will cross border and go to Tehran. Israel is betting heavily on that scenario.

It might change a little after Iraq pull out, then there is argument about resending troops.

Better fix that jundullah problem clean and silently. Iran's infantry performance is being measured.

anyway, this one doesn't look good. I have this bad feeling that afghanistan will once again turn into free for all arena.


Sectarianism Spreads to the Orakzai Agency

The sectarian clashes spilled over to the Orakzai Agency where 10 to 15% of the Orakzai tribe is Shi’a. The agency does not share a border with Afghanistan and was at relative peace until October 2008 (Herald Monthly [Pakistan], October 2008). The conflict in Orakzai is mainly over the ownership of Mir Anwar Shah Shrine at Kalaya. This shrine, which originally belonged to the Shi’a, was given to the Sunnis during British rule. Later the Shi’a were allowed to visit and ensure its maintenance. In 2000 the Taliban declared this agreement un-Islamic and warned the Shi’a not to return. The militants occupied a hilltop and fired RPGs and mortars on neighboring villages (Afghan News Center, January 18, 2001). The Taliban also expelled the Shi’a from fertile land and forced them to pay jiziya (poll tax on non-Muslims). In October 2006, the shrine was reduced to rubble after a seven day battle over its ownership. People from both sects were banned from entering the disputed area. The trouble in Kalaya continued, with a suicide car-bomb killing six people at a jirga called by the Shi’a to settle a dispute with the Sunnis in December, 2008.
The Taliban based in Lower Orakzai have also been stirring sectarian violence in Kohat and Hangu. (Reuters, December 5, 2008). Moreover, access for Kurram is through Orakzai and by blocking the road, the Taliban are effectively putting the Kurram Shi’a under siege.


complete and total mess. the religious war alone will last for decades, nevermind if the big guys start pouring weapons on each side.


Iran will attend the international conference on Afghanistan. Is this a step forward?

David Habakkuk

F.B. Ali, Babak Makkinejad, Ingolf,

It is fascinating to look at the undertones of the exchanges between Avrum Burg and Ari Shavit to which Ingolf refers.

Ultimately this is a dialogue between an Israeli of German-Jewish origin, who has reverted to the assimilationist dream characteristic of so many German Jews before the Holocaust, and an Israeli who believes that the ghetto's suspicion of the goyim remains valid.

So Shavit says that history of German Jewry not only 'ends in Auschwitz', which is a simple statement of fact, but 'leads to Auschwitz' -- which suggests some inherent necessity, and implies the possibility of recurrence. In response Burg says that in America 'the goy can be my father and mother and my son and my partner', while in Israel, 'the goy is what he is in the ghetto: confrontational and hostile.'

Asked by Shavit whether every Israeli should take out a foreign passport, Burg anwers bluntly: 'Whoever can.' In response, Shavit accuses him of 'playing with your multiple passports and multiple identities, which is a course not available to many others.'

The logic of this situation points towards an Israel which cannot escape from Holocaust trauma, both because those who want to escape will leave -- if they can -- and because the prospects of long-term survival for an Israel headed in the directions in which it is headed are very poor.

And I think this may be a large part of the background to the disintegration in the quality of the judgement of the Israeli military to which F.B. Ali refers. When people have no good options, they are extremely prone to retreat into fantasy, and rather than choosing the least worst option, end up fooling themselves into thinking that they can cut through their problems by doing something drastic and daft.

And there is, unfortunately, a fantasy which is all too readily available: that which one sees in the common mistranslation of Ahmadinejad's remark that Israel must 'vanish from the pages of time.'

And for precisely this reason, I am afraid that on this one Babak Makkinejad may be simply wrong. I think he may be proceeding from the (justified) premise that an Israeli -- or indeed American -- attack on Iran would be barking lunacy to the (unjustified) conclusion that it will not happen.

Thanks incidentally to F.B.Ali for his kind words about my comments. I would like to say that a particularly valuable feature of this blog, for someone like myself who has limited knowledge and next to no experience of Islamic countries, are the contributions of people like him and Babak Makkinejad.


To give one example, the Iranian government gets 70% of its revenue from oil exports and 90% of those exports pass through a single oil terminal. Iran has similar vulnerabilities in other areas the US can exploit with a minimal application of force while causing Iran severe problems.
Posted by: Andy | 22 March 2009 at 07:08 PM "

meh this has been discussed. Not going to work.

1. The oil price spike from taking out some 25% of world oil supply will create serious market depression. As you notice the current economic collapse is a direct result of coordinated $150 oil price by OPEC. (compounded by weak banking regulation, over borrowing, etc, etc)

2. Iran can certainly blow up few more oil terminal in the middle east (eg. Saudi, Kuwait are easy target) that should exponentially enhance the effect of blown up Iran port. On top of that Iran can play the global market by telling traders exactly when the explosion will happen. The ensuing market speculation and money movement will destroy everything. Nevermind loosing Bear stern or lehman brother. That will create 800-1000 pts dow movement. pension funds will collapse. (specially so close from recession.)

3. Iran can then start blowing up Gulf coast and west coast oil ports. (what? you think we are the only one who can blow up oil port?) 80% of US oil imports enters through 3 super terminals. I am sure the Iranian can load a torpedo onto a fishing boat and launch it against any oil facilities in the gulf. The Russian will help them providing intel, underwater map and penetration techniques.

4. then you have the usual old discussion: tanker wars, land battle in Iraq, afghanistan front, etc.

This all depends how crazy Iran will go after somebody nuke them.

oh and there is that arab world anger too.

It is strictly a question of "exactly what is winning" Is blowing up 70% of Iranian cities and military facilities enough to stop entire spectrum of Iranian counter move?

Imagine this combination:

After Iran moves to destroy oil ports in Saudi, Iraq and Kuwait (childs play), then they proceed blowing up oil pipe in Mexico and Canada. That should cut down world/global oil input by 60%, we are seeing oil price of $250/barrel. probably add that by blowing up few Canadian electricity grid. That will cascade to Detroit, NYC.

Next come the market manipulation, amid banking chaos and global money movement. Then Iran park a small container with nuke in either major US port city or simply blowing up headquarter of major US banks.

Next start flooding low cost manpad and shooting US civilian airlines in major world airports. (the point is to cut world travel in and out of US by maximizing public fear and destroying trade pattern.)

Then start blowing up fiber optic connection in/out of major middle eastern country (Kuwait, Saudi will be off the international communication network instantly)

Basically, Iran is going to dismantle the infrastructure of US as a global empire. No oil, disrupted information and money movement, global lost of trust in dollar, etc. (It all happens before, SARS, Katrina, Grid collapse, Enron, BearStern/Lehman, etc, etc) All those facilities, service and trade pattern are critical to US daily functioning and they are beyond the reach of US protection.

Handing out prepackaged small easy to use plastic explosive to everybody who has something against the US would come handy too. The chaos will be utterly unpredictable. (water purification, phone exchange, gas pipe, refineries, data centers, fat fiber optic pipe, dams, large chemical containers, electric transformer, gas station, truck depot, airport fuel tanks, ... you get the point.)

All of them happens before, most are freak natural accidents. But if somebody is putting it together in a choreography. It will create desired effect. So that would be the battle of attrition look like. A state actor can pull what terrorist organization can't. we are not talking about exotic technology here, just basic sabotage combined with what a state can do in term of planning, resource and training.


recent developments:

Israel review of last Gaza operation


"The impact of the long confrontation with the Palestinians cannot be ignored," says a senior reserve officer, "and one should also bear in mind what sort of values inductees have when they come to us these days. Every year, the education system produces a significant number of little racists."

Periodic studies conducted by the IDF contain soldiers' testimonies about the use of the so-called "neighbor procedure" (forcing Palestinians to enter nearby houses to ask inhabitants to come out), abuses at checkpoints, shooting at medical personnel and more. In Gaza, too, while the official orders called for preserving the dignity and rights of Palestinian civilians, there were some junior officers who followed their own code and ignored improper actions by their troops. And there were, of course, impressive instances where the opposite occurred, such as the soldiers from a Golani patrol battalion who helped evacuate dozens of wheelchair-bound Palestinians from the combat zone.

There is a discrepancy between the official military response, of denial and horrified disapproval, the testimonies of the Rabin pre-military preparatory course graduates, and the response to those reports by key officers, unwilling to be identified.

"What did you think would happen?" a senior officer wondered this week. "We sent 10,000 troops into Gaza, more than 200 tanks and armored personnel carriers, 100 bulldozers. What were 100 bulldozers going to do there?"


Now the Israelis are reported to have bombed a weapons convoy traveling from Sudan toward the Egyptian border with Gaza. The attack happened in January, and the weapons allegedly originated in Iran. But it's hard to imagine that the Israelis would have gone to such trouble over a few crates of arms and ammunition. Haaretz speculates that the trucks may have been carrying long-rang Fajr rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv, and that the secondary goal of the raid was to send a message to the Iranians: Israel can strike at long distances and with precise intelligence.

But the operation also highlights the still festering problems of Sudan. In the last decade the Sudanese have collaborated with terrorist groups like Hamas and al Qaeda and with terror supporting states like Iran and pre-war Iraq, all while waging a genocide against its own citizens in Darfur. Likewise the statements from the Sudanese government are indistinguishable from the statements made by al Qaeda and its ilk. The New York Times quotes a Sudanese government spokesman pushing back against reports that it was the Israelis, and not U.S. jets, that carried out the raid:

“We don’t differentiate between the U.S. and Israel. They are all one.”

Sudan convoy aistrike


Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang & David Habakkk:

I stand by what I have said.

A possible conventional attack by Israel is certainly a threat but has a low probability.

Moreover, as long as fine Iranians such as Shaul Mofaz are among Israeli officials I would think Israel will be dissuaded from a course of action that will make it take (some would say its rightful place) among the evil doers of Karbala.


Some of what you have written is plausible, most not - in my opinion.

I think it will be a good idea to write up your comments as a film script or a novel - sort of like the book "The Crash of 79".

Any nuclear attack against Iran - by any government - will be the last act of that government. In case of Israel, it will be the last act of that state.

Babak Makkinejad


Perhaps the University of Iowa's Electronic Future's market can be used more efficaciously in deciding the possibility of war or peace.

The market may be found @ http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem/ but is not selling any futures on any wars. Perhaps it should.

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