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06 April 2010


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Wonderful post. However, Sneh has long argued that a nuclear Iran would defeat Zionism without firing a shot, i.e., by causing a massive exodus of Israel's Best and Brightest.

Invert the analysis. Why should America and the ME suffer because Israel has a dysfunctional political culture? Imagine the salutory effect of America's image in the region if we shot down one or two of Israel's jets when they violated Iraqi airspace. That could position Obama as the first president brave enough to stand up to the Lobby. That is a nightmare that even Sneh cannot contemplate.


Obvious thing:

- Obama's fundamental problem hasn't been resolved. Why should Bibi even care at all about his demand? (he has 70% approval. If he plays the game and fucks the oil price every other week, it is Obama that will lost his job due to double dip. Bibi wins period. He will be the last man standing. All of Obama crews are pussy and will blink, waffle and conveniently be in other speaking engagement.) Bibi knows this, the world knows this. Obama administration has lost its credibility.

- And wait until the Iranian figures out the Israel game and join in. (Hey, why not kick Obama under the table and help Israel? What's to lose? ) So now Israel and iran will bicker in public, and pump oil price to the moon.

- Initiating war, Yom Kippur style strengthen isreal position even more. They just need to wait for good timing and perfect excuse. They got to eliminate Iran with US force, kill bunch of palestinians, delay palestinian state indefinitely, AND get rid of Obama administration.

Even without war, If the kabuki game is played long enough, the one who lose the most is not Israel or iran, ... guess who?

so from Israel point of view, problem solved, deal with next administration.


what's left now is actually detail military operation and that perfect excuse. (that's why I keep spewing that ridiculous military scenario. Cause it's the only thing that will save our asses and not stuck in another big war before full economic recovery. Call it my home made mini counter propaganda)


What has to be done in Israel-Palestinian peace talk is straight forward, easy, and trivial. There is nothing to talk about anymore.

But why should anybody talk peace ?(inside domestic political circuit) Everybody who wants something get what they want through maintaining the current situation.


rather reminds me of the ending of fail safe. President Obama order the nuking of Tel-Aviva after the Isrealis take out Tehran.


After reading Habbakuk's post, I read the Sneh piece carefully.

Sneh's conclusion is that if Israel halts all building on occupied land, the Americans will fall into line and impose severe sanctions on Iran, with or without UN backing.

That's an unprovable assertion, designed to convince Sneh's readers of the validity of his argument (aptly described by US philosopher Harry G Frankfurt as "bullshit", in his entertainigly titled book "On Bullshit").

Some of the ten points Sneh lists are similarly flawed. Are bright young people leaving Israel because of the existential threat that Iran supposedly poses, or is it because Israeli life is increasingly dominated by religious wingnuts who are trying to have buses segregated, setting up counselling services for Israeli girls who are dating Arabs, and continuing to invite destruction on Israel itself by their heedless folly?

Balint Somkuti

Would such an attack result in a regime change in Iran? If not what could hinder the ayatollahs to pursue nuclear weapons again? How would the attack affect countries like Turkey or Egypt? What is China's opinion on the attack? How would the attack the world economy?


I notice that Gabi Ashkenazis term as chief of IDF will end in February 2011. I wonder who will replace him...

Green Zone Cafe

Yikes! Spot on. I'm taking leave in October.


Several observations and readings on David's thoughtful analysis. First, two years ago WINEP issued a report on the same topic--an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear program. That report argued that the ultimate success or failure of Israeli military strikes to knock out or postpone Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, was irrelevant. An Israeli attack, they argued, would be a "game-changer," because it would, indeed, force the United States to take Israel's side and, to use Col. Gardiner's words, "finish the job."

I think that all scenarios about Iran strike by Israel leave one crucial factor out of the consideration. Regardless of whether or not Iran's asymmetric retaliatory capabilities are proven to be highly effective or vastly overrated (will Hezbollah or Hamas strike Israel effectively on behalf of Tehran? Will Iran knock out some of the Persian Gulf oil fields in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain?), an Israeli attack on Iran will have monetary and economic consequences, globally, that will be far more devastating than imagined, in my opinion. The world has not gotten through the 2007-2008 banking and financial crisis, as much of the media claims. The banks are still fragile, sovereign debts in a number of European countries are unpayable, the U.S. Federal debt is out of control, and the appearances of return to financial normalcy are all based on the Brazil carry trade, which is, in reality, a hyperinflationary nightmare. So it seems to me that it is really necessary to stop Israel from taking it upon themselves to bomb Iran. There are some people in Washington who are quietly working with Ehud Barak, believing that he is the only actually competent person in the Netanyahu cabinet, who can be used as a channel for delivering the word that no attack on Iran will be tolerated. It is a highly risky proposition to count on Barak as the sanity clause in Israel, but that is how some people in Washington are thinking, vis. stopping Israel from detonating an economic armageddon. After the Bibi/Biden events and the AIPAC conference, no one is confident that Obama will stand up to Israeli and Zionist Lobby pressure, especially in a midterm election year. That is why Sneh and others are putting the date of November on a deadline for an Israeli strike against Iran.

augustin l

is this what "liberation" looks like.

Patrick Lang

augustin 1

"He jests at scars who ne'er has felt a wound."

You don't know anything about these pilots or what caused then to make a bad call.

And, who the hell are you to judge them anyway? pl


Regarding the Apache incident, yes, Col. Lang, I agree it was a bad call. The decision to suppress the video was also a bad call because it has magnified what should have been admitted as an "unfortunate incident" into something worse.

What does this event do to the value of all our work on "hearts and minds" operations in Iraq and Afghanistan?


I have just one question, not brought up in these calculations: Given an Israeli strike (the level of success for which is relatively unimportant), how is Joe the plumber going to react when he has to pay $8 a gallon for gasoline?

Clifford Kiracofe

Well, what is the regional context? We have four factors out that way to consider: Israel, Iran, Arab states, Turkey.

Some observers see the Arab states and Turkey working toward more normal relations with Iran.

This leaves Israel the odd man out. In the old days, Israeli strategy was to play up to non-Arab states like Turkey and Iran.

So perhaps Israeli circles feel a "game changer," as Harper puts it, is needed. Also, as David Habakkuk indicates, for Sneh etal. a strike against Iran IS "rational" in their minds. And what better than to drag the US in.

And just what about the US new nuclear posture?

And, it would seem, Congress will massively support an Israeli strike or a joint US-Israel operation.

On the financial front, as Salamon and Harper point out, the US is not in the greatest shape along with the rest of the industrial world. With such a strike and potential economic crisis does the US dollar lose its status as a reserve currency in a sauve qu'il peut scenario?

Patrick Lang


A bad call by a couple of men in their mid twenties, hopped up on adrenaline.

I would not assume that it was deliberately suppressed. An operational film would not be released to the public under normal circumstance.

As I have maintained in the past, combat units are unsuitable for COIN. Their business is fighting and killing not charitable works. Other people should do that as I once did. If we are to do COIN seriously a new corps should be developed for that. pl


What's Iran's response? Everyone talks about Iran launching all sorts of missiles, destroying Saudi refineries, blocking the straights of Hormuz.

I guess all that could happen in the face of a sustained daily bombardment. But in response to a single Israeli conventional strike? Iran's best response would be the simplest; Withdraw from NPT.

That nonviolent approach has the following advantages.

1) It would be hard to criticize Iran for doing so after an attack.

2) Any time Iran lost in destroyed material can be made up for with the need to placate the IAEA dispensed with.

3) It is 'restrained.' Iran actually gets credit for not escalating the situation. If the Israeli plan is to get the US involved, now the US would have no excuse. Probably an American general would send the IRGC a secret thank you note for not putting them on the spot.

4) Best of all, the west would have no one to blame but their Israeli 'allies.' China and Russia will know exactly where to point their finger when asked for more sanctions.

From Iran's POV, it would be foolish to escalate to a war when a minimalist approach would accomplish all your most important objectives.

Of course, in the event of a Kosovo 1999 style campaign, things would be different.

N. M. Salamon


I still believe that the end of the USA $ is a foreseen necessary consequence of any attack on Iran by Israel, or by the USA.

As becomes a proper elite person, Mr Goldberg, neglected reality, when he claimed that a few disabled oil fields/ ports are of little consequence. It appears even the USA government disagrees with this assessment. THERE IS NO SPARE CAPACITY TO PUMP OIL IN THE WORLD PAST THIS YEAR! The strategic reserve is good for at max 4 m barrals a day, leaving the USA short, especially as Mexico's export is contineally declinig [So will Canada's in this case, as we depend on imported oil for East, to export from the west].

The errors of military analysis is always on the problems outside their expertise.

The Habakuk analysis of Israel's psychology is probably valid, though does not make reference to the issue that USA help and IDF's ability to "safekeep" the insane Likud/Zionist movement is totally impossiblke in a few years, for lack of DISCRETORY OIL supplies. When the S**T hits the fan FOOD PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION will get first call , then public transport, then possibly war materiels [if the polulation will permit such idiotic wastage of ENERY?].

Since the time of Pasteur, civilization found a means of dealing with RABID animals - shoot them. The USA Government will have a choice: endanger the HOMELAND & HOMELAND's CITIZENs or Shoot the Rabid dogs /planes. If the President is an adult, then therre is no question - else he will sacrifice the sick USA econmy to something far worse.

I do not have doubts that the USA armed forces over weeks could destroy Iran, evfen without using Nuclear bambs. I am sure that the SA will come out worse than Iran, thereafter [further to fall in case of collapsed evconomy].

Sidney O. Smith III

Not sure Habakkuk incorporated all the necessary analytical assumptions and overemphasized others. While reading it, it was if Rabbi Teitelbaum started tapping me on the shoulder, metaphorically of course, and pointed to the words, “Zionist dream” in H.’ screed.

The evidence is overwhelming that this Zionist dream is starting to show signs of collective incipient schizophrenia.


Sneh is w/ the Labour party which does not make the decisions. Policy is w/ Bibi's Likud.

In a nutshell, Sneh says let's do a quid pro quo w/ Obama. Freeze the settlements for sanctions on the Persicos.

Obama has fallen in a vicious cycle w/ Iran. The Israelis kill a Persian scientist or there is a clandestine operation in Balochistan. Then Persians retaliate by proxies in Irak or by arming the Taliban. And it goes around & around.

Moreover, Obama has fallen into the trap of confusing nuclear capable w/ nuclear weapons. Alas only John Kerry was making that lucid distinction.

I think there will be a lot of sound & fury signifying nothing.


Does anyone believe we won't provide tanker support in return of a Zionist promise to "be conventional" in their attack upon Iranian sites? Who amongst us thinks such a promise will hold in the heat of a two to three-day series of Israeli strikes that don't offer the promised ROI? What's the likelihood of a few sub-launched Israeli nukes under cover of an air campaign? Fasten your seat belts, boys.


Netanyahu is caught by Catch-22 here. If he wants to keep his job, he must keep building; if he wants the US to help him deal with what he has been insisting is an "existential threat" to Israel, he must stop building.

Stan Laurel couldn't have gotten himself into a finer mess.

R Whitman

Everyone is talking about the firt strike. No one considers the aftermath. What happens next.

We make linear predictions in a non linear world.Two recent examples--Did the Israelis, when they invaded Lebanon in 2006 envision that every General, Chief of Staff and Defense Minister would be fired? Did the US, when we invaded Iraq in 2003 envision handing over the Iraqi government to a group, very friendly to Iran.

Wars have consequences and most of them are not expected, no matter how many think tank studies you run. The outliers get you every time.

David Habakkuk


Invert the analysis. Why should America and the ME suffer because Israel has a dysfunctional political culture?

It would I think be a wonderful thing if Obama felt in a position to take on the Lobby. And as I believe that the only long-term prospect for the survival of Israel lies in the kind of two-state solution which could only be achieved as a result of massive American pressure, this is precisely what clear-thinking Zionists should be urging him to do.

However, all the indications are that AIPAC, Dennis Ross, Fred Hiatt and the rest of them will continue to insist that the United States feeds Israel rope to hang itself. So although the time when an American president will be able to risk an all-out confrontation with the Lobby may not be so far away, I still have difficulty seeing this happening in the immediate future -- or indeed in time to rescue any prospect of a viable two-state solution.

Accordingly, the likely scenario is precisely the kind of continuing exodus of the 'Best and Brightest' about which Sneh has repeatedly talked. A corollary of this is likely to be that the relative strength of the alliance of expansionist secular Zionists with that part of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community that sees Zionism as an appropriate means of fulfilling the divine promise to Israel of the land from the Nile to the Euphrates continues to grow.

The Israel to which these trends point would have no future -- particularly as it is one with which very many Jews outside the country would find it impossible to identify. But it would still have a large nuclear arsenal. The prospect frightens the living daylights out of me.


Iran's best response would be the simplest; Withdraw from NPT.

Your arguments certainly would seem to have cogency. As I know very little about Iranian politics, I have no means of assessing whether people of influence in that country are at all likely to be thinking along such lines.

Of course, even if they were, there might be no visible evidence. What commonly makes this kind of situation so difficult to read it is that people make threats for 'deterrent' purposes -- so that what they suggest they might do if attacked can sometimes be a very poor guide to what they actually contemplate doing.

A problem that does occur, however, is that strategies of restraint can easily be undermined, if there are significant elements which do not accept them and are ready actively to subvert them -- particularly given the ease with which escalatory dynamics can be set in motion.

Sidney Smith

The evidence is overwhelming that this Zionist dream is starting to show signs of collective incipient schizophrenia.

Your comments discussing Rabbi Teitelbaum have raised much broader issues than I can go into at the moment, particularly as they need more thought than I have had time to give them.

What I do think is that it may be in the nature of Israel that its identity can only be grounded in the claim that the Holocaust defines an inescapable and necessarily continuing truth about the vulnerability of Jews. The fact that this supposed truth is only very partly true is central both to the demographic crisis of Israel, and the visible propensities to paranoia in Israeli society: problems which are mutually reinforcing.

The point I wanted to stress about Sneh is that his reading of the implications of an Iranian nuclear capability cannot simply be dismissed as paranoid. It is critical to grasp that, given the dead end into which Israel is heading, sane people as well as lunatics may be tempted to extreme measures.

It may, as 'Harper' says, he a 'highly risky proposition to count on Barak as a sanity clause in Israel', but providing compelling arguments to sane people offers the best prospect there is preventing the possibilities of utter catastrophe in the current situation being actualised.


In Colonel Gardiner's piece it seems possible that Israel would launch an attack on Iran without the permission of the USA, he cites past Israeli actions as proof. Being that Israel cannot do enough damage conventionally, they hope and suspect that the USA will clean up the mess to Israel's satisfaction. I think it's possible and logical for the USA to stop them and well within our capabilities to do so. If we really don't want them to do it, we should just tell them so and also let them know that their refueling tankers might be too occupied with other things to do any refueling.

Not that I'd like to see a nuclear armed Iran but the argument that Israel's best and brightest would leave Israel is a poor one. After all, how many Americans left the United States because the Soviets had us well targeted?

Sidney O. Smith III


Thanks for the clarification. In many ways, I agree with your conclusions. However, if I may, I simply want to emphasize that Zionism appears to be struggling with a deep existential crisis and the concomitant redefining, if not fracturing, of the body politic may affect how Israelis perceive the world and, ultimately, how the GOI will act. What is the Zionist dream to which you refer? In your screed, you write:

“An Israel that is no longer a safe home for Diaspora Jews and is not characterized by entrepreneurship and excellence means an end to the Zionist dream”.

But is that a genuine reflection of the Zionist dream in the era of Gush Emunim? Does your delineation of the Zionist dream explain why Hebron settlers spit on a three star US Army General? Or that the settlers in Sheik Jarrah sing an ode glorifying the massacre committed by Dr. Goldstein? Does this definition of the Zionist dream explain why Netanyahu will not stop building settlements, an act in and of itself that appears irrational? And finally does this description of the dream explain why Israel will not return to the 1967 borders or make assurances, (as did Dayan) that the GOI has no intentions to take over the Dome of the Rock?

The Zionist dream to which you allude seems to reflect assumptions that arise from a pre 1967 Israel and the days of Leon Uris, and the analytical assumptions that arise from such an approach have not lead to accurate analysis, imo.

Consequently, with the odds plummeting that Israel will return to the 1967 borders, I am no longer able to adhere to the progressive definition of Zionism as well as the analytical assumptions that arise from such as view, as much as I would like to return to the days of calling myself a progressive Zionist. Sure, if by some miracle, Israel did return to the 67 or some agreed upon borders, I will be one of the first to pull Uris off the shelf and talk about how entrepreneurship is causing the desert to bloom for all, but is that really going to happen?

As a result, the search is on to define what truly animates the Zionist dream. By doing so, one will then find the analytical assumptions that first should be tested and then, if proven accurate, relied upon when attempting to determine intent and capability.

And in this inquiry, I have found that certain rabbis long ago were the first to define Zionism, ultimately, as a nationalist movement that usurped powerful religious symbols to render an extremely intoxicating experience of ethnic nationalism. And moreover they warned that Zionism had the potential to engender anti-Semitism because, among other things, the world would begin to associate all Jews, as well as Judaism, with Zionist actions that more accurately fit the paradigm of ruthless colonialism. And this improper association of Zionism with Judaism, in turn would lead to a vicious cycle (one, ironically, echoed in Kass’ book, the Deadly Embrace, if I remember correctly) in which Zionists would then point to the rising tide of anti-Semitism to justify further the Zionist state and any military actions, including, I suppose the launching of the Jericho III.

So, I am now at the point of asking, what better reflects the Zionist dream…that of an excellence in entrepreneurship or, alternatively, the intoxicating experience of ethnic nationalism fueled by a trip to Masada and all it suggests? Which set of assumptions will lead to more accurate analysis in the long run?

I find this inquiry deeply relevant as well as fascinating because, by defining the Zionist dream, one can then determine intent and, just as importantly, what the Zionist leaders view they are capable of achieving.


whew, my first post was seriously bombastic eh? ha. I'll do a more sober post.

- Israel attack hinges on bunker buster working as advertised. But it won't. The device is designed in

the 90's and by now it's very well understood and easy to defeat. I'll skip my previous 'evil fruitcake

layer from hell' scheme since that was too obvious. Another even simpler method is to construct two

storey platform. The top roof is filled with anechoic tile like structure (simple triangle with steep

slope) covered with active armor. The explosive would be modular for quick refill/reinstal.

ground floor is back up layer (flat explosive, thick sand layer, what have you)

This construction should destroy the right angle entry point requirement of a bunker buster. (first layer

to flick the tip of the bomb, also destroying the guidance and control. Second layer takes care the rest

of the bomb (by now simply a tumbling around artillery tube casing plus 1000 pounds explosive material.

Without its flight path and fuse it's just another big dumb bomb)

- Israel cannot use first strike nuke. The diplomatic and strategic cost are too high. If they do, then

they are a legitimate nuclear retaliation target.

- Using Saudi highway for fighter refueling. (too easy to defeat. Survey highway 86,85, 80. Send teams on

alert to be activated once israel enter iranian airspace. A dozen of car with RPG/gun ought to be able to

find the fuel truck. On top of that, rent a truck and pour sand on highway, plant explosive, gouge pot

holes, put big traffic equipments, etc)

boring ... Guessing scenario is so much fun.

1. Israel will attack iran using straight flight path (Jordan, Iraq, Iran) After Allawi is in, Pentagon

and Allawi can play dumb and point fingers at each other after israel is done passing through. Jordan

can't do anything either. The Lebanon-Syria-Turkey-Iran path are filled with radar and SAM by now. If

even a single pilot is capture, they will have bigger problem than Iranian nuclear program.

2. The bombing will fail to achieve its goal to stop Iranian nuclear program. They need hundreds of

bunker buster in the first wave, and half of that to cover the deficit on second wave. We are talking

about using 2/3 of their F-16 just for carrying bomb. (how are they going to protect them?)

3. After opening attack. Obama administration will waffle, dither, write speeches to calm (but basically does nothing for as long as it can)
But they are stuck with a) everybody knows the attack is coming b)Israel has implicite go ahead.

4. Iran is stunned. not sure what to do. But highly alert. So, Iranian prepare retaliation. (I for one think, Iran will have to go big/wide/fast/use it or lose it before they turn into radioactive ash) And some a-hole open mouth about US nuclear attack on Iran, while a carrier is very near Iran. Event snow balled. Iran has to move before they are annihilated.

- Gulf is closed

- all oil facilities in the gulf destroyed/non functioning (including refineries, major pipelines, port

facilites) All gone within the hour of go ahead. Oil price spike to $200 plus. This is a must.

- Iran has to make sure European energy supply is at the hand of Turkey and Russia only. Everybody else

is cut off. (they also have to stop near basket case economies like UK & France. Since these two will

attack Iran soon enough. So refineries, nuclear power plan, transformer, highpower grid)

- Suez canal is gone (several container ships laden with explosive)

With this Europe potential threat is weakened significantly and their banking collapse now spreading its chaos in north america.

- Then come oil facilities in Mexico, Canada that goes into US (pipeline, power grid, refineries, oil

port, large off shore facilities) these are almost impossible to defend.

- Somalian pirate? All of a sudden they are equiped with anti ship missile, far more powerfull engine,

latest info on ship traffic. (Indian sea and Red sea are closed from shipping traffic, specially tankers)

- Iraq, afghanistan, Pakistan. (all supply route closed. pin US troop inside without supply)

Basically, anybody who is not connnected to central asian pipeline won't have functioning economy. Things

grinds to a halt within a month. Inflation is going in double/triple digit quickly. Iran simply has to

do this in order to survive, they have to disable US economy + allies. Their survival probability

increased considerabbly after that.

Then Iran probably will have their little war with israel.

They are going to exploit israel big weaknesses. a)meaningless navy b)over reliance on tank/air bombing

c)settlement distribution is impossible to defend. d)no industrial base to sustain military campaign.

- Iran first task would be to sink all Israel navy ships (amazingly cheap and easy task). Essentially,

get any small merchant ships Iran can get it hand on. There are hundreds of these ships in the open

market available due to economic crisis. Reinforced the structure against torpedo. Then send these to

quickly absorbed anti ship missiles/torpedos. Israel does not expect naval battle. Mini sub, hugging the

coast are also beyond israel to detect. Then use merchant ship like "car bomb" against port facilities.

after israel lost their ship and their sub run out of torpedo, while Suez canal is closed, the entire

israel coast is open for beach landing. Do haiti style landing. Ram a ship filled with hezbollah up

north, and ram supply ship onto Gaza. The Palestinian ought to know what to do with those supply.

Israel then has to use their tank as coastal battery. Which is simply ridiculous.

Beyond that. It's Hezbollah from North, Hamas from south getting their revange with Iranian RPG, anti tank and Mortar. To cover their lack of heavy armor, Hezbollah will simply drive a semi truck with container that is a cement block that can function as one time disposable heavy shield. The rest is car bomb, pick up trucks, used car from syrian lot, copious amount of land mine, mortar, everywhere. Israel air bombing will do the rest of damage.

Man power reinforcement from sea goes into central artery road to meet up in make shift bunkers. Then cycle back up north into Lebanon if supply is disrupted. Otherwise move forward to erect next bunker.This should slice Israel northern part into 2 undefendable east/west part. while the front grind toward the middle. Keep the whole thing simple since hezbollah doesn't have experience doing offensive.

The hole thing hinges on that series of container trucks as series of undestructable bunkers opening up main artery and keep redoing it. This should be effective at least 100-150 miles. Which by then it's West bank border already. Up to the palestinian what to do if they are given weapon supply. Syria get Golan height back.

It's Redneck Blitzkrieg meets frog blood circulation.

After few weeks, it's basically 2006 Lebanon. All of a sudden israel is very interested about peace.

(unless of course, US marine lands ... then it's all over for everybody. Hezbollah retreats and israel owes their life to somebody.... again.)

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