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20 April 2012


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These are my favorite kind of posts on SST -- I learned so much!


Iran has Bio Weapons


This sounds somewhat optimistic. Let's hope that next month's scheduled talks are more than just window-dressing.

If the Obama administration is ultimately able to stop an Iranian-Israeli war, imho it would be his greatest policy triumph.

Paul Deavereaux

I find it mind-boggling that people are talking about a rogue nation armed with nuclear weapons embarking on a criminal act of destruction and murder and we're all sitting around fluttering our hands & peeking thru the curtains.

I appreciate Mr Sales comments and insights but this entire situation has reached the point of absurdity. Deadly absurdity. The timidity of our leadership class is disgusting. Rein in the mad dogs, do it now, do it publicly and do it with courage.

Farmer Don

"There the strike planes would top off, then fly east over southern Turkey, infuriating the Turks, but who probably would not hoot the planes down. "

My guess is that the Turks would not let the Israelis fly over their home territory. The Turks are proud of their air force, they are very upset about their citizens being killed on the ship going to Palestine. They are proud of their role as the leading State in the region. Letting Israel go over their air space would cause them to loose a tremendous amount of face.

I think they would have to keep to the South of Turkey.


Mr. Sale has introduced something new into the discussion - the potential use of nuclear weapons on Iran by Israel. I have not seen this raised before as a credible option.

If this talking point is taken up by others, Without contradiction, then I think it can be safely assumed that we are expected to marvel at Israeli forbearance if they "only" attack with conventional weapons.

It's that Overton window thing at work.


One added dimension to the madness very accurately portrayed by Richard Sale. Israeli intelligence knows, as well as US intelligence (reflected in the 2010 NIE update), that Iran is not working currently on weaponization, and is a long way away from a bomb or a bomb-making capability. The issue that strikes fear in Israelis is that Iran is developing a longer range missile capability with improved guidance systems. Once Iran has an arsenal of accurate, longer range missiles capable of striking targets in Israel, Israel no longer has the luxury of launching preventive attacks without retaliation directly from Iran. Hezbollah is an uncertain ally of Iran unless directly attacked. Hamas has flipped over the Qatar-Saudi side under the sway of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is now in a power-sharing arrangement with the Egyptian Army. Only a direct Iranian retaliatory capability is of certainty. Armed with conventional high-power explosives, Iranian missiles hitting population centers in Israel would be devastating. When Barak talks about the "window of vulnerability" closing, he is not talking about the hardening of targets in Iran. He is talking about Iran obtaining a credible retaliatory strike capability. This is all about regional geopolitical competition between Tel Aviv and Tehran. That is no justification for drawing the US into a confrontation that would certainly go regional and likely go global. That is why Generals Dempsey and Mattis are so adament and so furious at President Obama for not being tougher with Bibi. The Navy is frantically updating contingency plans and deploying forward-based assets because they too are uncertain about what Obama will do if Israel launches a preventive attack as described by Richard Sale. The window of war danger is wide open at least through September.

Charles I

"The window of war danger is wide open at least through September."

Well at least that covers driving season, let the dividends flow.

Babak Makkinejad

Mr. Obama, in fact, has been the great enabler of the current policy crisis; in my opinion.


I agree, but hopefully Obma will be able to back the US out of the corner he put it in. And at this point, I think that would involve some commendable diplomacy.

Tim Vincent

Looks like we're stuck between a rock and a hard place.


Two operational matters to add to the discussion:
1) rather than Turkish air space, the Israelis could proceed thru the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, their quasi-ally per Iran.

2) there was a recent article in Foreign Policy that Israel had rented an airfield in Azerbaijan so they wouldn't have to bring their strike force all the way back home.

"In March 2012, the magazine Foreign Policy reported that the Israeli Air Force may be preparing to use the Sitalçay air base, located 340 miles from the Iranian border, for air strikes against the nuclear program of Iran"



There is no Saudi deal with Israel. the Azari thing is almost equally baloney. It might be useful for SAR. pl



This has been in my head for a while; should Israel strike Iran, and transits back to Israel over or near KSA, what happens if the Saudi Air Force attempts to take out the IDF planes? Damaged planes or those low on fuel would be easy targets. Losing most of their F-15's would be a disaster for Israel. Would the Saudi AF take on the returning planes?



This is a political question. Ask the Saudia. pl



As with all these "scenarios", there are enormously questionable assumptions embedded that are taken as axiomatic; unwrapping the axioms simply demonstrates that the scenarios are absurd. It also needs to be stressed that the Israelis have been on this tip since the early 1990's, without there being the vaguest hint of an airstrike.

The most basic thing to note is that any state that provides the IAF assistance in going to war with Iran is a belligerent co-party to that war, and can, by default, assume that it will be at war with Iran. Few countries wish for this scenario - this includes the Israelis, who are very keen for the US to be at war with Iran, not themselves.

The Saudis aren't going to allow the Israelis access to their airspace - it's not even that much help to the IAF, as the flight distances are dramatically longer, and place even greater burdens on their limited aerial refuelling capacities. The Saudis have a major political problem with asserting that the Israelis might be able to violate their airspace with impunity - they've spent hundreds of billions on fancy military assets, but would then have to concede that they're useless - which might be awkward politically, as it's an admission that the money spent was just wasted.

Azerbaijan has no conceivable interest in being at war with Iran - they couldn't even beat the Armenians back in the 1990's over the Nagorno-Karabakh spat. The Iranians smashing up their oil infrastructure in a fit of pique isn't going to be a politically palatable consequence of being suckered into the useful, grinning idiot brigade. The Azeri government knows this. Deniable covert ops is one thing, SAR assets is a step too far. Foreign Policy shopping an idiotic story about the use of an Azeri airbase simply proves that they're collectively unable to use a map and have failed to grasp the airspace implications of being a land-locked country. An earlier iteration of this story involved the use of Georgia, but this has quietly been dropped since the summer of 2008, for obvious reasons.

For the most part, all these stories about third party military assists to the Israelis in accomplishing their sacred mission to bomb Iran are, objectively, bollocks. They do have a function, though, and that is to impede, damage and complicate Iran's external relations with its neighbours.


I tend to agree with the meandering conclusion, that an Israeli attack is too expensive with too little chance of success, but I don't think this analysis looks properly at the political dimension. I've always viewed a possible Israeli attack as having the goal of not destroying the Iranian nuclear program (which it can't do), but of triggering a war that forces the US to become involved. Hence, the attack would be a political action, not so much a military one.

The author does a good job of pointing out where key players in the US military stand today, but he doesn't game out where they would stand 2 hours after the attack. Would political or strategic considerations drag the US right behind Israel into a war it doesn't want? I'd say yes with about 95% confidence.

That question, to me, is a deciding factor on whether or not we'll see an attack.

Babak Makkinejad

The United States, in my opinion, has no strategic or political considerations that could cause her to follow Israel into war with Iran.

Such considerations as there are in US are of religious and emotional nature.


All the wild conjecture by the crooked Media is part and parcel of the PsyOps going on day in and day out...
A definitive DEAL has been struck already between Iran and the USA, it is ALL encompassing and Good for both countries.
Israel knows that and is very very unhappy at the prospects that will open up from Afghanistan to Africa...

Jonathan House

Is this ongoing conflict within leadership of Israel? Military vs. Bibi/Likudnick? or a purposeful government approved beginning of backing down? Or ???

IDF chief to Haaretz: I do not believe Iran will decide to develop nuclear weapons


one quotation: "...I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous."

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