Just how likely is an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities? Michael Koplow over at Ottomans and Zionists thinks that our doom and gloom might be mostly smoke and mirrors:
To my mind, the recent extremely public chatter weighs against things, since successful Israeli strikes in the past - Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 - were complete surprises and were not in any way publicly telegraphed. In contrast, we have heard that Israel was readying to strike at Iran for nearly a decade now, and yet it still hasn't happened.
Also weighing against an attack is the fact that there is a lack of support for such a move from three influential groups. First is the Israeli public, which opposes a unilateral Israeli strike by 46% to 32%, and which has increasingly rated Netanyahu's job performance as unsatisfactory over the past three months as he has ratcheted the war talk back up.
Second is the U.S., whose top officials have repeatedly stated that sanctions should be given more time to work and have pleaded with Israel not to launch an attack.
Third, and perhaps most significantly, Israeli officials aside from Netanyahu and Barak are staunchly opposed to a strike, and while the IDF has to carry out whatever orders are given, when the IDF chief of staff thinks that an attack is a bad idea, he is probably going to be listened to. There is also the inconvenient fact that there is no majority in the Shminiyah (or Octet), which is the inner security cabinet, for a strike on Iran, with Eli Yishai, Benny Begin, Dan Meridor, and Boogie Ya'alon all firmly opposed and Avigdor Lieberman and Yuval Steinitz reportedly wavering back and forth. Netanyahu and Barak are probably banking on the fact that the other six ministers will back them when push comes to shove, but that's a real risk to take and the prime minister and defense minister cannot just make the decision on their own without the support of the rest of this group. In fact, one could make a good case that all of the recent war talk from the two men at the top is directed entirely at the Octet and that the chatter is completely about stirring up public pressure on them.
Add to these three factors the fact that “Israel does not have the military capability to do the job thoroughly” and that such an attack would decimate the now-thriving Israeli economy coupled with the loss of life and unpreparedness of the “home front” and Koplow has a point.
Yes, as Koplow notes, there are other, disquieting signs that war is brewing. But maybe we can all breathe a little easier remembering this conflict has been on the burner for a long time now and we might be able to keep it at a simmer for a while longer—at least until someone decides to turn up the flame.
Matthew Kalman broke the story of physicist Stephen Hawking’s boycott of Israel. Then Cambridge University tried to falsely deny it.