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Last Friday the New York Times published an article by NYT writer David Sanger. Entitled ‘Imagining an Israeli Strike on Iran’, the article documents a December 2009 Brookings Institution war game simulation in which Israel launches a pre-emptive unilateral strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
From the very beginning, however, the simulation is fundamentally flawed on two fronts: Firstly, it assumes that Israel is able to unilaterally launch a strike against Iran from Israel without US knowledge or connivance; and, second, it presumes that Israel’s primary goal is to knock out Iran’s nuclear capacity.
While the simulation does take into account Hezbollah and Hamas retaliatory action against Israel, it infers that such counter-retaliatory action Israel takes against Hezbollah and Hamas, which may include launching a massive air offensive followed by a full-on ground assault, is merely for preventative and containment purposes.
To begin with, it should be made clear that there is absolutely no way that Israel could launch a strike against Iran from Israel without the US knowing about it. The logistics of attempting to launch such a strike unilaterally and covertly make it impossible. There is only one way that Israel could launch an attack against Iran without the US or anybody else knowing about it and that is via cruise missiles launched from submarines. So far all the chatter in the media has been about either the US launching an air attack against Iran which it would do from its carrier fleets in the Gulf and bases in the Indian Ocean and other bases around the Gulf , or, alternatively, Israel making the first strike by air from its bases in Israel.
In the covert pre-emptive unilateral scenario imagined in the simulation, Israel would need to gain permission to use Saudi Arabian airspace since neither Jordan nor Iraq could be asked for secrecy reasons. Even ignoring secrecy reasons, both Jordan and Iraq are very unlikely to give permission for political reasons. Saudi Arabia may consider such a request but, since the US is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, would not do so without US knowledge of such a request being made. There has already been some speculation that Saudi Arabia has already given permission for Israel to use Saudi airspace for an attack against Iran, though the Saudis deny this, but, even if it were true, it is doubtful that the Saudis would allow such an attack to go ahead without US clearance.
Israel could simply just not ask for permission to fly through other another nation’s airspace and just go ahead and do it anyway but that would make in-flight refuelling impossible since tanker aircraft would need to be available within airspace that they do not have permission to be in.
An over-water flight via the Red Sea, over the Gulf of Aden and then over the Arabian Sea, then over the Gulf of Oman and into Iran from the south would be possible but fraught with huge problems, not least of which is the massive distances involved and, therefore, the refuelling problems, and also the diminution in the element of surprise because of the time and distance.
Even the shortest route via Saudi airspace will require Israeli strike aircraft to refuel at least once in a round trip from Israel to Iranian targets and back to Israel. The large amounts of fuel required for such an operation, together with all the follow-up operations the Israelis will then fly against Hezbollah and Hamas, will need to come from the US which means the US will know, when an order for large amounts of military jet fuel comes in, that Israel are planning a major operation. Secretly stockpiling military jet fuel is not an option as fuel use can easily be audited and jet fuel does not have a very long shelf-life if quality is to be maintained.
The upshot of all of this is that it would be utterly impossible for Israel to launch any pre-emptive unilateral covert strike against Iran’s facilities from Israel without US collusion let alone knowledge.
Virtually all of the mainstream media’s comments and assumptions about the possibility of any attack against Iran by either Israel or the US or both are based on the presumption that the reason for such an attack is to deprive Iran of its nuclear facilities and its ability to build nuclear weapons.
This is not the case.
The ‘Iran has a nuclear weapons program’ rhetoric is designed solely and specifically to manipulate western public opinion so that, when such an attack does occur, the Israeli and American people will be more likely to accept the fait accompli of such a strike. Part of the rhetoric is that the regime in Iran is seeking such weapons in order to destroy Israel and that the regime in Iran is so evil that it may even give these weapons to terrorists who could then use them against the US and so, therefore, the regime needs to be changed.
All these scenarios exist without the slightest evidence that Iran is considering any such thing and, moreover, without any evidence whatsoever that Iran has any nuclear weapons program. Again, the accusations are mere propaganda designed to demonise Iran in order to gain Western public opinion support for a strike against Iran.
The real problem that Israel has with Iran is not its ‘nuclear weapons program’ but its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza. Without Iran’s support, neither Hezbollah nor Hamas could resist for long concerted Israeli advances into Gaza and Lebanon. Since Western public opinion would not tolerate Israel simply attacking, invading and occupying the Gaza and Lebanon, something which they have tried before on a number of occasions, a casus belli needs to be arranged whereby they could justify just such an attack. That casus belli would be a pre-emptive simultaneous attack on Hezbollah and Hamas in order to prevent any retaliation from Hezbollah and Hamas after a strike against Iran – or, at least, that would be the given casus belli.
For the world that is watching on as these events unfold, the attack on Iran will be the focus of world attention because such an attack, which, despite the inference to the contrary, will, indeed, involve the full support of the US and will not just be confined to the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The destruction of Irans defence and governmental institutions via a devastating aerial bombardment assault that may even involve the use of so-called ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons will simultaneously take place to ensure that Iran capitulates to US demands for a compliant government. In other words, Iran won’t be invaded but, rather, bombed into submission. Meanwhile, Israeli forces will assault and invade the Gaza and south Lebanon up to the Litani River and fully occupy the West Bank. Syria too may well be attacked in an effort to preclude any efforts the Syrians make to support Hezbollah or to pre-empt any attack on Israel by Syria, though a direct Syrian attack against Israel would be very unlikely.
David Sanger’s efforts to present a Brookings Institution simulation of an Israeli covert pre-emptive unilateral attack against Iran via the pages of the New York Times is just a part of the propaganda attempt that is just part of the manipulation of public opinion. The scenarios described do not stand up to any analytical scrutiny nor do they equate at all with the geo-political reality that currently exists beyond outside of the publics gaze.