Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why Israel Can't Bomb Iranian Nuke Sites--New Study Bursts Myth of Israeli Military Option

(Originally published 5/15/09) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will undoubtedly tell President Obama that if his "diplomatic efforts and subsequent tougher sanctions fail, then the president and the world should understand and support Israel's engagement in military halt or delay Iran's capability of dropping a nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv; one Holocaust is enough for the Jewish people." That's how one American Jewish leader put it in yesterday's New York Times, expressing the conventional view held by many Israelis.

But an exhaustive new 114-page study by Abdullah Toukan and Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington concludes that "it is questionable whether Israel has the military capability to destroy Iran's nuclear program, or even to delay it for several years," according to an analysis of the study by military expert Dr. Reuven Pedatzur of Tel Aviv University published in today's Ha'aretz. The odds of success from a military point of view are not great, the study's authors conclude.

Second, Israel would only attack Iran's known nuclear sites. But it is likely that following such a strike-which would be unlikely to succeed even against the known sites-Iran would accelerate its uranium enrichment efforts in its secret sites, thus negating any possible benefits of a successful attack.

Third, Iran would certainly retaliate against Israeli targets with Shahab-3 missiles, as would Hezbollah and Hamas with many thousands of their own missiles and rockets, while also dispatching waves of suicide bombers into Israel. "Hezbollah now has some 40,000 rockets; Israel does not have a response to those rockets. The rocket defense systems now being developed (Iron Dome and Magic Wand) are still far from completion, and even after they become operational, it is doubtful they will prove effective against thousands of rockets launched at Israel." The Israeli strike would also sow instability throughout the Middle East and potentially also attacks against US forces and American allies in the region."

"It is time to stop waving around the scarecrow of an existential threat and refrain from making belligerent statements, which sometimes create a dangerous dynamic of escalation," concludes Pedatzur. What's worse, because they lack credibility, Israeli threats to strike Iran's nuclear facilities are actually serving only to undermine Israeli deterrence against Iran. "The time has come to adopt new ways of thinking. No more fiery declarations and empty threats, but rather a carefully weighed policy grounded in sound strategy."

Isn't it time we Jews begin thinking not only with our kishkes (our guts) but also with our kopfs (our heads)?

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