Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012



One of Israel’s leading strategic analysts says the country’s leadership believes air strikes can set back the Iranian nuclear programme by three to five years

Ronen Bergman, an investigative journalist and analyst on the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has written a long piece for the New York Times magazine, asking the question on many people’s minds: Will Israel attack Iran?

Bergman’s answer, which comes in the last paragraph, is yes:

After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear — rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive — and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.

Bergman is one of a small circle of heavyweights in the Israeli media who spend a significant amount of time with the politicians, spies and generals who are going to make the ultimate decision. So his assessment carries more weigh that your average Israel-Iran analyst. Here is one of the key paragraphs:

The Israeli Air Force is where most of the preparations are taking place. It maintains planes with the long-range capacity required to deliver ordnance to targets in Iran, as well as unmanned aircraft capable of carrying bombs to those targets and remaining airborne for up to 48 hours. Israel believes that these platforms have the capacity to cause enough damage to set the Iranian nuclear project back by three to five years.

Three to five years seems a very confident estimate. The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, reckoned in December that such strikes could set the Iranians back one or two years “at best”. Bergman also talks to a Mossad veteran, Rafi Eitan, whose own estimate was “not even three months”.

Bergman spent a lot of time in recent months with the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and is particularly revealing on his strategic thinking. He does not necessarily share Binyamin Netanyahu’s apocalyptic view of Iran’s intentions, but believes a nuclear Iran will be more aggressive and harder to counter.

“From our point of view,” Barak said, “a nuclear state offers an entirely different kind of protection to its proxies. Imagine if we enter another military confrontation with Hezbollah, which has over 50,000 rockets that threaten the whole area of Israel, including several thousand that can reach Tel Aviv. A nuclear Iran announces that an attack on Hezbollah is tantamount to an attack on Iran. We would not necessarily give up on it, but it would definitely restrict our range of operations.”

At that point Barak leaned forward and said with the utmost solemnity: “And if a nuclear Iran covets and occupies some gulf state, who will liberate it? The bottom line is that we must deal with the problem now.”

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA Middle East specialist, takes the opposite view, arguing in Lebanon’s Daily Star today that even with the bomb, Iran would not be an existential threat to Israel. Riedel’s view probably reflects the majority outlook at the CIA and the White House. Bergman examines this divergence in American and Israeli assessments, and wonders how much notice Israel would give Washington of an attack. Matthew Kroenig, a former Pentagon advisor now at the Council on Foreign Relations, reckons it will be “an hour or two, just enough to maintain good relations between the countries but not quite enough to allow Washington to prevent the attack”.

Jeffrey Goldberg has put out a piece in The Atlantic in response to Bergman, suggesting that Bergman’s analysis might be premature, and pointing out that the same people that Bergman talked to had previously convinced Goldberg that the attack would come last summer. Clearly, Israeli has a motive in conveying the impression that an attack might be imminent, to stir up urgency in the West to confront Iran. Ultimately, as Bergman admits, only Netanyahu and Barak really know how much is bluff and how much real intention.

That is a lot more interesting stuff in Bergman’s piece. He is bringing out a book this month, called The Secret War with Iran, (clarification: an updated English version of his 2007 book of the same title) which sounds like it will be a gripping read, and of course the NYT article helps drum up interest and sales. In it, Bergman gives a colourful description of a meeting in January 2011 with the outgoing Mossad boss, Meir Dagan, who has argued vehemently against an attack on Iran.

We were told to congregate in the parking lot of a movie-theater complex north of Tel Aviv, where we were warned by Mossad security personnel, “Do not bring computers, recording devices, cellphones. You will be carefully searched, and we want to avoid unpleasantness. Leave everything in your cars and enter our vehicles carrying only paper and pens.” We were then loaded into cars with opaque windows and escorted by black Jeeps to a site that we knew was not marked on any map. The cars went through a series of security checks, requiring our escorts to explain who we were and show paperwork at each roadblock.

This was the first time in the history of the Mossad that a group of journalists was invited to meet the director of the organization at one of the country’s most secret sites.

Presumably there will be much more of this in the book. However, when it comes to covert operations, as with the nuclear programme, there are things that Israeli journalists know but cannot say, and must attribute to non-Israeli sources. For example, Bergman does not say outright that Israel is behind the assassinations of Israeli nuclear scientists but reports lots of nods and winks in that direction. Here is an example of the journalistic animut (opacity):

Operating in Iran … is impossible for the Mossad’s sabotage-and-assassination unit, known as Caesarea, so the assassins must come from elsewhere. Iranian intelligence believes that over the last several years, the Mossad has financed and armed two Iranian opposition groups, the Muhjahedin Khalq (MEK) and the Jundallah, and has set up a forward base in Kurdistan to mobilize the Kurdish minority in Iran, as well as other minorities, training some of them at a secret base near Tel Aviv.

Is Bergman really channeling Iranian intelligence here, or laundering something he knows by attributing it to Iranian intelligence? Hard to know for sure, but it certainly reads like the latter. So his NYT piece and probably his book will no doubt tell us a lot about Israel’s intentions but not as much as Bergman undoubtedly knows.

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5 Responses

  1. carl says:

    The middle east has been at war for thousands of years long before the USA or Isreal existed, and they have deep resentments among each other as in Iran and Iraq.I do not think we can control their hatred for each other only time, and the new young citizens of those countries learn to un learn their hate will put a stop to the wars.

  2. m says:

    Russia: 10500 USA: 8500 Israel: 650 France: 300 China: 288+ UK: 225 Iran: 200
    Pakistan: 110 India: 80 North Korea: 9 SA: 10 Others: 50
    It’s not how many u got but how many are 100% working…
    BTW: the Accident in Japan is going to “get” all of us, it’s been said it’s like 2000 NWeapons.
    So u will (are) already dieing.

  3. Jeff l. says:

    Israel, there is something that you are not factoring in a strick on Iran will set there nuclear plans back permanently as it is the start of the gog magog war in Ezekiel 38/39.

  4. Asif Ali says:

    *At least one Congressman who has sat on several intelligence committees, Paul Findley, has voiced his suspicion of Israeli involvement in the death of President John F. Kennedy. It is a well-known fact that David Ben Gurion, then Prime Minister of Israel, was infuriated with JFK for his refusal to allow Israel to develop nuclear weapons. A detailed account of the evidence supporting Congressman Findley’s suspicion is outlined in a book by Michael Collins Piper entitled Final Judgment.

    *Much evidence exist implicating Israel in the death of Clinton Administration Official Vince Foster. It is suspected that he may have been involved with passing on the launch codes of America’s nuclear arsenal to Israel in return for monetary contributions to Clinton’s presidential campaign. In the hours following
    his death, Mossad agents scoured his apartment in search of something which, in this light, was deemed of obvious importance.

    *Within moments of TWA Flight 800 exploding over the Atlantic Ocean after leaving New York, the Israeli Government (through her agents in the US media) put the blame for the atrocity on Islamic Fundamentalists. This fact, coupled with the 100 or more persons who have sworn in public testimony that they witnessed a missile hitting the aircraft leaves troubling questions about who actually engineered this act of war against America. Given Israel’s history of perpetrating similar atrocities, (known in Israeli Intelligence parlance as “false flag operations,”) concerned Americans are left with troubling conclusions.

    Based on this short list, it should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense that America’s only ally in the Middle East is the kind of friend she would be better off not having. She has murdered American citizens, lied in every instance and occurrence, and deliberately placed America and her people in the gravest danger as it has served her own purposes. And now, in the calm before the storm, she is preparing (facilitated by the Neocons in the Bush Administration and disinformation agents on the talk show circuit) the next event which will send American men and women off to the sands of the Middle East to fight and
    die for her.

    It is possible that it is too late for America to disentangle herself from such a bad friendship, as the inference has already been made that in the event that America puts the Jewish state in danger, she (Israel) would resort to the “Samson Option” which entails the use of nuclear weapons against anyone
    termed an “unfriendly”. It should be clear to all Americans who love their country that the “friendship” they enjoy with the terrorist state of Israel is the most perverse notion of an alliance that has yet occurred in the history of the
    United States. It has been a one-way friendship from the beginning, as is that enjoyed by some parasitic tick on the back of a dog. Like any parasite, this tick, as it draws the life-blood out of its healthy host, at the same time introduces various diseases and maladies that will one day sicken that host. In like manner, the American body is beginning to show serious signs of such sickness and weakness, to the point that her very survival is threatened. And were she, America, fortunate enough to survive for a short time in this unenviable state, it would still be the slow, agonizing death of watching her freedoms torn asunder as a result of Israeli influence over the American legislation process, influence which has already brought forth such abominations as the Patriot Act and other like minded assaults on US Liberty.

    The time has come (much too late) for America, and for her freedom loving/justice hungry/ patriotic citizenry to take a good look at the Beast which masquerades itself as her friend, and at the same time eye with commensurate suspicion and anger those elected officials who have sold out America in what have been the greatest acts of treason and treachery in her history. Americans who truly love their country should, in all justification, feel the bile rising in their throats and view with nausea those leaders who make a mockery of their duty to protect America from her enemies, those self-serving traitors who heap
    derision upon the very nation whose flag they dare to sport as lapel pins for all the world to see. A responsible America must not lazily allow the interests of a terrorist nation such as Israel to do her thinking for her when it comes to meting out justice against her enemies, nor to allow this parasite the power to decide who her enemies will be.

    Reference: No Beauty in the Beast by Mark Glenn

  5. Asif Ali says:

    Read this:

    How a better Middle East would look
    By Ralph Peters

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