1930s watch

Consider the following: Iran is developing nuclear weapons, though how close they are is a matter of much argument. Iran’s leaders have called for the destruction of Israel and have openly speculated on the effects of a single nuclear blast there. They have compared Israel to bacteria, and they actively sponsor Hizbullah and Hamas, both of which are sworn to Israel’s destruction. They are known to have conducted terror attacks against Jewish targets around the world. Israel and the Jews are an obsession of the millenarian religious fascists who run Iran.

In which case, should we be surprised by this?

U.S. says exercise by Israel seemed directed at Iran

Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

The exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, American officials said.

Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of the exercise. A spokesman for the Israeli military would say only that the country’s air force “regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.”

But the scope of the Israeli exercise virtually guaranteed that it would be noticed by American and other foreign intelligence agencies. A senior Pentagon official who has been briefed on the exercise, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the matter, said the exercise appeared to serve multiple purposes.

One Israeli goal, the Pentagon official said, was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.

A second, the official said, was to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter.

“They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know,” the Pentagon official said. “There’s a lot of signaling going on at different levels.”

As I was telling some friends yesterday, there are two rules in Mideast politics: Rule 1, do not screw with the Israelis. Rule 2, memorize Rule 1.

Of course, Israel refused to enforce Rule 1 during the war with Hizbullah in 2006: by letting the group survive, they only encouraged the Iranians to think Israel hadn’t the will to do anything about an Iranian bomb. Ironically, Israel’s restraint in 2006 may have made war with Iran more likely, not less.

The unasked question is our own reaction to an Israeli attack. Ideally, I’d like to see us join in: the Iranian program poses a clear threat to the West and we have a responsibility to ensure the black-robed fascists of Tehran don’t dominate the majority of the world’s oil supplies — or develop nukes they could pass to jihadist groups that would just love to use them against us. If that sounds “imperialist,” so be it. I’d much rather the world “suffer” an American hegemony than jihadist chaos.

But, there are many factors mitigating against our participation: the political weakness of the outgoing Bush Administration, which has little credibility left to launch another conflict; our strategic position in Iraq, which is still politically fragile and vulnerable to Iranian interference; our own stretched military; and the strong tendency of our European allies toward appeasement. In the end, we may be left quietly cheering from the sidelines as, once again, Israel does the hard work for us.

My question: are we looking at 1938 or 1939?

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One Response to 1930s watch

  1. […] the past, I’ve referred to our dealings with Iran as a “1930s watch” as a way to draw a parallel with the foolish years of appeasement that lead up to World War […]

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