Today’s Scare the Bleep Out of You Opinion on Bombing Iran

A twofer today one from Marty Peretz in The New Republic who links to this op-ed in the NyTimes by Benny Morris.

Both articles assert that Israel is heading towards an attack with Iran. That the consensus across the Israeli political spectrum is bombs away. [There are other reports which state that the Israelis are hampered by needing US air-space which the US may not grant.]

There a number of assumptions, each and every one of which you must think correct go down the bombs away road of Peterz/Morris.

1)Iran isn’t doing what they say they are doing (which is build peaceful nuclear energy not a bomb).


No one is especially eager for a military assault on Iran’s maturing nuclear capacity. But almost no one doubts that Iran wants that capacity to be military, and so everyone rational is forced into thinking about how to curb–better yet, destroy–that appetite.

Starting off a sentence with “no one is especially eager for a military assault” inevitably leads to “but I will lay out the case for doing so nonetheless.” True to form is Peretez. Now the “almost no one” who doubts Iran’s nuclear ambition would be The UN Atomic Energy Agency and the US National Intelligence Estimate, but never mind that.

2)So assuming one is true (FSOA) the next assumption is economic sanctions won’t work (which I actually think is correct). Because there is no carrot involved. The sticks are either sanctions are we bomb you. Not exactly a great bargaining offer.

3)Taking regime change off the table, i.e. Grand Diplomatic Bargain could never work. They don’t even raise the possibility that this could even be countenanced, much less the need to criticize this approach, assuming as all like-minded “rational” people pushing civilian deaths as a way to stop er civilian deaths

4)A bombing could work:


Bombing the atomic facilities, dispersed and underground, would not be easy. But my information tells me that it is eminently doable.

Ah yes that great font of (secret) knowledge: my information.  But two can play at the this game for “my information” (which I got from The Google) tells me differently.


The consensus of which I write has emerged due to the failure of international diplomacy and coercion to do the job. The Israeli consensus is also exactly what a consensus is supposed to be: more or less, across the board.

In true hawk fashion the “international diplomacy” in question consisted of essentially all sticks (no carrots) and never bargaining in good faith. Never dealing with the issues the countries actually have to deal with–in other words, there was no diplomacy. It was never tried with any effort or intention. Other than do what we say and then we won’t sanction and/or bomb you to smithereens.

Morris has a decidedly even more deranged/pessimistic view of the matter.

The problem is that Israel’s military capacities are far smaller than America’s and, given the distances involved, the fact that the Iranian sites are widely dispersed and underground, and Israel’s inadequate intelligence, it is unlikely that the Israeli conventional forces, even if allowed the use of Jordanian and Iraqi airspace (and perhaps, pending American approval, even Iraqi air strips) can destroy or perhaps significantly delay the Iranian nuclear project.

But he still says they should give it the green light. (No matter!!!). The results of which are (I s–t you not) the double bank shot theory that this failed first bombing run will bring forth a massive Iranian counter attack which will then give Israel the grounds to (wait for it) DROP NUKES ON IRAN. [Remembering this is the “liberal” NyTimes that printed this horror].

The other option after the failed bombing would be like every other country in the post-nuclear age to live with MAD (mutually assured destruction). Nukes=ending great power war.

But that leads to Assumption #5, the Iranian regime consists of crazy irrational Muslims so this won’t work (they are too mad for MAD as it were):

Benny Morris (my italics):

Given the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran, Israel knows that deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war. They are likely to use any bomb they build, both because of ideology and because of fear of Israeli nuclear pre-emption. Thus an Israeli nuclear strike to prevent the Iranians from taking the final steps toward getting the bomb is probable. The alternative is letting Tehran have its bomb. In either case, a Middle Eastern nuclear holocaust would be in the cards.

Yeah those rational men like Khruschev who smacked a shoe on the desk and yelled “We will bury you.” If only we some rational dudes like that in Iran things would be peachy. WTF? Double and Triple WTF?

I mean, gee whiz if only….

Alternatively, if the views of Benny Morris do in fact in any way shape or form mirror those of the supposed Israeli gov’t/military consensus, then buy your stock in oil now (it’s gonna jump big time) and get Rapture Ready for the apocalypse will be at hand.

Update I: For the reader wanting more, I recommend Joe Klein’s takedown of Morris.

Published in: on July 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. gah. but i still have faith that fear-mongering tactics will no longer work for the majority of Americans.

    but as Yes Magazine had pointed out, “Americans Say No to War with Iran: Will Washington Listen?


  2. An attack by Israel on Iran would most certainly invite about 40,000 mobile missile to stream in from Hamas in Lebanon as well of course some bigger ones from Iran. Oh yeah, Israel may have to go nuclear for survival…this idea isn’t going to be made by are rational thought…the consequences are incalculable. However, disaster would prevail in the region and they’d never reach those facilities scattered and buried deep into the ground. Other probable participants: the United States (most certainly with a number of ships sunk), Saudi Arabia?, Pakistan (eliminating Israel off the face of the earth) and how about those oil prices…$200, $300, $400 a barrel and beyond (experts can’t predict?) but rest assured, the American economy will be devastated.

  3. strider,

    if the attack goes off, the response will be awful as you say.


  4. Hi Chris,

    “Deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war.”

    Isn’t it perhaps so that the Iranian leadership is less rational than the Soviet leadership was? Surely Ahmadinejad is less rational than most Soviet leaders we had to deal with. Khruschev was a showman, but he didn’t threaten another country with destruction continually like Ahmadinejad, and he also proved himself to be a rational or at least pragmatic leader during the Cuban missile crisis.


  5. D,

    We could go into the whole Krushchev thing but some of the more recent research is showing that on both sides, the Cuban Missile Crisis was much closer to becoming nuclear holocaust than people imagined.

    But that’s not the main point. Ahmadinejad is not in control of the foreign policy of Iran. One of the things that is going on in Iran is that Ahmadinejad is a mouthpiece/figurehead for the Revolutionary Guards. What is occurring is a domestic militarization of Iranian politics which is unprecedented (Iran in its revolutionary fervor has usually exported its militarization).

    The Revolutionary Guard a la the Roman Imperial Guard is trying very methodically to ensnare the Supreme Leader (like the Emperor in their web and effectively pull a coup and take power. Saying that they are the true heirs of Khomenei.

    By giving into this vision, the West is enabling their dealings. The whole point of engagement vis a vis Iran is to leverage the Conservatives (Khamenei, Larijani, Rafsanjani) and the Reformers (Khatami and Crew) against the Revolutionaries. But as long as the US keeps equating the two and calling for regime change, Khamanei is going to use Ahmadinejad as a shit stirrer to deflect attention away from the failure of the regime domestically. Inflation is booming there and unemployment is massively high given the price of oil.

    Like the Soviets, Iran is crumbling from within. The Revolution has failed and the only thing that will re-start it is a bombing campaign. That will play perfectly into the hands of the ahmadinejad crowd, confirming their conspiracy theories, and giving them the green light to build a nuke and possibly (God forbid) use it.

    The Conservatives are not friends of Israel of course. But they (if they got a bomb) are seeking only for regime survival (a la North Korea). They wouldn’t be selling it to say al-Qaeda because AQ would just as likely use it on them as the US or Israel.

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