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Brace yourself for war between Iran and Israel

By Sunny Hundal
March 1st 2012

It worries me how much little discussion there is in the UK of the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, and how it might lead to a global political crisis.

It now seems an Israeli attack on Iran is inevitable. A long version of the background is in this alarming essay titled ‘Will Israel Attack Iran?’

Now Israel has gone further and says it won’t even warn the US before a strike on Iran. The pressure is being ratcheted up and it’s not all hot air.

To be clear: I’m vehemently against an attack on Iran, but I don’t see the latter as simply the victim either.

A key paragraph in this short NYT article states the dilemma:

As Iran presses on with its nuclear program it comes closer and closer to Israel’s red line of a threshold weapons capability. That makes the Israelis ever more nervous and determined to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities before it is too late for them. That in turn leads the Obama administration to ratchet up the sanctions to persuade the Israelis that there is a viable alternative to a preventive strike.

And as those sanctions become ever more crippling, the Iranians conclude that they have no choice but to press ahead in acquiring the ultimate means of assuring the regime’s survival. That alarms the Israelis, and the vicious circle spins again. At a certain point, miscalculation or desperation could lead one side to strike.

It goes without saying that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons capability, if not the weapons themselves. This leaves two options: deal with a nuclear Iran in the hope that nuclear secrets don’t get leaked out (as they did in Pakistan) and the country subjects itself to full IAEA inspections; or you destroy the programme.

Israel clearly prefers the second option, but it is fraught with even bigger risk (of all-out conflict in the Middle East) and will only delay Iran’s ambitions for a few years.

What also worries me is the political dimension. Andrew Sullivan says the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is “Obama’s Most Dangerous GOP Opponent” (h-t @Jenniferlayne53). He’s right.

Consider this scenario. Israel is currently hampered by Obama’s unwillingness to support an attack on Iran. So Netanyahu waits until September and launches an attack. He also says that the USA has abandoned Israel and says the USA failed to protect Israeli interests and stop Iran from getting nukes.

That would not only rock the economy off course badly but question Obama’s credentials as President. The Republicans would have a field day in declaring he failed the USA’s most important ally and made America more vulnerable.

A swing of even five points would cost Obama the election and Mitt Romney would be President. Romney would naturally authorise and support a full assault on Iran once President a few months later, and create havoc in the Middle East.

The Republicans will do anything to get elected – it is their last chance to overturn much of Obama’s policy. The scenario above, however destructive, may be their only hope.

Originally published in Liberal Conspiracy

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