The middle east is perhaps not about to go all to hell

Updated:

New developments Sept 24, 2012 — See at end of story


Israel is about to do something really stupid, counting on being able to push Obama around before the elections. And they’re probably right, Obama will probably allow Israeli aircraft to traverse Iraqi airspace on their way to Iran. Who will, in their turn, retaliate with missiles. Israel will achieve nothing as far as preventing Iran getting a bomb any sooner, the centrifuges are a hard target. The good news is it doesn’t matter, because Iran is 5-10 years away from a bomb in any case. But the bad news is that Iran will fire missiles back at Israel who will then call on the US to deal with that problem.

What do you think the US electorate will make of all that? They’ll demand that Obama counterattack the missile silos, and I presume he will. Now Israel is getting what it wants, the chance to attack Iran freely, with no worry of civilian Iranian casualties (there will be lots, as they search for missile silos, many of which (I’m sure) are in built up areas. Lots of drones and cruise missiles. Lots more casualties. More discontent and uprisings throughout the Arab world. Israel is less safe, Iran suffers, the world is a harsher place and nothing good comes of it all.

That’s why the US has stationed 3 carrier groups in the Strait of Hormuz. They want to close down the possibility of Iranian air power reaching Israel and also protect shipping in the strait. I presume it’s necessary to scout missile silos before they fire – nothing left to attack once the missiles are launched.

Update

Looks as if things have calmed down some. Ahmadinejad is saying “Fundamentally, we don’t take seriously the threats of the Zionists,” Iran’s leader said Monday at a breakfast with journalists, referring to the state of Israel. “If such an attack were to happen, all equations in the region would see a deep change.” and meanwhile Obama appeared to be telling Netanyahu to back off “When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I’m going to block out any noise that’s out there.” He also refused to meet him in New York.

I’m going out on a limb here but this is what I think has happened. Obama made a strong response to Israel’s overtures about an attack, saying that he’d not only deny Israel the use of US controlled airspace to reach Iran but that he’d put enough planes in the sky to make sure that denial was effective. Three carrier groups would do that. Israel wouldn’t easily mount a successful attack on hardened targets without US help, and with US hindrance it could be a calamity. What’s more Obama must have made Israel believe that he’d carry out a threat of shooting down any Israeli jet which didn’t turn back. For all his bluster that put Israel in a difficult position. Iran gets to indulge in a bit of its own bluster (I’ve heard some more of “Israel isn’t long for this region, it will be eliminated” from Ahmandinejad in the last day or two) but is also unable to make any real headway out of the situation.

So Obama prevents an October surprise. He probably didn’t have to use any real political capital to do so. I imagine he would have promised Iran a genuine airstrike strike should there be any real evidence of a missile mountable nuclear warhead in Iran’s possession, either acquired or manufactured, or even refinement of enough fissionable material to make such a warhead. I imagine this was on the table before and also after all this blew up, because it’s in US interest to mount such a strike if it thinks it can succeed. Someone like Obama has an advantage that a Romney does not, he can make a promise that is considered serious, founded on national interest and inviolable by political maneuverings.

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One Response to The middle east is perhaps not about to go all to hell

  1. martin says:

    Good. But I notice that my initial thinking about all this was completely wrong, which is quite an interesting lesson.

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