Thursday, May 22, 2008

Iran's Post Attack Options Limited & Weak

At least that's the conclusion made by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in their paper "The Last Resort". Haaretz reported:

The main point, notes Dr. Clawson (in an interview with the paper), is that the success or failure of a military attack depends on many variables, and not just the degree of damage the attack would cause.

The variables include types of weapons used, but the authors hone in on world public opinion as critical. Israel has to create the circumstances in which world public opinion will understand Israel and its motives, even if the public doesn't like the attack. Iran's intransigence and President Ahmadinejad's inflammatory statements help greatly in this regard.

Ironically, Dr. Clawson's attempt to minimize the outcome of an attack points to a wider conflagration. Consider his words to Haaretz on Iran's likely missile response:

Interviewer: But most experts estimate that in the event of an Israeli attack, the Iranians will respond with force and launch Shihab missiles at Israel.

Clawson: It is possible, but first, the Shihab missiles are not considered particularly reliable. Iran deploys them without having done hardly any significant tests. Second, the Shihab's guidance system is not very accurate. The missile's range of accuracy is up to a kilometer. And finally, Israel's aerial defense system - the Arrow missiles would certainly intercept quite a few Shihab missiles. Moreover, Iran's firing missiles at Israel would enable Israel to respond in a decisive manner.

Thus any missiles aimed at Israel would still strike the country, but could miss their target by a kilometer. Should Jewish and Arab citizens living within 1 km of strategic sites move in the case of an attack?

As for the Arrow defense system, what percent of Iranian missiles would be intercepted? What does "quite a few" mean? President Bush just offered to help shore up the Arrow system in his visit to Israel for its 60th birthday party.

But the kicker in the above response is "firing missiles at Israel would enable Israel to respond in a decisive manner." That means escalation and a wider conflagration, the thing Dr. Clawson is minimizing. So who is this person pushing for an attack on Iran, or at least challenging their military ability to respond? Patrick Clawson is Deputy Director for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Numerous neo-conservatives sit on their advisory board, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and James Woolsey. Rebuilding America's Defenses, a study produced by the Project for the New American Century advocated military action against both Iraq and Iran. It looks like the boys may get their wish, courtesy of Israel, the U.S. or a combined effort.

Don't worry about Clawson's comment about the use of nuclear weapons in an attack to prevent another country from obtaining them. The world hasn't gone completely mad, just blatantly narcissistic.