Tensions are rising again between Israel and Iran. The Islamic Republic has greeted Israel’s open discussion of attacks on its nuclear sites with a barrage of threats of violent retaliation. The Washington Post reports:
Iran’s supreme leader on Thursday warned Israel and the United States that any attack on the country’s controversial nuclear program would be met with an “iron fist.”In a speech at a military academy in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “Anyone who intends to attack the Islamic Republic of Iran is living in a dream and should prepare themselves for strong slaps in the face and the iron fists of the army, Guard Corps and Basijis — in a word, the great Iranian nation.” He referred to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and members of a paramilitary force affiliated with it, the Basij. […]Khamenei urged all Iranians to continue “with the path of national honor and international power,” signaling that Iran will not compromise in pursuing its nuclear program.
There are two ways to look at this. During President Ahmadinejad’s six-year tenure, Iran developed a reputation for strong words and thinly veiled threats against Israel. Aside from its continuing support of Hezbollah and Hamas, however, these have rarely amounted to much more than idle talk. Hopefully, this is more of the same, and as Iran pulls back in the face of international pressure, squid-like, it is spewing some venom and bile to cover the retreat.That’s the hopeful interpretation. A darker read is that the Iranians actually believe their “iron fist” is strong enough to deter either Israel, the US or both. If Iran is living in an alternate reality and is preparing for a fight because it underestimates the strength of its enemies, it is making a costly mistake.The danger of conflict in the Gulf is real and it is growing. It’s important that Iran gets a grip on the strength of the forces arrayed against it; miscalculations are one of the leading causes of war.