The most important piece of journalism out this morning is from Jeffrey Goldberg: a week of shuttling between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, meeting with current and former Israeli defense and security officials and intellectuals has convinced this experienced and well sourced reporter that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe that an Israeli military strike against Iran will probably work.
Goldberg, who writes for Bloomberg and the Atlantic, was stunned by the optimism he heard from senior Israelis about the consequences of an attack. To sum up his findings, top Israelis including (apparently) the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister, have reached the following conclusions about the consequences of an attack:
- If it acts soon, Israel has the capacity to set the Iranian nuclear program back by five years.
- There is a significant probability that a successful attack on Iran will energize Iran’s internal opposition, leading ultimately to the downfall or at least the crippling of the Iranian government.
- President Obama will not retaliate against Israel.
- Rather than launch massive retaliation against Israel, Iran will try to downplay the assault (as Syria and Iraq did in the past), perhaps launching only a few token missiles in response.
- Fearing massive retaliation, Iran would not attack American ships or targets in response.
Goldberg himself does not appear convinced by these optimistic scenarios; he describes some of the conversations he had as “vertigo inducing” and the Bloomberg piece radiates a sense of shock and alarm. But this is not about his calculations or the Pentagon’s; if the Israeli leaders do in fact hold the opinions he says that they do, we should brace for Israeli strikes against Iran sooner rather than later. Perhaps very soon.
Read the whole thing here. And keep your gas tank filled. If a critical mass of the Israeli political and defense establishment in Israel buys the arguments outlined above, a strike against Iran is only a matter of time.