Is Israel planning to attack Iran sometime in the dying days of the Bush Error, I mean Bush Era? Speculation is rife. Laura Rozen has done a great job of reporting the bookmaking in Washington on this possibility.
There are very good reasons for thinking an attack would be ineffective, and that the talk about it is damaging. In a new article up at the American Prospect, I give the five reasons for doubting the wisdom of an Israeli strike, starting with this:
At first glance, the model for Israeli action is the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osiraq reactor. But striking Iran would be far more difficult. Former Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, a hawk on Iran, told me to “assume that with ingenuity” Israel could succeed. Sneh cites the 1976 Entebbe raid — in which Israel flew commandos to Uganda to free passengers from a hijacked airliner — as an example of doing what appeared impossible. Sneh was the head of the medical team on that mission. Yet he is only underlining the problem: Entebbe, like Osiraq, was a pinpoint attack and totally unexpected.
Meir Litvak, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Center for Iranian Studies, lists the differences between Osiraq and the current challenge. Iran, he notes, has spread out its nuclear facilities. They are “presumably buried very deep underground,” and Israel may not know where they all are. (Iran, after all, knows about Osiraq, and a tactic is only a surprise once.) Given the limited ability of the Israeli air force to strike at that distance, its planes would have to make more than one bombing run; on the return trip, they’d be expected.
Read the whole piece here.
So will the Bush Administration try what it truly loathes, and actually enter a diplomatic process? Laura takes a look at that question too, and so does Iran expert Gary Sick, at TonyKaron.com. Personally, my sense is that there are two barriers to diplomacy by the Bush team: They don’t like it, and they don’t know how to do it – but then most people would prefer not to do things at which they are awful. I don’t go bowling, and Bush doesn’t negotiate.