Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Tigerhawk: Balance of Terror, Iran and Israel"

Austin Bay points to this blog, and says, "Tigerhawk analyzes Iran’s threat to attack Israel– and it’s a different take."

Iran has threatened to attack Israel's nuclear facility and other "strategic assets" if the United States attacks Iran.

If the United States launches an attack on Iran, the Islamic republic will retaliate with a military strike on Israel's main nuclear facility.

Dr. Abasi, an advisor to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, said Tehran would respond to an American attack with strikes on the Dimona nuclear reactor and other strategic Israeli sites such as the port city of Haifa and the Zakhariya area.

Haifa is also home to a large concentration of chemical factories and oil refineries.

This is, of course, a completely illegal threat, unless of course the United States launches its attack with Israel's assistance, which is highly unlikely (but, scroll down this post for a reference to "listening centers" that Israel has established in Iraqi Kurdistan). If the world were at all principled, we would expect howls of outrage from the rule-of-law countries. It isn't, so we won't hear those howls, but there you have it. The moral equivalence fetishists will take refuge behind the excuse that Israel also has undeclared nuclear weapons, so it is hardly in a position to object.

Now for the counterintuitive part: perversely, this new threat from Iran is at one level comforting. Why? Because it amounts to recognition that Israel's existence -- however nettlesome and offensive it may be to the mullahs and their constituents -- is more valuable to Iran's national defense than Israel's lack of existence. That realization, which was by no means inevitable, is stabilizing because it means that Iran is unlikely to launch a first strike against Israel (other than through proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas).

One might also wonder why Iran is leveling this threat now. It has two other big cards -- the price of oil and its ability to disrupt in Iraq. It may have decided that yesterday's news -- that al Qaeda was gunning for Saudi oil targets and that Iraq was blowing up without orders from Tehran -- had weakened their leverage. After all, if oil is really expensive and Iraq is in chaos, why not hit Iran? Well, because they will retaliate against Israel.


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