Israel and Iran continue their war of words. Pundits are trying to predict when and if the missiles will start flying. I wonder how much money can be made by investors who correctly guess the timing of a first strike. I assume the first signs of war-sized violence will send Israeli stocks down and perhaps defense stocks in the United States up.

And this made me wonder how hard it must be for Israel to keep the timing of a first strike secret. There must be some small but definite difference between being generally ready to attack and actually making the decision. I'm guessing some types of military contracts with civilian companies get activated just ahead of an attack. Maybe the military suddenly purchases more of some sorts of supplies that can't be easily stored. Or maybe the families of top Israeli officials cut short their travel and vacation plans. It seems to me that it would be impossible to hide the timing of a first attack from all insiders who might use the knowledge to profit.

A few days ago I noticed a 5% drop in an Israeli ETF that I invested in. A quick check of the news didn't turn up any stories beyond the usual drumbeats for war that have been ongoing for months. Is a sudden 5% drop a sign that insiders know what's coming?

Then I asked myself if Israel is clever enough do some head fakes (phony leaks) ahead of the real attacks just to see how Iranian defenses respond. It seems like a good way to make the Iranian leadership imagine more vividly how they will feel when the real thing happens. Maybe that's a good negotiating tactic. And maybe it helps make the real attack more of a surprise.

Israel is in an oddly impossible position. They say they can't tolerate an Iranian nation that talks openly of Israel's annihilation while it's working toward the capability of building nukes. But an Israeli military attack would guarantee that the Iranians become more dangerous now and later. Israel loses no matter what.

If your only two options (attack or don't attack) are both losing propositions, what do you do? My guess is that a third option will emerge that would have been unthinkable under conditions less dire. Maybe the third option will involve a bold peace initiative the likes of which no one would have seen coming. Maybe the third option is a decapitation strike against the Iranian regime instead of an attack on nukes. Or maybe Israel will dig up the top layer of the Holy Lands, put it on barge-islands, build settlements on top of it, and float away. (It only sounds ridiculous until you compare it to the alternative of presumed nuclear annihilation.)

I put the question to you: Will Israel attack Iran's nuclear sites?
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Aug 19, 2012
I knew the US was going to invade a country (Afghanistan, 2001) when I read in the news that the US military had just ordered a large number of body bags. The same thing happened right before Iraq in 2003. The US also tells UN personnel and diplomats to leave the country, as they did in Iraq in 2003. The movement of armour (tanks, ships, etc) that take time to move is also another good sign that the US government is getting ready for war; in 2003 Abram tanks started to be offloaded in Kuwait.
Aug 17, 2012
@Therion As I said, many of our leaders sound bat-dropping crazy to me, but I think there are many of us that aren't (bat-dropping crazy). I would guess that Iran and Israel are about the same (leaders that sound bat-dropping crazy and people who aren't actually bat-dropping crazy). Also, as far leadership goes, I was referencing Scott's comment that Israel is in an oddly impossible position when I said Iran was acting logically for the equally ridiculous situation they are in - Iran is wildly under-gunned for a fight with Israel, Israel's rhetoric towards Iran isn't any friendlier (though it is more subtle, one would expect that from a country which clearly has the upper-hand militarily - similarly, the US usually uses subtle rhetoric against it's perceived enemies that "all options are on the table"), and Israel has the support of the US. Maybe I'm wrong, there are certainly humanitarian concerns that we can all agree are atrocious, but I don't think Iranians or Israelis on the whole are evil. I think the leadership of both countries are acting logically given the different positions they have in this situation. I didn't think we're talking about whether Israel should attack Iran due to humanitarian concerns.
-5 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 17, 2012
**Will Israel attack Iran's nuclear sites?**

Most certainly. It is just a question of when.

**Is Israel clever enough to do some head fakes?**

I believe Israel is **clever** enough to create a catastrophe, maybe involving killing some of thier own, and blame it on Iran.....just for an excuse to start a war. It will be such an event that they hope will give them support from the US. I thought the recent event with Israeli tourists in Eastern Europe being pulled off a bus and shot was going to be it. It will be something very similar.
Aug 16, 2012
I have read the jerusalem post for a few years now, and it seems the Iran issue has always been a spot light in this particular publication. On the jpost.com web site there is a link called " Iranian Threat" on the top link bar...

If you want to get the latest saber rattling go there.

Over the years, the israel "government" has been more vocal on Irans nuclear program, and destroying it. More so now than in the past.

If that's not a indicator of possible action, I don't know what is.

As to regards to when, I wouldn't know... But I would think more towards spring next year.

People in Iran are going to have a rough ride next year If food prices go up too much to sustain a comfortable life.

Factoring Irans already angry youth and semi revolution, economic sanctions, and current record high grain prices " nearly 10 dollars a bushel for corn"

By spring, current world commodity prices will effect and raise food prices all over the world...

Many middle class in Iran will have a hard time being comfortable if they cant afford food. And a angry, hungry, middle class usually means revolt...

So if israel where to attack only military installations,and minimize civilian casualty. Israel may be able to re spark reminiscence of the 2009_ 2010 election protests. And possibly start a revolution by proxy...

But really its just a throw of the dice...
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
So, there was a UN resolution taking the land from the indians and handing them over to the white settlers?

The difference is that in 1948 there was an international body, of which the arabs were members, who had the power to decide this. The arabs voted against, but by joining, they were (and are) bound to respect UN decisions, including the one about Israel.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
cpbower: "Assuming s/he's not a total lunatic, "blanket permission" would still have some restrictions (we wouldn't want known Israeli murderers, rapists, child-molesters, or terrorists here)"
I can't speak for the US but evacuating a people/tribe/whatever doesn't mean choosing between "deserving" and "undeserving" members of that set.

If they are attacked (or gassed, for that matter) for being jews, being a jew ought to be sufficient reason for granting asylum status, citizenship or whatever people have in mind.

And if one of them is or becomes a criminal, normal due process happens. As far as I know "handing a jew over to iran" is not a legal punishment in the US, isn't it?
-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012

for the sake of comparison we should regard being shot to death or bombed into oblivion as equivalent to being stoned to death.

So, how many people have the US, Israel and Iran stoned to death in the last 25 years?
+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
@ cpbower:

Yeah, Iran and Israel "seem about the same". Even though Iran is a theocracy ruled by a bunch of Twelth Imam aficionados and Holocaust-denying fanatics. Even though they think 9/11 was a plot by the Jews. Even though people are still imprisoned for "black magic" in Iran, and stoned to death for adultery, and, if you're a women, lashed or jailed for "bad hijab".
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
assuming that it's unlikely the US will attack Iran without some kind of reason for bloody outrage to present to the public ..

I reckon particular stocks in the stock market will hold v. short term clues that would predict a terrorist attack on US soil that would be a trigger for an attack on Iran.
-10 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
Scott - Can you explain why we (the US) supports Israel? I really don't understand it. Maybe it's because I enjoy rooting for a underdog, but Iran doesn't seem that bad. I mean that I think they are acting logically for the equally rediculous situation they are in. jdg urged "the US to grant Israelis blanket permission to move here." Assuming s/he's not a total lunatic, "blanket permission" would still have some restrictions (we wouldn't want known Israeli murderers, rapists, child-molesters, or terrorists here), so why not grant Iran the same deal? Many of our leaders sound bat-dropping crazy to me, but I think there are many of us that aren't. I would guess that Iran and Israel are about the same. But I would really like to read what you think about our blanket (financial, military, political, etc) support of Isreal.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
ONLY if these conditions have been met (and they all fail):

1) additional cyberattacks ala "Stuxnet"
2) assassinations and kidnapping of key research and government figures
3) UN resolutions condemming Iran's refusal to stop enrichment
4) sabotage efforts on uranium shipments to Iran

Once these conditions have occurred and failed, Israel will see no alternative but to launch a military attack. What would be interesting is what do they actually target with their bombs (Ahmendinejad, nuclear facilities, or both?)
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
I read an interesting op-ed in the Wall St Journal suggesting that Israel is likely to strike before our election. The rationale is that the window of opportunity is open: Obama can't afford to not back them up during the campaign, but if he gets re-elected, Israel could be left hung out to dry.

And, of course the reason for needing to attack is survival. Even if nuclear-armed Iranian leaders held back out of self-interest (which I suspect they would), it would doubtless set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and it would only be a matter of time before some crackpot used some on Israel.

Making sure hostile regimes don't acquire nukes is their best strategy. And it's apparent that the only way to do that is by force.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
I think Israeli commandos will continue covert assassinations of targeted Iranians. There's evidence to suggest that they've already done this several times and the Israelis are good enough at creating reasonable doubt to keep getting away with it. Eventually you'll have a few remaining Iranian scientists too scared to make a goatmilkshake, let alone purify plutonium.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
Israel has a population of less than 8 million. The surrounding arab countries all hate Israel and have a polulation of over 100 million. If your family of 4 lived in a neighborhood where your 200 closest neighbors wanted to kill you and regularly fired shots into your yard and house, what would you do? I'd move.

Where to go? The US is the most friendly country to Israel and would benefit from 8 million new citizens, many of whom are well-educated, productive and self-reliant. There are large Jewish communities that would welcome them here, like New York and Boca. sounds like a win-win to me.

Gotta have holy land & wailing wall? Fine. Load up the wall and as much dirt as you want and ship it to the US like the bridge in London that was dismantled and rebuilt in Arizona. Done.

Or stay in Israel and be vaporized in a nuclear blast...
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
"Iran allowing full inspections to calm Isreal in return for nuclear power, education benefits, and whatever other perks their regime can think up"
That proposal is dead until someone comes up with a way to enforce it against the US and Israel in case they change their opinion about the issue.

Basically, any agreement involving the US can be regarded as nonbinding on the US side, making treaties with the US more or less worthless. Unless the other party has nukes too, and enough of them to saturate the current US ballistic missile defense systems.
Aug 16, 2012

EMU, the problem with that theory is our president wants the pre 67 borders as a starting point. If isreal gives in (which would be crazy because it kept those areas for defensive reasons), the next time the palesteinians or egypt get uppity, they'll start demanding isreal give up even more land.

As an aside, here's one thing I don't get about liberals. They think the US took land from the indians who were here first and was the bad guy for doing so, but in the mid-east the isrealis are playing the role of the indians (they were there before islam was invented) and the arabs are playing the role of the big bad US. Isn't that hypocracy? If you believe those who owned land (property) first should be able to keep it and not have it taken by the government, yeay property rights, why are the isrealis getting an exception?
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
Of course, for the US, there'd be a great way of restarting the peace process.

Give Netanyahu a map with the pre-1967 border and tell them that, in the event of an iranian repsonse, you will start helping them if the IDF gets pushed behind that border.

And tell them, that they have half a year for an agreement with the palestininans. After that you hand said map over to Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
As ironic as it sounds, I think Israel feels cornered despite the huge efforts to isolate Iran. Even USA has shown that they're not going to let themselves be manipulated boundlessly by Israel into doing most of the hard work (although I personally think USA is cutting Israel way too much slack).
And what do you do when you're cornered? You lash out wildly with unpredictable results. Even if you know that your situation is lose-lose.

Irans courage (if we can call it that) is driven by their faith, so they have the capacity to work with the isolation/military threat creatively. They already have a lot experience in handling isolation, thanks to USA.

I say courage, but you could also say that Iran is driven by their pride. Either way, it must be more effective than what is driving Israel, I'm guessing fear.
I actually wonder why Israel doesn't display similar courage, since they've got their own religion. Maybe I just can't see it.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
The USA has been arming Israel for as long as this conflict has been going on. There's no reason they won't invade Iran on some pretext or other of it looks like they're close to building a working nuke. Another trillion dollars of taxpayer money is a small price to pay.

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 16, 2012
I put the question to you Scott: Why so obsessed with floating island cities? An appealing idea yes; if it was incorporated into a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie. A beautiful pipe dream however it's highly impractical at the moment. And I guarantee Isreal feels more attached to the geographical particulars of their Holy Land than the top layer of dust covering it. On the subject of an unexpected peace agreement I did highly appreciate your previous blog post pertaining to Iran allowing full inspections to calm Isreal in return for nuclear power, education benefits, and whatever other perks their regime can think up. Sadly I think everybody involved is far to proud and has far to much personal gain at stake to stomach a humanitarian deal of that nature.
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