By: Rowan Wolf of Uncommon Thought Journal
While both Israel and Hizbullah claimed victory in the recent 33 day war, for Israel it was a loss. Superior military strength and weaponry did not shock an awe Hizbullah into laying down their arms. Even the use of banned weapons – such as cluster bombs – did not save the day. The mood in Israel from all reports is tending distinctly away from Olmert, but recent events seem to be leading Israel to a more extreme posture – not a more moderate one.
The September 1, 2006 Times Online highlights a shift in Israeli strategy regarding Iran. Instead of targeted strikes against fixed installations (i.e. assumed nuclear capacity), now Israel is looking at a full scale war with Iran – and likely Syria. A source from within Israel’s defense “establishment” is quoted as saying”
“In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” said one insider, “but Iran’s growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player.”
One might discount the Times article, but it seems to be supported in part by Olmert’s speech to the Israeli Parliament in which he said:
“If we have go to war with Syria, we will do away with the limitations on the use of force we placed upon ourselves in Lebanon.” (Arutz Sheva, 9/04/06)
If Israel is planning an all out war against Iran and Syria, they are certainly doing it with a nod from Washington. The rhetoric has flown hot and heavy over Iran and its nuclear program. While Iran consistently says it will negotiate, nuclear production is one of the non-negotiables. It seems clear that the Bush administration is attempting to paint Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a wild eyed, unstable despot, and Iran is on the board for “regime change.”
Since, the U.S. can’t even get support for sanctions against Iran (Russia and China are the main hold outs), then broad support for an invasion is unlikely. However, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Lebanon, Iran has a large and well developed military. They also have a large (and young) population from which to draw troops. If it came to “boots on the ground” in Iran, even the combined forces of Israel and the U.S. would be at a large disadvantage.
It has been reported that many of Iran’s nuclear sites (labs, storage facilities, etc) are located in the midst of civilian populations – including residential areas. Bombing of these facilities would result in tremendous levels of civilian casualties, and that would only further harden sentiment against the U.S. and Israel.
The Bush policy and the “war on terror” have done the opposite of what they were purportedly to do. Chaos reigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and terrorism seems to be expanding and diffusing rather than ending. Bloody conflict to fill power vacuums left by U.S. activities seem to be the most obvious result. Globally, the U.S. has lost voice and stature, and that is not only among Islamic populations.
Given, the results of both U.S. invasions, and Israel’s, one would think it is time for a different strategy. However, all signs from both nations are to “stay the course” of preemptive invasion with massive bombing. Further, since the Bush White House has taken the stand that they have Congressional preauthorization for any action they wish to take, it is unlikely that Bush will go to Congress to authorize a strike on Iran (or Syria). We could be in the midst of another preemptive war without either the people or Congress able to say “NO.”