Habakkuk on Sneh

 Andy,In my opinion,
this oped likely represents another example of an unstoppable force (Israeli
strategic doctrine) meeting an immovable object (the limits of Israeli military
power).That a highly intelligent man like Ephraim Sneh should make quite fantastic
claims about the ability of Israel, alone and unaided, to set back the Iranian
nuclear programme is something which, I think, needs explaining. It may be that
he has simply succumbed to hubris. But it is also possible that he is being
less than candid.There is, it seems to me, no reason to question the sincerity
of his claim that Israel is under 'existential threat', or to dismiss it as
paranoia .Unlike Netanyahu, Sneh is not attempting to conjure up alarm by
suggesting an Iranian nuclear capability would be under the control of
irrational — and by implication undeterrable — fanatics. Rather, he is
focusing on the crucial questions of the psychological impact of such a
capability, and its impact on r isk-taking, in the context of Israel's
intractable demographic problems: considerations to which the ability to deter
deliberate attack is of very limited relevance.Certainly might dispute Sneh's
conclusions, but they hardly self-evidently silly: Israel cannot live in the
shadow of a nuclear Iran. Immigration will cease, more young people will
emigrate and foreign investments will diminish.

An Israel that is no longer a
safe home for Diaspora Jews and is not characterized by entrepreneurship and
excellence means an end to the Zionist dream.A nuclear Iran will increase the
audacity of the region's extremists, threaten the moderates and lead within a
few years to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The
regional balance of power will change to Israel's disadvantage. Although
Nasrallah would obviously call things by different names, it is not clear to me
that his reading of Israeli vulnerabilities is fundamentally different.So what
options are open to Israel to avert the hardly so very implausible scenario
which Sneh is conjuring up?One possibility to which he refers could be the kind
of '"crippling sanctions" that might perhaps undermine the regime in
Tehran. But a necessary condition for these would be the participation of China
and of Russia — which at the moment does not seem very likely.Failing the
internal collapse of the regime in Tehran, one is indeed back to the massive
discrepancy between the requirements of Israeli strategic doctrine and the
capabilities of Israeli military power, which you pinpoint in your comment. The
only way to square the circle is to enlist the massive military capabilities of
the United States in support of Israeli objectives.One obvious possibility is
for Israel to attack Iran, in the expectation that events would develop in such
a manner as to draw the United States into the conflict. Both Phil Giraldi and
Clifford Kiracofe have suggested that this is something which the I sraelis
might well try to do, and be able to do.And indeed, in his recent report on the
subject, former USAF Colonel Sam Gardiner, who has been involved in a lot of
work on hypothetical scenarios relating to crises involving Iran, suggests that
it might be very difficult for Obama not to side with Israel in a conflict with
Iran, even if the Israelis started it.(See
http://www.foi.se/FOI/Templates/NewsPage____9027.aspx.)   However, seeking to inveigle the United States into a war in this way is a very
high risk strategy, to put it mildly. The kind of effects which Sneh suggests
might be expected from an Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, while they
may indeed constitute an 'existential threat' to Israel, quite patently do not
do so to the United States.Whether they constitute a serious enough threat to
the United States to warrant the costs and risks of military action is, it
appears to me, a matter on which informed opinion is divided. Even among those
who think that wh en push comes to shove it may be better to accept such costs
and risks, many are likely to think that these are decisions Americans should
make for themselves, in their own time.Accordingly, an attempt to inveigle the
United States into war with Iran could be a massive strategic catastrophe for
the Israelis — either if it failed, or if it succeeded, but the crushing of
Iranian power generated seriously negative side effects.One might then expert a
perfectly rational Israeli strategic planner to see himself (or herself) as
caught between a rock and a hard place — and to want to keep options open. If
such a planner wanted to keep the option of attempting to inveigle Obama into a
war open, it would seem advisable to do certain things.Crucially, it would be
necessary that the actual objective of a possible attack was not made overt. It
would be imperative to present it as an heroic attempt by a desperate Israel to
escape by its unaided efforts from an intolerable situation. In making such a
presentation credible, it would help enormously to suggest that those who had
planned the operation genuinely believed that Israeli capabilities were
adequate to the task.It would further be an absolute priority to avoid
unnecessarily antagonising Obama and influential elements in the United States
— particularly in the military — who might be in two minds about how to act,
once a war between Israel and Iran was a fait accompli. From such a perspective,
the decision by Netanyahu to confront Obama over the settlements at this time
of all times could only be seen as simple lunacy.The appropriate strategy would
be precisely that which Sneh recommends — 'an open-ended freeze of settlement
and outpost expansion, refrain from building new neighborhoods in East
Jerusalem and stop construction for Jews in Arab neighborhoods.'What would
further be required would be for Israel to attempt to give every appearance of
going along in good faith with the strategy of t rying to pressure Iran, or
provoke 'regime change', by sanctions — even in it was judged that this
strategy was unlikely to work. And this, again, appears to be what Sneh is
recommending.Last but not least, it would be necessary to have either
'evidence', or plausible-sounding speculation, suggesting that an Iranian
nuclear capability was an imminent prospect, appearing at a time when electoral
calculations might push the Obama administration to conclude in the event of an
Israeli attack on Iran that their least worst option was military intervention
against the latter country to finish the war quickly.The suggestion by Sneh
that in the absence of 'crippling sanctions' it is 'reasonable to assume that
by 2011 Iran will have a nuclear bomb or two' obviously has to be seen together
with the suggestion that Israel 'would have to act around the congressional
elections in November, thereby sealing Obama's fate as president.'Of course,
one could read this as suggesting that amon g the anticipated possible benefits
from an attack on Iran would be the replacement of Obama by a president more
congenial to Israel. But although this may be a consideration, it would not
seem to be the only or the decisive one. In a crucial paragraph, Sneh suggests
that:The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran during Obama's term would do
him a great deal of political damage. The damage that the resulting independent
Israeli strike would cause Obama – soaring gasoline prices and American
casualties in retaliatory operations – would be devastating.This suggests to me
the hope of creating a situation where Obama and his advisers would calculate
that they could best hope of preventing gasoline prices remaining high for a
protracted period and minimising American casualties lay in a prompt and
devastating deployment of military power against Iran.And in such a situation,
Sneh may also be suggesting, Obama and his advisors might be influenced by the
calculation that such a prompt and devastating deployment would gain them the
kudos of having forestalled an imminent Iranian acquisition of nuclear
weapons.In putting forward this possible reading of his remarks, I am not
suggesting that Sneh is committed to a strategy of attempting to inveigle the
United States into a war against Iran. What does seem to me likely is both that
he wants to keep the option open, and is sending a covert message both to
Netanyahu and many others that if they want to do this, a bull in the China
shop approach to the Obama Administration is not exactly clever.Meanwhile, I
would expect to see a good deal of disinformation surfacing in various places
— probably including London — designed to suggest that an Iranian nuclear
capability is a significantly more immediate possibility than is likely to be
the case. And it would not greatly surprise me if such an information warfare
campaign would be designed to climax sometime in the autumn of this year.An
alternative expla nation, as I noted at the start, is that Sneh is suffering
from hubris. A less than comforting thought is that if he is not, he probably
thinks Netanyahu is.  Habakkuk

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49 Responses to Habakkuk on Sneh

  1. Matthew says:

    Wonderful post. However, Sneh has long argued that a nuclear Iran would defeat Zionism without firing a shot, i.e., by causing a massive exodus of Israel’s Best and Brightest.
    Invert the analysis. Why should America and the ME suffer because Israel has a dysfunctional political culture? Imagine the salutory effect of America’s image in the region if we shot down one or two of Israel’s jets when they violated Iraqi airspace. That could position Obama as the first president brave enough to stand up to the Lobby. That is a nightmare that even Sneh cannot contemplate.

  2. curious says:

    Obvious thing:
    – Obama’s fundamental problem hasn’t been resolved. Why should Bibi even care at all about his demand? (he has 70% approval. If he plays the game and fucks the oil price every other week, it is Obama that will lost his job due to double dip. Bibi wins period. He will be the last man standing. All of Obama crews are pussy and will blink, waffle and conveniently be in other speaking engagement.) Bibi knows this, the world knows this. Obama administration has lost its credibility.
    – And wait until the Iranian figures out the Israel game and join in. (Hey, why not kick Obama under the table and help Israel? What’s to lose? ) So now Israel and iran will bicker in public, and pump oil price to the moon.
    – Initiating war, Yom Kippur style strengthen isreal position even more. They just need to wait for good timing and perfect excuse. They got to eliminate Iran with US force, kill bunch of palestinians, delay palestinian state indefinitely, AND get rid of Obama administration.
    Even without war, If the kabuki game is played long enough, the one who lose the most is not Israel or iran, … guess who?
    so from Israel point of view, problem solved, deal with next administration.
    what’s left now is actually detail military operation and that perfect excuse. (that’s why I keep spewing that ridiculous military scenario. Cause it’s the only thing that will save our asses and not stuck in another big war before full economic recovery. Call it my home made mini counter propaganda)
    What has to be done in Israel-Palestinian peace talk is straight forward, easy, and trivial. There is nothing to talk about anymore.
    But why should anybody talk peace ?(inside domestic political circuit) Everybody who wants something get what they want through maintaining the current situation.

  3. charlie says:

    rather reminds me of the ending of fail safe. President Obama order the nuking of Tel-Aviva after the Isrealis take out Tehran.

  4. Secretarybird says:

    After reading Habbakuk’s post, I read the Sneh piece carefully.
    Sneh’s conclusion is that if Israel halts all building on occupied land, the Americans will fall into line and impose severe sanctions on Iran, with or without UN backing.
    That’s an unprovable assertion, designed to convince Sneh’s readers of the validity of his argument (aptly described by US philosopher Harry G Frankfurt as “bullshit”, in his entertainigly titled book “On Bullshit”).
    Some of the ten points Sneh lists are similarly flawed. Are bright young people leaving Israel because of the existential threat that Iran supposedly poses, or is it because Israeli life is increasingly dominated by religious wingnuts who are trying to have buses segregated, setting up counselling services for Israeli girls who are dating Arabs, and continuing to invite destruction on Israel itself by their heedless folly?

  5. Balint Somkuti says:

    Would such an attack result in a regime change in Iran? If not what could hinder the ayatollahs to pursue nuclear weapons again? How would the attack affect countries like Turkey or Egypt? What is China’s opinion on the attack? How would the attack the world economy?

  6. fnord says:

    I notice that Gabi Ashkenazis term as chief of IDF will end in February 2011. I wonder who will replace him…

  7. Green Zone Cafe says:

    Yikes! Spot on. I’m taking leave in October.

  8. Harper says:

    Several observations and readings on David’s thoughtful analysis. First, two years ago WINEP issued a report on the same topic–an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program. That report argued that the ultimate success or failure of Israeli military strikes to knock out or postpone Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, was irrelevant. An Israeli attack, they argued, would be a “game-changer,” because it would, indeed, force the United States to take Israel’s side and, to use Col. Gardiner’s words, “finish the job.”
    I think that all scenarios about Iran strike by Israel leave one crucial factor out of the consideration. Regardless of whether or not Iran’s asymmetric retaliatory capabilities are proven to be highly effective or vastly overrated (will Hezbollah or Hamas strike Israel effectively on behalf of Tehran? Will Iran knock out some of the Persian Gulf oil fields in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain?), an Israeli attack on Iran will have monetary and economic consequences, globally, that will be far more devastating than imagined, in my opinion. The world has not gotten through the 2007-2008 banking and financial crisis, as much of the media claims. The banks are still fragile, sovereign debts in a number of European countries are unpayable, the U.S. Federal debt is out of control, and the appearances of return to financial normalcy are all based on the Brazil carry trade, which is, in reality, a hyperinflationary nightmare. So it seems to me that it is really necessary to stop Israel from taking it upon themselves to bomb Iran. There are some people in Washington who are quietly working with Ehud Barak, believing that he is the only actually competent person in the Netanyahu cabinet, who can be used as a channel for delivering the word that no attack on Iran will be tolerated. It is a highly risky proposition to count on Barak as the sanity clause in Israel, but that is how some people in Washington are thinking, vis. stopping Israel from detonating an economic armageddon. After the Bibi/Biden events and the AIPAC conference, no one is confident that Obama will stand up to Israeli and Zionist Lobby pressure, especially in a midterm election year. That is why Sneh and others are putting the date of November on a deadline for an Israeli strike against Iran.

  9. augustin l says:

    is this what “liberation” looks like.

  10. Patrick Lang says:

    augustin 1
    “He jests at scars who ne’er has felt a wound.”
    You don’t know anything about these pilots or what caused then to make a bad call.
    And, who the hell are you to judge them anyway? pl

  11. walrus says:

    Regarding the Apache incident, yes, Col. Lang, I agree it was a bad call. The decision to suppress the video was also a bad call because it has magnified what should have been admitted as an “unfortunate incident” into something worse.
    What does this event do to the value of all our work on “hearts and minds” operations in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  12. Pirouz says:

    I have just one question, not brought up in these calculations: Given an Israeli strike (the level of success for which is relatively unimportant), how is Joe the plumber going to react when he has to pay $8 a gallon for gasoline?

  13. Well, what is the regional context? We have four factors out that way to consider: Israel, Iran, Arab states, Turkey.
    Some observers see the Arab states and Turkey working toward more normal relations with Iran.
    This leaves Israel the odd man out. In the old days, Israeli strategy was to play up to non-Arab states like Turkey and Iran.
    So perhaps Israeli circles feel a “game changer,” as Harper puts it, is needed. Also, as David Habakkuk indicates, for Sneh etal. a strike against Iran IS “rational” in their minds. And what better than to drag the US in.
    And just what about the US new nuclear posture?
    And, it would seem, Congress will massively support an Israeli strike or a joint US-Israel operation.
    On the financial front, as Salamon and Harper point out, the US is not in the greatest shape along with the rest of the industrial world. With such a strike and potential economic crisis does the US dollar lose its status as a reserve currency in a sauve qu’il peut scenario?

  14. Patrick Lang says:

    A bad call by a couple of men in their mid twenties, hopped up on adrenaline.
    I would not assume that it was deliberately suppressed. An operational film would not be released to the public under normal circumstance.
    As I have maintained in the past, combat units are unsuitable for COIN. Their business is fighting and killing not charitable works. Other people should do that as I once did. If we are to do COIN seriously a new corps should be developed for that. pl

  15. Lysander says:

    What’s Iran’s response? Everyone talks about Iran launching all sorts of missiles, destroying Saudi refineries, blocking the straights of Hormuz.
    I guess all that could happen in the face of a sustained daily bombardment. But in response to a single Israeli conventional strike? Iran’s best response would be the simplest; Withdraw from NPT.
    That nonviolent approach has the following advantages.
    1) It would be hard to criticize Iran for doing so after an attack.
    2) Any time Iran lost in destroyed material can be made up for with the need to placate the IAEA dispensed with.
    3) It is ‘restrained.’ Iran actually gets credit for not escalating the situation. If the Israeli plan is to get the US involved, now the US would have no excuse. Probably an American general would send the IRGC a secret thank you note for not putting them on the spot.
    4) Best of all, the west would have no one to blame but their Israeli ‘allies.’ China and Russia will know exactly where to point their finger when asked for more sanctions.
    From Iran’s POV, it would be foolish to escalate to a war when a minimalist approach would accomplish all your most important objectives.
    Of course, in the event of a Kosovo 1999 style campaign, things would be different.

  16. N. M. Salamon says:

    I still believe that the end of the USA $ is a foreseen necessary consequence of any attack on Iran by Israel, or by the USA.
    As becomes a proper elite person, Mr Goldberg, neglected reality, when he claimed that a few disabled oil fields/ ports are of little consequence. It appears even the USA government disagrees with this assessment. THERE IS NO SPARE CAPACITY TO PUMP OIL IN THE WORLD PAST THIS YEAR! The strategic reserve is good for at max 4 m barrals a day, leaving the USA short, especially as Mexico’s export is contineally declinig [So will Canada’s in this case, as we depend on imported oil for East, to export from the west].
    The errors of military analysis is always on the problems outside their expertise.
    The Habakuk analysis of Israel’s psychology is probably valid, though does not make reference to the issue that USA help and IDF’s ability to “safekeep” the insane Likud/Zionist movement is totally impossiblke in a few years, for lack of DISCRETORY OIL supplies. When the S**T hits the fan FOOD PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION will get first call , then public transport, then possibly war materiels [if the polulation will permit such idiotic wastage of ENERY?].
    Since the time of Pasteur, civilization found a means of dealing with RABID animals – shoot them. The USA Government will have a choice: endanger the HOMELAND & HOMELAND’s CITIZENs or Shoot the Rabid dogs /planes. If the President is an adult, then therre is no question – else he will sacrifice the sick USA econmy to something far worse.
    I do not have doubts that the USA armed forces over weeks could destroy Iran, evfen without using Nuclear bambs. I am sure that the SA will come out worse than Iran, thereafter [further to fall in case of collapsed evconomy].

  17. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Not sure Habakkuk incorporated all the necessary analytical assumptions and overemphasized others. While reading it, it was if Rabbi Teitelbaum started tapping me on the shoulder, metaphorically of course, and pointed to the words, “Zionist dream” in H.’ screed.
    The evidence is overwhelming that this Zionist dream is starting to show signs of collective incipient schizophrenia.

  18. WILL says:

    Sneh is w/ the Labour party which does not make the decisions. Policy is w/ Bibi’s Likud.
    In a nutshell, Sneh says let’s do a quid pro quo w/ Obama. Freeze the settlements for sanctions on the Persicos.
    Obama has fallen in a vicious cycle w/ Iran. The Israelis kill a Persian scientist or there is a clandestine operation in Balochistan. Then Persians retaliate by proxies in Irak or by arming the Taliban. And it goes around & around.
    Moreover, Obama has fallen into the trap of confusing nuclear capable w/ nuclear weapons. Alas only John Kerry was making that lucid distinction.
    I think there will be a lot of sound & fury signifying nothing.

  19. PirateLaddie says:

    Does anyone believe we won’t provide tanker support in return of a Zionist promise to “be conventional” in their attack upon Iranian sites? Who amongst us thinks such a promise will hold in the heat of a two to three-day series of Israeli strikes that don’t offer the promised ROI? What’s the likelihood of a few sub-launched Israeli nukes under cover of an air campaign? Fasten your seat belts, boys.

  20. Secretarybird says:

    Netanyahu is caught by Catch-22 here. If he wants to keep his job, he must keep building; if he wants the US to help him deal with what he has been insisting is an “existential threat” to Israel, he must stop building.
    Stan Laurel couldn’t have gotten himself into a finer mess.

  21. R Whitman says:

    Everyone is talking about the firt strike. No one considers the aftermath. What happens next.
    We make linear predictions in a non linear world.Two recent examples–Did the Israelis, when they invaded Lebanon in 2006 envision that every General, Chief of Staff and Defense Minister would be fired? Did the US, when we invaded Iraq in 2003 envision handing over the Iraqi government to a group, very friendly to Iran.
    Wars have consequences and most of them are not expected, no matter how many think tank studies you run. The outliers get you every time.

  22. David Habakkuk says:


    Invert the analysis. Why should America and the ME suffer because Israel has a dysfunctional political culture?

    It would I think be a wonderful thing if Obama felt in a position to take on the Lobby. And as I believe that the only long-term prospect for the survival of Israel lies in the kind of two-state solution which could only be achieved as a result of massive American pressure, this is precisely what clear-thinking Zionists should be urging him to do.

    However, all the indications are that AIPAC, Dennis Ross, Fred Hiatt and the rest of them will continue to insist that the United States feeds Israel rope to hang itself. So although the time when an American president will be able to risk an all-out confrontation with the Lobby may not be so far away, I still have difficulty seeing this happening in the immediate future — or indeed in time to rescue any prospect of a viable two-state solution.

    Accordingly, the likely scenario is precisely the kind of continuing exodus of the ‘Best and Brightest’ about which Sneh has repeatedly talked. A corollary of this is likely to be that the relative strength of the alliance of expansionist secular Zionists with that part of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community that sees Zionism as an appropriate means of fulfilling the divine promise to Israel of the land from the Nile to the Euphrates continues to grow.

    The Israel to which these trends point would have no future — particularly as it is one with which very many Jews outside the country would find it impossible to identify. But it would still have a large nuclear arsenal. The prospect frightens the living daylights out of me.


    Iran’s best response would be the simplest; Withdraw from NPT.

    Your arguments certainly would seem to have cogency. As I know very little about Iranian politics, I have no means of assessing whether people of influence in that country are at all likely to be thinking along such lines.

    Of course, even if they were, there might be no visible evidence. What commonly makes this kind of situation so difficult to read it is that people make threats for ‘deterrent’ purposes — so that what they suggest they might do if attacked can sometimes be a very poor guide to what they actually contemplate doing.

    A problem that does occur, however, is that strategies of restraint can easily be undermined, if there are significant elements which do not accept them and are ready actively to subvert them — particularly given the ease with which escalatory dynamics can be set in motion.

    Sidney Smith

    The evidence is overwhelming that this Zionist dream is starting to show signs of collective incipient schizophrenia.

    Your comments discussing Rabbi Teitelbaum have raised much broader issues than I can go into at the moment, particularly as they need more thought than I have had time to give them.

    What I do think is that it may be in the nature of Israel that its identity can only be grounded in the claim that the Holocaust defines an inescapable and necessarily continuing truth about the vulnerability of Jews. The fact that this supposed truth is only very partly true is central both to the demographic crisis of Israel, and the visible propensities to paranoia in Israeli society: problems which are mutually reinforcing.

    The point I wanted to stress about Sneh is that his reading of the implications of an Iranian nuclear capability cannot simply be dismissed as paranoid. It is critical to grasp that, given the dead end into which Israel is heading, sane people as well as lunatics may be tempted to extreme measures.

    It may, as ‘Harper’ says, he a ‘highly risky proposition to count on Barak as a sanity clause in Israel’, but providing compelling arguments to sane people offers the best prospect there is preventing the possibilities of utter catastrophe in the current situation being actualised.

  23. BillWade says:

    In Colonel Gardiner’s piece it seems possible that Israel would launch an attack on Iran without the permission of the USA, he cites past Israeli actions as proof. Being that Israel cannot do enough damage conventionally, they hope and suspect that the USA will clean up the mess to Israel’s satisfaction. I think it’s possible and logical for the USA to stop them and well within our capabilities to do so. If we really don’t want them to do it, we should just tell them so and also let them know that their refueling tankers might be too occupied with other things to do any refueling.
    Not that I’d like to see a nuclear armed Iran but the argument that Israel’s best and brightest would leave Israel is a poor one. After all, how many Americans left the United States because the Soviets had us well targeted?

  24. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Thanks for the clarification. In many ways, I agree with your conclusions. However, if I may, I simply want to emphasize that Zionism appears to be struggling with a deep existential crisis and the concomitant redefining, if not fracturing, of the body politic may affect how Israelis perceive the world and, ultimately, how the GOI will act. What is the Zionist dream to which you refer? In your screed, you write:
    “An Israel that is no longer a safe home for Diaspora Jews and is not characterized by entrepreneurship and excellence means an end to the Zionist dream”.
    But is that a genuine reflection of the Zionist dream in the era of Gush Emunim? Does your delineation of the Zionist dream explain why Hebron settlers spit on a three star US Army General? Or that the settlers in Sheik Jarrah sing an ode glorifying the massacre committed by Dr. Goldstein? Does this definition of the Zionist dream explain why Netanyahu will not stop building settlements, an act in and of itself that appears irrational? And finally does this description of the dream explain why Israel will not return to the 1967 borders or make assurances, (as did Dayan) that the GOI has no intentions to take over the Dome of the Rock?
    The Zionist dream to which you allude seems to reflect assumptions that arise from a pre 1967 Israel and the days of Leon Uris, and the analytical assumptions that arise from such an approach have not lead to accurate analysis, imo.
    Consequently, with the odds plummeting that Israel will return to the 1967 borders, I am no longer able to adhere to the progressive definition of Zionism as well as the analytical assumptions that arise from such as view, as much as I would like to return to the days of calling myself a progressive Zionist. Sure, if by some miracle, Israel did return to the 67 or some agreed upon borders, I will be one of the first to pull Uris off the shelf and talk about how entrepreneurship is causing the desert to bloom for all, but is that really going to happen?
    As a result, the search is on to define what truly animates the Zionist dream. By doing so, one will then find the analytical assumptions that first should be tested and then, if proven accurate, relied upon when attempting to determine intent and capability.
    And in this inquiry, I have found that certain rabbis long ago were the first to define Zionism, ultimately, as a nationalist movement that usurped powerful religious symbols to render an extremely intoxicating experience of ethnic nationalism. And moreover they warned that Zionism had the potential to engender anti-Semitism because, among other things, the world would begin to associate all Jews, as well as Judaism, with Zionist actions that more accurately fit the paradigm of ruthless colonialism. And this improper association of Zionism with Judaism, in turn would lead to a vicious cycle (one, ironically, echoed in Kass’ book, the Deadly Embrace, if I remember correctly) in which Zionists would then point to the rising tide of anti-Semitism to justify further the Zionist state and any military actions, including, I suppose the launching of the Jericho III.
    So, I am now at the point of asking, what better reflects the Zionist dream…that of an excellence in entrepreneurship or, alternatively, the intoxicating experience of ethnic nationalism fueled by a trip to Masada and all it suggests? Which set of assumptions will lead to more accurate analysis in the long run?
    I find this inquiry deeply relevant as well as fascinating because, by defining the Zionist dream, one can then determine intent and, just as importantly, what the Zionist leaders view they are capable of achieving.

  25. curious says:

    whew, my first post was seriously bombastic eh? ha. I’ll do a more sober post.
    – Israel attack hinges on bunker buster working as advertised. But it won’t. The device is designed in
    the 90’s and by now it’s very well understood and easy to defeat. I’ll skip my previous ‘evil fruitcake
    layer from hell’ scheme since that was too obvious. Another even simpler method is to construct two
    storey platform. The top roof is filled with anechoic tile like structure (simple triangle with steep
    slope) covered with active armor. The explosive would be modular for quick refill/reinstal.
    ground floor is back up layer (flat explosive, thick sand layer, what have you)
    This construction should destroy the right angle entry point requirement of a bunker buster. (first layer
    to flick the tip of the bomb, also destroying the guidance and control. Second layer takes care the rest
    of the bomb (by now simply a tumbling around artillery tube casing plus 1000 pounds explosive material.
    Without its flight path and fuse it’s just another big dumb bomb)
    – Israel cannot use first strike nuke. The diplomatic and strategic cost are too high. If they do, then
    they are a legitimate nuclear retaliation target.
    – Using Saudi highway for fighter refueling. (too easy to defeat. Survey highway 86,85, 80. Send teams on
    alert to be activated once israel enter iranian airspace. A dozen of car with RPG/gun ought to be able to
    find the fuel truck. On top of that, rent a truck and pour sand on highway, plant explosive, gouge pot
    holes, put big traffic equipments, etc)
    boring … Guessing scenario is so much fun.
    1. Israel will attack iran using straight flight path (Jordan, Iraq, Iran) After Allawi is in, Pentagon
    and Allawi can play dumb and point fingers at each other after israel is done passing through. Jordan
    can’t do anything either. The Lebanon-Syria-Turkey-Iran path are filled with radar and SAM by now. If
    even a single pilot is capture, they will have bigger problem than Iranian nuclear program.
    2. The bombing will fail to achieve its goal to stop Iranian nuclear program. They need hundreds of
    bunker buster in the first wave, and half of that to cover the deficit on second wave. We are talking
    about using 2/3 of their F-16 just for carrying bomb. (how are they going to protect them?)
    3. After opening attack. Obama administration will waffle, dither, write speeches to calm (but basically does nothing for as long as it can)
    But they are stuck with a) everybody knows the attack is coming b)Israel has implicite go ahead.
    4. Iran is stunned. not sure what to do. But highly alert. So, Iranian prepare retaliation. (I for one think, Iran will have to go big/wide/fast/use it or lose it before they turn into radioactive ash) And some a-hole open mouth about US nuclear attack on Iran, while a carrier is very near Iran. Event snow balled. Iran has to move before they are annihilated.
    – Gulf is closed
    – all oil facilities in the gulf destroyed/non functioning (including refineries, major pipelines, port
    facilites) All gone within the hour of go ahead. Oil price spike to $200 plus. This is a must.
    – Iran has to make sure European energy supply is at the hand of Turkey and Russia only. Everybody else
    is cut off. (they also have to stop near basket case economies like UK & France. Since these two will
    attack Iran soon enough. So refineries, nuclear power plan, transformer, highpower grid)
    – Suez canal is gone (several container ships laden with explosive)
    With this Europe potential threat is weakened significantly and their banking collapse now spreading its chaos in north america.
    – Then come oil facilities in Mexico, Canada that goes into US (pipeline, power grid, refineries, oil
    port, large off shore facilities) these are almost impossible to defend.
    – Somalian pirate? All of a sudden they are equiped with anti ship missile, far more powerfull engine,
    latest info on ship traffic. (Indian sea and Red sea are closed from shipping traffic, specially tankers)
    – Iraq, afghanistan, Pakistan. (all supply route closed. pin US troop inside without supply)
    Basically, anybody who is not connnected to central asian pipeline won’t have functioning economy. Things
    grinds to a halt within a month. Inflation is going in double/triple digit quickly. Iran simply has to
    do this in order to survive, they have to disable US economy + allies. Their survival probability
    increased considerabbly after that.
    Then Iran probably will have their little war with israel.
    They are going to exploit israel big weaknesses. a)meaningless navy b)over reliance on tank/air bombing
    c)settlement distribution is impossible to defend. d)no industrial base to sustain military campaign.
    – Iran first task would be to sink all Israel navy ships (amazingly cheap and easy task). Essentially,
    get any small merchant ships Iran can get it hand on. There are hundreds of these ships in the open
    market available due to economic crisis. Reinforced the structure against torpedo. Then send these to
    quickly absorbed anti ship missiles/torpedos. Israel does not expect naval battle. Mini sub, hugging the
    coast are also beyond israel to detect. Then use merchant ship like “car bomb” against port facilities.
    after israel lost their ship and their sub run out of torpedo, while Suez canal is closed, the entire
    israel coast is open for beach landing. Do haiti style landing. Ram a ship filled with hezbollah up
    north, and ram supply ship onto Gaza. The Palestinian ought to know what to do with those supply.
    Israel then has to use their tank as coastal battery. Which is simply ridiculous.
    Beyond that. It’s Hezbollah from North, Hamas from south getting their revange with Iranian RPG, anti tank and Mortar. To cover their lack of heavy armor, Hezbollah will simply drive a semi truck with container that is a cement block that can function as one time disposable heavy shield. The rest is car bomb, pick up trucks, used car from syrian lot, copious amount of land mine, mortar, everywhere. Israel air bombing will do the rest of damage.
    Man power reinforcement from sea goes into central artery road to meet up in make shift bunkers. Then cycle back up north into Lebanon if supply is disrupted. Otherwise move forward to erect next bunker.This should slice Israel northern part into 2 undefendable east/west part. while the front grind toward the middle. Keep the whole thing simple since hezbollah doesn’t have experience doing offensive.
    The hole thing hinges on that series of container trucks as series of undestructable bunkers opening up main artery and keep redoing it. This should be effective at least 100-150 miles. Which by then it’s West bank border already. Up to the palestinian what to do if they are given weapon supply. Syria get Golan height back.
    It’s Redneck Blitzkrieg meets frog blood circulation.
    After few weeks, it’s basically 2006 Lebanon. All of a sudden israel is very interested about peace.
    (unless of course, US marine lands … then it’s all over for everybody. Hezbollah retreats and israel owes their life to somebody…. again.)

  26. N. M. Salamon says:

    Curious is closer to reality than Mr. Goldberg

  27. Secretarybird says:

    Point of information –
    “An Israel that is no longer a safe home for Diaspora Jews and is not characterized by entrepreneurship and excellence means an end to the Zionist dream.”
    This is actually a verbatim quote from Sneh’s article, not DH’s own words.
    It’s a very dubious proposition, too. Has Israel, with its constant wars with its neighbours ever really been a safe haven? Safer than New York or London? I don’t think so.
    Entrepreneurship and excellence? Someone’s been reading too much Tom Peters!

  28. Two books from a sympathetic perspective are helpful for getting a historical sense of Zionism:
    Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism (New York: Holt, 1972). A general history.
    Melvin I. Urofsky, American Zionism from Herzl to the Holocaust (New York: Doubleday, 1975)
    For a Palestinian perspective,
    Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948 (Washington DC: Institutte for Palestine Studies, 1987).
    IMO, it is too late for the “two-state” solution as I have said before.
    And what sort of “two-state” do some have in mind? A “pure” so-called “Jewish State” with no Palestinians in it next to a Palestinian entity of some kind?
    I noted somewhere that Ms. Livni, for example, has said that a “two-state” solution means Palestinians will leave/be expelled from/transferred from present day Israel physically.
    Israel presently is a failed state and a rogue state as the entire world can see and has seen.
    We need to begin planning for a one-state/bi-national state solution. In this solution there is no separate exclusive ethnically pure “Jewish State.”
    Sec. State Clinton at least displayed an understanding of the biological-demographic issue. This is a start…
    On the other hand, as Harper, Habakkuk and others have pointed out, the moderates are leaving Israel (for Germany and elsewhere) leaving a residue of messianic Zealots….with nukes.
    Having been to Masada, I came away with an admiration for the implacable thoroughness of the Romans in dealing with the problem.

  29. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Prof. K —
    If the two state solution is dead, then where does one find the analytical assumptions necessary to predict, as accurately as possible, intent and capability?
    I too visited Masada and loved it. Imo, I believe what is important is the lesson that it teaches the Israelis. And of some interest, in retrospect, was our tour guide, a memorable and likeable character. He said, off handedly, that Jews (I believe he meant Israelis) believe in animal sacrifice. Does that then mean that the Zionist dream includes building a third Temple? If so, that is a far cry from the entrepreneurship allegory upon which Habakkuk relies.
    Also Tom Segev, in his brilliant work on the Six Day War, goes into great detail describing the existential crisis that existed in Israel just prior to the outbreak of the war. This crisis differed, in some ways, than the one unfolding today, although Syria and Egypt were viewed similarly as Iran.
    And it was the war with its outcome that ended the existential crisis and created a new Zionist dream.
    As you well know, B. Netanyahu and the other leaders of the GOI are steeped in this tradition. So it is not a stretch to believe that the GOI leaders believe that what they accomplished with fighter jets in 67, they can accomplish with the Jericho III today.
    There is some historical debate as to whether or not the GOI notified and received approval of the USG before the opening day attack in the Six Day War. Yet is undoubted that, in the weeks prior, the IDF leadership grew weary of the USG not giving it the green light. Moreover, the IDF leadership believed that the longer they went without attacking, the greater the advantage the Egyptians would have.
    So a parallel can certainly be drawn. At some point, the GOI, just as it did in the Six Day war, may judge the existential threat too great to wait for the USG and then do what it believes is in its best interest. The key, for the GOI, is to make sure that the Obama administration takes the heat for the inevitable blowback against US soldiers.
    Just as many say that the Obama administration wants to take down the Netanyahu coalition, it is safe to assume that Netanyahu wants to do the same to Obama and in such a way that settlements continue in the occupied territories and Iran is attacked.
    Odds are good that Netanyahu believes he can take Obama’s administration down, even it means societal disintegration within the United States.

  30. FB Ali says:

    Whatever else may or may not be the outcome of an Israeli attack on Iran, one thing is certain: a huge wave of anger will roll through the Muslim world, from Indonesia to Mauritania, and the Muslim populations in the West. The worst kind of anger ‒ impotent rage. And it will be directed primarily at the United States, irrespective of the extent to which it is complicit. Half-baked ‘experts’ who predict that Sunnis will not be too bothered by Shia Iran being the target don’t know their a—s from their elbows.
    And, guess who stands ready to offer an outlet for this impotent rage? Your nice, friendly, neighbourhood jihadis. The US should add that to the list of other problems that it will face in the aftermath.

  31. Sidney Smith,
    Yes Masada is a dramatic site and I happened to be there when some very dramatic cloud formations moved by creating amazing light conditions.
    I need to read that Segev book you mention. Sounds fascinating particularly your point on the psychological climate.
    67 was a “game changer” in that after that Arab Nationalism a la Nasser was dead. Perfect environment created in the region for the “resurgence of Islam.” Sadat evened things up a bit in 73 but seems to me the resurgence has moved along since then.
    Consider this news clip from this evening:
    “PARIS, April 7 (Xinhua) — Israel was the main threat to peace in the Middle East, the visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said here on Wednesday before meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
    “Israel represents now the main threat to regional peace,” Erdogan said before his around an-hour meeting with Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace, local media reported.”
    So if the regional trend at the moment is for Turkey, the Arab states, and Iran to be moving toward some accomodation and understanding then Israel’s strategic position would seem to be deteriorating.
    What possible combination of political parties in a government coalition would back an equitable “two-state” solution? This would imply return to 67 borders and East Jerusalem capital of the Palestinian state which has geographic integrity and the like.
    Seems to me the Israeli game is to simply wait out each Administration…bob and weave, gain time, play games and wait. Then when a new Administration comes in repeat the process. Snatch bits and pieces of West Bank and Jerusalem etc during the process a la the “salami tactics” of the Soviet era.
    As to analytical issues, perhaps the best indicator is the geographic one as it reflects the bottom line of expansionist Israeli policy.
    Simply put, what is going on right there on the ground? Land taken, Palestinian houses and poperty destroyed, settlements, people murdered, blockade of Gaza. So I draw conclusions from the facts on the ground plus the demographic issue.
    Bibi has already nailed Year One of Obama.
    Mitchell spun his wheels and the US got nothing and has been humiliated. Proximity talks? …Weren’t the Dutch hosting these things in the 80s??? To what effect?
    Now we are into Year Two of Obama, then Three, then Four. Then either Obama again or someone else and repeat.
    So I quite admire the Roman implacable thoroughness at Masada. They knew how to handle the situation. They imposed a solution.

  32. N. M. Salamon says:

    I noted in a posting on oildrum, I believe, that the Saudis have an answer for any attempt to invade post Iran war: some fields and some oil infrastructure is set to explode. Most info on that site is solid.
    China hand indicated on a previous post here [see: http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/ for his interesting and mostly right prognosticatios on other matters] that an attack on Iran is USA’s econopmic suicide. I believe Americans can not understand the mentality of the invaded, the occupied, and his long term fielty to his home, whereever he might be. And there are Muslims all over the world, well out number the whites [who believe they are superior – thus the USA has not won a war since Korea].
    Many are also ignorant that most Saudi Oil is in Shia domniated ares, and that Bahrain is also mostly shia,

  33. David Habakkuk says:

    Sidney Smith,

    As ‘Secretarybird’ point out, the remarks about the ‘Zionist dream’ were not mine but Sneh’s. There is a problem with Typepad to which I have not found a solution. I write comments in Word, and use cut and paste to post them. Normally this works well, but on those occasions when the Colonel has used remarks of mine to start a thread, Typepad has taken to eliminating all the formatting in Word. If my recollection is right, it does this with other people’s comments, including I think your own.

    If anyone more technically competent than I knows a way to draft comments so this cannot happen, I would be glad to hear.

    That the ‘Zionist dream’ has progressively turned into a nightmare is not a point I would dispute. And it in no ways surprises me to learn that the degenerative dynamics you describe were accurately anticipated by Jews criticising Zionism from within the Jewish religious tradition: there are parallels with criticisms of nationalism within Christian tradition. Nor would I dispute that the words and actions of many in Israel today are often simply lunatic.

    The point at which I was trying to get in discussing Sneh is that, if I attempt to put myself in the position of a rational Israeli strategic planner, I can see no good options. The least worst option for Israel has long seemed to me the two-state solution, but I simply do not see how this is any longer within the realm of practical politics in Israel — unless brutal pressure is put on the country by the United States.

    And as I wrote in an earlier comment, AIPAC, Dennis Ross, Fred Hiatt et al are going to make absolutely sure that there is no chance whatsoever of any U.S. Administration wresting the rope from Israel before it has well and truly throttled itself.

    I would certainly like to think that a way out could be provided by a one-state solution on the South African model. But both among Israelis and the Palestinians, the current dynamics seem to be empowering precisely the kinds of people who are least capable of coexisting harmoniously in a binational state.

    If someone can come up with what looks like a viable project for a binational state, I will heave sighs of relief — but so far I have not seen it.

    Partly because of the fanatical belief in progress which dominates so much contemporary American and European thinking, it can be difficult for people to grasp that societies can get into dead ends, where there are no very promising options, and where the relevant question is how, if at all, total catastrophe can be averted.

    A characteristic of such situations — the condition of Imperial Russia before 1914 comes to my mind — is that people often take refuge from an intolerable reality in fantasies of one kind or another. And that is I think very visibly happening in Israel today.

    A dead end situation where perfectly rational people may be driven to consider extreme options, while others are taking refuge in fantasy, is one fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential.

  34. Situation in Negev:
    “The Israeli government, meanwhile, along with agencies like the Jewish National Fund and Jewish Agency, are preoccupied with the idea of ‘developing the Negev’, and boosting its population.
    In March, the ‘Negev 2010′ conference was held in Beir al-Saba’ (Beersheva), drawing hundreds of politicians and business people, with the focus being attracting 300,000 new residents to the area….
    The Jewish National Fund in the UK talks about supporting “the pioneers who are bringing the desert to life”, while an article in the Zionist magazine B’Nai B’Rith called the Negev “the closest thing to the tabula rasa many of Israel’s pre-state pioneers found when they first came to the Holy Land”.
    The idea of the ’empty’ land sits uncomfortably alongside another important emphasis – ‘protection’ or ‘redemption’.
    As the Jewish National Fund’s US chief executive put it in January 2009, “if we don’t get 500,000 people to move to the Negev in the next five years, we’re going to lose it”. To who, he did not need to say.”….
    Note the orgs: Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, Bnai Brith.

  35. David Habakkuk,
    Excellent points and I share your concerns for the reasons you state.
    With regard to a South Africa type solution, they did not have an external lobby like AIPAC etal. to mess things up. The two sides, so to speak, had the opportunity to deal with each other to work out a common future in their common homeland with out the impediment and sabotage of an external lobby.
    Tensions were pretty high between the two sides and we know there were extremists and so on. But, even today with the murder of the extremist leader recently both sides are trying hard to calm the situation and move ahead.
    The behind the scenes rehabilitation of Mandela by the security services is an interesting but rather unknown case in point. The issue for the security services was, of course, how to sincerely move forward on the objective of a new South Africa in practical terms.
    What we have with regard to the Israel-Palestine dynamic is external actors really stirring the pot. The US pro-Israel Lobby on the one hand, and certain Middle Eastern countries on the other.
    The fundamental problem I see is the US pro-Israel Lobby which supports the most extreme elements in Israel and so far has made a diplomatic and political resolution of the situation impossible.
    Thus, for a US president (working with EU, Russia, UN, etc) to be in a position to impose a settlement, the power of the domestic pro-Israel Lobby must be broken.
    The only practical way to break the Lobby is through very very aggressive legal and law enforcement action:
    1. AIPAC and other espionage cases
    2. Foreign Agent registration act for AIPAC, the Christian Zionist orgs like CUFI etal.
    3. Draconian counterintelligence pressure here in our “Homeland” to include cases relating to Congress.
    Politically, the Lobby here has to be broken in order to allow the President to conduct the necessary foreign policy.
    On a one-state vision, a thoughtful article is:
    Tutunju, Jenab and Kamal Khalidi, “A binational state in Palestine: the rational choice for Palestinians and the moral choice for Israelis,” International Affairs (London), lxxiii/1 (jan. 1997) pp. 31-58.
    I just had lunch with Jenab the other day.

  36. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Professor K –
    You may enjoy Segev’s work on the Six Day War, titled 1967. I was thoroughly mesmerized and found his work courageous and fearless, reflecting the best of Israeli Zionism and therefore somewhat unpopular. When it comes to Israeli history of the Six Day War, Michael Oren is his intellectual adversary, which says a lot. My only complaint about Segev’s work is that he sure got quiet (but not as quiet as Senator Webb) when discussing the USS Liberty incident, but still, five stars, okay 4.8 stars:
    Also you write: “The only practical way to break the Lobby is through very very aggressive legal and law enforcement action:”
    Until the order of the COIF crowd at the DOJ can devise a legal strategy to curtail the impact of CIPA, I am not holding my breath. And so far, nada in the Nozette case. All it may take is just one motion…
    Such a shame. I wonder how much them people make, with fed benefits as well as those Lacoste polo shirts with the DOJ logo. ‘Tis a pity, I tell you.

  37. curious says:

    Definitely going to be war now…going to start watching any market funny movement in next few weeks.
    Vos Iz Neias, quoting the Israeli newspaper Maariv, reports as follows.
    “According to a report in Israeli newspaper Maariv : “…. workers at the Dimona reactor who submitted visa requests to visit the United States for ongoing university education in Physics, Chemistry and Nuclear Engineering — have all been rejected, specifically because of their association with the Dimona reactor.”

  38. walrus says:

    Not a good day for Israel as a nation.
    Netanyahu is not coming to the nuclear conference next week. This is a pity for Israel because I read it as Israel is heading towards an “Israel has no choice but to…..” moment with regard to Iran. I also would make the rude comment that it is better to be inside the tent pissing out….
    I would have thought that the conference represented an opportunity for one of those “circuit breaker” moments. For example, Israel agrees to sign the NPT, including the additional protocols and negotiate a Two state solution in good faith, settlement removals etc. Iran agrees to sign the additional protocols of the NPT.
    Sanctions are to be removed, peace blossoms, Israel signs a non aggression treaty with Iran and offers to help Iran with its nuclear technology (not like Booth helped Lincoln – really help). Iran agrees to use its good offices on Hezbollah and Hamas. What would not Obama give to any of the parties in return for going down in history as the architect of Middle East peace?
    OK, tell me how naive I am, but I remind you of Leah Rabins motto: “Never say never.”
    ” JERUSALEM, April 9 (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a planned trip to Washington next week for President Barack Obama’s 47-country nuclear security summit conference.
    He made the decision after learning Egypt and Turkey intended to raise the issue of Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal at the conference, a senior government official said on Friday.”

  39. Some background and current discussion of the binational “one state” solution in Foreign Policy, 31 March 2010:
    “The one-state solution has long had advocates among the Palestinian diaspora, from Edward Said to Ghada Karmi and Ali Abunimah. However, there has recently been an exponential rise in mainstream Israeli media of articles that seriously consider the one-state arrangement. Trawling through the online archives of mainstream media, I found just three such articles from 2004 to 2007, but 16 pieces from 2008 to 2010. A 5,000-word essay by former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meron Benvenisti, arguing that the binational state is all but inevitable at this stage, was published in January and still sits atop Haaretz’s most read and most emailed articles. Now comes the latest installment: sociologist Yehouda Shenhav’s book The Time of the Green Line (or, in its Hebrew title, Trapped by the Green Line), released in February by the impeccably mainstream Am Oved publishing house. …”
    Historical context can help. The Palestine Mandate under the League of Nations was taken up by the United Nations post WWII.
    The US, during the Truman Administration under massive pressure and influence from the Zionist Lobby, took two steps: 1) the US forced the “Partition” of the Palestine Mandate geographic space. The idea here was to then create two states from the former single Mandate area.
    2) The US recognized the state of Israel diplomatically as did other countries although some did not.
    The UN-based solution of Partition and Two States has not been implemented as foreseen for a variety of reasons mainly Zionist intransigence and illegal expansion-colonization within the historic Mandate area. The US has facilitated this process of Zionist expansion since 1948 to the present day owing to the power of the US Zionist Lobby. This phenomenon is euphemistically referred to as “domestic politics.”
    The US inserted itself into the “peace process” situation so as to dominate the process and protect Israel. Let’s be frank about this.
    We have now reached the stage where there seem to be two basic paths:
    1. Continued US “leadership” of the peace process and dominance of the process. Owing to the present power of the pro-Israel Lobby in the US, the US President cannot be an honest broker unless he first breaks the power of the Lobby. This is not likely in the near term judging from historical experience. Thus, one can presume US diplomacy will be ineffective and result in nothing concrete. This is precisely what AIPAC, Bibi etal want.
    2. Back to the UN which is where the whole matter started with respect to the disposition of the Palestine Mandate territory.
    In the emerging multipolar world, the US is no longer the single dominant global power. Other major powers have interests in the Middle East which increasingly must be taken into account. Additionally, the regional situation has changed with respect to the Arab States, Turkey, and Iran.
    IMO, the US has not caught up with the current international and regional situation in its thinking and foreign policy. Thus, two-state solution Obama Administration policy is more than likely to fail. This suits AIPAC and Bibi etal. who will do what they can to bob and weave and string things out to 2012 and then to 2016…
    US planning must begin to consider:
    1) the democratic one-state binational solution.
    2) the role of the UN as the central player in a serious peace process.

  40. curious says:

    “the democratic one-state binational solution.”
    you can’t man. Such entity does not exist. What will end up happen will be a dominant class manipulating rules and oppressing the weak one. (call it nationality/citizen definition, race purity, ID papers, gold star, arm band, membership card, what have you. It’s an old colonialism trick. doesn’t pass giggle test.)
    It’s classic “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”
    If all you want is to let people live where ever they want, just declare 2 states, but people on the ground can choose to become citizen of israel or Palestine. (eg. Jewish settler in occupied territory can become a palestinian and live under palestinian law)
    I seriously doubt most of them will stick around without those giant subsidies. Have 8 children with no job and cut off from palestinian live?

  41. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    David Habakkuk:
    Thanks for an eloquent and well-nuanced response — one that is par for the course, or, in this instance, even discourse. From what I can glean, our analyses point towards the same cataclysm that lies just over the horizon. If we differ at all, and I am not sure we do, then it is how we would assign the magnitudes of probability.
    But that said, if I may, your concluding statement all but makes my case and raises what I contend is the ever relevant issue of articulating and refining assumptions that underlie strategic intel analysis. You write:
    “A dead end situation where perfectly rational people may be driven to consider extreme options, while others are taking refuge in fantasy, is one fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential.”
    The conclusion that you make in 2010 – that Zionism, as it has unfolded, is “fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential” – was made over 80 years ago and, in fact, corroborates the analytical assumptions given to use by the anti-Zionist rabbis.
    At this juncture, two examples will suffice to prove that these rabbis also accentuated your idea of a “catastrophic potential”, and they did decades before either of us saw the light of day. In a lecture given by Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum in 1961, he indisputably stated, “I can remember that some fifty or sixty years ago our greatest rabbis of the generation said it would take a miracle for a catastrophe not to occur because of the Zionists.”
    And 1929 the anti-Zionist Rabbi Rabbi Zonenfeld penned a very beautiful and heart wrenching appeal to the Arab population, in which he argued that true Jews have no intent to take the Temple Mount or Arab properties, and moreover he warned that the Holy Land may turn into turn into “a battlefield and place of catastrophe, G-d forbid”.
    So you would agree with me, would you not, that your conclusion melds perfectly and completely with those of these rabbis? And therefore, would you agree with me that the analytical assumptions upon which these men rely warrant further investigation, assuming of course that the objective is to provide accurate strategic intel analysis? In fact, wouldn’t you agree with me that, because these rabbis 80 years ago plus drew the same conclusions that you now articulate in 2010, one is obligated to examine further the analytical framework that proceeds from their views?
    Or to invert the questioning. Tell me what other intellectual tradition has provided analytical assumptions that have rendered such an extraordinary high degree of accuracy at such an early date? And since we all know the two state solution looks all but dead, how can one rely on analytical assumptions that spring from intellectual traditions dedicated to such an endpoint?
    And, finally, wouldn’t you agree with me that intellectual honestly requires one to credit these rabbis for arriving at the same conclusion that you are now reaching in 2010?
    In my opinion, the fact these rabbis lead a different life is no excuse for those of various intellectual traditions, including progressive Americans, to expropriate their very sophisticated work on Zionism. As an example, if a conservative Baptist were to tell me the truth concerning a murder, I am not going to disregard such a person simply because he may disapprove of what he may see as my progressive lifestyle (perhaps more appropriately translated as “disordered” lifestyle). It is the truth that matters.
    If these rabbis are proven correct and that Zionism, to use your words, is now, “fraught with absolutely catastrophic potential”, then perhaps it is best that we look at their analytical assumptions as a beautiful gift to the people of the US, Europe, and the world. And this most certainly includes the Jewish people, as these rabbis were the first to demonstrate, through far reaching and sophisticated, analysis, that Zionism will trigger anti-Semitism, if Zionist atrocities are associated with all the Jewish people as well as Judaism. If true, then it does lead one to wonder if by crediting these rabbis as they deserve, then one is also breaking the cataclysm that lies just over the horizon.
    PS. Instead of the MS word program, try MS works.

  42. BillWade says:

    Curious says, “Definitely going to be war now…going to start watching any market funny movement in next few weeks.”
    Would you please explain your rationale for that thought? Thanks

  43. BillWade says:

    My bet is that some of the harshest critics of Israeli policy would be the first persons to defend people of the Jewish faith if that need ever arose and I doubt it will.

  44. curious says:

    “Definitely going to be war now…going to start watching any market funny movement in next few weeks.”
    Would you please explain your rationale for that thought? Thanks
    Posted by: BillWade | 09 April 2010 at 04:00 PM
    Well, the “definitely” part is a little exaggerating, but isn’t nuclear israel’s end of all argument weapon? If that is degraded, their entire military thinking is shaken. (be it they can’t win the nuclear race through newer nuclear technology, or they have to disclose/dismantle their nuke) So, nuclear edge is non negotiable. They will go berserk if obama question that.
    market reaction? If israel plan big war that will shake the market. A lot of big players (china central bank, russian bankers, big forex holder, israeli’s general mistress, a friend of a friend in hedge fund industry, the spooks who has big retirement plan…. will react cause this is major change in market condition. Somebody is going to make money out of it.
    oil, gold, dollar, bond, euro, etc…

    found an airport in saudi/Iraq border. Why use highway at all? It’s a tiny airport. 10 flight weekly. It’s practically empty except for a few minutes each day. I am sure nobody will notice if bunch of f-16 lands at wee hour. Tho’ the iranian will now be more than ready with their RPG and a video camera at the other end of runway.
    Rafah domestic airport.

  45. David Habakkuk says:

    Sidney Smith,

    ‘And therefore, would you agree with me that the analytical assumptions upon which these men rely warrant further investigation, assuming of course that the objective is to provide accurate strategic intel analysis?’

    Certainly I would agree with you about this. And indeed, a central belief of mine about intelligence analysis — or indeed many forms of ‘social science’, taking that term in the broad sense — is that it is very often imperative that one should be able to learn from people with whom one disagrees fundamentally.

    This was, incidentally, something which was born in on me in part by reflecting on the Cold War liberal intellectual culture in which I was brought up. Among the key texts were Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, and Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. Of these, Animal Farm is heavily shaped by the Trotskyist conception of ‘the Revolution Betrayed’.

    Later in life I learned that a very similar reading of Stalin to that of Trotsky was put forward by the German Ambassador to Moscow, Werner von der Schulenberg, in support of his determined but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to dissuade Hitler from attacking the Soviet Union. A third variant of this pattern of interpretation was put forward in the classic 1946 study The Great Retreat by Nicholas Timasheff, a Russian sociologist who had emigrated to the United States.

    The case of Darkness at Noon takes one closer to some of the questions raised by your comments. The central presence behind Koestler’s novel is Dostoevsky. (Also, along with Trotsky, a central presence behind 1984 — although indirectly, both through Koestler and through Evgeny Zamyatin’s novel ‘We’.)

    And the ‘analytical assumptions’ underlying Dostoevsky’s analyses are Christian, and specifically Orthodox Christian.

    That said, both Nadezhda Mandelstam, herself an (ethnically Jewish) Christian, and her friend the (ethnically Russian) Christian poetess Anna Akhmatova, while drawing heavily on Dostoevsky in making sense of the catastrophes they had lived through, described him as a ‘heresiarch’.

    The ‘greatest danger’ to Dostoevsky, Nadezhda Mandelstam commented, was that represented by Shatov in The Possessed — ‘the appeal for a return to the “national” religion.’ She commented that ‘seeking salvation in nationalism, Dostoyevski must have been aware of the role of the Pharisees in ancient Judaea, but it had no effect on his own attitudes.’

    When I was a university student doing courses in modern European history, forty years ago now, there was a pervasive tendency, even among teachers whose politics were in no sense Marxist, to stress economic and social factors.

    That such explanations were only very partially adequate, and that interpretations focusing on the pseudo-religious nature of modern ‘totalitarian’ regimes need not in any sense lack scholarly rigour, was brought out to me by, among other things, the work of a Germanist from my college, J.P. Stern.

    Himself an ethnically Jewish refugee from Prague, whose first language was Czech, Stern’s 1975 study Hitler: The Führer and the People is a marvellous study of the ways in which Hitler exploited an aspiration to a kind of secular salvation through nationalism — and of the ultimately nihilistic nature of that aspiration.

    Ironically, in recent years, interpretations of National Socialism and Soviet Communism using notions of ‘political religions’ have moved into the mainstream.

    But I still find Stern’s essay very helpful. If in a very different way from Nadezhda Mandelstam, he was also a kind of Jewish Christian — something reflected in his fascinating analyses of the New Testament echoes in Hitler’s rhetoric.

    The concluding chapter of the book — entitled ‘Conquest and Annihilation’ — also contains a fascinating account of the love affair of so many Jews with German culture. In it, Stern remarks that many German Jews had ‘renounced, often within the time-span of a single generation, all that had previously characterised them: a ritual and a community, a language and a culture.’ And he argues that this left them without psychological defences, when the people with whom they had identified turned on them.

    Against this background, there seems nothing strange about the notion that Jews who had not abandoned the old ritual, and older forms of Jewish community, might have penetrating things to say about the dangers of the nationalist temptation for their fellow Jews.

    It also seems to me unsurprising that a great many Jews are hopelessly torn, confronted by pressures towards solidarity with fellow Jews which derive largely from the Holocaust — and which were indeed very weak prior to Hitler — and the difficulty with continuing to identify with a Zionist project which is, quite palpably, becoming increasingly fascistic.

    Reverting to the question of strategic intelligence analysis, the key point is I think that one often learns the most from people with whose political programmes one disagrees violently, and whose religious beliefs one does not share. To lock oneself up in one’s own culture is, in intelligence terms, absolutely disastrous.

    But this is what the kind of education that elites in your country and mine commonly receive encourages them to do.

  46. “a prompt and devastating deployment of military power against Iran.And in such a situation, Sneh may also be suggesting, Obama and his advisors might be influenced by the calculation that such a prompt and devastating deployment would gain them the kudos of having forestalled an imminent Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons.”
    David Habakkuk,
    IMO, coordination of Israeli and US action seems more likely a la the Suez precedent.
    Supposing a strike by Israel with US involvement, what scenarios can be imagined as plausible? What would be the most extreme scenario?
    It may be that a wider regional war scenario is envisaged by some Israeli and US planners.
    Surely, Iran is not going to sit back and do nothing after a significant target set is vaporized. Responses in the Gulf such as sinking US ships, attacks on US forces in Iraq, and attacks on Gulf Arab states would seem to me to provide reasonable pretexts for massive escallation on the “allies” side.
    To this could be added any Iranian terrorist-sabotage reponses directly in the US, say California.
    The allies might well include not just Israel and the US but also NATO.
    War objectives? The reduction of Iran generally so as to “stabilize” the region from a strategic point of view which includes the protection of the flow of oil through the Gulf (Carter Doctrine-ish, remember that one?), elimination of terrorism, elimination of nuclear threat.
    So we may wish to contemplate longer and larger war scenarios.
    If things likely become really unglued out that way, would the US have to institute a draft and move toward a more general war mobilization so as to have the mass and war industrial base required to project power in order to “stabilize” the broader region which will be on fire?
    I would think major powers such as the Chinese the Japanese, and the Russians would be naturally concerned. But, I have the feeling Russia and China would like another generation to consolidate and implement their respective internal transitions and modernization. I don’t think either would want to tangle with US/EU(NATO) over Iran.
    Thus, in the scheme of things in great power politics, arrangments could be made behind the scenes to create what would in effect be what one might label a “grudging concert” of powers directed toward the reduction of Iran and the stabilization of the region.
    Such a major regional war scenario would be a real “game changer” affecting the course of international politics and economics for a good century or so one would think.
    One could contemplate some agreed upon adjustments to the international financial architecture
    such as new roles for the dollar, Euro, sterling and so on with some accomodation to the ruble and yuan.
    I do not think limited scenarios, such as surgical strikes and then everything is over, are realistic given the volatility and strategic nature of the region. So in contemplating more extreme scenarios may be worth the effort.

  47. David Habakkuk says:

    Clifford Kiracofe,

    “I do not think limited scenarios, such as surgical strikes and then everything is over, are realistic given the volatility and strategic nature of the region. So in contemplating more extreme scenarios may be worth the effort.”

    It seems to me that precisely the considerations you adduce may very well be in the minds of both Israeli planners — and Americans sympathetic to them — who are optimistic that inveigling the United States into a war with Iran may indeed be the kind of “game changer” you suggest.

    Whether such hopes would be any better founded than the hope that invading Iraq would be a “game changer” in favour of Israel and the U.S. seems to me an interesting — and open — question.

    Although my ability to makes sense of these matters is constrained by the limits of my knowledge, both of military matters and the Middle East, I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of a “very tough minded, logic driven soldier and planner who speaks dispassionately even when the subject is repellent” — such as Colonel Lang suggests Sneh is.

    In sharp contrast to the Iraqi case, where the hopes pinned on the invasion rested on premises that were simply delusional, I can see a reasonable case that could be made for attempting to inveigle the United States into war with Iran, from the point of view of an Israeli planner with such characteristics.

    And this is all the more so given that, even if such a planner had believed ten years ago that the two-state solution was Israel’s least worst option, he might well have concluded that its opponents had created a situation where it was no longer a realistic possibility — as I think we both are inclined to believe.

    Repellent though it may certainly be, the direction in which this line of thought might well lead is towards the conclusion that both Obama, and highly intelligent and humane Jews like Daniel Levy who are encouraging him to pursue the two-state solution more actively, are not being ‘tough minded’ and facing up to the stark choices facing Israel.

    A double-edged implication of this conclusion, however, could be that kind of unquestioning identification with Israel that makes it conceivable that the power of the United States could be enlisted in support of a “game changing” wider regional war may not last — not least because of growing disillusion with Israel among Jews.

    One might well go on to conclude, however, that Israel must capitalise on this unquestioning identification to precipitate such a “game changing” wider regional war while there is still time.

    Rather as the opponents of the two-state solution may have destroyed it as a viable option, it could furthermore be argued, inveigling the United States into such a war might destroy the possibility of effective American pressure on Israel, by entangling the superpower protector in a kind of complicity from which it could not easily escape.

    Likewise, it could also be argued that doing this might in fact quell, rather than exacerbate, doubts about the directions in which Israeli policy has been developing among Jews.

    Would such suggestions be “tough minded” — or simply lunatic?

    Certainly, a “tough minded” calculation would have to take into account the possibility that an attempt at such a “game changing” major regional war could backfire dramatically — and indeed, could hasten the disintegration of support for Israel, both in the United States and among Jews worldwide.

    What would be crucial would be precisely how events developed. And here, it seems to me that while my hypothetical Israeli planner might — as Sneh has done — profess confidence that Israel could go it alone, this would be disingenuous.

    And if indeed such a planner was being “tough minded”, he would both be asking himself what would happen if an attempted strike was as limited in its effects as Colonel Lang assesses — and also if the Iranians did what Lysander suggests, and refused to take the bait.

    It may be that a “tough minded” Israeli expert on Iran could assure my hypothetical Israeli planner that one could discount the chance of the leadership in Tehran wrong-footing him in this way. But it seems to me that such a move could leave Israel with the worst of all possible worlds — in that internal political considerations would then not be pushing Obama to support Israel, which could end up looking both impotent and a “rogue state”.

    This line of thinking certainly does not give me any confidence that one can discount extreme scenarios. For one thing, my assessments of what is not “tough minded” may be wrong; for another, recent experience gives little reason for confidence that either Netanyahu or h is American fellow-travellers are “tough minded” — as I think Sneh himself is implying.

    However, the analysis does push me towards a question about what kind of coordination of Israeli and US action my hypothetical Israeli planner could anticipate be effective in producing the kind of “game changing” move we are talking about.

    A coordination which does not entail the involvement of the United States in the initial attack seems to me vulnerable to wrong-footing, if indeed the Iranians refuse to take the bait. But – as Sneh pointed out in his Haaretz article — internal political considerations would militate against Obama authorising an unprovoked attack on the timescale discussed in the article.

  48. David Habakkuk,
    Yes, I follow your analysis and can offer some additional “thinking out of the box” thoughts:
    As we know, war changes many things. In the past, some wars have arisen because one side wanted to conquer something for aggrandizement or felt a war was needed to hold on to its (imperial) status and strategic position. Domestic considerations have played a part in the past also as the old ploy to divert the public from domestic problems etc.
    Personally, I think it very well could be that Israel is, in effect, used as a pawn in a wider game. And the wider game would involve coordination before the fact.
    Recall Suez. The British were concerned about Nasser/Suez and the French were concerned about Algeria. Israel was a convenient pawn for both of them and there were those in Israel who felt Nasser was an “existential threat/Hitler” and etc. type. So two faded imperial powers plus the ever fiesty Israel and all had their own interests and agendas served by focus on Egypt. So they thought.
    The US today has an economy that is not in very good shape and the dollar is, well, problematic. Europe is not in the greatest financial shape either these days with the “PIGS” and all that.
    Furthermore, Iran IS a problem without doubt. How one handles it is another matter, but it is a problem…particularly the nuclear matter which Col Lang has laid out in stark terms.
    The Obama Administration has presented itself as wanting to engage Iran, as patient, as willing to work with allies, with major powers and with the UN to sort things out.
    Just this week we have a loose nukes extravaganza in Washington hosted by President Obama.
    It is not as if the US public opinion, and indeed world opinion, has not been carefully led along and prepared for a contingency against Iran involving force. And about 10-15 percent of the population who are the Christian Zionist types already believe that war with the “Medo-Persians” is inevitable in the unfolding of the “End Times” and that it would be a good thing to speed up the End Times clock and so on. Most of the rest of the public is jumpy about terrorism and Iran and Al Qaeda and whatever.
    I think Col. Lang’s point about whether the powers that be in the world will ALLOW Iran to possess nuclear weapons etc. is to the point.
    Any campaign for the reduction of Iran would take into consideration the Shia population in the Gulf: the Eastern Province of Saudi, Bahrain, Iraq, and etc. At a minimum these populations would be quite restive once the campaign is unleashed.
    Thus a regional perspective/planning for the campaign for the reduction of Iran is necessary as things may get somewhat out of hand and a LOT of force may be needed to keep the Gulfies on their thrones, Iraq “stable,” and so on.
    As this is a tall order, I would think that we would be looking again at something like the Suez undertaking/adventure. The US, Israel, and EU/NATO as I mentioned.
    Some strategists argue that a declining power is likely to lash out to attempt to maintain its position. When the Soviet Union went under in 1992, the US was the sole “superpower” etc. but times have changed and power is dispersed now with rising powers and new complexities in the situation.
    It may well be that some US and European circles wishing to maintain a joint dominance, or preeminent position, would consider the reduction of Iran as a reasonable “game changer.” Israel as a convenient pawn (“marcher state” in Roman terms) fits and we see indications of the movement toward bringing Israel into the OECD and NATO and etc.
    As for Israel, it may well be that a very dramatic changed game in the Middle East due to a major regional war to reduce Iran is useful for some hardline circles. For example, perhaps a “two-state” situation would be possible through real force…expulsion of Arabs from Israel proper into the Palestinian “state” in the context of security measures needed owing to the war against Iran and regional violence.
    I note the news about the new IDF expulsion option and wonder if this is preparing opinion for something MUCH larger down the road. An Iran war contingency, for example?
    In sum, if we think very much out of the current box such an extreme scenario (as we once saw with the Suez Crisis) may be plausible in the shape of a new “Gulf Crisis” leading to a wider rearrangement of the Middle East.
    We could also consider the reasoning of some in the UK with regard to Egypt in the 1880s…and the very changed game that ensued as a result of strategic and financial considerations.

  49. Professor Clifford Kiracofe and David Habbakuk,
    I offer my firmly-believed-in but strictly amateur thoughts in case you feel they may have any merit. Israel wants to inveigle us into a war on Iran for the straightforward reason of beating down Iran’s nuclear program. Israel doesn’t care about what this costs America because I suspect Israel thinks America is too big, rich, and powerful to have to worry about things like costs of a war.
    If I understand your comments correctly, you are suggesting that America and the West may well want to beat down Iran’s nuclear program for reasons of our own, and that we might find it handy to let Israel THINK that it is directing our policy in this regard. In this line of thinking, would the plan be for us to let Israel take the blame for starting the war while we harvest grudging tolerance or even thanks for having to come in, finish it, and clean up the mess? Is this a case of the unwitting pawn being the best and most useful pawn? If I have gotten it right, then perhaps I have earned just enough standing to offer my next suggestion of something to think about.
    America and the West are not the only players, and Israel is not the only pawn. China and Russia also want to inveigle America into a war with Iran and ChinaRussia are using Iran itself as a pawn in order to use America as some kind of higher-order pawn as well. (Forgive me for mangling metaphors…I don’t know how to play chess). Russia and China want to inveigle America into a war with Iran in order to destroy America’s presence in the Middle East and Central Asia. China has the further goal of destroying America’s economy altogether in order to remove America from the world markets for oil, metals, etc.
    The way ChinaRussia are working to invegle America and Iran into war is this….ChinaRussia have been stringing the West along for years on the issue of supporting some sort of sanctions someday maybe…with lots of diplomacy in the meantime. Meanwhile, ChinaRussia have been deepening economic ties with Iran and Russia has been selling Iran all sorts of air defense systems and other war preparation supplies. Russia has also been building the Buhsher nuclear energy plant right along and I suspect they are doing it to help Iran develop all areas of its nuclear expertise; either directly or by providing cover. The ChinaRussian goal is to encourage Iran to think it could fight America to a draw and get Iran nuclear infra-weaponised enough that we will panic and blow right through extreme sanctions to war after that. This is a war which ChinaRussia deeply want to have happen and are conniving every which way they can to bring about. So we should aske ourselves: what do ChinaRussia think we will lose in an America-Iran war, and why do ChinaRussia want us to lose it? And should we really give ChinaRussia the Iran-America war which ChinaRussia are trickf-ck inveigling us into?
    Back to Israel…does Israel really understand how pyrrhic a victory a temporary beatdown of Iran’s nuclear program would be? Right now many Iranians are disatisfied with their ruling regime. Any attack on Iran would make all Iranians unanimous in supporting their regime. They would cease thinking of it as “the regime” and all think of it as “our government”. And they would unanimously share their government’s hatred for Israel. An Iran unanimously united with the whole Muslim world in a hatred for Israel beyond what any Israeli can now imagine would be an even darker shadow for Israel to live under than a nuclear Iran would be. It would result in a desperate mass-flight rather than a slow trickle of Jewisraelis out of Israel. I think Israel would be better off to take its little pawn self off the Great Game chessboard by taking Colonel Lang’s advice and deciding that a nuclear weaponized Iran would be a fact to live with.
    (Curious, your description of how to protect underground facilities from bunker-bombing may offer some thoughts for designing vehicle armor against IED blast shockwave effects. The bunker bomb tries to destroy the bunker with pressure wave shock blast, not with physical flying projectiles. So maybe outfitting vehicles with layers of squeezy foam and triangular pressure wave dividers and diverters might reduce the TBI-genic pressure wave getting through the dispersion diffusion dissipation layers into the people-space inside the vehicle).

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