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What Goes Around, Flies Around

Hezbollah today took credit for the drone which penetrated 35 miles into Israeli airspace last week and came with 18 miles of overflying Israel’s top-secret Dimona nuclear weapons facility before being shot down.  It said the drone had been produced in Iran and launched by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon.  Much of this had been surmised and reported here and elsewhere.

The IDF appears to have been caught with its pants down and admitted it had only tracked the craft for the last 20 minutes of its flight.  Apparently, it hadn’t a clue that it had been launched, despite the fact that the IAF patrols Lebanese skies at will and searches earnestly for any Hezbollah weapons caches or missile depots.

Though the drone appears to have been designed for reconnaissance rather than attack, it’s clear that this capability is coming, if it hasn’t arrived already.  Recently for example, Iran announced it had developed a drone with 2,000 km range capable of reaching Israel.

cyber warFurther in the spirit of what goes around-comes around, the U.S. announced today with a flourish that Iran was likely responsible for a string of DOS attacks on major U.S. banks that brought down banking activity for parts of several days.  It was also responsible for a serious attack on the Saudi oil company Aramco, which is fulfilling all of the oil needs of countries who have turned off Iran’s oil spigot.

In response to these attacks, defense secretary Leon Panetta inveighed about a potential cyber Pearl Harbor or 9/11.  He warned that the U.S. was preparing its own offensive cyber capability that would turn the networks of any enemy foolish enough to attack us into a total mess.

The righteous indignation would be more credible if Panetta at least acknowledged that we were first to attack Iran’s nuclear plant at Natanz, destroying 20% of their uranium enrichment capacity.  We too attacked Iran’s oil terminals and infrastructure with our own cyber-attacks.

It is part of a damaging U.S. exceptionalism that crimes of our own are morally expedient and justifiable, while crimes of our enemy violate all norms of human conduct.  We executed Nazi war criminals while holding ourselves harmless from dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden.  Clearly there’s one set of laws for the victors and another entirely for the vanquished.

Israel murders five senior Iranian nuclear scientists with the help of U.S.-trained MEK terrorists.  Yet we display high moral dudgeon when a dubious Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington is exposed.

We just announced a ballyhooed cyber-war program, Plan X, on which we will spend $110-million over five years in yet another defense industry boondoggle.  This project will create new offensive cyber-weapons with which we can assault the world and our enemies.  Yet somehow we lose sight of the fact that we have no monopoly on such technological skills.  Iran, while not as rich a nation as the U.S., has just as much will and ambition to fight back against the threat we pose.  Will it take a weapon as sophisticated as what we can produce to attack Israel or the U.S. and cause massive amounts of damage?  Can we say that day won’t come if we continue down this path?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fillmorehagan October 14, 2012, 6:34 AM

    It is Iran’s ability to make Israel and the US pay a heavy price if they start a war that has so far prevented the eruption of hostilities IMHO. This deterrent capacity is far more important than the election outcome in deciding whether there will be peace or war. If Iran is seen as weak, Obama might well back a war, but if Iran is seen as strong, war is unlikely even if Romney wins. The ability to retaliate against cyber attacks is part of this deterrent capability.

  • Tibor October 14, 2012, 9:32 AM

    Unfortunately it is true that both cyber war tools and drones will spread in the world- it is inevitable. Israel had to spend a lot of efforts on both because of the repeated threats on its existence (otherwise it would not of course) and you can say that this is a negative legacy of global scale (especially so once the US stepped in with its immense technological capabilities) of the wish of (or readiness by) many to see it undone. It all resembles the saga of the development of the atom bomb where many Jewish physicists (essentially pacifists in outlook) participated because of the threat at that time to the existence of the world Jewry time that they wished to block – resulting in an enduring negative legacy of global scale. History repeats itself here – people think it`s “their” problem only, we are OK, but that is not so at all.

    • Richard Silverstein October 14, 2012, 3:55 PM

      Israel had to build drones because of “threats to its existence?” Really. These drones used to kill Palestinians are necessary to ensure Israel’s existence? Are you serious? Then Obama can defend his own kill lists because all those Muslims he’s murdering are threats to America’s existence. Does that sound at all credible?? And you’re not blaming this arms race on Israel, but rather on a global arms race, which conveniently lets Israel off the hook. So convenient.

      I’ve never read a thing about any Jewish physicists participating in the Manhattan Project because of the Holocaust. That’s a bubbeh meiseh. Besides, we didn’t use any nukes against the Nazis, we used them against the Japanese who posed no threat to Jews.

      • Tibor October 15, 2012, 7:50 AM

        Well, it`s a fact that the drive behind the Manhattan project was the war with Germany, which at that time of its onset was still raging inconclusively in Europe, and in particular the fear that German scientist are working on that too. That it eventually was used against the Japanese because Germany was capitulating anyway is another matter and not contradictory. Now, even without reading the minds of the Jewish physicists there – almost all of them refugees from Europe and of the Nazi anti-Jewish onslaught there – isn`t absolutely clear that the Holocaust must have been a dominant drive for them? (Albeit I agree that saving the world from Nazism rand in particular the US democracy, was just as central a motive)

  • bluto October 14, 2012, 10:13 AM

    Can someone – anyone – please explain to me why Lebanon does not have anti-aircraft faculties to down intruding IAF?

    Is it because the US makes sure no one, even Russia, sells them S300s or something easily capable of dealing with the Israeli F16 or F15s?

    I have wanted to know the answer to this for years – does anyone actually know how it is that Lebanese airspace is a free fly zone /free fire zone for the IAF? It’s like a game of make-believe that Lebanon can’t protect itself from a few dozen jets

    Wouldn’t Lebanon or Hezbollah want to invest in a few anti-aircraft batteries? Shouldn’t the UN forces there even have a few on hand?

    It doesn’t make sense to me – SAMs are expensive but comparatively cheap when weighed against the current alternative

    • Nimrod October 14, 2012, 1:59 PM

      bluto,
      One needs to understand the history of modern Lebanon to understand why.
      during the civil war, Lebanon was in war with itself; different faction with in the country were in war with others (including some from the outside, like the Palestinians). during that time, none of those factions has any air-power, so there was no point in getting capabilities.
      later on, when the civial war ended, Syrian pretty much took over lebanon, and entered its army into the county, mostly to protect itself against Israel.
      Just as the Syrians moved into Anti-Air forces into Lebanon, the 1982 war started, and since it ended and the Israeli forces pulled back to the “defence belt” in 1986, the Syrians did not dare to try that again.

      Lebanon as a country has not means or will to protect itself. It’s been their way of doing things since the end of the civil war – and It’s been working pretty well for them.
      They leave the defense against Israel work for Hezbullah (and before of that, to Ammal and they other armed factions who are not as strong as Hezbullah nowadays) without having to pay for it.
      Even in the 2006 war, they didn’t have to loose men and equipment, and did not suffer too much damages to the country owned infrastructure (the stuff that HA lost were paid for by the Iranians).

      in conclusion, Lebanon doesn’t buy capable AA capabilities because:
      1. no one would sell them.
      2. they don’t want to find themselves having to fire the damn things .
      3. Israel would destroy their AA as soon as they are operational (which is why no one would sell any to them).

      You will probably be able to see some ex-Kadaffi stuff in HA hands, just like in Gaza in the near future

      • bluto October 15, 2012, 2:28 PM

        Terrific – thanks Nimrod, I really appreciate your informed explanation – I’ve had this one on a back-burner for a long time

        It seems as if Jordan and Lebanon eventually get current generation anti-aircraft capabilities – this would do a tremendous amount for ME peace by effectively creating an effective Israeli No Fly Zone in the Middle East.

        I’m assuming though don’t know – that Egypt has fairly sophisticated air defenses and that Syria does as well?

        I know the IAF blew right thru Syria and took out their nuclear enrichment site (if that’s what it was) – but I assume that at least Damascus has some time of current generation AA capability? Maybe not S300/S400s but something credible? I can’t imagine that Egypt doesn’t have something credible as well?

        Israel can’t start a regional war with Iran if it can’t get there – Turkey won’t let them overfly and neither will Saudi Arabia and now Dempsey basically said he wouldn’t Israel overfly Iraq. IMO that, perhaps as least as important as anything else – is stopping an Israeli attack on Iran.

        Israel’s Northern, Southern and now Central Route to Iran have all been NO FLY ZONED to Israel – which leaves Israel all dressed up and nowhere to go. Her Jerichos and subs can’t make up for that

    • Michael October 14, 2012, 3:11 PM

      As Richard well named it: “what goes around, flies around”, or in another words – if someone shoots IAF airplanes, they will shoot back.
      So if you want to shoot them, you’d better have a well established Air defense system. One problem with that – It’s expensive! Accoeding to Wiki, a couple of S300 systems cost 300 million$, about one third of the lebanese defense budget, and that’s only a couple…
      And even if you do invest in it – the IAF specialized in destroying SAMS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mole_Cricket_19

      As for Hezbolla – It’s internationaly recognized as a terrorist group, so no country would sell them. And they actually might have SAMs, keeping them for a possible future conflict (like they did with their C-802 missile).

      To summarize – the lebanese army is very weak with small budget, the IAF is very strong with very big budget.

      • Richard Silverstein October 14, 2012, 3:26 PM

        Your claims are belied by the fact that your “very strong” IAF couldn’t detect the launch of an Iranian drone in Lebanon where it rules the skies. It didn’t detect it while it flew over the Mediterranean. It didn’t detect it till sometime after it flew over Gaza & into Israeli airspace. It allowed it to penetrate 35 miles into Israel. That’s your gold-plated air force which, btw didn’t do such a stellar job during the 2006 war in Lebanon nor is it likely to do much better in the next war when it may face multiple incoming Iranian missiles.

        The IDF (including the IAF) aren’t that good at facing relatively primitive guerrilla fighting forces let alone a serious army. But if you want to sleep peacefully with dreams reassured by whatver pap you’re being peddled about the invincible IDF, you go right ahead.

        • Bob Mann October 15, 2012, 2:59 AM

          Why do you think the IDF and IAF are so incompetent?

          • Jay Green October 15, 2012, 1:13 PM

            Because he’s a propagandist for Iran and Hezbollah. He’s a cheerleader.

          • Richard Silverstein October 15, 2012, 5:36 PM

            Presuming you were referring to me, which you didn’t make clear–that’s it for you fella. You’ve been warned, moderated. This was the 3rd strike. You’re way passed your Sell By date.

  • serge szpilfogel October 15, 2012, 9:08 AM

    Richard RE: Cyber war it is the pot calling the kettle black.
    Serge