Sheera Frenkel, reporting in the Times of London has gotten several high-level Israeli intelligence officials to go on record confirming yesterday’s explosion at Isfahan’s uranium enrichment facility was sabotage, and not an accident as Iran initially reported (later it withdrew this claim and said no accident had occurred at all). Iran’s outright denial that any accident occurred is reminiscent of Hezbollah’s denial that it’s arms cache in south Lebanon exploded recently, despite the fact that local villagers, the Daily Star, and an Israeli source here in this blog reported the sabotage.
Among the more colorful and typically Israeli macho statements was by Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland who said coyly that he didn’t know if the Mossad did it, and that it could very well be “the hand of God:”
“There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” he said.
How many nations in today’s world do you know whose citizens would refer, even obliquely, to their spy agency unironically as the hand of God??
The tragedy of this black ops program is that it will not rattle or deter Iran, as Israeli intelligence believes. It will have the opposite effect. It will make them redouble their efforts. It will make them less, rather than more willing to compromise in any meaningful way with western efforts to rein in their nuclear program. And once Iran has a nuclear weapon it will make it more, rather than less likely it will use such weapons as North Korea does–as a cudgel over the heads of their enemies.
One false argument neocon hawks and the Obama administration make is that a nuclear Iran will use WMD to force hegemony on its neighbors. The truth is that the only thing that will do that is driving Iran to the wall, attacking it, and trying to wipe out its nuclear program. If you turn Iran into a martyr regime, it will become our worst nightmare. This is what makes Israeli and U.S. policy a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Contrary to what Israeli generals believe, the Iranians are not pushovers, they can’t be intimidated. They’re willing to die for their country even more than Israelis. They’ve fought defensive wars going back decades and lost millions in conflict. A few explosions, assassinations, and computer viruses will not spook them. In fact, I believe Iran would be far more willing to absorb casualties in any ongoing conflict than the Israeli public would. That’s why I think alas, Israel’s policy is one devised by fools.
I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that Israel knows that black ops will turn Iran more intransigent. It welcomes such Iranian rigidity because it means the day is closer when it will be set loose on the Iranians. Israel’s policy toward Iran is scorched earth. It has decided the Ayatollahs are willing to die for their nukes and Israel wants to make their dreams come true. But it wants the world to go along, at least tacitly, which is the only reason it hasn’t attacked already.
Israel, like Dick Cheney circa 2003, has a complex agenda that involves reinforcing Israeli hegemony over its regional interests. In truth, Iranian nukes are not an existential threat to Israel. Rather, the true existential threat (as viewed by the Bibites) is Palestinian sovereignty. Spooking the world with the specter of Iranian nukes is a convenient diversion from the far more important and intractable problem of Israel-Palestine. There would be nothing like a little regional war to take Israel’s and the world’s mind off the rights of the Palestinian people. It should be good for at least a two year respite I should say. Meanwhile, teaching the Iranians a lesson would go a long way toward intimidating any other regional powers like Turkey, Syria or Egypt who give any thoughts toward competing with Israeli interests.
Further, Israeli wars go a long way to puncturing any social justice movements seeking to point to economic and political inequities inside the country. No Israeli activist or political party with a reform agenda can make any headway against a far right government pursuing a war policy. Just as they will in Iran, the common folk will rally round the flag and the nation under threat. All other competing tensions or interests will be thrown aside in a bid for national unity. This is yet another tragedy of war (cf. 1982, 2006, 2009, 201?).
Returning to Iran, contrary to the war hawk view of its policymakers as intent on mystical national suicide, probably understands Israel’s intent. This may be why Iran has reacted in a tightly controlled manner to the attacks. It understands that much is at stake and that it is being goaded into overreacting so the west can use this as a pretext to strike.