The NY Times reports that a U.S. military war game simulation found that an Israeli attack on Iran drew a massive U.S. response after a U.S. warship was attacked and sunk by Iranian forces:
The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years.
…Officials said that, under the chain of events in the war game, Iran believed that Israel and the United States were partners in any strike against Iranian nuclear sites and therefore considered American military forces in the Persian Gulf as complicit in the attack. Iranian jets chased Israeli warplanes after the attack, and Iranians launched missiles at an American warship in the Persian Gulf, viewed as an act of war that allowed an American retaliation.
These results are in fundamental accord with a 2010 Israeli war game simulation I reported here and also agree with a report on this subject authored by Anthony Cordesmann. But they fundamentally disagree with the standard narischkeit Jeffrey Goldberg is penning. In a Bloomberg column, he predicts an Israeli war against Iran soon. He quotes this bit of Israeli wishful thinking:
One conclusion key [Israeli] officials have reached is that a strike on six or eight Iranian facilities will not lead, as is generally assumed, to all-out war. This argument holds that the Iranians might choose to cover up an attack, in the manner of the Syrian government when its nuclear facility was destroyed by the Israeli air force in 2007. An Israeli strike wouldn’t focus on densely populated cities, so the Iranian government might be able to control, to some degree, the flow of information about it.
Some Israeli officials believe that Iran’s leaders might choose to play down the insult of a raid and launch a handful of rockets at Tel Aviv as an angry gesture, rather than declare all-out war. I’m not endorsing this view, but I was struck by its optimism.
…Some Israeli security officials also believe that Iran won’t target American ships or installations in the Middle East in retaliation for a strike, as many American officials fear, because the leadership in Tehran understands that American retaliation for an Iranian attack could be so severe as to threaten the regime itself.
It never ceases to amaze me that the putative intelligence mavens of a nation contemplating a war against another country would predicate their plans on the fact that the victim will simply roll over and play dead. On what planet does that happen? Certainly not this one. And don’t anyone dare compare this to Syria because Iran is not Syria. If anyone is foolish enough to believe the Syrian scenario will play out regarding Iran, then they almost deserve the black eye they’ll get after the real response happens.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.