Israel, U.S. Engage in Attack Simulations Preparing for War Against Iran
Events in the Gulf are unfolding so quickly and ominously that it’s impossible to keep up. They could easily spiral out of control. You might go to sleep at night to a region at peace and wake up the next morning to countries aflame.
In the midst of this swirl of events, it’s worth focusing on some of the more worrisome developments not receiving as much attention as they deserve.
Earlier this week, the NYT reported that Israel and the U.S. are dusting off old military plans to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and to launch cyber-attacks against it. John Bolton traveled to Israel for a joint summit with Israeli and Russian officials to discuss the security situation in Syria. Naturally one of the major focuses of the talks will be Iran’s role in that country.
He will also meet directly with Israeli military, intelligence and political leaders:
“[Bolton] will meet with the head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission and other officials who, during the Obama administration, repeatedly ordered practice bombings to simulate taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel stopped short of bombing but, a decade ago, joined the United States in conducting a sophisticated cyberattack against Iran’s major enrichment site.
As Iran vows to gradually kick its nuclear production back into gear, both options are being revisited, officials say, in case Iran carries through its declared nuclear plans.”
Bolton has already demanded that his own U.S. generals produce war plans to attack Iran. Incredibly, the Pentagon produced a plan that called for 120,000 troops to subdue a country bigger, wealthier and more powerful than Iraq and Afghanistan put together. So it’s natural that Bolton discusses joint U.S. and Israeli strikes against Iran. Though it’s important to note that both Presidents Bush and Obama rejected these options. They refused to attack Iran at Israel’s repeated urging.
Another factor not mentioned in the above report, is that in all the simulations which military planners designed, the type of attacks Bolton is considering all led to major regional conflagration, including damage to population centers in Iran and Israel, not to mention Saudi Arabia. In other words, a war game is not a game once the bullets and missiles fly. The best-laid plans in a simulation take on a life of their own and thousands of lives are lost, both civilian and military.
Drone Wars: Who Do You Believe?
One of the major bones of contention regarding Iran’s downing of the U.S. drone was where it was located when it was shot down. While the U.S. military and Secretary of State Pompeo have repeatedly claimed it was in international airspace, it has offered no clear evidence to support the claim. Iran, on the other hand, has offered the exact coordinates at which the UAV was intercepted clearly indicating it was within Iran’s airspace. The wreckage of the drone also fell in Iranian waters and was retrieved by Iran and displayed in Tehran.
The clearest indication that the U.S. is bluffing comes in this NY Times editorial:
The U.S. military “cannot say for certain whether or not the drone violated Iranian sovereignty, as officials in Tehran have claimed.”
Another Times report was even more direct, and skeptical:
… A senior Trump administration official said there was concern inside the United States government about whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, or even the P-8A manned aircraft flown by a military aircrew, actually did violate Iranian airspace at some point. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Mr. Trump called off the strike.
In the absence of clear evidence from the Americans, it seems that Iran’s claims are more credible. If the U.S. knew its claim were correct it would surely rebut Iran with its own. As it hasn’t, they cannot be believed.
Besides, it’s very common in such conflict situations for both parties to test the opponent to determine his defensive capabilities. That’s why Russian planes continually approach U.S. and European airspace and are met by intercepting planes. This lets the Russians know that they’ve been detected and would be met with an aggressive response should they actually violate U.S. or European territorial sovereignty. No doubt, the U.S. Raptor drone was doing the same thing: entering Iranian airspace to detect how its air defenses would respond. This exercise would permit U.S. military strategists to anticipate how Iran’s air defenses would react in the event of a real conflict. So now they know that Iran is capable of downing one of America’s most sophisticated UAVs, not to mention what else it could do should it need to.
Trump’s Stand-Down: Humane or Cowardly?
The Trump administration has portrayed the president’s decision to stand down from the planned attack on Iran as an act of benevolence motivated by saving Iranian lives. It claims that Trump asked as he was making his final decision, how many Iranians would die as a result of the raid. When he heard that it would kill 150, he began to develop second thoughts. This paints the president as a decent humane individual, qualities he’s never shown either as president.
Far more likely, was the possibility that Maj. Gen. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Trump that this attack on Iran would likely envelop the region in tit-for-tat retaliation. Iran’s allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere would surely sharpen the knives and seek out suitable targets to avenge the attack. One of the highest priorities would be the tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel, currently stationed throughout the Middle East. It would be open season on them. And one of the benefits of engaging in the type of asymmetrical warfare Iran does, is that it can pick and choose both targets and timing for its attack.
As if to burnish Trump’s warrior credentials after he demurred from attacking Iran, his administration announced that U.S. Cyber Command had attacked an IRG intelligence unit responsible for aggressive operations against U.S. and western targets. Even more significantly, it hacked an Iranian missile command and control site. As there has been no word on which unit was attacked and the scale of the damage, it’s hard to know the scope and success of the operation.
But lost in the discussion of the discussion is the chastening notion learned by way of Newtonian physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, while U.S. cyber capabilities are likely far superior to Iran’s, the latter is no slouch at playing this game. Undoubtedly, their hackers have targets of their own they have in their sites. But unlike the U.S., which operates under a certain level of restraint as a major international power, Iran faces no such restraint. Its only consideration is how far they feel they can go in provoking the U.S. tiger before he bites.
Further, the U.S., as the richest and most powerful country in the world, presents far more targets of opportunity than Iran does. We are sitting ducks with even the strongest level of defense any nation could muster against this sort of attack. And make no mistake, Iran will not sick back and absorb such blows with equanimity. It will strike when it feels the moment is right.
U.S. Iran Policy: No ‘There’ There
As many analysts and journalists have reported in the past few weeks regarding U.S. policy toward Iran: there is no “there” there. In other words, the Trump administration has no strategy in place. Its only consideration is the vaguely defined goal, “no nukes.” Given that Iran does not have WMD and just signed a 2015 agreement not to develop them for the next fifteen years, Trump’s goal strikes most of the world as bizarre, if not preposterous.
The only policy tool in Trump’s quiver seems to be sanctions. The U.S. has laid siege to the Iranian economy and is prepared, like a boa constrictor, to slowly squeeze the life out of not only the economy, but the people themselves.
There is only so far we can go before the Iranians strike back, telling the world that if they are to starve to death they will not do so alone. Rather, they will take as much of the world with them, a la Samson, as they can. That might explain the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf (if Iran is the party responsible for them, which has not yet been proven).
Trump harbors the odd illusion that if he punishes Iran enough, the Ayatollahs will scream the Farsi equivalent of “Uncle!” and agree to meet him at the negotiating table. There, Trump will forge an agreement that will somehow be far better than the one conceived and signed by Pres. Obama.
Trump has never stated how his proposed agreement would be different. Presumably, it would guarantee Iran would never develop nuclear weapons, as opposed to the earlier deal which took WMD off the table for fifteen years. If the U.S. president could secure such an agreement, it would indeed be an achievement denied Obama.
But what would Trump offer Iran in return? Because surely it would demand a great deal in return. Unfortunately, given the particulars of the Kushner “Deal of the Century,” the offerings to Iran would be less than appealing. $50-billion, what they’re offering the Palestinians to buy their acquiescence in their own disenfranchisement, would be peanuts to Iran. It would be met with derision in Tehran.
The only credible deal would offer Iran full and immediate restoration of commercial, economic and diplomatic ties; plus an end to sanctions and the unfreezing of its assets wherever they are held in the world. No one in their right mind thinks Trump would agree to such a deal. Remember what happened during his last summit with Kim Jong Un? The Korean leader demanded the same provisions in return for relinquishing his nuclear program. Trump walked. He would do the same with the Iranians.
Israel Maintains Radio SIlence
In the midst of the current escalating crisis Israel, a mortal enemy of Iran, has maintained complete silence. This is all the more remarkable as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a political career of demonizing Iran. Now, all of a sudden, when he seems within arms reach of the very outcome he’s sought for years, he remains silent. No threats. No dog and pony shows for world media featuring display cases filled with captured Iranian CDs. No thundering denunciations before the UN General Assembly.
Why? Well, perhaps it is precisely because Netanyahu stands so close to his goal of attacking Iran and toppling the regime, that he must not upset the apple cart. Also, no doubt U.S. officials are reminding him that he is not exactly beloved in the Arab world; and that anything he might say could and would be used to sabotage military action against Iran.
This parallels the first Iraq war, when Saddam rained SCUDs on Tel Aviv. Pres. Bush did not want to jeopardize the international coalition he’d amassed to fight the Iraqi dictator, which included many Arab countries. So he asked Israel not to respond to the attacks and to stand apart from other nations in the region who joined the coalition of the willing. It did so and Bush’s coalition invaded Iraq and successfully forced its withdrawal from Kuwait. No doubt Netanyahu awaits with bated breath a similar outcome.
22 thoughts on “Israel, U.S. Engage in Attack Simulations Preparing for War Against Iran – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
The US is beyond despicable in this US/Iran issue. Trump is deliberately thwarting International Law, and the AIPAC controlled, neocon Democrats/Republicans are going along with it as long as a Greater Israel can emerge from the carnage.
The dynamic is more complex than meets the eye. This article provides perspective https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-18/declassified-sino-russian-masterplan-end-us-dominance-middle-east
Your article omits to mention that in the past few weeks, Iran has violated international law by attacking civilian targets shipping with rockets, missiles, limpet mines.
Anyway. As per the NYT:
“Central Command continued to assert that the drone was over international waters. He said that the closest that the drone got to the Iranian coast was 21 miles.
Late Thursday, the Defense Department released additional imagery in an email to support its case that the drone never entered Iranian airspace. But the department incorrectly called the flight path of the drone the location of the shooting down and offered little context for an image that appeared to be the drone exploding in midair.”
The drone’s flight path over international waters should suffice as evidence that Iran violated international law when she attacked the drone over international waters.
That the United States has not proven it’s case is understandable because the United States military is more engaged in locating the wreckage of the drone than in satisfying the demands of nay sayers and doubters.
Iran’s Foreign Minister offers maps on which he ‘hand drew’ the location of the drone.
The Iranian Foreign Minsister’s hand drawn map is not dispositive of anything.
Back to your article. There isn’t a shread of proof that the Bolton’s war plans, or the Pentagon’s war plans, call for an Israeli involvement in an (a very unlikely) attack on Iran. An attack, which if it ever comes, will probably be very limited in size and scope and not requiring allies.
Only the lunatic fringes fault Trump for his mastery of brinkmanship at a time of crisis.
Finally, Trump became a President.
There is no firm evidence supporting the claim that Iranian committed these attacks. BUt even if there were, the context of them is that the U.S. is starving an entire nation of 80 million people. THat too is a violation of international law. A violation far more grave than a few shipping attacks.
Who says the Central Command’s version of the flight path is accurate? Central Command. Excuse me, but I require firm evidence. Not a claim by a spokesperson.
If you want to go to war over a drone attack you damn well better present evidence to support your claim. So no, it’s not understandable at all.
You linked to a publication which is virtually unknown as a credible media outlet. The report to which you linked only says the Iranian map “appears to have been hand drawn” and offers no proof of its claim.
Don’t just make shit up. That’s a comment rule violation. You make a claim, you support it with credible evidence. The U.S. has not found or retrieved any of the wreckage. The Iranians have. Where? In their own territorial waters. No wreckage has been found in international waters. Which tells you (or everyone but you) something.
Your source is something called “The Week??” Which is what? Never heard of it. No credibility. That unreliable source did not say the map was “hand-drawn.” Only that it “appeared to be hand-drawn.” Which is a big difference from what you claimed.
Then why would he be visiting with Israeli intelligence officials? To have high tea? Not to mention that at least two Israeli PMs have begged the U.S. to attack Iran and offered to join in such an attack.
The attack may be limited. But the response will not be. And that’s why the simulations show virtually any such attack leading to much wider conflagration.
Only Breitbart and you think Trump has shown mastery of anything. You are delusional. You are done in this thread. No more comments here.
There will be no big war.
You guys can sleep at night.
Neither side has a national interest in a frontal war which would not achieve anything useful.
However impetuous and narcissistic Trump is, he is still rational.
And so is Khameini and Netanyahu
OTOH they will continue rhetoric, covert actions and proxy wars– that is in their interests.
BTW regarding the previous double post, not intentional, sometimes after submission the page reacts in such a way that it is not clear if the message was saved. You don’t get a message like “your comment is awaiting moderation”
I feel so reassured that Middle East expert DrS has declared the region safe from war. As any self-respecting American or Iranian general would know: what DrS says, goes.
But really, who died and made you the boss? Or an expert? Wars no longer (and almost never) begin with full frontal attack coming out of the blue. They begin with disagreement, hostility, skirmishes; and then morph into full scale war. And that’s precisely how today’s events in the Persian GUlf are unfolding.
As for publishing comments, hit the button once. If you hit it twice it will publish twice.
The American drone was remained in international waters for most of it’s flight until it suddenly and inexplicably ‘veered into Iranian airspace’.
Veered into Iranian airspace?
Iran is full of bull%^&!
“Presumably, it would guarantee Iran would never develop nuclear weapons”. The possibility that Iran would ever develop nuclear weapons is almost zero. The religious and political leaders of Iran have always been totally opposed to nuclear weapons and other WMDs. Search for “the Goldberg Predilections” and you will find dozens of statements over several decades to that effect. One from the Supreme Leader says:
“There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”
Iran has the sanest policy in the world on nuclear weapons.
“In the absence of clear evidence from the Americans, … they cannot be believed.”
Did I miss something is it your own country? It is cute to read an American distance himself this way from actions he disagree with.
@ Dudu: It’s so damn typical of Israelis to believe everything they’re told as long as the guy telling them is wearing general’s uniform. Fortunately, we don’t accept what we’re told as readily. We question. We’re skeptical. OF what we’re told by our political, military and intelligence officials. And by Israeli officials as well.
I distance myself from information and claims that are unsupported or poorly supported. It has nothing to do with “actions I disagree with.” That’s called citizen democracy. YOu ought to try it sometime.
dgfincham – Iran religious leadership has full power over their political system. They approve or disapprove political candidates and the IRGC controls assets worth billion of USD.
If the religious leadership didn’t want a nuclear program, there wouldn’t be one.
@ Dudu: Iran doesn’t HAVE a nuclear program. This has been confirmed by the IAEA and U.S. intelligence estimates as well.
@ P Spot:
Tell me, how many Iranian drones would the US allow close to it’s shores but still in ‘I’nal waters’?
Or how many Iranian bases, for that matter?
Always amazing to see sycophants of American Empire like you!
Oy, the self righteousness.
Iran did not present any proof the drone was in its airspace and since Iran is the one who made the attack, the burden of a proof is on them.
I have read your blog sparsely over the years and there is a repeating element. You demand overwhelming level of proof to facts you dislike but accept claims which fit you without too much questioning. Take the murder in Duma as an example. You published names of minors based on a suspicion and an on-going investigation and preach to that the arrested people are the culprits. When the investigation cast doubts on whether or not the police has the right people, you blame it for butchering the investigation. And your proof – article from Israel Hayom and Haaretz. Forgive me for not being impressed.
@Dudu: that is a lie. Iran presented the exact coordinates at which the drone was intercepted, squarely within it’s territorial waters. Iran retrieved all the wreckage from the drone where it fell, squarely within it’s territorial waters. It provided the precise flight path the drone followed, showing it was squarely in its territorial waters. Don’t lie.
I accept claims that are supported by credible evidence. I offer claims supported by credible evidence. What do you offer? Bupkis!
As for the incineration of a Palestinian family by 6 settler youth; who do you think told me they were the killers? A little birdie? Haaretz? No, an Israeli security source who knew their names because the Shin Bet had planted an Informant within the group. So if you don’t like what I write you should blame the security source who provided the information.
There never was, nor is any question that the police had the right suspects. There never was an “investigation casting doubts on whether the police had the right people.” You’re fabricating. There was a Shin Bet refusal to prosecute their own informant who betrayed them. That’s all.
I now see you are an apologist for settler murder. That is unacceptable. You are on notice. Prepare for your landing approach at Ben Gurion.
“But really, who died and made you the boss? Or an expert?
Really Richard. The comments here are not news flashes, but commentary, and I am submitting one, no differently than anybody else here.
“They begin with disagreement, hostility, skirmishes; and then morph into full scale war. And that’s precisely how today’s events in the Persian GUlf are unfolding.”
Not true any more regarding wars between states. Civil wars maybe, but not interstate wars.
The last frontal interstate war was the US Iraq invasion, and that was premeditated. No escalation, misunderstandings, or skirmishes.
Why has there not been a war between Israel and Syria, despite numerous Israeli attacks (not the least against a nuclear installation back in 2007)? Because it is not in their interest.
Iran is not on the verge of civil war, and the US cannot bring regime change, even if it wanted to. The regime there is too strong.
Even the last Israel war in Lebanon in 2006 was not really an interstate war, but between a state and a militia.
Of course neither I or you was granted the power of prophecy. So I acknowledge that I might be wrong. Who knows, the whole world my explode into global war because of climate change or water.
But neither side, Iran or the US, has something enduring that can be gained. Trump’s base does not like foreign entanglements. Even more than the US, Iran is a calculating, cunning and rational decision maker that is uninterested in war with the US and/ or Israel.
There could be skirmishes/incidents, but no war.
If commentary is what you want, you can find that elsewhere. The comment threads at this blog are NOT commentary. They are informed discussion. That means whatever commentary you offer you offer credible evidence to support it. If you have none, don’t venture it.
So there was no context to the 2003 Iraq war? No reason for hostility on both sides? No angry rhetoric. No claims? No racheting up of rhetoric and demands on both sides? What nonsense. The invasion of Iraq began when George Bush’s father refused to topple Iran and Saddam attempted to assassinate him. It was at that point Saddam’s fate was sealed. But it took many years of increasing hostility before an invasion happened. You don’t know your history.
Comparing Syria to Iran is ridiculous and you know it. Iran is Bibi’s bete noir. It’s his bread and butter. He needs to hate Iran and needs Israelis to hate Iran. Therefore, he’s made claims that it poses an existential threat to Israel’s existence. When has he ever done or said that concerning Syria? You go to war with countries which are existential threats. So don’t you dare tell me there’s no chance of war against Iran. You’re a fool to make such a claim. And you have no knowledge or exptertise to support such a claim. I, on the other hand, received top secret FBI transcripts of Israeli attempts to gin up war against Iran. I have been covering this issue for over a decade in minute detail.
BTW, Tamir Pardo and other senior Israeli military and intelligence officials have documented that Bibi & Barak wanted to go to war in 2009 and Bibi tried again a few years later. But each time his military-intelligence leadership forced him back from the brink. So again, don’t tell me there won’t be a war when only a few people stopped a war Bibi wanted to fight.
I acknowledge that you ARE wrong.
You are done in this thread.
@Richard “Iran doesn’t HAVE a nuclear program”. You mean all those centrifuges were making marshmallows?
@Dudu: Any state that has nuclear reactors has centrifuges. Including states which have no nuclear weapons. Centrifuges and production of enriched uranium is only one small part of what’s necessary to produce a nuclear weapon. And enriched uranium is used for purely civilian purposes as well.
“You mean all those centrifuges were making marshmallows?”
No but I think you’ve got marshmallows between your ears.
Civilian nuclear reactors use lowly enriched uranium, enriched in centrifuges. Hence most civilian nuclear powers have centrifuges.
And the most effective nuclear bomb material consists of Pu-239, not U-235.
Richard – Let’s say you have an Israeli source and he is highly reliable. What hard evidence did he provide? What hard evidence did you bring to the reader. Nada! Ziltch!
You write here “an Israeli security source who knew their names because the Shin Bet had planted an Informant within the group.” but in previous blog, the most concrete claim you’ve made was “In the Dawabsheh case, the possibility of a rogue agent would be equally convenient…” – you just inflate a rumor you started. Fake news!!
@ Dudu: You’re clearly not a journalist and understand very little about how journalism works. So let’s start with “evidence” and your misunderstanding of the concept. A source IS evidence. Now, a source may be first-hand or second-hand. A source may be reliable and credible or may not be. But having a source is ipso facto evidence. If you have a good, reliable source then you have solid evidence. My source was impeccable. Well-connected with direct knowledge regarding the information he conveyed to me. Further, my source has offered me multiple, indeed scores, of stories in which his information was confirmed as accurate. So that means my evidence was solid. I don’t know what “hard” evidence is, but this was as hard as evidence gets short of conveying video footage of the arson attack or the conspirators plotting. And my source would never offer this because if he did he would no longer be my source because he would lose access to the very information he offers me.
You clearly don’t read my security reporting on Israeli security matters. If you had, you would know that virtually every time this source is used I indicate in general terms his bona fides in terms of indicating the credibility of the information he’s offering. If this isn’t good enough for you, tough s***.
Lie about the quality of the evidence I offer here again and I’ll ban your ass so fast your head will spin. And I’d love to do it so you go right ahead challenge me.