This report is disturbing.
I met former General Zvi Shtauber last year at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies and sensed that he was more of a quick hit hawk than a complex strategist. During the same trip, however, I met numerous Iran-watchers inside the Mossad and inside Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who felt that the last thing that America and Israel should do was to over-hype Ahmadinejad or the Iranian regional threat. Doing so, in their view, would lead to an environment that incrementally legitimated the most reactionary parts of the Iranian political environment rather than undermined them.
Serious Israeli strategists know that the best way to hinder Iran is to (1) work to reduce the price of oil to undermine the economic basis of Iran’s growing pretensions; (2) to work covertly to “stir up trouble” inside Iran among its own interest groups — much like Iran is doing to the U.S. inside Iraq; and (3) to find ways to tacitly work with and recognize other power centers inside Iran rather than the relatively weak but hyperbolic President Ahmadinejad.
What Shtauber and other recent Israeli advocates of a strike against Iran are not discussing is that such a military strike is NOT against concrete and mortar facilities and warehouses storing centrifuges.
The strike would attempt to kill 5,000 to 6,000 of Iran’s top tier nuclear engineer talent. To kill those approximately 6,000 people, many more will be injured and killed — and that human nightmare will agitate huge cross sections of Iranian society far beyond any of the limited groups that have thus far supported Ahmadinejad.
A military strike of this sort would allow a total consolidation of power behind Ahmadinejad and rip power away from all other power centers inside Iraq.
What it would also do is create a massive “terrorist super-highway” stretching from Iran through Iraq, into Syria and permeating Jordan, overrunning Lebanon — up to the edge of Israel.
Israel has smart people with substantial intelligence resources inside Iran. American and Israeli officials need to listen to them and think this through.
Bombing Iran could easily trigger the worst potential outcomes. There are other choices. The Saudis and Gulf states have suggested some ways to bring Iran down a notch.
The binary choice on Iran simply is not good enough — but Bush & Co. don’t seem to be doing anything substantial to generate an option other than acquiescing to Iran or bombing it.
— Steve Clemons