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Israel Has No Real Desire for War with Iran, But US Might Lead Battle
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Israel has launched its biggest attack ever on Iranian forces in Syria. This is a serious development, but reports of the entire Middle East being on the verge of all out war fail to fully appreciate the motives and intentions of the various players.

Looked at from the Israeli point of view, it is an excellent moment to act against Iran in Syria because it is unlikely that the Iranians will respond in a serious way.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal, the Iranians want to show the rest of the world, and particularly the Europeans, that they are the reliable and pacific upholders of the 2015 treaty.

This phase may not last long and does not mean that the Iranians have any faith in the EU states keeping the accord alive. But they do want to ensure that the EU and others will only grudgingly cooperate with the reimposition of draconian sanctions by the US.

The Iranian economy will still be very badly hit because international banks and companies will be frightened of being punished by the US Treasury, but Iran will not be as isolated politically and economically as it was before 2015.

The Israelis do not want a wider war with Iran. The Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said that: “I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message,” adding that Israel does not intend the situation to escalate.

Significantly, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heading home from Moscow where he had been seeing President Vladimir Putin as the Israeli air force was making the strikes of which the Russians were previously informed by Israel.

Mr Netanyahu evidently wanted to reassure Mr Putin that Israel is acting against Iran and is not trying to make a late-in-the-day attempt to change the outcome of the Syrian civil war, which is so far ending with a victory for Russia’s ally President Bashar al-Assad.

The Iranians show no sign of expecting a war with the US or Israel, at least in the near future, whatever the belligerent rhetoric coming out of Washington, Tel Aviv and Tehran.

Israel has accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of firing 20 rockets at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights late on Wednesday night, but, even if this is confirmed, it would amount to a very tame retaliation by Iran for earlier Israeli airstrikes.

Iran’s enemies are not seeking military confrontation, said the deputy head of the IRGC, Brigadier Hossein Salami, on Thursday.

“They want to pressure our country by economic isolation,” he said, adding that the Europeans were powerless to salvage the deal under which Iran had curtailed its nuclear programme in return for a reduction in sanctions.

The bellicose threats against Iran coming from Israel and Saudi Arabia may be leading to a misunderstanding. Leaders in both countries may be eager for the US to have a military confrontation with Iran, but they would prefer to cheer on Mr Trump from the sidelines rather than become involved in a war themselves.

Israel has grim experience in the past of becoming engaged in an unwinnable war in Lebanon between 1982 and 2000 and, since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been suffering a similar failure in Yemen.

An American military attack on Iran might, indeed, happen, though not immediately and, if it does occur, it may well be because of a US misunderstanding of the real options available to it.

The one most agreeable to the White House would be regime change in Tehran: the association of leading figures in the administration like the national security adviser, John Bolton, with exiled Iranian opposition groups like the Mojahedin-e-Khalq may have be encouraging delusions about the likelihood of this happening.

The Iraqi opposition in 2003 successfully encouraged similar fantasies in Washington and London about the political state of Iraq prior to the US-led invasion.

Trump may similarly be deluded about the chances of sanctions driving Iran to a new nuclear deal which would in effect be terms of surrender dictated by the US.

No doubt the revived sanctions will be devastating for the Iranian economy, but Iran has survived a more onerous economic siege in the past while, this time round, ordinary Iranians will be more likely to blame the intransigence of the US rather than that of their own leaders.

The only alternative left for Mr Trump would be military action, particularly if Iran goes back to enriching uranium as it is likely to do, given that the US has sunk the deal restraining it from doing so.

Israel might take part in such a war, but it is scarcely in its interests to do so. Air strikes against specific Iranian nuclear facilities are one thing, but these might happen on the first day of a very long conflict that would be mostly fought out on the ground.

Iran has an advantage here because it is already on the winning side in the wars in Syria and Iraq.

In Lebanon, Israeli, US and Saudi Arabia have a good example of the morass they would be getting into because they failed, despite determined efforts over 36 years, to change the balance of power there against Iran and its ally, Hezbollah.

There is likely to be further well-hidden reason why leaders in Israel and Saudi Arabia may hesitate a little at becoming involved in an escalating confrontation with Iran that could lead to war.

They are delighted that they have an administration in Washington that is singing their tune. Their most propagandist claims are being echoed by the president.

But it should also occur to them that Mr Trump, though for the moment entirely in their corner, is mercurial, unpredictable and even mentally unstable.


He gyrates between isolationism and military intervention. He might easily provoke a crisis with Iran from which the US suddenly detaches itself – something like this happened to the Syrian Kurds earlier in the year – or he could one day stumble, along with his allies in Tel Aviv and Riyadh, into a war with Iran through sheer ignorance and miscalculation.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Donald Trump, Iran, Israel 
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  1. El Dato says:

    Nice writing for the MSM there. It’s like getting the afternoon valium delivered by the nurse, accompanied by a bit of soothing music.

    Israel has grim experience in the past of becoming engaged in an unwinnable war in Lebanon between 1982 and 2000 and, since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been suffering a similar failure in Yemen.

    The grimness and suffering being mostly borne by the people under bombardement by the debased pair and their pimping provider, avuncular uncle Shmuel.

    But it should also occur to them that Mr Trump, though for the moment entirely in their corner, is mercurial, unpredictable and even mentally unstable.

    On the contrary. You can exactly predict that he will be doing whatever comes from powerful Jewish interests, currently awkwardly allied to Saudi interests. Whether Trump understands the why or wherefores is besides the point.

    Also, top points to the Cockburnite delusion that the US and the EU busniess will continue to be of importance for long:

    China is “already the winner,’’ said Dina Esfandiary, a fellow at the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College in London, and co-author of the forthcoming ‘Triple Axis: Iran’s Relations With Russia and China’.

    “Iran has slowly abandoned the idea of being open to the West,’’ she said. “The Chinese have been in Iran for the past 30 years. They have the contacts, the guys on the ground, the links to the local banks.’’

    And they’re more willing to defy U.S. pressure as Trump slaps sanctions back on.

    • Agree: Mike P
  2. Kirt says:

    So what Cockburn is really saying (and I agree) is that Israel very much wants a war against Iran; they just don’t want to fight it. That’s the job of the Americans. Since the Iranians and their allies are responding minimally, if at all, to Israeli provocations, the alternative for the Israeli rulers is a false flag high casualty “terrorist” attack on the US. BOLO.

    • Agree: Talha
    • Replies: @Momus
    , @Jim Christian
  3. Momus says:

    Why would Israel want a war with the Iranians? Prior to the Islamic Revolution they had cordial ties.

    • Replies: @Kirt
  4. @Kirt

    So what Cockburn is really saying (and I agree) is that Israel very much wants a war against Iran; they just don’t want to fight it.

    Well yeah! It was stated somewhere around here the other day, humorously, that the battle hymn of the IDF is, “Onward Christian Soldier”. After Lebanon they learned an important lesson. Let the U.S. do it. If they get us into it, it’s just another war lost for us by our Generals. They’re used to losing. All they do it lose. They’re celebrated for it. Revered, even, as ‘great men’. And we put up with it.

  5. Kirt says:

    Better ask that question of Bibi and his supporters both in the US and Israel. He wouldn’t be expending tons of ordinance on the Iranians and their allies if he wanted peace. Were I running Israel and the US, I wouldn’t want war with Iran but I guess that’s why I’ve been called a racist, an alt-righter and a Russian in some forums. (Not here.)

  6. Taras77 says:

    I would say that trump attacking iran at the behest of israel would be a red line for impeachment but impeachment has so many variables that it probably would not happen:

    1. Would face a powerful aipac funded (or owned) congress as we have now but dominated by demos with no stones;
    2. Any impeachment would face the prospect of pence, who never got off his groveling knees during his last visit to israel, hence no improvment over trump;
    3. Going back to #1 above, unlikely that aipac congress has the stones or motivation to impeach.

    Soooo, what do we have-impeachment not likely but “could” happen if the attack becomes a complete disaster.

  7. Chuck says:

    Know Israel. No peace.

    No Israel. Know peace.

  8. Thaddeus says:

    Most rational observers attribute Trump flip flops to Deep State influences. Otherwise, I think Mr. Trump maintains the anti-war stances he held as a young man and would like to implement, if not for previously mentioned influences.

    Replacing McMasters with Bolton was a dead giveaway that he’s not in control.

    • Agree: renfro
    • Replies: @Paulestinian
    , @Skyblaze
  9. @Thaddeus

    Trump had suggested Bolton as possible Sec. of State since the transition period. He’s been pretty anti-Iran deal since early in the primary. As Cockburn said in another article, he shifts from isolationism and militarism pretty frequently. My own view is that Trump is just a strange person generally whose view of the world is ill informed and not thoroughly considered, but I’m just some asshole.

  10. Art says:

    The US is the only country that would go to war with Iran. Israel is too far away, and the Saudis are cowards. Excluding nukes, Iran can do more damage to Israel than Israel can do to Iran. Same with Saudi.

    Trump does not have a mandate to start an Iran war. Trump wants to starve Iran with world sanctions into a regime change. He wants to do a CIA Shah thing again. It would be good for Iran’s people if the Persians and their culture where returned to power in Iran. But that means dumping Islam. That would be very bloody (the Jews are licking their lips).

    Can Trump convince the world to go along with that scheme?


    Think Peace — Do No Harm — Maintain Hope — Live Idealistic — Art

    p.s. Of course starving Iran for Israel, would be a crime against humanity.

  11. Iran has a pernicious leadership of religious fanatics.

    Israel’s current leadership is apparently partly insane and might end up down the line being self-destructive for Israel as a nation.

    Russia and Saudi Arabia stand to make a lot of money as oil prices go up.

    Trump is going to need a distraction as the investigations against him hit pay dirt in public.

    I’m sure this will all end up well.

  12. Anonymous[171] • Disclaimer says:

    “Israel has grim experience in the past of becoming engaged in an unwinnable war in Lebanon between 1982 and 2000…”

    Please let’s not forget about 2006 when they really got their asses handed to them and got nowhere after a month of fighting with Hezbollah in South Lebanon.

  13. Darkwing says:

    Jew land wants a war with Iran but will not fight it, they want and will get Tramp and his buddies to do their dirty work, just like the rest of the middle east under Bush 1 and 2

  14. Samual says:

    Do a search on “lubavitch chabad trump putin” Treasonous Trump is betraying America.and Christianity “Amerika had nothing to gain by moving the embassy to Jerusalem…”
    But, the mob boss and his sucklings have much to gain. Follow the money. Kushner’s real estate sinkhole empire in Jew York is in deep shit. Kushner tried to emulate Trump with his RE deals. He way, way overpaid for 666 Fifth Avenue and just one example…way underwater. He has tried desperately to get financing…voila make him the de facto ambassador to Greater Israel, move the embassy, and appoint him and his charming cunt to rep ‘mericka for the grand opening.
    Jaysus, this is all too easy. Think like a mob boss and follow the money. Don’t assume for once that TrumPhuck makes decisions on what’s good for this country.

  15. Skyblaze says:

    Trump Antiwar?

    Look at his actions….they are not antiwar

  16. c matt says:

    If Israel doesn’t want war with Iran, they sure have a funny way of showing it.

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