Why Israel Will Not Attack Iran

Posted on August 20, 2010

One of the main reasons Israel will not attack Iran in this remarkable window of opportunity is because of Barack Obama.  You will recall that back in the fall of 2009, he shelved plans to provide Poland and the Czech Republic with the missile defense system ordered up by the Bush Administration:

[He] abandoned the controversial Pentagon plan to build a missile defence system in Europe that had long soured relations with Russia.

In one of the sharpest breaks yet with the policies of the Bush administration, Obama said the new approach would offer “stronger, swifter and smarter” defence for the US and its allies. He said it would focus on the threat posed by Iran‘s short- and medium-range missiles, rather than its intercontinental nuclear capabilities.

Obama announced the reversal officially at a news conference today. “This new approach will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems to offer greater defences to the threat of attack than the 2007 European missile defence programme,” he said.

He phoned the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic last night to tell them he had dropped plans to site missile interceptors and a radar station in their respective countries. Russia had furiously opposed the project, claiming it targeted Moscow’s nuclear arsenal.

The change of tack had been prompted by advances in missile technology and new intelligence about Iran’s existing missile capabilities, Obama said. [Guardian.Co.UK]

Obama was said to  have scrapped the system not only because of the current progress of Iran in its missile defense and in the US current capabilities but also with a eye to improving relations with Russia and making Iran Sanctions and renewed SALT agreements more of a possibility.  Russia, however, saw it as a victory.

Then there are the bumps in the road to improved relations with Israel.  You will recall all of that business about Biden’s visit and Israeli refusal to end plans for more building in Palestinian territory.  This was followed by the shabby treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu during a visit to Washington soon after.  While things have improved, they are far from satisfactory in the minds of most pundits. The trust factor has been destroyed. Finallyl, Israel listened to Obama’s speech at Cairo embracing Muslims everywhere and that put them on notice.

We have too many troops in the area at risk and no money to start another conflict.  Because of their treatment of the Palestinians, institutions and individuals around the world are no longer investing in Israel.  This is a powerful leveraging agent to use.  It remains to be seen how effective it will be.  In short, there may be little support for Israel if they start something they cannot finish.

Then there is the fact that Obama has been on 6 vacations this summer so no doubt the Israelis have had difficulty reaching him to discuss backup should they wish to confirm that we will be in their corner before they  launch an invasion.  Were they to reach him, they would still have to  wait for him to make up his mind about the viability of an attack.  They would need to have a huge window of opportunity for making the attack since Obama will be dithering.

Then there is the China factor. They trade with Iran.  Like Russia, they will sign on for sanctions but not war.

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