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Saturday, February 24, 2007
Opening the doors to the silos
By TigerHawk at 2/24/2007 11:57:00 AM
It has been said that during the Cold War the principal adversaries would occasionally open the doors of their silos so rival satellites could verify that there were, in fact, missiles inside. The point, presumably, was to disabuse the adversary of any fantasy that there weren't thousands of ICBMs poised to retaliate.
One can't help but wonder whether Israel isn't doing essentially the same thing. Israel does not have ICBM silos and Iran does not have reliable spy satellite coverage, so Israel needs to leak its way to credibility:
Israel is negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq as part of a plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
To conduct surgical air strikes against Iran's nuclear programme, Israeli war planes would need to fly across Iraq. But to do so the Israeli military authorities in Tel Aviv need permission from the Pentagon.
A senior Israeli defence official said negotiations were now underway between the two countries for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an "air corridor" in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Teheran developing nuclear weapons.
"We are planning for every eventuality, and sorting out issues such as these are crucially important," said the official, who asked not to be named.
"The only way to do this is to fly through US-controlled air space. If we don't sort these issues out now we could have a situation where American and Israeli war planes start shooting at each other."
Of course, it is impossible to believe that these discussions, if they are happening at all, were leaked by a rogue in the Israeli government or military. The leak had a purpose, which was to improve the credibility of Israel's threat that it will neutralize Iran's nuclear capability if negotiations fail. Since the United States cannot admit to such discussions, Israel also must deny that they are taking place, and it has done so.
A leak such as this also reinforces the position of the Western countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom (with the United States lurking in the background), which are pressuring Iran to return to the negotiating table. If economic sanctions are not adequate to the task, then what stiffer measures are available? The Europeans are not in a political or military position to threaten Iran with military action, but they are happy to let Israel at least appear to light the fuse, especially since it plays into Iran's dark view of the Jewish state. From this perspective, Israeli sabre-rattling improves the chances of a negotiated settlement, a result that even Israel would much prefer.
There is a small blogocentric angle, and that is the different reactions of lefty and righty bloggers to this news. Righty bloggers view the leaking of this news, if it is news, as improving the chances for a peaceful settlement. The few lefty blogs that have linked the story seem to think that it is evidence, in and of itself, that an attack is in the offing. This seems silly to me -- surely the Israelis have good enough operational security that we would not be hearing about it in the Telegraph if they really were about to put planes in the air. The micro-question is, what is it about the psychology of left and right that they interpret the idiom of confrontation so differently?
UPDATE: The lefty Booman Tribune does, indeed, get it.