The Management of Dilemma

The dilemma for ‘Israel’ is, should the US say ‘no’ to a strike on Iran (and actually mean it), ‘Israel’ is left to wallow in a clutch of defeats on all six fronts, plus fraying public trust.

Amidst a swirl of images unhooked from reality, reeling out across Western screens, a few hand-holds on ‘the real’ need to be firmly grasped.

Firstly, whatever the claims of air defence triumph mounted by the Israelis and their friends (i.e. the “99% shootdown”), Israel and the US know the truth: Iran’s missiles were able to penetrate directly into Israel’s two most sensitive and highly defended air bases and sites. Behind the whooping rhetoric is Israeli shock.

The exaggerated propaganda derives from the left-right double punch that the West has sustained. It is public knowledge that Western air defence systems in Ukraine have been a flop. If it were to be admitted that Iran’s missile capabilities can breach the highest concentration of air defences which are situated at Nevatim Air base in the south, the implications for the western defence posture worldwide are dire. Shhh! … Fire up the smoke screen of ‘Splendid Triumph’.

Secondly, they know that the so-called ‘assault’ was no assault, but a message to assert the new strategic equation: Any Israeli attack on Iran or its personnel will result in retribution from Iran into “Israel”. This marks a transformation of the Resistance Fronts’ strategy: Until now, it has consisted of movements acting in concert — with States remaining strictly in the background.

Now as the unity of non-state actors remain activated, they are now supplemented with Iran and “Israel” facing each other directly.  It is a new phase. And a Sixth Front has opened versus “Israel”.

The third element is that Netanyahu has been angling to draw the US into war with “Israel” against Iran for two decades (albeit with successive US Presidents declining the dangerous prospect).

The fourth reality is that Iran’s nuclear programme is untouchable, tucked away, deep within mountain interiors.  Former Israeli PM Ehud Barak wrote explicitly in July 2022 in Time Magazine: Iran is a threshold nuclear state – and there is nothing that “Israel” can do about it. Get used to it, Barak advised: “It’s time to face reality”.

So is there no strategic point to any Israeli military response in Iran? Just a show of force? Well, not exactly.  For Netanyahu sees the stand-off as one of a ‘balance of power’. He will recall the influence and power of Iran during the Shah’s era: Iran quietly has been becoming the great regional power again.

The Israelis would like to that power cut down to size.

Herein lies the issue of managing the dilemmas: Israelis widely believe that without deterrence — without the world fearing them — they cannot survive. October 7 set this existential fear burning through Israeli society. Hizbullah’s presence only exacerbates it — and now Iran has rained missiles down into ‘Israel’ directly.

The opening of the Iranian front, in a certain way initially may have benefited Netanyahu: the Israeli forces’ defeat in the Gaza war; the hostage release impasse; the continuing displacement of settlers from the north; and even the murder of the World Kitchen aid workers — all were temporarily forgotten. The West grouped at Israel’s side again. Arab states were again co-operating. All attention moved from Gaza to Iran.

So far, so good (from Netanyahu’s perspective, no doubt). But to cut Iran down to size would require US military assistance. The Iranian missile launch underscored that. Reports suggest that the US did the heavy lifting. Were ‘Israel’ to go it alone in a reprisal attack on Iran, would that — in and of itself — give ‘Israel’ escalatory dominance in the region (and restore deterrence)? Or might it bring the wider regional war which might end with ‘Israel’s’ demise as a state as we know it?

And would Biden accommodate such a risky venture (during an US election cycle)? Here too lies dilemma: Biden stands on his embrace of ‘Israel’: ‘Ironclad support’, he intones. But the oxymoron comes when he juxtaposes the Ironclad support versus no wider regional war.

The dilemma for ‘Israel’ is, should the US say ‘no’ to a strike on Iran (and actually mean it), ‘Israel’ is left to wallow in a clutch of defeats on all six fronts, plus fraying public trust.

But would Biden mean it (when saying ‘no war’)?  Hmmm … Would it be politically viable for the White House to cut weapon supply or cash in wake of the Iranian missile launch?

Biden would have another problem: The US is committed to ‘defensive’ support ONLY. However, Iran has sophisticated air defence systems (though their efficacy is as yet unproven). Were the Israelis to get into trouble in Iran, for Biden to move from defensive to ‘offensive’ support for ‘Israel’ would bring him other problems at home in the US.

Finally, were Netanyahu’s gamble to succeed in striking a substantive blow to Iran, Netanyahu — wearing the victor’s laurel headband — would be positioned (in terms of domestic Israeli support) to starve and displace Gazans from their land. Such an outcome could fracture the Democratic Party for good.

Of course, a decisive blow against Iran remains very hypothetical for now. But gamblers are known, after an extended stretch of losses, to double down and to place all on the ball landing on red.

One thought on “The Management of Dilemma

  • David Ginsburg

    For those who think the US/NATO isn’t being stretched thin, consider this: China and/or N Korea would likely force them to fight in the SCS; Russia could do likewise in the simmering conflict in the Arctic; Russia, China and Iran could join arms in Central Asia, particularly in and around the Caspian Sea; Iran could/has already extended them in the Middle East; and, perhaps most importantly, Russia and China could force the US/NATO to divert huge resources into the nascent war in space.


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