Fog of Escalation: Israel Strike on Iran Sort-of Open Thread

Normally I would put up a post on such an important event as Israel (according to US sources) delivering on its promise to strike Iran in retaliation for Iran’s retaliation for Israel’s attack on Iran’s embassy grounds in Damascus.

But there’s not a lot of solid reporting now, even before you get to the heavy spin deployed after Iran was successful in hitting three targets in Israel over last weekend. The eagerness to put narrative stakes in the ground, as the US did pretty successfully in its not-credibly-fast out of the box claim no way, no how did Ukraine have anything to do with the terrorist attack on Russia’s Crocus City Hall, means it makes sense to wait until there’s more commentary (and supporting evidence) regarding the claims made by both sides (as of now, the US, Oman, and Iran; Israel has yet to pipe up).

Remember the competing stories on the Iran strikes over the weekend. As we and many many others have pointed out, the fact of the missiles landing successfully and doing real damage to all the target is the key development. It shows Iran, even in a very well telegraphed salvo, was able to penetrate not just Israeli defenses, but also those of helpers like the US, France, and Jordan. But the Western press took up the line that Iran had sent a ginormaus number of flying thingies at Isreal, and nearly all were shot down. But most were drones whose primary role was to draw fire, both to deplete Israel and its allies’ stockpiles, and to expose how the combined air defenses worked. It would have been shocking, with a five hours flight time, if any of these drones had gotten through.

Scott Ritter, in a detailed discussion of this attack, has deemed that it established that Iran has deterrence dominance.

Now to the current and not exactly clear state of play. US sources declared Israel dunnit per NBC and CNN and that Israel informed the US but the US did not consent or participate.

There are strongly opposed stories as to the degree of damage, if any. The attack was on Isfahan, at just before dawn. Iran says there were only a few drone and they shot them all down. Anadolu Agency reports that US officials, anonymously, natch, depicted it as a ballistic missile attack….but “attack” does not necessarily translate into success. And so far there is a dearth of corroborating evidence:

Although this does not prove the negative, there were also what looked like phone-taken videos purporting to be the sky over Isfahan at the time of the attack, and they look to capture at least some of the drone shoot-downs. There is no footage of a missile entry.

Iran shut its airports only briefly and does not appear to have closed its airspace, Despite Twitter claims otherwise, Lambert looked at a flight tracker and planes were still in the air. Allegedly some airlines like Emirates quickly redirected flights over Iran based on breaking news, as opposed to official directives.

Arab News reports that Iran is downplaying the attack and not planning to retaliate. From its account:

Explosions echoed over an Iranian city on Friday in what sources described as an Israeli attack, but Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation — a response that appeared gauged toward averting region-wide war.

The limited scale of the attack and Iran’s muted response both appeared to signal a successful effort by diplomats who have been working round the clock to avert all-out war since an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel last Saturday.

Iranian media and officials described a small number of explosions, which they said resulted from Iran’s air defenses hitting three drones over the city of Isfahan. Notably, they referred to the incident as an attack by “infiltrators,” rather than by Israel, obviating the need for retaliation.

An Iranian official said there were no plans to respond against Israel for the incident.

“The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more toward infiltration than attack,” the official said.

A reason to think Israel did less than it might have wanted to was that, despite US hand-wringing about not having anything to do with this affair, is that Haaretz and per below, the Times of Israel reported that the US traded Iran escalation for a green light for Israel to attack Rafah, something the US has heretofore opposed vigorously:

Reader sightings, particularly of fresh news and analysis, very much appreciated.

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  1. Louis Fyne

    I wonder if the Biden Admin (NSA- Pentagon, etc) throw Bibi under the bus…

    Given the level of literal integration of US air defense forces in Israel w/the IDF, and satellite monitoring, it is entirely possible that the US gave Iran a warning in real-time.

    i don’t expect the real truth for months or years.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The White House brought Gantz over for an interview a couple of months ago, but all the potential replacements are dumb versions of Netanyahu.

      The US defense structure is simply way behind the state of missiles with our reliance on planes and very much dependent on planes operating from sites outside the combat zone which is no longer the case. It’s very likely the US and Israel blew their loads at least in the short term. Hezbollah appeared to knock out an “iron dome” sight on Tuesday. Like Russia, Iran is a reasonable power and has been threatened more or less daily by top US electeds for over 23 years.

  2. The Rev Kev

    The picture is really fuzzy but I have the idea that this was not so much a proper attack as one to get the Iranians to reveal their defensive posture like the Israelis were forced to do a coupla days ago. Thing is, the Iranians gave a heads up so that the Israelis could clear their air space of civilian airliners. But here there was no such consideration and you had civilian airliners from several different countries in that airspace as the attack developed. I am sure that the Israelis were patting themselves on the back over the brilliance of using them as a screen for their attack on Iran. They have done this before a coupla times so probably the Iranians would not expect less of them.

    1. Cat Burglar

      I wonder if this attack is big enough to credibly be the real Israeli counterattack. As you suggest, it could be a decoy to reveal the Iranian air defenses. The triple tap worked on the World Kitchen aid workers — why not scale it up? Restraint is not typical of Israeli retribution. If I were in command of Iranian defenses, I would be watching very closely now.

    2. elkern

      The Drive/War Zone floated that idea (“stimulating Iran’s most critical air defenses and getting their up-to-date electronic order of battle prior to something larger”, though the next sentence downplays that theory (OTOH, it’s not clear whether they are doubting the whole theory or just the “something larger” part).

      IMO, the “probing the defenses” theory is very credible, as it [maybe] satisfies Israeli “need” to respond but would pass a US test of being gentle enough that Iran [maybe] won’t “need” to re-respond. Israel can feel good about gathering info about Iran’s defenses which could make subsequent attacks more effective; Iran can feel good about Israel actually de-escalating for a change; and USA (and everyone else on Earth) can breathe a sigh of relief that it didn’t turn into WWIII (yet…).

      OTOH, I’m not so sure that Israel won’t defy US arm-twisting and launch a more serious attack in the next few days.

    3. Willow

      Or a feint to get Iran to relax. Was surprised Israel doing this going into the sabbath rather than say Sunday. If not a feint, Israel has lost a lot of street cred in the Middle East – that can only abuse countries next door. Not sure how Biden administration ‘wins’ by letting Israel go for Rafah. Would have thought this just makes things worse on the Left & increases significantly risk of colour revolutions in Egypt & Jordan. Rafah also doesn’t give Israel anything other than a long grind which Hamas is currently winning.

  3. Dingleberry

    Ah, looks like Iran and Israel worked out some scenario to avoid all out war and claim victory by both sides.
    Good news, but not so good news on the upcoming humanitarian catastrophe.

    I think Scott wrong on Iran having escalation dominance. Israel has somewhere around 200-400 nukes after all.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Ritter disagrees.

      First, I have seen more like 90.

      Second, Iran has set itself up EXPLICITLY to be able to deliver a massive retaliatory strike after a nuclear attack. Israel is so small Iran can pulverize it with conventional weapons. Ritter contends that Iran is so large (more than 2X as big as Ukraine, the biggest country in Europe ex Russia) that Iran could survive a nuclear attack.

      Third, Israel cannot use nukes on Hezbollah, way too much risk of winds carrying fallout to Israel. So Israel cannot use nukes on some key Iran allies.

      1. Aurelien

        I have difficulty imagining how even the Israelis think they could use nuclear weapons against Hezbollah. Its defensive network in Southern Lebanon, so far as we know, is highly distributed: there’s little in the way of a central command structure that could be attacked. They very much merge with the local population. In any event, if we’re thinking of the region between the frontier and the Litani river, that area is home to about half the Shia population of Lebanon, with important Sunni and Maronite minorities. Oh, and there’s a UN force and a good part of the Lebanese Army there as well, not to mention Syria and Jordan on the other side of the frontier.

        For what it’s worth I’m inclined to interpret these attacks, if they were attacks, as a reconnaissance in force, to tickle the Iranian radars and to get a sense of how quickly and effectively the air defence system could respond. We’ve seen drones used for this purpose in Ukraine, and I suspect that was also one of the purposes of the recent Iranian raid.

        1. Willow

          Yep. And they’re cleaning up the flight paths across Syria & Iraq at the moment. F-35 may be stealthy but their refuellers aren’t.

          1. Polar Socialist

            About stealth… Chinese military reported a few days ago that they have succeeded in developing a novel method of using existing radar network that can locate even F-22 well enough for fire control purposes.

            A computer takes momentarily (microseconds, so the radars can perform their regular duty almost without hindrance) control over of a network three or more AESA radars and use very narrow (and powerful) beam from multiple angles to computationally enhance the received signal and pinpoint even very stealthy air frames.

            1. Willow

              Also apparently one of the trade-offs for stealth is that engines are more easily detected/tracked in infra-red. So the low-band radar only needs an approximate direction for heat-seeking missiles to find their target.

      2. Kalen

        I don’t know but I doubt that Israel is free to use nukes as it pleases. I think that US recognizes assured catastrophic global consequences of abandoning power of deterrence of nuclear MAD doctrine. But I have no proof. If deterrence was gone nukes would immediately enter practical tactical and strategic considerations. Use it or lose it proposition.

        Two horrific scenarios: Supposedly Israel could use one nuke to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. But what next. The existential threat to Israeli state would still be there from Iranian conventional weapons. I don’t see how in this scenario Netanyahu and his gang would benefit at all.

        If however Israel uses 100 nukes to really destroy Iranian regime, Iranian military, MIC base and economy as Netanyahu promised to do instantly killing millions world would be aware or would safely assume despite protestations that US was behind Israeli decision. What’s then? How China or Russia would react if her ally was obliterated by nukes. Would they assume that it was a nuclear blackmail attempt vs Taiwan or Ukraine a warning shot?

        What would stop US from using nukes watching Israel obliterated by Iran with conventional weapons which would take weeks or months? We know US can’t stop it with conventional weapons?

        If MAD horses are let loose what as of today political mechanism exists to stop them?.
        The failed UNSC?

        May be Sanity? Common sense? humanity? Self interest? survival instinct?

        Perhaps but so far I don’t see any evidence of that among Israeli, EU and US ruling elites indulged in their psychotic delusions of grandeur and apocalyptic beliefs inevitably leading to nuclear WWIII.

      3. Willow

        Tactical nukes have significantly lower fallout by design. Prevailing winds may make the risk/reward worth it.

        1. MFB

          I’m no nuclear engineer, but as I understand it tactical nukes are essentially fission weapons. That means they have more fallout, proportional to the size of the explosion, than strategic nukes which are thermonuclear (fusion reactions generate vast amounts of neutrons but no fission products). Moreover, tactical weapons detonate closer to the ground so they contaminate more vapourised material. So I think you may be mistaken.

      4. Jorge

        An Iranian friend claimed that one quarter of Iran’s population lives in extended metropolis Teheran. A
        linkable source does not match this at all!
        Tehran is the little blib in top center, just south of the southernmost end of the Black Sea.

        This is the oil distribution in Iran:

        Any western history of the Iran-Iraq War will cheerfully tell you that it was about “Saddam wanted to gain control of the Shatt al-Arab river”. This is obvious nonsense- most of Iran’s oil is right next to Iraq, and Arabs (non-Persians) live on top of it. Stealing Iran’s oil has always been The Big Prize. Some cheerful lies from Britannica:

      5. PhilHubb

        There is no proof that Israel has any nukes at all. When and where were they ever tested?

    2. The Rev Kev

      If a country uses a nuke against another country, then they have used a weapon of mass destruction. As such, the country that was attacked is entitled to return fire with a weapon of mass destruction themselves. As everybody outside DC knows that Iran does not have nukes, then that might possible mean the deployment of other weapons of mass destruction i.e. chemical and biological as delivered by missiles. Does Israel really want to eff around and find out? In addition, I read earlier that the Iranians claim to know where the Israeli nukes are stored so what happens if the Iranians hit those sites with missiles and spread radioactive particles from them both near and far? Israel is only a small country and can hardly afford to give up huge zones to radioactivity like was done at Chernobyl and Fukushima. So let’s just drop nuclear weapons as a possibility, OK?

        1. The Heretic

          Then thank God (or Whomever(s) you deem to be supreme) or thank the human biological need for self-preservation, but thus far all the big boys with Nukes have done their damndest never to bring themselves to shoot each other. Even this Russo-Uko business, the US and NATO still have limits on what they send to the Ukraine. I do not think that Biden, his anti-dementia doctors, and the Plutocracy that programs/controls him , want to die either, (life is too good for them, and Biden does not know what is going on anyways…)

          (There is the antics of La Petite Macron and a few of his more Senile generals, but they could be just the attack chihuahuas of the US deep state)

          Now to discuss this issue in good faith, there are a few batshit crazy religious, nationalist and/or ethnonatioanlist types who would accept world wide nuclear apocalypse for the ‘greater good of humanity’ (meaning their people), but they are still small and marginal for now (though to be fair, I do not know the number of either the hardline Christian Fundamentalist who have infiltrated into the US Air Force Senior Officer Ranks, or the number of I-love-Hillary-Liberal-USA #1-Deep state nihilists .. (Israel is small, so there can’t be more than a couple million Zion-Gotterdamrung types are there).

          Saner heads prevail… for now.

      1. Emma

        Iran has a fatwa against use of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, and nuclear, going back to the 1980s. I could see them reversing on defensive nuclear capabilities as a deterrence weapon but no way would they use chemical or biological weapons.

        They can make Israel unliveable by just striking all its power plants, ports, and water treatment facilities. They can also take down Western economies by blocking the Strait of Hormuz. If the Gulf Arab monarchs go against them, there won’t be any oil production or shipment capability for the foreseeable future. At that point, they’re basically in Yemen mode, except that they have a lot of advanced missiles and Russia/China will back them up along with 90 percent of the Arab World.

      2. Not Qualified to Comment

        Chemical and biological weapons don’t respect borders, and Hezbollah et al wouldn’t be impressed by being on the receiving end of them as well.

        If, as the Duran boys and others have speculated, Iran has shown the Israelies that they have unstoppable missiles, it wouldn’t need many to take out Israel’s power, water and other critical infrastructure and reduce it to the stone age.

        But with its nuclear arsenal Israel is the little paranoid, inadequate kid with a grandeous opinion of himself in the classroom armed with his dad’s gun.

    3. debi

      Yes, Ritter has it right. Tiny Israel is surrounded by hostile countries in all directions. Israel can’t nuke everyone and if they nuke Iran the retaliation by Iran against Israel will leave Israel defenseless. Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iraq, Egypt…they can just march in. Sea to sea and no radioactive fallout.

      1. britzklieg

        meh… Israel is the hostile country and has been since its establishment, one of the greatest “western” mistakes in history… and “mistake” is being generous.

        1. Kouros

          Depends on who you are talking to. Biden said that if Israel didnt exist, US would have to invent it creat it there….

    4. disillusionized

      My understanding is that, however many nukes Israel has, it regards those as a second strike option only. Even with a conventional strike, it’s clear that Iran can inflict unrecoverable damage to Israel – Iran wouldn’t have to win, it would only have to render Israel vulnerable to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syrian actions.
      This is especially the case if Israel has done something so stupid so as to invite this retaliation from Iran, and thus sunk even further in the eyes of the West.

      1. Emma

        Israel hasn’t even declared existence of their nukes, how can we actually know what their nuclear doctrine is supposed to be?

        1. Emma

          If real war breaks out directly with Iranians, the American presence are sitting ducks. The bases are in the open and too small to field real fighting forces. And there’s a limit to how much they can move the troops stationed in Italy and Germany due to Russia. The cavalry is two oceans or at least one ocean + all of the Mediterranean away.

          I think 2 of the 3 ships that were supposed to build the Gaza pier are still unable to move due to mechanical issues. I believe most of the US sea ship capability is currently trapped in Baltimore harbor behind the Key Bridge.

      2. begob

        A point I may have missed, but how does Iran plan to respond to any missile launched by Israel? Do they have to assume it’s carrying a nuke?

    5. Louis Fyne

      A reasonable guess is that Israeli nukes are rather small, not the hyped multi-megaton, city-killer warheads that the US and USSR tested in the Cold War.

      Even with 200 50 to 100-kiloton warheads fired at Iran, Iran would have enough conventional capabilities to “liberate” Palestine and render Israel electricity-less for years.

      And of course Israel (if it still existed in its constitutional form) would be a pariah state for decades.

      1. Polar Socialist

        What I’m wondering is how Israel could afford that many nuclear warheads since it’s running an army the same size to that of France, but with half the military budget. It’s not like you can just stack them on to a shed somewhere – France uses annually over $6 billion on the 300 warheads it has.

        1. MFB

          I would guess that the US sponsors the Israeli nuclear programme, since it is in their interest to make Israel militarily invulnerable.

          Nuclear weapons don’t deteriorate; plutonium has a half-life of 60 000 years or so, and uranium 235 is basically eternal. So, yes, you can stick them in a shed somewhere — the missileers called them “silos” but they were basically underground concrete sheds.

          The Israelis have been making nukes since the 1960s; they got the Dimona reactor in about 1963. They probably have quite a lot by now
          By the way, I suspect that France is not spending all that money on warheads, but on maintaining its strategic force. Nuclear submarines are not cheap to operate or maintain. The Israelis just have to keep their land-based Jericho missiles functioning. That’s not very pricy, since the Jericho is basically 1950s technology.

    6. Bugs

      Israeli nuke strategy allows for preemptive use and they have no qualms about violating international law. An attack on a non belligerent country, to ignite a larger war and force the Americans to intervene, is not out of the question.

      1. Bsn

        And….. not only the Americans. The radioactive cloud would head east, especially south east over India then soon over the Himalaya into China and SE Asia. I think they might get a little pissed off.
        Here’s a great map showing wind directions in South Asia.

      2. vidimi

        exactly. I think Israel is by far the most likely to use nukes in a first strike. The US wouldn’t think twice either, but the Israelis seem more eschatological.

    7. NotThePilot

      So I’m going to push back against this a bit and go back further than the other comments. I do not know anything for sure and do not have any inside info, just inferences put together from public, mainstream sources. Or at least they used to be, might be memory-holed now.

      And I would simply ask this: why assume Iran doesn’t also already have a minimal force de frappe? Yes, all signs are the Iranian government always has and probably still prefers the latent capability option. Yes, every year they have warheads locked and loaded, the risk rises that neighbors will get nervous and rush for their own. And yes, there’s Khamenei’s fatwa against nukes, which is almost definitely sincere.

      But fatwas are ultimately just Islamic judicial rulings and as situational as anything else in Islam. One weakness of a latent nuclear capability is that it presumes adversaries that aren’t mentally decompensating (while even paranoiacs understand a brandished weapon). Some of the diplomatic moves among other Islamic countries since 2020, and also Iran’s security coordination with Russia (seemingly even tighter than with China now), make sense if Iran has privately extended a limited nuclear umbrella to much of the Islamic world, probably with promises to rewind to a latent capability once the US / Israel are somehow tamed.

      1. Who Cares

        Just one problem with what you wrote.
        Iran has no nukes.

        If Israel keeps up their games to start a wider war in the hopes of drawing in the US that will change.

        1. NotThePilot

          Just one problem with what you wrote.
          Iran has no nukes.

          Ah, that’s the thing. Crazy and contrarian as it sounds, I personally wonder if they already do. Though again, I’m just trying to connect the dots between random things I’ve heard from Arab friends and noticed in the news past few years. But a lot suddenly adds up if they do. I think I can say that much since I’m just an internet rando that tries to read between the lines; you can always brush it off as a spicy take / conspiracy theory.

          It seems to be taken for granted that they don’t, but it’s also in all the major players’ interest to keep up that pretense: Iran, its neighbors, enemies & allies, Trump & Biden, Western governments & media, even the IAEA. At least for now, like you said. Only if I’m right, they’re already past the “establish nuclear deterrence” stage and on the threshold of “make it public knowledge,” which also has its own huge strategic implications.

          Now, everyone’s right that Iran has some pretty potent conventional deterrence, at least vis-a-vis the saner part of the Israeli government. And I suspect where Iran would sincerely prefer to be long-term is a latent power, with no nukes but up to 60% enrichment (for naval reactors). Between Israel and the US acting out collective psychoses though, Iran may have decided a latent deterrent wasn’t visceral enough to sober everyone up.

    8. Joe Well

      Someone on Twitter noted that Iran does have a nuclear deterrent against Israel: they could target a nuclear power plant with conventional weapons and Israel is small enough that a huge percentage of the population would be affected.

      1. Belle

        Actually, Dimona is out in the Negev, and far away from urban centers. Eliat may get cut off, but that may be about it.

  4. timbers

    Max Blumenthal said on Napolitano’s show that discissions amongst Israeli generals and leadership on Iran’s relatiation was so panicked at times that if the general population heard it there would a mass exidios in Israel.

      1. timbers

        Not sure but he seems to have lots of contacts in Israel and Palestine. But valid point take for what it’s worth. Yet still, it’s already occurred to lightweights like me that if Israel loses it perceived invincible bubble, some are going to leave. Just looking at Israel on a map it screams vulnerable.

  5. HH

    There is an historic parallel between the Armenia/Azerbaijan and Israel/Iran conflicts. In each case, early victories and overconfidence led the once dominant party to ignore the trends that would result in the tables turning. Israel is approaching its Suez moment, but the combination of nuclear weapons and religious fanatics in its government may result in the complete destruction of the Zionist project, with massive collateral damage.

  6. ChrisFromGA

    What a strange time we live in. Fake, choreographed wars? Is the goal here to save “markets?”

    The notion of trading a serious escalation by Israel for continuing the genocide is sickening. I hope a special place in Hell is reserved for the actors responsible for that.

    1. Mikel

      And it’s ultimately only a pause in the escalation until another time AND the genocide continues.

      1. Polar Socialist

        If it’s any consolation (basically grasping at straws trying to find some positives) the Belgian deputy PM Petra de Sutter X’d today:

        Decided: Belgium will take the lead at the EU level to re-evaluate our Association Agreement with Israel.

        We will co-sponsor a UN resolution in favour of full Palestinian UN membership.

        And we call for an EU-wide import duty on products coming from illegal Israeli settlements.

        One could be lured to hope that the European “leaders” are starting to recall those values they boast at every turn.

    2. Alice X

      ~I hope a special place in Hell is reserved for the actors responsible for that.

      I tend to think that’s where they are operating from presently.

    3. Duke of Prunes

      Always trying to find a bright side in this horrible situation, but perhaps the story about not attacking Iran so they can attack Gaza is just red meat to keep the rabid fundis occupied for a time. Time will tell.

      Fake wars seem like something that can easily get away from you so I guess that goes along with the stupidest timeline ever.

    4. Neutrino

      Which side has a stronger cultural need to have the last word?
      Such words, no matter how blustery, see Amalekites, or even fanciful, have fueled strong memories and subsequent conflicts throughout history.

  7. Tony Gaggiotti

    Based on past behavior, Israel will continue to do whatever it wants. The cycle of tit-for-tat proceeds just as game theory predicts, with its remorseless logic.

    It hardly matters whether Netanyahu or Gantz (or someone else) is PM. Or for that matter whether it’s Biden or Trump in the White House. There will be no two-state solution, and there will always be a uniparty in Washington DC.

      1. playon

        They definitely wouldn’t be able to do whatever they want without US support, and I doubt that support end any time soon.

  8. Gregory Etchason

    The simple difference in land mass between Iran and Israel is key. Iran put a big dent in the Iron Dome last week through attrition. Iran can and will likely next turn out the lights in Israel. Turning out the lights in Iran is beyond Israel’s capability. My bet is Tel Aviv night life will soon crash.
    Another overlooked dilemma for Netanyahu is the 1 million displaced Israeli’s from northern Israel,
    cooped up in temporary quarters in southeastern Israel. No sign they’ll return to their homes anytime soon. Most Israeli citizens have automatic visas to UK and France. My bet is another Jewish Exodus. This time out of the Holy Land.

    1. gk

      Most Israeli citizens have automatic visas to UK and France.

      Not to mention Russia (though in all cases only for a few months). I know some Israelis who moved to Europe for the duration of the war only to return due to antisemitism (no idea if the real thing or merely the the IHRA “working” definition) so this might limit the speed of the exodus.

    2. Alice X

      ~1 million displaced Israeli’s from northern Israel

      Err… 100,000 displaced.

      That is still something.

  9. JW

    Its rumored that the drones did not fly from Israel but from northern Iraq. Which would give Iran good reason to ignore and so for the time being the threat of regional conflict abates.

    1. digi_owl

      I guess drones being radio silent means there can’t be any Russian speaking North Koreans this time round.

    2. Lefty Godot

      Israel has assets within Iran that have conducted sabotage and assassinations previously, so there is a chance the drones were launched by some of them. And in Iraq there are “our terrorists”, MEK, who are undoubtedly willing, like ISIS, to do side jobs for Israel for the right quid pro quo.

  10. SteveFromNJ

    If it’s true that Biden gave the green light for a Rafah invasion in exchange for a limited Israeli response then there is a good chance Netanyahu will go ahead with the invasion and then retaliate against Iran later. On Glenn Greenwald’s show, Norman Finkelstein seemed very certain that once Israel decides it wants a war it keeps escalating until it gets one.

  11. HH

    A core rationale for Zionism was creating a safe haven for Jews. The implicit assumption that Jews are an eternally oppressed people was always a repudiation of the Enlightenment principle of religious tolerance on which the U.S. was founded. This tolerance enabled the assimilation and prosperity of American Jews. If a theocratic Israel is no longer safe, the Zionist project fails. If American Jews remain free and prosperous, the principles of the Enlightenment are sustained. I don’t think Zionism will prevail.

    From Washington’s 1790 letter to the Truro, R.I. synagogue:

    The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

    It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    1. vidimi

      Paradoxically, Israel has unfortunately made another holocaust (of Israeli Jews) inevitable. They went all in on the Kahanist policy of being hated and feared that there is no way back.

      What happens when they remain hated but no longer feared? Their aura of invincibility has already been shattered twice in the last 6 months, but most of the fear they inspire in the surrounding populations is actually a fear of the US, who they know will do anything and everything for Israel. But the US risks suffering a major defeat itself, and the more conflicts it foments the harder it will fall. If the US gets involved with China and China sends the entire US Pacific fleet to the bottom of the ocean, it is goodbye for Israel.

      1. Valerie in Australia

        This can’t happen soon enough for a lot of people watching this unnecessary conflict unfold. I have never been a huge fan of Iran since Mosaddegh was ousted, but I must say that I have been duly impressed by the Iranian government’s patient and wise behaviour in all of this. Israel is behaving like a spoiled child while Iran is behaving like an exasperated parent who understands the long term consequences of acting rashly.

      2. MFB

        Oderint dum metuant.

        Unfortunately, everybody is hating the Zionists more and more and fearing them less.

        Not a good pattern.

    2. Kouros

      Israelis have a very predictable pattern:
      – bloodthirsty bronze age barbarians with animal sacrifices to their god when sovereign;
      – meek and “let’s all be friends” and “”the Golden Rule” when among others.

  12. Tom Stone

    I do not believe that assuming the people in DC or Israel are rational actors is realistic.
    As time goes by i am increasingly of the opinion that brain damage caused by Covid is having an effect on the decisions being made by our reptilian overlords.
    IMO the odds of Nukes being used in the ME in the next 6 Months and the odds of the US Election being cancelled are equal, at 50%.

    1. Es s Ce Tera

      I don’t think it’s COVID. Look at Obama’s former National Security Advisor Stuart Seldowitz and his harassment of food stand vendors with his racist diatribes. We should assume such beliefs were normal within the White House. Look at all the presidential convos we’ve heard years after they were security downgraded and publicized – e.g. Nixon and Reagan calling Africans monkeys who don’t wear shoes.

      The White House is likely less progressive than American civil society. I imagine the convos are on a par with local white supremacist groups meeting behind the scenes in restaurants and hotels across the nation.

  13. chris

    Has anyone seen analysis or examples of thinking showing what might happen if Iran and others exercise their own agency in this matter? I keep hearing things from the perspective of what Israel will do, or what the US will allow, but no one seems to be talking about the possibility that Iran/Russia/China decide to do something in their own interests without communicating that to the US and its proxies.

    How long can we push things assuming that we are the main actors here? I’m concerned we’re about to find out.

  14. Lefty Godot

    The first reports I was seeing last night said Israel also bombed sites in Syria and Iraq as part of this counter-retaliation. Has that part of the story fallen by the wayside? Has Israel ever attacked Iraq since 9/11? It seems like that in itself would be a big escalation, if it were true.

  15. JustTheFacts

    I saw a claim on Twitter that a ballistic missile booster of Israeli origin was found in Iraq.

    If this was truly an Israeli attack, it might have been a test to suss out where the Iranian defenses are. Hopefully Israel’s made its point, but if it was a test, then it’s not over.

  16. Chris Cosmos

    I think we need to give kudos to US, Iranian, and Israeli leadership some kudos for avoiding major war here. The whole tit-for-tat game was engineered by diplomats. I’m sure there was pressure from Russia/China and maybe more actors. One of the main reasons I always doubted the possibility of a US strike on Iran was that Wall Street/City of London would simply not allow such a thing because it would hurt business. I know they have veto-power on all US policy and are, therefore, the authorities that keep the world from falling into destruction. The Israeli lobby is a subset of the finance oligarchs many of whom are Zionists–but not irrational Zionists like most Israelis seem to be at this time. The question before these oligarchs is whether or not they will approve a “final solution” to Palestine which the Zionists all want. I think the Israelis will fail in all their efforts as politicians in the West are gradually drawing away from that agenda. BTW, the Clinton administration is directly responsible for this situation in its deliberate scuttling of the Oslo process.

    1. jonboinAR

      It’s hard to give the Israeli leadership a great deal of level-headedness credit when they began the whole tit-for-tat business by attacking Iran’s embassy, killing several ranking officials. I believe that the term “level headed” would imply holding to the standard that’s been applied by both sides pretty consistently in even the most chaotic or destructive wars for the past several centuries: the embassies of the enemy are strictly off limits. Is Israel’s sovereign leadership not unique in having wantonly violated that until-now sacred standard? I’m not sure, but it’s close. It’s hard to assign them great level-headedness credit in this situation. Yes, I’m surely thankful they haven’t initiated WW3, yet.

    2. Alan Roxdale

      The Israeli government is openly trying to provoke a war with Iran and drag the US into it. The embassy bombing was the most direct escalation yet. I see no evidence that the Israeli government has changed their minds about this,

  17. John Anthony La Pietra

    Why does this discussion suddenly remind me of Herbert Gold’s very dark vomedy SF short story “The Day They Got Boston”? (Check to see if your library has one of the collections it’s in, such as 17 X Infinity. It’s got other nastily relevant stories in it too. . . .)

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      (No, that wasn’t a deliberate but obscure reference or pun. Just a hasty typo for “comedy”. Sorry.)

      1. bertl

        “Vomedy” is an excellent descriptor of the US’s and the broader West’s wreckage which passes for foreign policy nowadays. Maybe drowning in your own puke while laughing at the idea that Biden, van der Loony, Ratty, Macroni, Herr Schlock, et al, pretend to govern the world is the only sensible response to the reality this group of bums, stiffs and deadlegs have created.

    2. MFB

      Very timely.

      “Gallant little Finland, which had been destroyed by mistake, also got our sympathy and a couple of quilts.”

  18. Willow

    Given what’s going down in Iraq at the moment, seems both Israel & US are preparing ground work for a major assault on Iran by taking out risks along potential flight paths.

    1. jan

      But, as people keep mentioning, look at how succesful USA & Co are against Yemen.
      Why would Iran go any better?

  19. Valerie in Australia

    I can’t believe the U.S. would be so cavalier about allowing Israel carte blanch to go after Rafah. If this is true, it is reprehensible.

    1. Valérie Swales

      I recommend William Blum’s ‘Rogue State’. There’s also his earlier ‘Killing Hope’. No need for belief or even wild imagination after reading these two, especially in the current context, the former.

  20. Pat

    I’m going to disagree with another widely held assumption (I also think Iran probably has nuclear weapons). But another one that upends all calculations if wrong is the one that has America’s support of Israel to be bottomless. I don’t believe it is, and not just because of how desperately TPTB are scrambling to quash anti genocide/pro Palestinian protests.
    Ukraine and other things have ripped back the curtain on how empty our massively expensive military capabilities are, between problems with the weaponry beyond limited conditions, we also have the long lead time on armament production, and the inability to meet recruitment levels. Then there is an increasingly divided population, with most of the citizens not very happy. This raises two questions.
    1. How long could we supply Israel with weapons before we run out, and even if we ramp up production today could we have enough for continuous defense of Israel without leaving them without armaments for months, even years. And how do we pay for it even if we can.
    2. Can America provide ground troops and ground support for all out war in the Middle East? Will Americans not only forgo all social services as the budget becomes a war budget, but enlist to defend Israel? Right now they aren’t enlisting, I don’t see that changing for this. Call me wild and crazy, I even expect the Armageddon Evangelistic Christians to rebel (they are supposed to be taken away from the wars and plagues, not to have to fight them.)

    It is all fun and games until it gets real. And unless Israel can pull off a faux Iranian 9/11 level terrorist attack in America, I don’t see Americans willing to tighten their belts and sacrifice their children for Israel, no matter how powerful their political lobby is and how much propaganda the media runs.

  21. Paul Art

    I watched an interesting but chilling analysis of the situation by Finkelstein on Glen Greenwald’s show a couple days back. He says that the Israeli’s are basically lunatics – they are espousing the ‘mad man’ theory but are forgetting the part about pretending to be mad and actually going insane and believing their own propaganda ergo the huge level of risk. He backs this up by quoting a lot of history going back to their 1956 war where they kept goading Abdel Nasser until the war broke out. They repeated the same strategy of not observing the cease fire on the PLO in Lebanon in 1982 and kept bombing them until war broke out. He says they are being true to form right now in their goading of Iran. He says they are confident of dragging the US into a war with Iran and there is not much hope that America will be able to keep out of it due to the Jewish lobby here. It is hard to disagree with his trenchant analysis. My personal take on this is that America has no future unless and until it rids itself of the Lobby. I find myself personally enraged, almost apoplectic at how a foreign nation’s dual citizens in the US are totally subverting the wishes of a huge majority of the population. I am pretty sure there are many like me – average bystanders consuming news in the alternative media and getting to a boiling point about the dual citizens – especially the ones who spend the most in our elections to completely neuter the politicians.

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