Sunday, February 26, 2012

Key Lesson of 1967 and the Looming Iran War

45 Years After its Astonishing Six-Day War Victory,
Israel Could Feel Compelled to Strike Iran Alone,
and Aim to Neutralize Nuclear and Missile Threats

There is increasing speculation that Israel will attack Iran to eliminate its menacing nuclear project--possibly in June--and that Saudi Arabia will support the assault. Click here for the report.

Reading it, this reporter is struck by a coincidence: June 5, 2012 will mark the 45th anniversary of the Six-Day War. Israel's remarkable victory in that conflict could well be guiding the Jewish State's military and political leaders more than the 1981 Israeli air raid that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor and the presumed 2007 Israeli attack that obliterated a secret Syrian nuclear site.

In 1967, encircled by enemies that were mobilizing for an all-out war of annihilation, and feeling abandoned and alone, Israel launched a series of lightning-like, preemptive strikes that assured it of a stunning victory. The critically important initial move was a surprise attack on Egyptian airfields that destroyed virtually the entire Egyptian Air Force--on the ground.

Four-and-a-half decades later, Iran is defiantly pressing ahead on the atomic front while threatening to eradicate Israel (after musing openly about "a world without America and Zionism"). The United States, Israel's main ally, is reportedly pressuring Israel to refrain from attacking Iran. If Israel decides to go ahead on its own, it will have to use all its U.S.-made fighter jets, plus precision-guided bombs, cruise missiles and air-to-ground missiles to take out numerous hardened installations.

Even if the mission is successful--Israeli planes will have to fly over 1,000 miles to reach their targets--Iran will still be able to retaliate with massive missile strikes on Israeli cities. There is every reason to believe that Iran will try to make good on repeated threats to "burn Tel Aviv" and wipe Israel out in "nine minutes."

Which brings us back to the Six-Day War. Just as Israel in 1967 destroyed Egypt's Air Force before its bombers could attack Israeli troops and civilians, Israel's initial moves in a war with Iran could be aimed at neutralizing or at least minimizing the mullahocracy's capacity to carry out crushing reprisals. Israel has the weaponry--and the political will--to do this.

Remember: the Iranian nuclear threat is a future, albeit increasingly imminent, existential threat to Israel; but the Iranian/Hezbollah/Hamas missile threat is a present-day existential threat, given that perhaps as many as 200,000 rockets and ballistic missiles are believed to be pointed at and capable of striking the tiny Jewish State.

ENDNOTE: Israeli leaders are guided, too, by what happened in October 1973--i.e. the nearly catastrophic Yom Kippur War--specifically, by the intelligence and political failures that prevented preemptive strikes by Israel and made possible coordinated sneak attacks by Egypt and Syria that almost resulted in Israel's destruction. Iranian threats to attack Israel (and the U.S.) first are not taken lightly in Israel.

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