‘Weak’ Iran ripe to be attacked

By Gareth Porter | War In Iraq, July 2, 2008

WASHINGTON – New arguments by analysts close to Israeli thinking in favor of United States strikes against Iran cite evidence of Iranian military weakness in relation to the US and Israel, and even raise doubts that Iran is rushing to obtain such weapons at all.

The new arguments contradict Israel’s official argument that it faces an “existential threat” from an Islamic extremist Iranian regime determined to get nuclear weapons. They suggest that Israel, which already has as many as 200 nuclear weapons, views Iran from the position of the dominant power in the region rather than as the weaker state in the relationship.

The existence of a sharp imbalance of power in favor of Israel and the United States is the main premise of a recent analysis by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) suggesting that a US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is feasible. Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center on Science and International Affairs, has also urged war against Iran on such a power imbalance.

All three have close ties to the Israeli government. WINEP has long promoted policies favored by Israel, and its founding director, Martin Indyk, was previously research director of the leading pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Freilich is a former Israeli deputy national security adviser.

These analysts, all of whom are pushing for a US, rather than an Israeli attack, argue that Iran’s power to retaliate for a US attack on its nuclear facilities is quite limited. Equally significant, they also emphasize that Iran is a rational actor that would have to count the high costs of retaliation. That conclusion stands in sharp contrast to the official Israeli line that Iran cannot be deterred because of its alleged apocalyptic Islamic viewpoint on war with Israel.

Continued . . .

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