Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mother of All Conclusions: "Israel's capacity & will to attack Iran independently has been significantly reduced!"

Oxford Analytica; Excerpts;
Israel's Iran strategy caught in wider security debate Impact
  • Barring a major development that would alter the situation in Iran, it is highly doubtful that Israel will attack Iran this year.
  • Long-festering disputes between the Israeli security and the political echelons over security doctrines are now coming out into the open.... 
... Iran review Last month, the former head of the Mossad, Major General Meir Dagan said that "it would be a stupid mistake" for Israel to attack Iran, except as a last resort. Dagan's major fear is that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may decide to attack Iran precipitously. Dagan's comments and these recent defensive measures are the direct product of a recent reassessment of Iranian intentions. It concluded that Iran is not making a headlong dash to acquire nuclear weapons, but is also engaged in no less intensive an effort to disperse, harden and hide its nuclear production infrastructure. As a result, it was unlikely that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons for at least 3-5 years. The study concluded that Israel should use the breathing space to achieve another strategic objective -- strengthening its international diplomatic position, currently at one of its lowest ebbs. Doctrine reassessment That study has also provided additional momentum to the process of re-evaluating Israel's security doctrine that has been underway for many years within the security establishment:
  • Israel's initial security doctrine was based on the assumption that, as a tiny country, Israel cannot afford a defensive posture, nor a prolonged war. Instead, defence spending should be directed almost solely at creating an offensive deterrent force that is capable of rapidly defeating an open-field offensive by massed armies invading on three fronts. Thus, for decades, almost all the country's military preparations were based on creating a technologically-superior and better-trained offensive force.
  • That policy proved its worth until the intifada broke out in 1987, when IDF ground forces, against the army's will, were forced to create new units specifically charged with fighting individuals and small groups of militants in an urban setting.
_  The 2006 war in Lebanon pointed up the fact that because of the effort put into urban warfare, technology and the air force, the training and equipping of the ground forces for open-field operations had been neglected. Moreover, neither air nor technological superiority had been able to deliver victory against Hizbollah or to protect the country's heartland from Hizbollah's massed rocket attacks. Since then, senior officers have argued that the army has now been given too many differing assignments, each of which is competing for funding and training time. Nonetheless, pressures continue to build to expand the army's mandate:
  • The public has demanded greater protection for border villages that have come under rocket fire from Gaza.
  • The army was forced to double its spending on crowd-control training and equipment in the wake of the recent incursions into Israel by protesters on the Golan Heights.
Iran nuclear debate A turning point in the debate came when the previous, populist Defence Minister Amir Peretz, despite all the protests of the military, ordered the army both to build reinforced protective rooms in the border villages and to proceed with the development of the Iron Dome system. Increased spending on purely defensive measures became a matter of policy for the first time_  Many in the military hoped that Iron Dome, which is the equivalent of trying to destroy a bullet in flight by firing another bullet, would fail. Its success in intercepting Grad rockets fired from Gaza earlier this year has brought the debate on Israel's future strategic posture to a head. It has pitted all the country' most senior intelligence chiefs against Netanyahu. The intelligence chiefs, including just-retired IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (but not some other senior field officers) have argued that:
  • Iran's nuclear facilities are now so dispersed and well-hardened that the Israeli Air Force will be unable to destroy them all in one offensive blow.
  • An Israeli surprise attack will only be able to set back the Iranian nuclear programme by a few years -- not destroy it.
  • Hizbollah now has 50,000 rockets, which are also dispersed in hundreds of sites, which Hizbollah could use to pummel the Israeli heartland on behalf of Iran.
  • Any Israeli assault could create a regional conflagration.
Therefore, the only real alternatives at the present moment are continued covert actions and a greater diplomatic effect to enforce economic sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu's aides counter-argue that:
  • the country will never be able to afford full protection against thousands of rockets because the cost would be too high; and Israel needs a credible offensive posture, both as a means of cajoling other countries to step up sanctions on Iran out of fear that Israel will attack, and as a last resort if Tehran is nonetheless on the cusp of acquiring a nuclear weapon.

No comments: