What to do with Iran?
We must coordinate independent strike with US, prepare for Iranian response
Israel is facing one of the most critical periods in its history in security and strategic terms. The stock market is booming, yet this isn't the first time where we encounter irrational euphoria. At the same time, by acting soberly and with determination we'll be able to handle the challenge we're facing. In order to undertake a comprehensive security assessment we must take the situation in the various theaters into account.
In Lebanon, Security Council Resolution 1701 is not being implemented. Hizbullah continues to operate south of the Litani, restores the "nature reserves" that were damaged in the war, and establishes new "nature reserves." A "nature reserve" is a compound of hidden fortifications within a wadi that dominates access roads to the "reserve" and contains bunkers, arms and supplies warehouses, residences, and firing positions, including some used to launch Katyusha rockets. Such reserve is a huge compound that allows forces to be there for a long time.
The UN and Lebanese Army do not enter those nature reserves and do no disarm Hizbullah. In fact, Hizbullah limits the movement of Lebanese and UN forces, which choose to comply.
If we need to operate in Lebanon again we'll be facing a real problem vis-à-vis the UN forces. On the one hand, we won't be able to hurt them, yet on the other hand there's a risk our soldiers will be hurt by them, as these forces are armed like a standing army. The presence of aerial defense systems in the hands of the UN may even limit our Air Force's freedom to operate above south Lebanon.
On the political front, Iran and Syria are working to topple Siniora's government in Lebanon. This government may serve as a moderating element and cares about the damages causes to Lebanon during the war.
On the eastern front, the Americans are on their way out of Iraq and Syria is gaining confidence in the face of our failure in Lebanon (the way they view it.) Sooner or later, the eastern front may be revived. We must prepare for this by quickly training the army for a classic war involving large scale ground warfare.
Bush lacks political power to hit Iran
And finally, Iran will continue to pursue its nuclear program while the world continues to "babble." If American and European actions continue in the current pace and quality, there will be no change in the Iranian nuclearization path. Instead of allotting several months for diplomatic activity and preparing for a military strike on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, the world continues to talk nonsense and play with illusions regarding the success of moderating diplomatic moves.
President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.
We must turn to Hillary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they publicly support immediate action by Bush against Iran. We should also approach European countries so that they support American actions in Iran, so that Bush will not be isolated in the international arena again.
We must clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran. For our part, we must prepare an independent military strike by coordinating flights in Iraqi airspace with the US. We should also coordinate with Azerbaijan the use of airbases in its territory and also enlist the support of the Azeri minority in Iran. In addition, we must immediately start preparing for an Iranian response to an attack.
The Americans must act. Yet if they don't, we'll do it ourselves, because there are no free rides and our existence isn't guaranteed. Addressing Iran would have positive implications for us in terms of the strategic balance in our region and when it comes to Hizbullah, stability in Lebanon, and Syria's power.
The situation assessment I provided is difficult. At the same time, if we act in the face of these challenges soberly and without illusions such as the imaginary peace-with-Syria ideas, we'll be able to win and bring about comprehensive peace. Peace is pursued from a position of power and is maintained through the backing of power. Peace cannot be pursued when your enemy feels it defeated you.
Brigadier General (Res.) Oded Tira is the former IDF chief artillery officer