Preparing to bomb Iran? 6

What was the Israeli Air Force doing in Romania when one if its helicopters crashed on July 26, killing six of its airmen?

The crash itself is distressing, but the answer to the question is good news: the IAF was rehearsing for an attack on Iranian nuclear sites.

This report comes from DebkaFile:

The Israeli Air Force had been drilling high-risk attacks on precipitous cliff caves similar to the mountain tunnels in which Iran has hidden nuclear facilities. The crash occurred in the last stage of a joint Israeli-US-Romanian exercise for simulating an attack on Iran. Aboard the helicopter were six Israeli airmen and a Romanian flight captain. …

Iran has given up on adequate air and missile defense shields for its nuclear sites and in the last couple of years has been blasting deep tunnels beneath mountain peaks more than 2,000 meters high for housing nuclear facilities. There, they were thought by Tehran to be safe from air or missile attack.

The American and Israeli air forces have since been developing tactics for evading Iranian radar and flying at extremely low-altitudes through narrow mountain passes so as to reach the tunnel entrances for attacks on the nuclear equipment undetected. The drill in Romania took place at roughly the same altitude and in similar terrain that a US or Israeli air attack would expect to encounter in Iran.

For such strikes, special missiles would be used that are capable of flying the length of a tunnel, however twisty, and detonating only when its warhead identifies and contacts its target.

The entire maneuver is extremely hazardous. The pilots must be exceptionally skilled, capable of split-second timing in rising from low-altitudes to points opposite the high tunnel entrances without crashing into the surrounding mountain walls.

The Israeli helicopter is reported to have flown into a cloud patch hanging over its simulated target and crashed into a steep mountainside, while the second helicopter flying in the formation avoided the cloud and continued without incident. Israeli and American Air Force pilots are instructed, when encountering cloud cover of the target, to go around it. At all times, they must have eye contact with their target.

The accident revealed to military observers that the Israeli Air Force is practicing long-distance flights not only by bombers, but also heavy helicopters, such as the “Yasour” CH-53, which would require in-flight refueling. These practice flights have been taking place in cooperation with Greece and Bulgaria as well as Romania, whose distance from Israel of 1,600 kilometers approximates that of Iran. American air bases in Romania and Bulgaria participate in the drills.

Good to know, but the information that the US is participating in the exercise, and the fact that it is being reported – albeit through news of a disaster – makes us wonder if the point of publishing it is to frighten Ahmadinejad and the mullahs rather than actually prepare for a strike. Is it really likely, we wonder, that Obama has decided to take military action against Iran?

Charles Krauthammer seems to think it possible and even probable. The administration, he says, is “hardening its line”. And he sees a growth of determination among Western states and Arab states to stop Iran forcibly from becoming a nuclear power.

He gives these reasons in his column in Investor’s Business Daily:

Passage of weak U.N. sanctions was followed by unilateral sanctions by the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union. Already … Iran is experiencing a sharp drop in gasoline imports as Lloyd’s of London refuses to insure the ships delivering them.

Second, the Arab states are no longer just whispering their desire for the U.S. to militarily take out Iranian nuclear facilities. The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington said so openly at a conference three weeks ago.

The UAE ambassador[‘s] … publicly expressed desire for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities speaks for the intense Arab fear approaching panic, of Iran’s nuclear program and the urgent hope that the U.S. will take it out.

It is true that the UAE ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, was heard to be pleading or at least arguing for military action by “an outside force”, but his government hastily denied that he meant it. There was no denial, however, that his country regards Iran’s nuclear program as a grave and imminent threat.

There is also a rumour, not mentioned today by Krauthammer, that Saudi Arabia would be willing to look the other way while Israeli planes flew through its airspace on a mission to bomb Iranian nuclear installations.

But what of American participation in such a raid? Krauthammer goes on to say:

Third, and perhaps even more troubling from Tehran’s point of view, are developments in the U.S. Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden suggested last Sunday that over time, in his view, a military strike is looking increasingly favorable compared with the alternatives. Hayden is no Obama insider, but Time reports (“An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table,” July 15) that high administration officials are once again considering the military option.

Here is part of what Time had to say:

[Secretary of Defense] Gates … told Fox News on June 20. “We do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons.” In fact, Gates was reflecting a new reality [sic – shouldn’t it be “realism”?] in the military and intelligence communities. Diplomacy and economic pressure remain the preferred means to force Iran to negotiate a nuclear deal, but there isn’t much hope that’s going to happen. “Will [sanctions] deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability?” CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC News on June 27. “Probably not.” So the military option is very much back on the table. …

Intelligence sources say that the U.S. Army’s Central Command, which is in charge of organizing military operations in the Middle East, has made some real progress in planning targeted air strikes — aided, in large part, by the vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region. “There really wasn’t a military option a year ago,” an Israeli military source told me. “But they’ve gotten serious about the planning, and the option is real now.” Israel has been brought into the planning process … because U.S. officials are frightened by the possibility that the right-wing Netanyahu government might go rogue and try to whack the Iranians on its own.

There’s a lefty explanation! If whacking the Iranians is now considered a good thing to do, why would it be bad, or “going rogue”, for the Israelis to do it? Note the insistent mention that Netanyahu’s government is “right-wing”. Right-wings are, of course, on the edge of roguery at all times in the assumptions of the left.

One other factor has brought the military option to a low boil: Iran’s Sunni neighbors really want the U.S. to do it. When United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said on July 6 that he favored a military strike against Iran despite the economic and military consequences to his country, he was reflecting an increasingly adamant attitude in the region. Senior American officials who travel to the Gulf frequently say the Saudis, in particular, raise the issue with surprising ardor. Everyone from the Turks to the Egyptians to the Jordanians are threatening to go nuclear if Iran does. That is seen as a real problem in the most volatile region in the world: What happens, for example, if Saudi Arabia gets a bomb, and the deathless monarchy there is overthrown by Islamist radicals?

Message to Time: The “deathless monarchy” IS radically Islamist. The Saudis are, however, Sunni radicals who fear the hegemony of Iranian Shia radicals. So their ardor is not really surprising at all.

For the moment, the White House remains as skeptical as ever about a military strike.

Ah, we thought so!

Most senior military leaders also believe … a targeted attack on Iran would be “disastrous on a number of levels.” It would unify the Iranian people against the latest in a long series of foreign interventions. It would also unify much of the world — including countries like Russia and China that we’ve worked hard to cultivate — against a recowboyfied US. [There’s a coinage for you!- JB].  There would certainly [?] be an Iranian reaction — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, by Lebanese Hizballah against Israel and by the Hizballah network against the U.S. and Saudi homelands. A catastrophic regional war is not impossible.

Of course, it is also possible that this low-key saber-rattling is simply a message the U.S. is trying to send the Iranians: it’s time to deal. … But it is also possible that the saber-rattling is not a bluff, that the U.S. really won’t tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to do something awful to stop it.

So our question remains: is it likely that Obama will even consider the bombing of Iran?

We hope with ardor that Iran’s nuclear capability is knocked out soon by military force. It would be best of course if the US and Israel acted together. But if the US under Obama’s weak leadership holds back, may Israel strike alone – soon, and to devastating effect.

  • Brian

    I am for Becker.
    The best and only way to tame / contain rouges or rouge nations is to destroy their warring capability “without mercy.” I am not a young guy. I have studied human history and learned that there is nothing that would protect genteel and naive nation from barbarous invaders. American people have been too much indoctrinated with patience, tolerance, charity, naivete, etc. mainly due to Christian ideology.

    I am against all types of religions, especially Jewish-Christian-Islamic religions. But I would say Christianity is the most stupid, naive, hypocritical, and self-suicidal ideology.
    I do not believe pacifism. Pacifists only usher in wars.
    American government has given North Korea lot of money, food, oil, machines, etc. hoping Kim Jong-Il would be less aggressive if the USA show its friendly gestures. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung gave 4.5 billion dollars cash (bank check) to Kim. Late president Ro Mu-Hung provided more than 8 billion dollar-worth aid (electricity, food, money, fertilizer, etc.) to North Korea. These aid only helped Kim made nuclear bombs.

    There is no way to tame rogue nations other than merciless destruction of their war capabilities. Roger in Florida worries too much. If he were given the power to govern America, he would be the worst president second to Obama. Sorry for Roger. But be more realistic. Your policy would grow only problems and lose time. You cannot solve Iran problem. You or even God would never be able to contain rogue nations.

    I would add one thing though: military strike against Iran is only a makeshift measure. I mean it would not solve Islam-Jewish conflict forever. In the long run Israel would be defeated by Islamic power even if Israel-US team destroys Iranian nuclear capabilities this time. It is pessimistic for Israel and America.
    As long as Jewish people stick to Mosaic God and Christians keep praying to Jesus and Muslims yearn for Islamization of the world, America, Israel, and the entire world will be burnt in flames–the religion-made Armageddon.

    I would say we have to develop powerful antidote that would cure religious psychosis. Do I have any antidote or suggestion? Well, I have written four books (Salvation from Religion vols. 1, 2, 3, and 4, not yet published) in the hope it would cure religious psychosis. I would like to test my books sooner.

    I believe in free market economy not because I believe it will make all people equally happy but because it is the best possible way to feed large population and maintain freedom for all. There can be no paradise on earth or in the sky where all people are supposed to become equally happy.

    In any event, I am for the military strike against the Iranian nuclear site. The sooner and more powerful/ decisive the better. This will teach Iran and other rogue nations a lesson. But the problem is the inability of Islam-sympathetic-false-Christian Hussein Obama.

  • Roger in florida

    Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it!

  • Roger in florida

    So you really want to kick this hornet's nest over?
    Unbelievable.

    • Jillian Becker

      What do you think should be done, Roger in florida?

      • Roger in florida

        Contain, contain, contain.
        As I have said before, Iran is not going to attack Israel, at least not directly. To do so would be suicidal and they know it. The “destroy Israel” talk is to deflect attention from their real aims, the ultimate of which is to destroy the House of Saud. This heightened drumbeat for war emanates, not from Jerusalem, but from Ryadh. This is very worrying because Barack Hussein Obama is a Saudi puppet, much more so than was the despicable GWB, although he was bad enough.
        In what way would a Persian empire in the ME be detrimental to US interests (other than to the fortunes of the bureaucrats and politicians in Washington who are owned by the Sauds?)
        This month has been the deadliest ever for US forces in Afghanistan, 66 dead so far. Think about that; 66 men are now dead who were alive 30 days ago. For what purpose? What aim? What advantage?
        Ms Becker; I know you have done and continue to do great work for freedom, but I implore you to take step back and see what is really going on here.

        • Jillian Becker

          Thank you for your ideas on this, Roger.

          On Afghanistan I have no quarrel with you. If you put the word “Afghanistan” into our search slot you will find many posts arguing in effect just as you do here – “what purpose, what aim, what advantage”- and deploring the loss of American lives in this pointless war. Note especially “Heroic inaction”: how Bush was right to hit the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11, but should then have withdrawn.

          But I do not understand what you are saying about Iran. Contain? How? Search the word “Iran” on our site and you'll find such titles as “A pointless yakfest”, “The wrong war” (on Afghanistan and Iran), and “A success story” which discusses the ineffectuality of the UN sanctions against Iran, the feebleness of all attempts to “contain” the threat.

          Yes, as I say in this post, there is fierce rivalry between the Saudi and the Iranian leaderships, between Sunni and Shia. Both are pursuing jihad against the rest of us. Both want to establish Islam's world domination. Each wants to claim that triumph for itself, and dreads the other's victory. (A “Persian empire”? What it will be is an Islamic empire.)

          Iran is winning. It has won over Sunni states – Turkey and Syria. It aids Hamas. It arms the Taliban. Its own force on the border of Israel is Hizbullah.

          If it gets the nuclear weapons it is obviously after, it will certainly bomb Israel. The destruction of Israel is now Islam's first objective. Unlike the Soviet Union, Iran under the mullahs are unconcerned about nuclear retaliation. “Suicide”? Glorious martyrdom! The fast lane to the Islamic brothel in the sky. And in any case, “Little Israel would be quickly destroyed,” Ahmadinejad said, “but many bombs would not destroy all of Iran.”

          No, THE ONLY WAY to stop Iran now is to prevent it becoming a nuclear power, and that means bombing its nuclear installations.

          Sure, if I I had the power, I would be the old girl who kicks this hornet's nest.