Is Israel’s “threat” to attack Iran really a bluff?

Reposted with Gary Sick’s permission

By Gary Sick

Every few months we hear rumors and seemingly informed speculation that Israel is about to attack Iran. The most senior Israeli security experts say such an attack would not only be foolish but would backfire badly and leave Israel worse off than it was before the attack. But that doesn’t stop the pundits and arm chair generals — including, one must add, a number of high level Israeli officials.

Tony Karon, a Time Magazine correspondent, has written an article suggesting that this constant drumfire of threats (which never materialize) is an Israeli strategy to pressure Iran, i.e. it is one element of a deterrence strategy.

It must be said that the strategy has seemed to have no visible effect on Iran or its longer term strategy to build a nuclear program. Its nuclear enrichment has been proceeding steadily for more than a decade, in the face of the most severe Israeli and Western threats.

In reality, these Israeli threats are actually more useful to pressure the US and its Western allies to take drastic steps to institute sanctions, possible sabotage, and other actions against Iran in order to forestall the (hypothetical) Israeli “threat” of a unilateral attack. In other words, the deterrence actually seems to be aimed more at Israel’s Western allies, rather than Iran.

Karon’s analysis is a useful antidote to some of the more lurid speculations in the Western media.

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Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is an Iranian-born journalist based in Washington, DC.

One Comment

  1. Very true. But I think most of us who think about this issue had figured it out at least a year or so ago.

    Fresh thoughts are always appreciated by those of us who have only so much time to read.

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