Attack on Iran won’t be easy

Attack on Iran won’t be easy

Iran’s nuclear program has been much in the news these past 10 days.
First came a report from the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the closest thing yet to smoking gun evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
Then came Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s appearance Sunday on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria: GPS news program, in which he warned that Iran is less than a year away from being unstoppable in its quest to build such a weapon.
(In that same program, Barak, a retired Israeli army general, also took aim at opponents of President Obama’s Israel policy, saying the president has been “incredibly supportive” of the Jewish state.)
We don’t know on what evidence Barak based his dire warning about Iran. Perhaps it was the IAEA report alone; perhaps it was some evidence that has not yet been made public. In any event, since the defense minister of Israel went out of his way to make such a prediction, it must be taken seriously.
Now what?
No one wants a war with Iran. It would be devastating, even if Israel and her allies win. But that may ultimately be the only option available. Computer worms, such as Stuxnet, may slow down the Iranian nuclear program, but it won’t stop it.
But if war becomes the only option, there are some hard realities we must keep in mind:
• Israel can’t do this alone. Allies would be needed not only to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities from the air (those we know of), but to follow up with a ground invasion — the only way to neutralize the entire program. The United States is currently getting out of Iraq and expects to have some 40,000 troops in the region by the end of the year. Likely, a time-consuming mobilization would have to take place.
• While that is happening, Israel would face retaliatory strikes from Lebanon, Gaza, and maybe even Egypt. Hamas and Hezbollah have built up their rocket arsenals, and this ordinance can strike deeper into Israel than ever before, as recent attacks on Beersheba and Ashkelon have shown. Many thousands of Israelis — Jew and non-Jew alike — would be forced to the bomb shelters. Who knows how long they would be there.
• Terrorist attacks on Jewish, American and Western targets around the world could escalate. We believe U.S. military officers when they say the ability of al-Qaida and other terrorist cells to attack has been eroded, but it still exists. And even if their attacks are crude, it only takes one or two successful assaults to sow fear into the civilian populations, which is what they want.
• Israel and the Jewish Diaspora could see a backlash in public opinion, people using the Internet, the public squares, the airwaves and the newspapers to ask why the world is fighting to protect the Jews. Anti-Semitic? You bet, but such a reaction cannot be discounted.
To be sure, what we just described is the worst-case scenario. There are rosier prospects, too. In this week’s paper, Ben Cohen, writing for the JointMedia News Service, notes that the Western allies are not divided over Iran as they were over Iraq and its purported weapons of mass destruction. This time, they understand the threat.
But will they choose military action? And how might China and Russia impede those efforts if they do?
An attack on Iran, however limited at first, comes with serious consequences. The Jewish world, indeed the entire world, must cooperate for the best, but be prepared for the worst.