Daily reports of weapons build-ups and military exercises in Iran and among Iran’s clients Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas expose the contours of their war plans.
Syria and Iran have armed Hizbullah with some 40,000 missiles and rockets, including hundreds of Scud missiles and guided surface-to-surface solid fuel M600 missiles with a 250 km range and. This week Hizbullah threatened to attack Israel with non-conventional weapons. Syria itself has a formidable chemical and biological arsenal as well as a massive artillery and missile force at its disposal.
As for Hamas, since Operation Cast Lead Iran’s Palestinian proxy Hamas has expanded its own missile arsenal. Today it reportedly has projectiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and beyond.
As for Iran, as its seemingly endless military exercises make clear, the mullocracy has the capacity to use conventional weapons to imperil global oil shipments from the Persian Gulf. So too, this week’s report that Osama Bin Laden may have decamped to Iran in 2003 merely served to underline Iran’s ability to utilize jihadist terror forces throughout the world.
From the open preparations for war that Iran and its clients have undertaken, it is clear that if they initiate the next round of fighting they will fight a four front war against Israel. That war will be dominated by missile attacks against the entire country aimed at breaking the will of the Israeli people while forcing the IDF to divert vital resources away from Israel’s primary target — Iran’s nuclear installations — to contend with Iran’s proxies’ missile stores.
As they consider Israel’s options going forward, Israel’s political and military leaders have to take two considerations into account. First, the side that initiates the conflict will be the side that controls the battle space. And second, there is a real possibility that the Obama administration will refuse to resupply Israel with vital weapons systems in the course of the war. The fact that Israel will be roundly condemned by the UN and its component parts is a certainty regardless of who initiates the conflict and therefore is irrelevant for operational planning.
Armed with these understandings, it is apparent that Israeli contingency plans for war must have limited goals and should be guided by the overarching aim of beginning and ending the war quickly. Luckily, Israel excels at limited, swift campaigns.
Responding to one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s recent threats, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman promised last month that if Assad attacks Israel, Israel will bring down his regime. While bringing about the utter defeat of Iran’s regional proxies is a reasonable goal, it cannot be Israel’s goal in the coming war.
In the coming war, Israel will have only one goal: to destroy or seriously damage Iran’s nuclear installations. Every resource turned against Iran’s proxies must be aimed at facilitating that goal. That is, the only thing Israel should seek to accomplish in contending with Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas is to prevent them from diverting Israeli resources away from attacking Iran’s nuclear installations.
This means that Israel must launch a preemptive strike against Hizbullah’s missiles and missile launchers, Syria’s missiles, artillery and launchers, and Hamas’s missiles and launchers. As for their short-range rockets, Israel should do its best to intercept them and otherwise hunker down to weather the storm of Katyushas and Qassams. Life of the homefront won’t be easy. But it won’t be impossible either, as we saw in 2006.
Almost every assessment of a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear installations has assumed that Israel will use its Air Force to strike. All that can be said of that analysis is that, just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, so there is more than one way to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations. An Israeli strike should utilize all of them to keep the Iranians off balance and on the defensive.
These are dangerous times. Iran, which seeks to position itself as a regional superpower, has been emboldened by the Obama administration’s abdication of US global leadership. Only Israel can prevent Iran from endangering the world. But time is of the essence.