Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5: On Iran, Israel Can't Afford To Miss

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Even a fly in the room would likely want to escape the tension in today's meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is as adamant about Israel's need to attack Iran's nuclear facilities to defend itself as Obama is about the need for more time for sanctions and diplomacy.

Israel has another factor to consider: Its chance for success.

Israel no longer has its previous reputation as the underdog country able to overcome the big armies of its neighbors. Another previous reputation for success - most notably with the July 4, 1976 rescue of airplane passengers held hostage in Entebbe Airport in Uganda - has also taken a beating in recent years.

Israel's battles with Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2009 showed that the Jewish state was found wanting in the protection of its soldiers and the communications and skills of its military leadership.

What Israel has to do in Iran is much more difficult, and even tougher than its successful mission destroying a nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. It doesn't help that, unlike with the Iraq mission and others, Netanyahu and others in the Israeli government can't seem to keep their mouths shut about what they want to do.

Publicity doesn't make for successful missions. Discretion and smart decisions do. In recent years, Israel hasn't shown enough of either in its politics or its military leadership.

Israel may ultimately decide to launch a military strike on Iran. If it does, it better not miss. Doing so will be catastrophic to Israel most of all - for many reasons.

Netanyahu should try actually listening to Obama, who knows something about successful military operations.

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