Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rumors of Israel Attack on Iran Show the Media as Clueless

By Barry Rubin

Here's a great case study of why so much of the reporting or analysis on the Middle East is so bad. Articles in the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz have led to speculation and concern--even in high levels of the U.S. government--about whether Israel is about to attack Iran. The Guardian and Daily Mail have even predicted that the British government is going to attack Iran. For goodness sake, is anyone actually studying these issues?

In fact, this story is full of holes.

First, Israel has decided not to attack Iran--a point I'm making due both to direct knowledge and direct statements, a few of them made publicly, by those involved in the debate. The reasons for this decision make sense but I won't list them here to save your time.

Second, there is no new development to prompt such an attack. On the contrary, all of the reports have been about the slow pace of Iranian progress toward obtaining deliverable nuclear weapons. There is no urgency in such an operation.

Third, all the reasons for not attacking Iran are stronger than ever. Israel can expect little international support, the moves toward radicalism in Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey (plus a heightened risk-taking by a shaky Syrian regime) make the environment for such an attack far more dangerous for Israel than a year or two ago. And again there is no vital incentive for launching such an attack.

Fourth, the Jerusalem Post article doesn't even say that Israel is thinking of attacking Iran but only that there is a plan and that practicing is going on by the Israeli military. I should hope so but that proves nothing about an imminent attack. The Haaretz article says that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has asked the cabinet to make such an attack. If that's true there'd be a lot more leaks and since Netanyahu not so long ago persuaded the cabinet not to do it that also sounds doubtful. But again, even if true that wouldn't be an imminent attack but a start for a new round of debate.

How to explain this story?

Read it all:

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