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January 15, 2007



An apocalyptic vision. I think Benny Morris is trying to undo the damage his first book did to Israel's history and legitimacy. So he opts for nightmarish scenario in attempting aggressivly to awaken the dormant conscience of the West, whose Left has been lurching steadily towards a Palestinian worldview.

I'd like to point out some errors in his dark putative narrative:

*I don't think Islam has such a concept as "The second coming". There is some sort of messianic variation, with the emergemce of the Mahdi, but no Muslim is expecting Jesus to come back and redeem him or her.

* Iran will never bomb Jerusalem. It will lose all its credibility as a leader of Islam if it wipes out its "third holy place", as they claim.

* He speaks as though Israel will just sit there, absorbing hit after hit, unprepared and unwilling to respond in kind. Those days, when Jews were just lying supine, waiting to be slaughtered, are quite over, I think. Ben-Gurion, who was tormented by exactly this kind of scenario during the fifties, went to a great deal of trouble of every kind to obtain Israel's nuclear deterrence. One assumes Israel is prepared with drawer-plans for any kind of mass-attack upon its existence. It won't just go gently into the night.

In some way, the last war, with Hizbulla, which sort of exposed Israel's soft underbelly in its inability to fight an immoral criminal genocidal enemy was a timely lesson and a wake up call.


Noga, when Morris says "second coming", he very obviously means the emergence of the Mahdi, and not Jesus.

That Israel will respond is already part of the Iranian plan. Rafsanjani pointed out that the Moslem world can sustain many more hits than Israel, and those Moslems who die will be regarded as heros and martyrs.

Morris' points, I'm afraid, can't really be challenged.


It wont happen, Iran is unlikely to develop such a full first strike capacity against Israel in under 15 years, the Shahab missile development is still untested and lacks the range.

In less than 10 years time Israel will have developed effective anti-ballistic missile technology (check out the US funded and Israeli developed Arrow ABM, which can already defend against medium range missiles like Scuds, which is what the Shahab is based on).

Additionally, in 10 years time both Israel and Iran will have enough nuclear armed submarines with second-strike capability to warrant a cold war style standoff, Israel will probably have enough submarine launched nuclear warheads to cause serious damage to Iran or any ME country, it'll be MAD on a smaller scale, there will simply be no way Iran can s

The current anti-nuclear negotiations are a stalling process; both Israel and the US know that Iran will continue its nuclear strategy anyway, the more time they take, the better honed an effective ABM system will become and the more serious a second strike capability will be.

Not enough notice is taken of Israel's and Iran's buying in of submarine technology and their adaptions to carry lightweight nuclear warheads, the race to develop second strike is already underway and well advanced.

Neither is much notice taken that Israel has strategic defence pacts with countries like Turkey and India (who they are selling Arrow to), and that Iraq is likely to position US ABM sites, and so will Jordan and Saudi Arabia once Iran announces it's first operational nuclear ICBM. The corridor of ABMs that Iranian missiles need to take enroute to Israel makes it highly unlikely that enough can be fired to eventually obliterate to the desired effect.

In less than 10 years time, IRBMs will be easy to defend against, and in 20 years time, even ICBMs will become obsolete, there was a strategic reason why Bush pulled out of the ABM Treaty a few years back, and the technology is already well advanced.


I read the whole article yesterday, and thought it was just of a piece with the rest of the speculation on Iran's genocidal dreams. But it has been preying on my mind all day, for reasons that I cannot divine. Perhaps it is the sort of thought that makes you suddenly realise that this is real, as though awaking from a dream induced by the soporific opium of Liberal relativism. Such esoteric polities become irrelevant what faced with the relisation that there are people in the world who are actively working on a project whose goal is to kill you, your family, your country and everything you ever valued.

"Iran will never bomb Jerusalem" - this has the sort of resonance that "Japan will not attack the US" has. Never say never.

I hope that by the time Iran has the capability to meet its deadly intent, there will be technical countermeasures. Because if there are not, the current Cold War will become very hot, and it will not just be between countries, it will be a global civil war. The Arrow will have its work cut out to intercept such a comparatively short range weapon as an IRBM - there is no ocean over which to track them. And doesn't Iran have Chinese Silkworm cruise missiles?


Arrow already proved itself against a simulated attack from a Shahab-3 missile over a year ago, the Iranians have yet to prove the effectiveness of Shahab-3 let alone convince anyone it can deliver a nuclear warhead at the range required to reach Israel, so the Arrow is way ahead.

The Green Pine radar system used to track targets for Arrow is one of the most advanced in the world with a 500km detection range, the absence of an ocean is irrelevant, launch detection can be provided by satellite and as the current Shahab-3 missiles do not yet have re-entry vehicle guidance, their targets and trajectory can be established almost immediately after launch and are easy to intercept. This might become more difficult if the INS guided Shahab-3B comes into operation, or when Iran develops its IRIS missile.

Arrow has always been intended to intercept ICBMs in-space as well, the Iranians have yet to launch anything into space and so are nowhere near ICBM capability.

There is a recognised technological war between Israel's ABMs and Iran's IRBMs, and the ABMs are definitely winning at the moment, they are years ahead in development, unless you believe the Iranian rhetoric.

Silkworm missiles are anti-ship with relatively short range, they'd have to be launched from much closer platforms, from ships in the Gulf or Mediterranian, and it is yet to be shown that they can deliver nuclear warheads.

The US built Harpoon anti-ship missile used by Israel, on the other hand, has already gained speculation that it can be fitted with a small nuclear warhead, and it can be submarine launched, by the very same "Dolphin class" submarines provided to Israel by Germany (two of them were donated for free).

Israel has been rumoured to have developed a "Popeye" cruise missile, capable of being nuclear armed and submarine launched, and can fit the Dolphin class submarine too.

Everyone knows how advanced Israel's nuclear weaponry is, but Iran has yet to test a single bomb. The irony here is that Israel has probably developed a second strike capability before Iran has even got a first strike option, so the cold war is already underway before it has officially started !

The analysis is quite wrong in stating it will be "impersonal", as millions of Iranians would most certainly be nuked in a retaliatory strike that can't be detected or stopped. I doubt Ahmedinejad is that stupid, this whole facade of Iran's nuclear development is because no Muslim nation can even invoke a second strike by Israel let alone win a nuclear exchange.

Pakistan is way ahead of Iran, both in nuclear development and missile development, including ICBMs, I'd bet that Pakistan will be capable of destroying Israel by nuclear weapons before Iran will, if they aren't already, that is something that will anger Ahmedinejad far more.

Pakistan was already able to steer Afghanistan into radical Islamic governance through the Taliban, and would have succeeded if 9/11 hadn't happened. Whereas Iran has been backing Hamas and Hezbollah for years with no apparent effect on their influence, they can't even control a tiny country like Lebanon.

Iran's madness stems not from the second coming of the Mahdi, but from its own shame of having lost the Persian empire, and then the Persian caliphate. Iranians today are fiercely proud of their culture, they see themselves above Arabs and the righteous heirs to the Islamic throne. This is a political battle between Iran and the Sunni Islam majority, not Israel, that's why western nations are engaged in their pathetic good cop (EU) and bad cop (US) routine with nuclear "negotiations".

As Islam spreads its influence around the world, the primary battle for Muslim hearts and minds will ensure plucky little Israel will survive. Iran is loosing this war, Pakistan is a much more powerful neighbour, Saudi Arabia is far more influential through its promotion of Wahabbism, Indonesia is becoming a a major player as befits its largest Muslim nation status.


Thank you Ian. I hope Israel can fend off a nuclear attack for all our sakes. Did you see Andrew Sullivan's article suggesting that the best policy for the West would be to let Islam's civil war rip?

There was a 2 hour documentary on the history of Iraq the other day on one of the documentary channels on Sky. The area has been ruled by [As]Syrians, Persians, Babylonians, Greeks, Mongols, Turks and British over the last 3000 years. All can therfore claim the "right" to retake it, though some of those would not want it if it were given to them.

I do not doubt that memories of Cyrus the Great, and a feeling of superiority over Arabs feed into Iran's current delusional dreams, but think Islam is a far stronger driver, not least because it it is fanatical - as the Taliban were wont to say: "Throw reason to the dogs". While not that many will buy into the hidden Imam thing, many more would like to see Israel get its "comeuppance", though not at the cost Ahmadinejad is prepared to pay on their behalf.


Richard, interesting article, but it completely ignores the most important faction in Iraq: the Kurds.

Kurds are generally sympathetic to the west, they more readily adopt western lifestyles, they are opposed to Islamic extremism having been victims of it for years, they have significant presence in both Syria and Iran, and they occupy the premium oil generating regions of Iraq.

The ideal for the western nations would be a Kurdish controlled Iraq, with the entire oil economy at western disposal, and an Islamic ally who is willing to oppose both the Sunni and Shi'ite factions either side of it.

Civil War in Iraq might lead to a separate Kurdish state, which could re-ignite a region wide drive for a Kurdistan, a move that would seriously impact Turkey, a key NATO ally of the US.

Kurdish rebel groups, previously used to beating each other up, now stand united in an Iraqi government, and place their dreams of an independent Kurdistan to one side while they taste real power for the first time.

On the whole, the Iranian threat to Israel is a diversion. The real war is within Islam as it once again stands on the world stage.


Intriguing analysis, Ian; thanks for taking the time!

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