Bombing Iran could be a real strain for Israel, reports Elisabeth Bumiller in the New York Times ("Iran Raid Seen as a Huge Task for Israeli Jets," 2/19/12). No one's sure they can pull it off, what with the logistics involved:
Should Israel decide to launch a strike on Iran, its pilots would have to fly more than 1,000 miles across unfriendly airspace, refuel in the air en route, fight off Iran's air defenses, attack multiple underground sites simultaneously–and use at least 100 planes.
Everyone apparently agrees on the task in front of Israel, as Bumiller puts it: "Given that Israel would want to strike Iran's four major nuclear sites…." Killing Iranians and spreading radioactive material over their countryside isn't an issue for the Times, where Iran seems to exist only as an obstacle to Israeli strategic interests.
But, Bumiller reports, the job could exceed Israel's offensive capabilities, raising the question of whether the U.S. might be "sucked into finishing the job." A job she's not altogether unexcited about:
Should the United States get involved–or decide to strike on its own–military analysts said that the Pentagon had the ability to launch big strikes with bombers, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles, followed up by drones that could carry out damage assessments to help direct further strikes. Unlike Israel, the United States has plenty of refueling capability. Bombers could fly from Al Udeid air base in Qatar, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or bases in Britain and the United States.
Perhaps the most telling line in Bumiller's cold, skewed accounting of the potential risks of an attack on Iran is in her peculiar notion of what would constitute a state of war:
Iran could also strike back with missiles that could hit Israel, opening a new war in the Middle East, though some Israeli officials have argued that the consequences would be worse if Iran were to gain a nuclear weapon.
War would ensue the instant Iran responded to being bombed? This is not only bizarre wording, it ignores the low-intensity war that has been waged against Iran over the past few years, including explosions at nuclear facilities, the assassination of its scientists and the arming of insurgent groups in Iran's border areas.