April 15, 2024

Iran Attacks Israel

Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory… Iran had vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two senior commanders…

“Israel's military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, most of them intercepted outside Israeli borders. They included more than 10 cruise missiles, he said. The Iranian salvo of more than 200 drones and missiles caused light damage to one Israeli military facility, Hagari said… U.S. and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area.” Reuters

President Joe Biden warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the U.S. will not take part in a counter-offensive against Iran… Two senior Israeli ministers signalled on Sunday that retaliation was not imminent and that Israel would not act alone.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left argues that the strike was a relatively muted response to Israel’s attack in Syria, and urges both sides to de-escalate.

“To summarize: Israel blew up an Iranian general in an Iranian diplomatic mission—the sort of facility normally inviolable under international law, though the Iranian regime is rather famous for its disregard of such proprieties—and for two weeks, Israel and its allies have been preparing for a regional war or unprecedented terror campaign, something that would make the October 7 Hamas attack and the subsequent Gaza War look like mere prelude. Instead, after its drones and missiles were swatted down like flies, Iran is now suggesting that the two countries call it a tie…

This tie is an astonishing Israeli win… It is an operational triumph, because it demonstrated that swarming attacks from a sophisticated adversary are not effective against Israel over long ranges… The uneventful night was also a strategic triumph. Iran’s Arab adversaries—Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—all cooperated, taking concrete measures to keep Iran’s response ineffective… Now could be the moment for Netanyhu to tell his right flank to stand down.”

Graeme Wood, The Atlantic

“99 percent of the Iranian projectiles were intercepted, and the damage was minimal. The mullahs must have known that this would be the likely outcome. This attack was reminiscent of the Iranian missile strike on two U.S. bases in Iraq after the U.S. killing of the IRGC’s Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in early 2020, which also inflicted no fatalities — and prompted no U.S. retaliation. Both attacks were performative acts designed to make a statement, not to inflict mass casualties…

“The Iranians could have tried to overwhelm Israel air defenses by directing Hezbollah to unleash its arsenal of some 150,000 missiles. Given Hezbollah’s geographical proximity to Israel, the flight times would have been short and Israel would have had little time to prepare. But that’s not what the mullahs did. They opted for an attack launched mainly from Iranian soil, giving Israel and its allies plenty of time to activate their own defenses… The prudent step now would be to avoid escalation, which could embroil the entire region in a calamitous conflict.”

Max Boot, Washington Post

“For Israel and for Netanyahu personally, there are strong reasons to start a direct confrontation with Iran and its allies… Many Israeli security officials feel that a war with Hezbollah and by extension Iran is inevitable. They prefer a strategy of initiating one now on Israel’s terms while the U.S. still has a military presence in the region that could be forced into the fight…

“From Netanyahu’s perspective, once the current war ends, he is likely to face serious political and legal problems inside Israel. Expanding the conflict to a regional one could delay his day of reckoning — or even change his personal fortunes entirely… Contrary to the words of some sycophantic U.S. politicians, the interests of [Israel and the US] are not identical and, today, do not even appear to be aligned.”

Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

From the Right

The right argues that the attack was made more likely by the Biden administration’s accommodation of Iran, and is divided about the proper response.

The right argues that the attack was made more likely by the Biden administration’s accommodation of Iran, and is divided about the proper response.

“Though President Biden did the right thing by deploying American assets to assist Israel’s defensive response, the reality is that things never would have gotten to this point had it not been for his accommodating policies toward Iran

“[The Biden administration] funneled tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief to Iran. Within weeks of taking office, Biden removed the terrorist designation on Iran’s proxy in Yemen, the Houthis, and in 2023, he allowed the U.N. sanctions against the Iranian missile and drone program to expire. Those were the types of weapons not only that were used last night but that Iran has sold to Russia for use against Ukraine…

“Since October 7, whenever Biden has been asked about the possibility of Iran getting involved in the fighting, he has simply said ‘Don’t,’ without offering any explanation of what would happen if it did… For months, Iran has had its proxies fire at U.S. military assets in the region and harass shipping lanes. Aside from a few symbolic retaliatory strikes, the Biden response has been muted.”

The Editors, National Review

“Iran was the hidden hand behind Oct. 7. Jerusalem’s April 1 strike against top Quds Force officers in Damascus was important in its continuing defensive military response… The sad truth is that Israeli and U.S. deterrence against Iran failed. Proportionality, diplomacy, ‘messaging,’ and academic game theory all came to naught. Israel must now respond, hopefully with complete American backing, and that response must not be ‘proportionate.’ It should be decidedly disproportionate…

“Having now attacked Israeli territory from Iran once, not relying on its terrorist surrogates, Iran has shown itself fully capable of doing so again whenever it chooses. Israel is at risk that the next salvo of ballistic missiles will carry nuclear warheads. Netanyahu could roll the dice and hope they don’t, but he knows that the threat of what his predecessor Ariel Sharon once called a ‘nuclear holocaust’ is closer to reality than ever before.”

John Bolton, Washington Examiner

Others argue, “America’s instinct after this incident will be to support Netanyahu unconditionally if he in fact decides to hit Iranian soil. In this case, however, those instincts would be wrong — not because Israeli action would be unjustified but rather because it has a decent chance of precipitating the very regional war Biden is ostensibly interested in avoiding

“There are tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East, from Syria and Iraq to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All of these troops are within range of Iranian missile fire or Iranian proxy attacks. U.S. military installations in the region would make for tempting targets in the event of a regional conflagration, and no number of air defense systems would be able to shoot down every projectile fired their way.”

Daniel R. DePetris, MSNBC

A libertarian's take

“Early in the war, Biden showed that he was willing to put American lives on the line in Israel's defense. Even though his administration insisted that it had ‘no plans or intentions to put U.S. boots on the ground in combat,’ Biden deployed two aircraft carriers to the region as a threat to any other country that might join the war against Israel… [On Saturday] The U.S. military shot down three Iranian ballistic missiles and 70 drones that were en route to Israeli military bases…

“Left out of the conversation entirely were the American people. Congress has not passed a declaration of war against Iran or authorization for the use of military force against Iranian troops. It hasn't even passed the supplemental aid package to Israel that Biden has been asking for.”
Matthew Petti, Reason

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