Only Direct Strikes on Iranian Territory Will Deter Further Attacks on Americans

On Friday, the U.S. struck 85 Tehran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the killing of three of its soldiers in Jordan. The next day, America was joined by the UK in bombing military facilities belonging to the Houthis, another Iranian proxy, throughout Yemen. The guerrillas likely had the opportunity to remove essential equipment and personnel from the targets beforehand, given that the White House spent a week warning that the attacks were imminent.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, in an article published just before last weekend’s strikes, examines what actions Washington would have to take to deter further attacks. Measured against his suggestions, the American response seems feeble indeed:

It’s hard to imagine any scenario—apart from a direct attack on Iran—in which the clerical regime ceases and desists. And any assault would need to be highly destructive, as a direct Western strike that leaves Iran’s nuclear-weapons program unscathed doesn’t make much sense.

Tehran will surely keep pushing the envelope unless the United States or Israel pushes back far harder. The clerical regime may pause its operations or claim that proxies are beyond its control—but success breeds aggression. So does the regime’s conception of itself as an Islamist paladin battling American and Zionist imperialism.

As a result, if Washington responds to the attack in Jordan with just another air strike against Iranian-supported militias, or even Iranian deployments in Syria, this likely won’t alter Ayatollah Ruhollah Khamenei’s calculations. Only something shockingly different—U.S. attacks against Revolutionary Guard targets inside Iran, and the openly declared threat of insurmountable American escalation—has a decent chance of convincing the clerics that the past is no longer prologue.

Read more at UnHerd

More about: Iran, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security