70% chance that Israel will launch a strike against Iran on Rosh Hashanah. If the strike doesn’t go in on Rosh Hashanah, then Yom Kippur, September 26th
Pressure Cooker Days
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SUMMARY and PREDICTION: An Israeli strike on Iran either on Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 17th) or Yom Kippur (Sept 26th) is more likely than not. Top off your gas tanks this weekend, because such a strike will give us $8/gal gas here in the US.
1861. 1914. 1939. 2012?
Do these dates mean anything to you? The first three are the start dates for major wars. Is 2012 going to be the same?
In March of this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave US President Barack Hussein Obama a scroll containing the Book of Ester. Ester is an interesting book: it hardly mentions God, and has been described as “a tale of backroom maneuvering ending in victory for the Jews and the destruction of their enemies” and has a woman as the hero. It was meant to provide “background reading” on Iran for Obama. What’s most interesting is that it deals with a gentile King of Persia who intervenes to protect the Jews from the scheming of one of his advisors, Haman.
Netanyahu was obviously trying to give a message to Obama: do something about Iran! Israel is understandably concerned about the continuing uranium enrichment program in a country that regularly announces its intention to destroy the Jewish state. Combine that rhetoric with Iran’s missile program and active A-bomb materials program, and you have a recipe for the death of Israel under mushroom clouds.
In response, Obama…played some golf. He skipped roughly half his intel briefings. He attended fundraisers. He attended more fundraisers. Oh, and he did say that sanctions and diplomacy needed time to work.
Can someone please tell us the last time ‘sanctions and diplomacy’ worked? By worked, we mean, “actually made a rogue state stop their roguish behavior and act right”. Off hand, we can’t think of a single time.
So, sanctions, diplomacy, a few dozen declarations of intent to wipe Israel off the map and kill all the Jews, close the Straits of Hormuz and cause a world-wide oil shortage leading to global depression and massive deaths from riots and starvation from Iran later…and the centrifuges continue to spin.
In August, Congressman Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, witnessed an ‘explosion’ by Netanyahu at US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. Bebe was angry that Obama’s refusal to draw a “red line”—and America’s continued ambiguity—made it difficult for Israel to plan their own strategy. Shapiro reportedly assured Netanyahu that the US would take any steps, up to and including a military strike, to prevent Iran from building The Bomb, but Netanyahu wasn’t convinced. Naturally, when Rogers told this tale, both parties immediately denied it.
Since then, a third aircraft carrier, the USS Stennis, has taken up station in the area. The Stennis will join the USS Enterprise and USS Eisenhower on station in the Persian Gulf. On September 16th, the combined groups are due to participate in a multinational exercise to simulate breaching the Straits of Hormuz against an Iranian attempt to close them to oil shipments. The Stennis was due to replace the aging Enterprise, but the Big E will remain on station in the area for an undisclosed time.
That the exercises will also simulate destroying Iran’s naval, air and missile bases is just a bonus.
So, will this sabre rattling by Washington and other nations keep Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? It’s known that Iran has indeed ‘sterilized’ one production site…but also transferred most of the equipment to their second, underground site at Fordow, doubling the functional capacity of that site. Iran continues to refuse access to International Atomic Energy Agency personnel, and the IAEA has just (as of 9/13/2012) issued a resolution “urging Iran to comply with its obligations on nuclear issue while expressing “serious concern” over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme”. In short, the IAEA can’t get access to Iran’s active enrichment sites, and so cannot confirm or deny just what the Iranians might or might not be doing there.
Earlier this month, Canada expelled Iran’s embassy staff and closed its Iranian embassy. It’s an open secret that Bebe and Barry don’t get along, and that Bebe’s confidence in Barry’s ability to keep The Bomb out of the mullah’s hands isn’t very strong. Even with CIA Director (and former General) Patraeus’ recent trip to Israel to cool things down, it seems like matters are building to some sort of conclusion in the Persian Gulf.
So, can Iran win a fight against a multinational flotilla led by three US aircraft carriers? Never in a million years. Can Iran still wreck the global economy and give us hideously high oil prices before they go down in flames? Absolutely. Would an Israeli attack escalate into a huge dust-up, requiring an intense investment in men, material and treasure? Almost certainly.
So…what’s in it for Israel? Well for one thing, Bebe Netanyahu isn’t as isolated from the rest of his cabinet as he has been. His defense minister and others have recently begun to close ranks around him rather than distancing themselves from him. Also, Netanyahu almost certainly hates Obama. He certainly doesn’t trust the US President to back Israel, and who can blame him? Obama’s policies both foreign and domestic have been a string of FAILS, and the entire planet knows it. Bebe also knows that a sudden spike in gas prices may be the only thing that keeps Obama from being re-elected, and given the bumbling performance Teh Wun has given these last three and a half years, do you really think Bebe wants to see four more?
So…the scroll has been given, and no lines have been drawn, but three US carrier groups are now in the Persian Gulf. Any one of those carriers has more throw weight than the entire Iranian air force. The Iranian navy might try bravely, but they’d probably not last out the morning. Iran’s missile sites are a definite threat to Saudi oil production facilities, however; the only way to deal with them is to remove them from existence before they have a chance to launch. Throw in the hardened, underground Fordow site that really needs boots inside of it to clean it out, and Iran’s large size and population, and you have the recipe for a truly ugly fall season.
The obvious question becomes: just how likely is Bebe to decide to go it alone, and if so, when? It’s been recently revealed that Israel acted unilaterally against Syria’s reactor in 2007. And, Rosh Hashanah (also known as “The Day of Judgment”)—the Feast of Horns—is September 17th. Like all Jewish holidays, it begins at sundown of the preceding day…which is the day the joint multinational exercises in the Straits are due to start.
It’s fall, which means it’s canning season, and soon pressure cookers all over America will be hissing and steaming, sterilizing glass jars filled with all manner of goodness to be put away for the long, cold nights of winter. Invariably, a few of them will have the tiny hole in the top plugged up, so that the steam doesn’t have any place to go. The resulting explosion typically destroys most of the kitchen, if not that entire side of the house. It’s also no fun for anyone who happens to be standing nearby when it blows.
The Middle East, during the best of times, exists at a low simmer. Recent events have turned up the heat, and it seems like there’s no place for the pressure to bleed off in a controlled fashion. Just like in 1861, and 1914, and 1939, that pressure is building up. Will it blow? Or, can some sort of arrangement be worked out, even though much effort has been expended prior to this point on such an arrangement with nothing much to show for it.
Our prediction here at Hype and Fail: 70% chance that Israel will launch a strike against Iran on Rosh Hashanah. If the strike doesn’t go in on Rosh Hashanah, then Yom Kippur (the day judgment is “sealed”), September 26th, is the next most likely date. Hopefully it won’t happen—there are rumors of backroom deals between Russia and the US over Syria, Iran and Israel, and almost certainly sub-rosa maneuvering by the assorted Powers to keep Israel leashed while keeping The Bomb away from Ahmadinejad, which everybody seems to agree is not only Necessary but a Good Thing—but we won’t be surprised if and when Mahmoud either makes his new toy or Bebe’s patience runs out. Either of those things could happen any day now. And, it must be said that our 70% figure is at best a wild guess, it being impossible to put a hard number on it. But, we think it’s more likely than not, so why not 70%?
Best Advice: Top off your gas tanks this weekend folks, before Steven Chu gets his wish. It could be a looooooong fall.