Simulation: Israeli strike on Iran would work

Sunday, May 06, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

An Israeli newspaper recently hosted a war simulation that showed an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities causing severe damage and the Jewish state not suffering any major consequences for that action.

The Makor Rishon newspaper brought together former government officials and army generals, university professors who are experts on regional players, and journalists who know the current conflicts inside and out to participate in the exercise.

According to the premise of the game, Israel's intelligence community suddenly learns that Iran is moving sensitive and critical nuclear equipment to protected underground sites. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quietly authorizes and immediate aerial strike, during which 10 Israeli jets are shot down over enemy territory. The strike succeeds in setting Iran's nuclear program back at least seven years.

The simulation put the date of the attack on either October 14 or 15. That was somewhat prescient considering that Netanyahu is now expected to announce early elections for the beginning of September, and many believe one of the reasons is so that he can deal with Iran unencumbered in mid-October.

Following the initial strike, the simulation shows US President Barack Obama issue an angry reply and blast Israel for "intervention" in the American presidential election. Obama is frustrated that the Israeli strike will bring up the price of oil at a time when he is trying to win reelection. However, the White House does not threaten Israel or issue any ultimatums. At the same time, Obama tells Israel it is on its own should Iran choose to retaliate.

Then comes Iran's response. Ground forces mass near the border with Iraq, Hizballah fires missiles from southern Lebanon, a series of large-scale terrorist attacks (including a "dirty bomb" in Tel Aviv) kill large numbers in Israel, and Iranian long-range missiles strike the Jewish state.

At home, Netanyahu and his government enjoy a large degree of support, even from the usually critical media. Back in America, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney demands Obama immediately support Israel, making Romney the clear "pro-Israel" candidate, while Obama privately threatens an Israeli minister on the phone, telling him, "I may still be president on November 7. This will have a price, as far as you are concerned. I will not elaborate right now, but you should take this into consideration."

Iran likes the direction Israel-US relations are going, and tries to drive a further wedge by offering Obama unlimited oil supplies. The ploy apparently ignores, or fails to take into account the broad American support for Israel, and Obama eventually threatens Iran with US military action if it does not cease ongoing large-scale terrorist attacks against Israeli targets.

Commentators noted that while the simulation seemed dramatic and severe, nothing in it was outside the realm of possibility, especially considering Israel's proven willingness to preemptively strike nuclear programs it believes pose an existential threat.

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