Why U.S. would get sucked into war if Israel strikes Iran
August 1st, 2012
10:21 AM ET

Why U.S. would get sucked into war if Israel strikes Iran

By Malou Innocent and Ehud Eilam, Global Post

Editor’s note: The following text is from Global Post, which provides views – importantmoving or just odd – from around the world. The views expressed are solely those of the authors.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that Hezbollah – the Lebanon-based, Iranian-backed, politico-military terrorist organization – was responsible for the suicide bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists. Amid ongoing U.S. and Israeli threats to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, the bombing raises a critical concern about any potential conflict: a very capable Hezbollah, together with Iran, would likely strike back hard – and not only in the Middle East – drawing the United States into another prolonged and bloody conflict in the Muslim world that it doesn’t need. Such a scenario should make those advocating war with Iran take pause.

War-weary Lebanese don’t want their country turning into another battleground against Israel. Hezbollah would also risk alienating its predominately Shiite political constituency. But the ideological and financial ties between top leaders in Tehran and Hezbollah could trump such considerations, especially in the event of an Israeli or Israeli-U.S. attack on fellow Muslims in Iran.

Iranian leaders – in danger of losing a vital ally in Syria – may not risk another surrogate’s fall in a confrontation with Israel. But that’s far from a sure thing. Current and former U.S. officials recently told the Washington Post that should Israel strike Iran, Hezbollah’s global network would launch more terrorist attacks. A multi-front conflict could ensue that would rope in America. If Israel starts a war with Iran it is unable to finish, Israel could leave the heavy lifting to the United States while it defends its own borders against Hezbollah.

As President Barack Obama proclaimed earlier this year, “We’ve got Israel’s back.” On the one hand, America’s historic – and expanding – cooperation with the Jewish state signifies an enduring commitment to Israel’s security. On the other hand, the unpredictable nature of any potential conflict speaks to the importance of U.S. diplomacy with Hezbollah’s patron, Iran.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards is accused of training Hezbollah since it emerged in the early 1980s. The group eventually came into its own, launching sophisticated guerilla attacks against Israeli military units. Today, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that Hezbollah receives $100 to $200 million annually from Tehran, as well as training, weapons, and other assistance.

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Based on the historical record, it’s unlikely that Hezbollah would remain on the sidelines. In 1996’s Operation Grapes of Wrath, the group contested Israel’s massive air and ground firepower with hundreds of rocket attacks into Israel proper. In the summer of 2006, following Hezbollah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched air and ground attacks over Lebanon, and Hezbollah used real-time signals intelligence to ambush Israeli commandos, and fired more than 4,000 rockets into northern Israel, one of the most serious assaults on the Jewish state. Neither Israel nor Hezbollah scored a decisive victory. A stalemate between the Levant’s American and Iranian clients could play out again.

As Hezbollah has evolved from guerilla incursions to conventional campaigns, the group has exposed Israel’s conventional weaknesses, but also provided Israel an opportunity to correct its mistakes. Hezbollah could face massive Israeli ground and air assaults. Nevertheless, leaders in Washington and Tel Aviv also have a troubling history of underestimating their adversaries.

Indeed, rigorous accounting of Hezbollah’s current military tactics and capabilities is lacking. Last year, Hezbollah successfully unraveled the CIA’s spy network in Lebanon, identifying and capturing American spies who had infiltrated Hezbollah’s ranks. Little is known about the group since the 2006 war. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has suggested Syria colludes with Iran to arm Hezbollah with more potent weapons. The IDF’s assessment is that Hezbollah possesses long-range, surface-to-air missiles and Russian-made air-defense systems. Additionally, it’s estimated that the group has a firebase of over 10,000 fighters and between 60,000 to 80,000 missiles and rockets.

Hezbollah would certainly face torrential Israeli ground and air offensives. But the possibility that any conflict could result in a pyrrhic deadlock is worrying, not only for Israel, but also for America.

Over the past year, American leaders have ratcheted up tensions with Tehran while doing little to reassure Israelis reluctant to rely on America. Beating the drums of war could spell doom as a form of psychological pressure. If Israel attacks Iran and Hezbollah missiles rain down on Israeli streets, America may be pulled into conflict with a capable and resilient guerilla foe that it knows very little about.

Malou Innocent is a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute. Ehud Eilam formerly served in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and specializes in the Middle East and Israeli military doctrine.

Topics: Iran • Israel • Middle East • Palestinian Authority • United States

soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. EndIslamic Terrorism

    If you really study Islam and just don't pay homage to it, one sees they are a religion of violence. Muhammad spread Islam through violence and they will never have peace with Israel because they do not want it. The Koran says if you see a Jew hiding under a rock kill him. How can you have peace with someone who wants you dead? As far as they are concerned if you are not a Muislim you don't have a right to breathe Allah's good air anyway. I strongly suggesst watching the video "The Third Jihad" which outlines Muslim intentions of defeating the U.S. from within. The video was made by a Muslim. If we are drawn into a conflict defending our treaty with Israel then at least we can end state sponsored terrorisim by ending the states that support it.

    August 3, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
  2. Don

    The Jews live in Israel with Jerusalem as their capital before the Roman Empire drove them out of the land, crucifying thousands and selling thousands as slaves( Did hitler learn from Roman Methods?). The Romans named the place Syria Palestina thus the name Palestine came about. It is only liars who claim that Paletinians lived in the land and the Jews with the help of America and England stole the land from the Palestinians. The English were as disrespectful of Jews as anyone could be in the 1940s and even highly restricted Jews from moving into their land. It is only Jewish determination and the help of the GOD of heaven that the Jews live in their land. After the Holocaust, genocidal attempts have been made on the Jews in 1948, 1967 and 1973 to wipe them out but to no avail. It is only liars, bigots, racists and anti semites who denounce the Jewish right to the land. Plain liars. I like your point Nina. People should be enlightened and stop listening to liars and propagandists.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
  3. Jim Hyde

    Jews and Zionists have setup base in US and caused huge losses to that country through wars in Iraq and Afghanistan They continue to let US bleed which may eventually lead to their extermination just as it happened in Europe few decades ago. These vermin gangs have been displaced from the Middle East, Europe and Russia in the last few centuries. History will repeat itself in the US but only after the next war with Iran. By that time US would have lost all credibility and would be bankrupt anyway. It will kick out the zionistas and then then whole cycle will begin again.

    August 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      With biased media coverage, heavy political influence and a perpetual budget from the USA, Israel feels that it can do what it wants. They already know that our politicians fear "reprisal" if they don't toe the line. Most people in this country either don't know the extent of Jewish control or don't care.

      July 9, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  4. OffTheWorldPolitics

    Iran wants to dominate the middle east through state sponsored terrorism... Nuclear armed nations that promote such activity must be addressed. If Iran will not comply then there must be regime change.

    August 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • American CPA

      Doesn't everyone want to dominate everything. Doesn't the US use terrorism. What the hell do you think the CIA is? -

      August 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
      • OffTheWorldPolitics

        Don't let yourself get caught up in all that objective hype. There is a difference. The CIA and formerly KGB both generally enabled people (meaning those people still have options whether or not to kill civilians. CIA does not want people to die, but policy to change). Direct action (assassination) was usually very rare in comparison. Terrorist directly target innocent people, and they do not consider alternative methods.

        August 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
      • Joel-B

        American CPA = SUPER JERK OF THE YEAR !!!

        August 30, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • shahin

      Offtheworld: you are out of touch with reality. Pointing fingers at Iran for wanting to dominate the Middle-East but defending the US in the process makes you not only extremely hypocritical but also naive and ignorant. Look up the history of Iran and US relations and see who the real terrorist is. You overthrew our democracy, installed a dictator and now you b! tch about us when we become anti-american.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:23 am | Reply
      • OffTheWorldPolitics

        You are mad at the U.S., but it is the majority of the world that is against Iranian regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons. NATO, the Arab League exc. I suppose in your mind everyone is wrong and the Iranian regime is right? I won't waste anymore of my time dignifying your comments, so don't bother.

        August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  5. Unbiased Reader

    " the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that Hezbollah receives $100 to $200 million annually from Tehran"....

    Uhhh... too bad the United States sends $2800 million annually to Israel. I think it is only fair to mention that when talking about this showdown between Israel and the rest of the middle east.

    August 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • OffTheWorldPolitics

      100$ worth of explosives on a suicide bomber can cause over 100,000$ in damage. Israel does not use terrorism....

      August 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  6. a bunch of haters

    NEXT THING U KNOW THE ISRAELIS(zionist) ARE GOING TO CALL THEM SELVES PALESTIANS IN THE FURTURE CLAIMING EVERYTHING A PALESTIAN HAS >> USE LIES AND THEIR PHdic to ruin the world.. real truth..

    August 6, 2012 at 4:12 am | Reply
    • Nina

      Rushdie claimed (1985) to be a non-Muslim and so is not bound by Shariah blasphemy laws. If he was born of Muslim parents then the Shariah does not allow him to leave Islam even in childhood. The penalty under Muslim law for apostasy is death. Did you know that Islamic leaders in Britain want Muslim religious law to rate as equal to existing British law? A British Pakistani father murdered his daughter for converting to a Jehovah's Witness. He would, of course, have been acquitted, under Shariah which the Muslim fundamentalists are trying to bring into England.

      August 6, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • Nina

      Abu Dawud 38:4357 When the Apostle of Allah cut off the hands and feet of those who had stolen his camels and apostacised and had their eyes put out by fire, Allah reprimanded him and revealed: "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle and strive with might and main for rnischief through the land is execution or crucifixion." (38A359).. or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land" This was "revealed about polytheists and if any of them repent before they are arrested it does not prevent from inflicting on him the prescribed punishment which he deserves"

      Muslim 623 The Prophet said: "It is not permissible to take the life of a Muslim except in one of the three cases: the married adulterer, a life for a life (if the person is Muslim), and the deserter of Islam."

      Bukhari 9:89:271 A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism Mu'adh said: "I will not sit down unless you kill him as it is the verdict of Allah and His Apostle"

      Bukhari 4:52:260 Ali burnt some people (Zanadiqa, atheists 9:84:57) although the Prophet had said, "Don’t punish anybody with Allah's punishment (Fire)" if a Muslim discards his religion, kill him"

      August 6, 2012 at 9:51 am | Reply
    • Nina

      How have Muslims reacted to some of the most recent acts of terror and violence? In most cases, in must be acknowledged, the silence was deafening. Apart from official condolences and assurances that the culprits would be brought to book, few voices have been raised against atrocities committed on innocent non-Muslims and non-observant Muslims.

      August 6, 2012 at 9:59 am | Reply
  7. Jack 3

    A war with Iran wouldn't last too long unless we had Obama as a leader.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  8. Jeo

    Israel should not start what they can not finish. Majority of Americans are well aware of what it means to go to another senseless war based on lies and deceives. They already paid a price and will continue to pay for generation to come. Imagine a super powerful nation can not stop a few thousand of Taliban in Afghanistan for the past decay how will they handle a strong/disciplined with well equipped military? TO ALL ISRAELIS PLEASE GO AHEAD AND TRY TO BOMB AND SEE WHERE YOU WILL END UP. WE (AMERICANS) ARE IN NO MOOD TO GO TO WAR AGAIN! GOT IT!!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:16 am | Reply
    • Nina

      So, in your little mind, Israel should wait until it is nuked?
      Yelling does not make your statement true, it is all about the content.
      If you are upset, go have a glass of red wine and relax.

      August 7, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
      • higajif

        It seems like Nina gets a kick out of displaying her stupidity. Everyone else gets a kick too.

        August 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Joel-B

      It's readily apparent that you have absolutely no understanding of the COMBINED MILITARY MIGHT OF THE U.S. AND ISRAEL... So just shut up !!! After 30 years in the military, I've seen your kind before, mostly headed toward Canada !!!!

      August 30, 2012 at 12:59 am | Reply
  9. Patel

    Why does US need to get involved? It's none of our business....AND WHY IS ISRAEL SO CONCERNED? I THOUGHT THEY'RE ALSO HIDING A NUKE? SHOULD THE WORLD GO AFTER ISRAEL FOR BUILDING A NUKE???? WE SHOULD I THINK...

    August 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • American CPA

      Because the Jews own America and they push our lawmakers to do what is good for Israel.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  10. American CPA

    If Israel dares to attack Iran. Hezbollah will rain rockets on Tel Aviv. All the Jews will pack their bags and move back to Europe. Israel likes easy wars where they have a tremendous advantage over their foe. (i.e. Apache Helicopter vs Hamas members with AK47, M-1 Tanks vs Teenage stone thrower). A war with Iran would be devastating to Iran and US forces in the region. Them Shiites dont play around and they sure as hell aren't scared to die. The Israeli wants to live in a lap of luxury with US taxpayers money and cheap Palestinian labor. In won't happen. Also, If Israel wanted to attack they would have done so by now.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  11. American CPA

    To Understand Anti-Semitism one must first understand Semitism.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  12. American CPA

    The US should abandon Israel completely. They do not serve any of our interests. As a matter of fact they are a liability. Americans must ask what do we get for supporting this nation unconditionally? Some say they are a democracy. So what?! So is Belgium. I am sick of our leaders having to swear allegiance to Israel. – History has a way of repeating itself. I hope it doesn't happen again but it will happen to them again as it has for the past 2000+ years.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  13. Galil_Uzi

    US technology exists because of Jewish intelligence. In exchange for their brains, we fight their wars.

    August 15, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Reply
    • Reality

      Biggest BS.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:43 am | Reply
    • ehjay11

      It was the Germans that America sought to bring to America after WWII.
      Their minds took America to the Moon.and Mars.
      What has Israel done for America besides cause Arab terrorism and Arab wars that American blood and treasure has been expended on.
      Americans are saying no more and that is why Israel's friend, the Republicans, lost their grip on power. .

      August 29, 2012 at 5:02 am | Reply
    • Mike

      Wow! That was amazingly funny! You're a funny guy!

      July 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  14. Joseph McCarthy/Quigley/LyndsieGraham/krm1007 ©™/Joe Collins/J. Foster Dulles/Marine5484

    I am a useless piece of camel dung. I post anti American, anti GB, anti semite, anti India, anti modern anything because I am a good moooooslem. I steal people's monikers because I am so ashamed of myself and post the most stupid comment. When people get angry with me, I claim insanity. I am the same guy.

    August 18, 2012 at 9:13 am | Reply
  15. Poltergiest

    For all the trillions we've poured into the middle east trying to secure a few decades of oil, we could have probably built enough damn solar plants for the entire nation and been done with this mess of a region.

    August 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • Reality

      Problem is that they don't want others to get those oil resources because they will get strong, so if America controls those oil resources they can manipulate region and can keep it backward by frequent wars and destruction.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:42 am | Reply
    • Mikie

      Such a waste of resources and environmental destruction in the name of WAR! The countless BILLIONS could have served American people, yet we support those who control the $ to line their own pockets and interests, how stupid can our nation get? We are brainwashed by those we believe in.

      August 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • Ehteshaam

      Indeed true. :)

      August 31, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
  16. easyrhino

    Let Israel do whatever Israel think it needs to do by themselves as well as suffer the consequences alone as a result of their actions.

    The USA should cut Israel loose. Simply put this country, despite propaganda to the contrary is not an ally to the USA.

    Time to get Israel's hand out of the wallet of the US tax-payer. The $3,000,000,000 + /year of US tax-payers money that goes to support the life style of Israelis is needed here in the USA.

    US citizens are losing their homes, their jobs, forgoing health insurance and the tax-dollars of those same citizens is going to Israel?

    Furthermore, Iran is not a threat to anyone except the loony ambitions of the crazy Zionist government of Israel.

    August 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  17. Richard

    "...drawing the United States into another prolonged and bloody conflict in the Muslim world that it doesn’t need. "

    That depends on who you ask. The defense and oil industries would love for the US to be involved in another war in the middle east – as soon as possible.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
  18. WORLD

    ????? ((( A DOG WHO BARK NEVER BITE WHILE A LION WHO SNEAK TEAR YOU APART ))) ?????

    You se there will not be a war because of some crucial reason!
    The most important reason is weakness on behalf of the leaders on al sides namely the leaders of Iran and the leaders who are the enemies of Iran.
    This leaders who are none more then philosophical swindlers whose major purposes is to manipulate the psychological mind of the masses in order to protect the financial interest of the bankers and those bourgeois elite who rule the politicians major policies behind the stage will never give permission to any conflict that can hurt there own financial interest.
    After-all a dog who bark never bite wile a lion who sneak tear you apart in relation to this mentioned spoken word it looks like every side of this conflict is a dog who can only bark .

    I do remember weary well while walking in the street of Tehran for some years ago al by my self how the propaganda machine in the nation used the fallen Parsa soldiers picture on every wall as a propaganda tool in order to manipulate the psychology mind of the masses.
    I begin to think for my self what is the purposes of this kind of propaganda policy?
    Is it to boost the pact mentality instinct that the citizens have or to direct there already pact mentality instinct toward the salutation of the military by creating a role model for the citizens?
    The only way that i could receive a correct answer to my question was to look around me in the city.

    I must say by observing on the citizens I was less astonished and more discussed.
    The reason that I was less astonished and more discussed was because of the reason that I was enlighten way the propaganda tool is being used.
    For sure couldn’t I become more astonished then I already was because I have seen the citizens before the time I asked my self the question that is related to the topic of propaganda tool.
    The look that the majority of the citizens had was similar to the look and lifestyle that the citizens of bourgeois nations and regions have namely USA ,Canada, Brazil, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, China, Europe and al other nations and region whose citizens only purposes is to work buy food and die.

    No the citizens of Iran had no what so ever the ambition to wage war with there enemies and those who had the psychological readiness to wage war was not built to do it in a professional way.
    The only force that could be recognized in the nation as a fierce force is those several 100 thousands of I.R.G.C members and those several 100 thousands contract members of Military and to some limited extend the Basigi soft forces.
    All combined are there perhaps 2 million built to fight while the Parsa citizens are 40 million out of a nation who have almost 80 million citizens.

    So what is the reason that made me so discussed?
    I was discussed because I discover that the only reason the bourgeois elite have give there permission to use this kind of propaganda is to make the members of the military satisfied in order to make sure that none of them become rebellion toward the same system that they are part of because of the enlighten that the military personal receive about the truthfulness weak hearted swindlers leaders that only speak about the enemies in order to boost there own leadership position in the nation.
    The second reason way the bourgeois elite have give there permission to use this kind of propaganda is to make the ordinary citizens to believe that the military personal are in charge of the nation and therefore don’t even think about to do any revolt against the corrupt system that we have created.

    So does this spoken word of mine the spoken word of truthfulness or does this word belong to the words of a swindlers of a propagandist?
    No this spoken word of mine is the spoken word of truthfulness because the proof is all around us such as
    1 The barking that take place al the time
    2 The limited militarization of the citizens
    3 The family members of the elite who spend mostly of there time in London, Dubai, Canada with the petrol dollars that the nation receive
    This bourgeois elite of the nation are nothing more then some few intellectual people that poses the art of laying and manipulation who have created a political structure that make sure to protect there financial petrol dollar revenue.

    This people have created a nation with out any major progress that are steel dependent on the dollar revenue for many of its products.
    This politician are the similar as there enemies because politician of both sides are cowards whose only wish is to succeed to manipulate the mind of there citizens in order to give the bourgeois rulers the possibility to live the life that they have.
    The greatest reward that this politician receive from there bourgeois rulers when they succeed to manipulate the mind of the citizens are the possibility to eat the scraps that is fallen from the table of the bourgeois elite

    August 23, 2012 at 10:21 am | Reply
  19. WORLD

    With = Aaginst ( the ambition to wage war against there enemies )

    No the citizens of Iran had no what so ever the ambition to wage war against there enemies and those who had the psychological readiness to wage war was not built to do it in a professional way.
    The only force that could be recognized in the nation as a fierce force that could wage war against the enemy of Iran are those several 100 thousands of I.R.G.C members and those several 100 thousands contract members of Military and to some limited extend the Basigi soft forces.
    All combined are there perhaps 2 million built to fight while the Parsa citizens are 40 million out of a nation who have almost 80 million citizens

    August 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  20. AJ

    Correct me if I'm wrong, yes I was there in Lebanon during the 2006 war stranded because Israel was bombing every single thing standing in Lebanon. However, Israel was the one who retreated because the amount of deaths they had in their Military. Hence saying that, I think its clear Hezbollah defeated the Israeli army (not mentioning the fact Hezbollah doesn't even have any air craft)

    August 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  21. Mikie

    NO MORE WAR FOR ISRAELI AGGRESSION!

    August 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  22. Hargen

    I am tempted to buy a big new plasma TV and I am excited for the fireworks show to start with all the above getting seriously involved. Even a set bunch of hyenas in action for quite a while would not be anywhere close to that. With Olympics gone there is nothing new in site. I am sure the boring and unexcitable world is waiting with impatience, unless Malou and Ehud are just letting us salivating for just a fizz.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:38 am | Reply
  23. ehjay11

    Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Israel knows this. Iran will only retaliate against the attacker. TelAviv will likely be radioactive dust, without a government, by the time the US gets involved. America has a flawed foreign geopolitical policy. Treaties everywhere that commit America to sacrifice itself to protect some foreign political power after they cause a war or are attacked. This policy will very soon lead to a military confrontation with China. America should have learned a lesson from Korea & Viet Nam. China is America's equal now, but not then.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:50 am | Reply
  24. laugh

    nina is a Mossad agent fellows and is on the pay roll.....your tax dollars pay his salary...make sure you get your money's worth.

    August 29, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply
  25. MADRIDISME

    God's scenarios.

    September 1, 2012 at 8:41 am | Reply
  26. James

    I dont get it. Here in the United we pay indians of various tribes for stealing thier lands and well maybe trying to genocide them. Why Doesnt Irael pay the Palestinians for stealing thier land. Its only paper and no opne gets hurt.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
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