Iran's strategic mistake in war with Israel

Richard Fernandez:
... Israel's problem has been how to bring its arch-foe within effective range. That problem may have been solved by the ayatollahs themselves. The Islamic Republic is now embroiled in three major campaigns: a proxy conflict with Saudi Arabia in Yemen; participation on behalf of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war; a state of conflict with Israel across the Lebanese border via Hezbollah. These not only represent a considerable burden for Iran's limited resources, they also bring a large part of Tehran's forces within effective range of the IDF.

This constitutes a major opportunity for Israel to catch Tehran at the end of its tether, forcing it to retreat. Iran is overstretched and far from home. The seeds of this weakness were planted by the expansionary tendencies within the Islamic Republic itself. Drawn to Lebanon by the prospect of running lucrative rackets and unable to resist exploiting the chaos occasioned by Obama's inaction in Syria, it joined the list on the side of Assad.

The former administration's policies "empowered Russia and Iran, produced ISIS, strengthened al-Qaeda and created the refugee crisis which became a strategic threat to Europe," according to one analyst from the BBC. These were astonishingly reinforced by the Obama nuclear deal, which not only guaranteed American nonaggression but also provided a source of money to pursue the Islamic Republic's ambitions.

Drawn on by these prospects, its grasp may now exceed its reach. Trump's repudiation of his predecessor's executive agreements and the reimposition of the sanctions probably come as a profound shock to a regime running on "resupply by appeasement." In the words of a guest editorial in the Washington Post, "Trump just accelerated Iran’s implosion. He won’t like the results." The WaPo article describes in baleful terms how the new administration's actions may bring Iran to its knees.
Trump just accelerated Iran’s implosion. He won’t like the results. The country is teetering on the edge of an economic collapse that would empower the hard-liners.

President Hassan Rouhani has already lost his base of support.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal signed with Iran and the European powers in 2015 doesn’t just make it likelier that Iran, too, will abandon the treaty and renew its push to make a bomb. It could also determine if the social unrest sweeping the Islamic Republic deepens and further destabilizes the regime. The government is facing perhaps its greatest opposition nationwide since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Trump’s decision will change how that story plays out in ways that will further destabilize the regime while giving conservatives more power for now.
While some might argue an Islamic Republic implosion is actually a feature, not a bug, the article fails to consider the obvious alternative to collapse. The regime can abandon its expansionary ambitions and devote its resources to economic development within its own borders. Retreat will bring relief. Limitations on Israel's manpower and power projection capabilities mean that it probably could not pursue.
Contrary to what the quoted WaPo writer suggests, I think Trump would be happy to see an implosion in Iran and take advantage of it to help the people of Iran overthrow a regime they hate.  The snapback of sanctions will help to topple a regime whose currency is already in freefall.  It should not be forgotten that Obama is no longer in charge with his weak policies toward Iran.

The Israeli response to Iran's shelling of its forces in teh Golon heights also demonstrated the weakness of Iran.  Iran's forces are like the Russian mercenaries who are at a disadvantage when they come up against superior forces with overwhelming air power advantages.


  1. Amateurs, like left handed knife fighters, can often cut Gordian Knots that constrain professionals. Some examples are the Duke of Wellington, and Ronald Reagan. The problem is succeeding, or knowing when to quit, before beginner's luck runs out. They did, Adolf Hitler didn't. I think Trump has a good bit more to run before something really bad happens, simply because the professionals have failed so abjectly. Color me cautiously pessimistic.


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