As the world gears up for the expected Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear weapons production facilities, two questions present themselves:
1. What role, if any, will the U.S. play in the assault?
2. If the answer to #1 is (as I expect it is) "nothing overt" then can the Israelis succeed on their own?
DEBKAfile has a piece that sheds a little light on this second question.
The Iranians were counting on the Russians to deliver S-300 missiles which would be needed to shoot down attacking aircraft, but the Russians have evidently decided to renege on the deal (due to American diplomacy?) leaving the Iranians critically exposed and defenseless against a sophisticated air assault:
For two weeks, high-ranking Iranian politicians and generals bombarded Moscow to make good on its contract to supply the key weapon, to no avail. Saturday, Nov. 21, Iran's air force commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Mighani spoke at length about the highly sophisticated S-300, without which, DEBKAfile's military sources say, Iran has no real defense against US and Israeli aerial or missile strikes against its nuclear installations.
Our sources report that, aside from the Russian-made Tor-M 1 short-range interceptor, Iran's air defense systems are outdated and pretty useless against US stealth bombers or the Israeli air force's electronic jamming instruments. Syria likewise lacked the weapons for stopping Israel attack its North-Korean-made nuclear reactor two years ago. The Iranian air force has nowhere near the capacity to take on US or Israeli air might.
Iranian strategists are trying to make do with three alternatives:
1. As many nuclear installations as possible are being moved to secret subterranean sites - among them most of the research laboratories working on the development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
2. Bogus installations have been planted not far from genuine plants to mislead assailants.
3. Tehran's most powerful defense is the deterrent strength of its ballistic missiles and the missiles distributed to its Middle East allies, Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas. Therefore, Iran's first response to attack will not be to attack Israeli population centers as the Revolutionary Guards officer threatened, but to strike the home bases of its air force, missile and radar as well as the Israel-based US military facilities, so that Israeli warplanes will have no facilities to come back to, and its missiles are knocked off their launch pads.
When the Israelis finally do launch their attack - or attacks - the world will scream in outrage at this intolerable aggression even as they heave a sigh of relief that the Israelis removed the threat of nuclear war, at least temporarily, from the Middle East. It'll be a shame if we don't participate in the military strike because success can only be guaranteed if we do, but it'll be a greater disgrace if we join in the hypocritical chorus of condemnation. If the Israelis pull it off everyone in the world should thank them for having the courage and skill to do what the world should have done but lacked the spine and/or the ability to do.RLC