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Can the Israelis Pull Off an Attack on Iran?

My posting, “All of Western Civilization Could Soon Be Threatened By a Nuclear Iran,” went up on Friday/Saturday at midnight. I don’t know whether there have ever been as many readers’ comments as there were for this piece. To be sure, some of them were simply stupid and produced by the lame brains who have attached themselves (ongetshepet, my mother would have said onomatopoetically) to my writings. The rest were from intelligent TNR readers who seem to grasp the technological issues, understand the diplomatic stakes, and have a feel for the historic and moral weight of the matter.

I want to add another one of my thoughts to this ongoing controversy. An article in The New York Times by Scott Shane informed us, on the authority of General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that Iran did not have a bomb yet and may not have it for a long time, whatever time that is. It was clear that Dempsey was attempting to rein in the Israelis from assuming that Tehran was well on its way to achieving its goal, a goal—you might recall—that is proclaimed every Wednesday and Thursday by President A’jad and his Supreme Leader. The Times is very pleased to add weight to this restraining influence: It has had many news articles, editorials, and columns arguing the point. On Sunday in the “Review,” if you can believe it, it ran a mawkish column arguing that because Jews are a part of Persian history an Israeli attack on Iran would be an attack on Jewish history, too. The one moral of all the Times arguments is that since Iran probably doesn’t have the weapon now there is always the chance that it won’t have it. The message to the Jewish state: Play dice with the future of the Jewish people.

Well, I suspect (I suggest) that this is something Israel will ultimately not do. So the question is: Can the Israelis pull an attack off?

The most authoritative accounting of the possibilities, the probabilities, and the certainties is by Jonathan Marcus, diplomatic correspondent of the BBC.

After reading this analysis, please write in with your thoughts.

And to the “lame brains”: You know I don’t read you and haven’t read you for years. Still, some of your colleagues enjoy making fun of you. So be my guest.

Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.