Military Attack on Iran: Anatomy of Israel’s Intentions

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Seyed Kazem Sajjadpour
23 January 2012

During the past couple of months, the military option against Iran – including attacks on its nuclear facilities – has showed up in headlines around the world, especially after the controversial report on Iran’s nuclear energy program by the Director General of the IAEA in the November 2011 meeting of the Agency’s governing council. The logic and quality of such an attack have been debated and questioned by policymakers as well as analysts. The consensus in all these debates is that any military attack on Iran will have disastrous consequence at the regional and global levels, especially at this juncture; triggering a plethora of conflicts, shaking traditional balances of power and increasing strategic ambiguities and a host of economic and financial crises. In this tense context, one of the most striking questions would be "what are the intentions behind a military attack on Iran?"

In response, one needs to discern between a military attack as "discourse" and a military attack as an "action".  Discourse relates to action so it may be conceived to be the prelude to any physical assault. However, discourse and action in regards to a military attack on Iran have their own autonomous spaces, rationales and players. A common element in both, which serves as the intellectual linkage, is the intention. Be it discourse, a prelude to action or need for a military attack, it is highly important to identify and deconstruct the intentions of these actors who design, fuel and lead the military option. There is no secret that though not being the lone player in this game, Israel remains the most active one. Israeli intentions are multilayered, responding to simultaneous emotional, political and strategic needs and calculus.

Domestically, Israel, suffering from polarization and radicalization of the very deferential concepts of "who is a Jew" and "who is an Israeli" - in the eyes of the ruling right-wing elites - can be reconstituted by using an external power to defuse the undeniable cracks in its structural cause. Thus, an attack on Iran, in the domestic politics of Israel, seems to be a remedy to cure open national wounds of unbridgeable divides in ethnicity, religiosity, identity and loss of meaning. Regionally, Israel by all indices and measures, is the loser of the Islamic awakening the Arab Spring. The days when the defunct Mubarak of Egypt and Netanyahu, accompanied by their conservative Arab elites, could discuss and design anti-Iranian scenarios have been replaced with a political setting in which normalized relations between Iran and Egypt is a matter that cannot be stopped. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of Israel, the perception of its military might as absolute and invincible is challenged by the emergence of new realities.

Globally, nowadays, sympathy for the Palestinian people is at its height and support for Israel is scarce, and only found in the American Congress, where Netanyahu gets equal if not more standing ovations than the sitting U.S president. Internationally, Israel’s actions and behavior are clearly known to be the most tantalizing impediments to the fulfillment of the rights of the Palestinians as well as the real source of instability in the Middle East. The number one problem of this region is the plight of the Palestinians. Through a focus on the imaginary threat of Iran and fanning the flames against the Islamic Republic, Israel is trying to divert attention from and misplace the real regional and global priorities.