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Monday, 30 August 2010

First shots already fired

Israel hasn't attacked Iran yet. Iran hasn't attacked Israel yet. But behind the scenes, both are feverishly preparing for war.

Having had little success in the helicopter-attack route, Israel is preparing to give over to the US the responsibility for taking out Iran's nuclear sites housed deep in caves. The US is moving missiles into position at the Talil Air Force Base in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Israeli submarine force has take up position in the Arabian Sea, also armed with missiles. The opening salvos of this war will likely be missiles fired in synchronization--whichever side uses them first will have the advantage. If Iran, several US warships are going to head for the bottom of the Persian Gulf. If the US and Israel, Iran's nuclear capability is going to be set back several years in just a few seconds.

This synchronization, as far as Israel is concerned, is coming at a price. Israel has agreed to let the US take the lead for now, given the at least half-hearted assurance that the US will not let Iran develop The Bomb. This means that an Israeli first strike in the next few weeks or even months is increasingly unlikely--especially as the US takes a more and more belligerent stance itself.

Iran, on the other hand, has already taken the lead in moving ahead, and Syria is stepping up to follow. Syria, the last big holdout in making peace with Israel, is getting prepared to open up a northern front in Galilee as soon as hostilities break out. In a sense, the first shots have already been fired: An Israeli spy drone was recently shot down over Syria.

Meanwhile, Hamas is gearing up for a major offensive beginning this week, regardless of what happens between Israel and Iran.

And don't forget the Yemeni front: Iran is backing the Shia rebels in that country. How much of a role they will be able to play in throwing a monkey wrench into the works remains to be seen, but it's in Iran's interests to be able to close off both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to oil tankers.

And what the Iranian Navy most hopes to block these straits with are the sunken hulks of US warships. Their new missile boats are now deployed and able to swim circles around a destroyer or cruiser. All it takes is multiple missiles fired in sync to defeat the US Close-in Weapons System missile defense.

Although they are more ready now than their adversaries, time is still on Iran's side. While the US drags its feet, every day puts Iran closer to having one or two operational A-bombs. But neither side is quite ready to start the shooting. It looks like it's going to come down to whomever's ready first.

I'm glad I bought 30 gallons of gas before the price went up 20¢, but it's headed a whole lot higher. And there will soon be another Gulf Oil Spill to worry about.

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