An Israeli strike on Iran would probably prompt Iranian-backed terrorist attacks, but only Israel would be targeted with missiles, retired American General James E. Cartwright told The New York Times Wednesday. He was a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was deeply involved in war game strategies concerning Iran.
Cartwright stated that a direct missile attack on the United States is unlikely because Iran would not want to risk bombings by the American Air Force, which has at its disposal a larger number of “bunker buster” bombs than it has delivered to Israel.
Blockading the Strait of Hormuz where oil and gas tankers pass is probable, and he said that the United States and soldiers overseas would be targeted by terrorists, most likely with car bombs, if the Israeli government decides on a pre-emptive strike to harm Iran's nuclear development program that is widely perceived as aiming for a nuclear weapon. The United States recently has downplayed Iran’s intentions, but similar views in the past have been proven wrong.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that Israel can defend itself against an Iranian counter-attack. “Is 40 missiles on Tel Aviv nice? “No. But it’s better than a nuclear Iran,” a former Israeli official told the Times. ” A worst-case scenario for Israel would be simultaneous attacks by Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas on Israel.
One factor in the Israeli decision to attack Iran is the American’s estimate of what kind of reaction to expect. The Islamic Republic regime is nothing if not practical. “The Iranians have been pretty good masters of escalation control,” according to Cartwright.
He added, “The balance the Iranians will try to strike is doing damage that is sufficiently significant, but just short of what it would take for America to invade.”
The chance of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil is far from science fiction. The United States has already suffered several attacks and plots, most notably the plan last year to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Iran funds the Hizbullah terrorist organization, which has carried out attacks on Israeli targets around the world. Several senior Al Qaeda terrorists have been in Iran for several years, formerly under house arrest but now free to operate. One of the easiest targets for Iran is American troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran and where explosives can cross the border.
Despite worldwide chatter over the question of if and when Israel will strike and the possibility of a regional war, a former Israeli official told the Times that Iran’s reaction to an Israel strike “will be calculated and in proportion to its capabilities. Iran will not set the Middle East on fire.”
Karim Sadjadpour, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who played the part of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a 2009 simulation held by the Brookings Institution, told the Times that the exercise showed that an attack on Iran could quickly escalate. “As for long-term consequences, it’s way too murky to say anything but this: It will be ugly,” he said.