Why Hasn’t Israel Bombed Iran (Yet)?


Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Why hasn’t Israel bombed Iran yet? It’s a question I often get from people who suppose I have a telepathic hotline to Benjamin Netanyahu’s brain. I don’t, but for a long time I was confident that an attack would happen in the first six months of this year. Since it didn’t, it’s worth thinking through why.

First, though, let me explain my previous thinking. In the spring of 2008, there was intense speculation that then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, fresh from ordering an attack on a covert Syrian reactor, was giving serious thought to an Israeli strike on Iran. President Bush—who Israelis believed would give them the diplomatic cover and logistical support they would need for such a strike, especially if things went amiss—had only a few months left to go. The release of the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate claiming (erroneously, as we now know) that Iran had halted its nuclear weaponization effort meant it was highly unlikely that the U.S. would attack.

Finally, Israeli planners understood that the longer they delayed a strike, the harder it would be to achieve meaningful effects. Iran would have more time to harden its facilities, improve its defenses, and disperse its nuclear materials.

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