The Middle East and Atomic Bomb Leverage
It’s no longer a secret. Nearly sixteen years ago, in September 2007, after months of preparations, Israel’s air force attacked what Syria’s Assad wanted to build, which was a North-Korean inspired nuclear reactor.
People genuinely ask what is the importance of being a nuclear country, because everyone understands it is a zero-sum game; if you dare launch one, you’re signing your own death warrant as well.
The answer is that a nuclear arsenal is a form of deterrence.
Once a country has the bomb, it has leverage over others.
It can advance its agenda better and often keep in its back pocket the atomic capability.
Syria wanted to have that leverage, but Israel’s intelligence learned about early on. Assad wanted to keep it secret, so there were very few people in the know and he didn’t even put a fence around the complex.
The idea was that if it looked like an ordinary warehouse, it won’t raise any eyebrows.
A formation of eight fighter jets were selected for the mission and they flattened the building, before Syria had the chance to make it “hot.” When the reactor begins to produce plutonium, bombing it is a news flash to the world of what’s going on and it can start a regional war, but if you do it without claiming victory and without humiliating the enemy, the rationale is that both sides would know what happened, but no one else would be wise to it.
Israel’s profilers, who studied Assad’s character, determined that shaming him would prompt war, but doing it in a way that doesn’t show him to be weak, might result in him wanting to silence the matter and they were right.
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What I want to talk about is the commando soldiers, the elite units, which trained day and night for the mission.
Aged 18, when Israelis graduate high school, they are required to serve in the military. The elite units are voluntary, because of the risk involved and the recruits go through long and excruciating training, often for two years or more, before becoming fighters in the units.
Some of these units go on very unique mission and would train for one surgical mission for a year.
Such was the case here. There was one plan for an air force strike and another by stealth commando approach in enemy lines.
What happened was that the chief of staff and the prime minister at the time, along with the secretary of defense, ultimately favored F-16’s and F-15’s over ground soldiers.
Could you imagine the sheer disappointment of training for a full year on one thing and then being told to stand down.
It reminds me of an Olympic athlete in the 100-meter dash, who was disqualified for two false starts. After four years of grueling training, to be eliminated from the games, on live TV, broadcasted to the entire world, is nothing short of heartbreaking.
If we’re able to avoid a hard landing that turns into a crash, we prepared for nothing, but unlike the frustration felt by the Olympic athlete, who never got to compete, we will be happy to have avoided a nasty recession.
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