THE POINT OF NO RETURN: New article in The Atlantic examines the prospect of an Israeli first strike on Iran

(image by Alex Williamson, for The Atlantic magazine)

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I commend to your attention a new article in The Atlantic by reporter Jeffrey Goldberg entitled, “The Point of No Return.”


  • “For the Obama administration, the prospect of a nuclearized Iran is dismal to contemplate— it would create major new national-security challenges and crush the president’s dream of ending nuclear proliferation. But the view from Jerusalem is still more dire: a nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel’s very existence. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold…..”
  • “[T]he United States Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade its airspace [enroute to Iran]. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down….”
  • “When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel—regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program—they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations….”
  • “I have interviewed roughly 40 current and past Israeli decision makers about a military strike, as well as many American and Arab officials. In most of these interviews, I have asked a simple question: what is the percentage chance that Israel will attack the Iranian nuclear program in the near future? Not everyone would answer this question, but a consensus emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by next July….”
  • “Based on months of interviews, I have come to believe that the administration knows it is a near-certainty that Israel will act against Iran soon if nothing or no one else stops the nuclear program….”

    Another article worth noting is this one in Ha’aretz:  “The morning after the attack on Iran: How will the international community respond the next day?”

    NOTE: Learn more about The Joshua Fund’s “prayer & vision trip” to Israel in May 2011, including the 2011 Epicenter Conference. Prayerfully consider coming with us not in spite of the threats but because of them. We will pray for the peace of Jerusalem, study God’s love for and promises to the Jewish people, participate in humanitarian relief outreaches, and in other ways bless Israelis and Palestinians. We would love for you to join us!

    SPECIAL NOTICE TO PASTORS AND MINISTRY LEADERS: If you would like to lead your own tour to Israel in May 2011 and bring your guests to the 2011 Epicenter Conference, we would love for you to do this! In fact, our tour agency — Inspiration Cruises & Tours — would be glad to help you design and promote such a tour and have many turn-key options available for you. Please click here for more details.