August 15, 2012
Israel and Iran continue their war of words. Pundits are trying to predict when and if the missiles will start flying. I wonder how much money can be made by investors who correctly guess the timing of a first strike. I assume the first signs of war-sized violence will send Israeli stocks down and perhaps defense stocks in the United States up.
And this made me wonder how hard it must be for Israel to keep the timing of a first strike secret. There must be some small but definite difference between being generally ready to attack and actually making the decision. I’m guessing some types of military contracts with civilian companies get activated just ahead of an attack. Maybe the military suddenly purchases more of some sorts of supplies that can’t be easily stored. Or maybe the families of top Israeli officials cut short their travel and vacation plans. It seems to me that it would be impossible to hide the timing of a first attack from all insiders who might use the knowledge to profit.
A few days ago I noticed a 5% drop in an Israeli ETF that I invested in. A quick check of the news didn’t turn up any stories beyond the usual drumbeats for war that have been ongoing for months. Is a sudden 5% drop a sign that insiders know what’s coming?
Then I asked myself if Israel is clever enough do some head fakes (phony leaks) ahead of the real attacks just to see how Iranian defenses respond. It seems like a good way to make the Iranian leadership imagine more vividly how they will feel when the real thing happens. Maybe that’s a good negotiating tactic. And maybe it helps make the real attack more of a surprise.
Israel is in an oddly impossible position. They say they can’t tolerate an Iranian nation that talks openly of Israel’s annihilation while it’s working toward the capability of building nukes. But an Israeli military attack would guarantee that the Iranians become more dangerous now and later. Israel loses no matter what.
If your only two options (attack or don’t attack) are both losing propositions, what do you do? My guess is that a third option will emerge that would have been unthinkable under conditions less dire. Maybe the third option will involve a bold peace initiative the likes of which no one would have seen coming. Maybe the third option is a decapitation strike against the Iranian regime instead of an attack on nukes. Or maybe Israel will dig up the top layer of the Holy Lands, put it on barge-islands, build settlements on top of it, and float away. (It only sounds ridiculous until you compare it to the alternative of presumed nuclear annihilation.)
I put the question to you: Will Israel attack Iran’s nuclear sites?