It is not sit back and watch as â€“ but more of a chance that the strategic relationship between Israel and the United States could collapse amid their dispute over Iran.
In three simulations conducted in Israel and the United States, a dispute was had over a response to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The simulations envisioned a diplomatic crisis as Washington tried to stop Israel from attacking Iran.
A report on the three simulations said:
“The United States was unwilling to use military force or support Israeli military action even after other measures failedâ€¦U.S.-Israeli relations deteriorated dramatically.”
The report by the Washington Institute, titled “Serious Play: War Games Explore Options on Iran,” reviewed war games which were conducted by three leading Western strategic institutes.
In December 2009, Brookings Institution, Harvard University and Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies conducted separate simulations to analyze Iranian nuclear scenarios â€“ leading strategists played the leadership of Iran, Israel and the United States.
The report, authored by defense fellow Jeffrey White, read:
“And three recent war games focused on the Iranian nuclear weapons issue suggest that the prospects for halting the regime’s progress toward nuclear weapons are not goodâ€¦The results, unfortunately, were uniformly negative.”
Former Defense Department analyst, White, reviewed all three simulations. He said that these war games, with a scenario that envisioned the emergence of Iranian nuclear weapons, ended with a bolstered Teheran and tattered relation between Israeli and the U.S.
The Harvard simulation, organized by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, concluded that President Barack Obama would indeed fail to garner international support for sanctions against Iran, while, Jerusalem and Washington would grow apart amid disagreement over a nuclear Iran.
“The U.S.-Israeli relationship deteriorated dramatically during the game, leading to a deep diplomatic crisisâ€¦Indeed, most observers would probably characterize the outcome as a win for Iran and a defeat for the United States and Israel.”
The Brookings simulation also ended witnessing U.S. anger toward Israel as Washington attempted to avoid conflict with Iran. In this particular war game, Israel actually attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“The United States was unhappy with Israel over the attackâ€¦The United States tried to talk tough with Iran but also sought direct negotiations.”
In Tel Aviv, INSS envisioned an indecisive Israel and U.S. amid Iran’s advancement toward nuclear weapons. At the end of the simulation, Iran also emerged undeterred by either Jerusalem or Washington:
“Israel and the United States lacked clear goals and strategies for dealing with Iran’s programâ€¦Israel was perceived as being unhelpful to the United States.”
The war games suggested that Israel’s military option against Iran would create a hurdle for U.S. strategy in the Middle East. The report said that the simulations pointed to disputing assessments regarding the threat coming from Iran’s nuclear program.
“The United States eschewed military action to avoid the attendant risks, while Israel was more willing to take the risks to avoid, or at least postpone, the nuclear threatâ€¦Game play suggests that an eventual U.S.-Israeli crisis is likely.”
White urged the Obama administration to reconsider and revise a strategy and tactics toward Iran. He cited a U.S. option for regime change in Teheran as well as plans for military action against Iran.
“The United States must plan for military action, either by itself, with others, or in the wake of unilateral Israeli strikesâ€¦Both the military and the public should be prepared for the consequences of these scenarios. These preparations must be carried out with the full understanding that the military option is practicable — and, at the end of the day, may well be the required course of action.”
A recommendation was made that Israel prepare both its military and civilian sector for what White called an
“extended war on multiple fronts and deep within the homeland.”
Such a war, he cautioned, could result in casualties and disruption of civilian life.
“Israel already appears to be moving in this direction, and that course seems wise given the outcome of the war games,”
“Time is running out.”