In this article for InfoRos, I interviewed Press TV Correspondent Ali Musawi about Israel’s influence on US foreign policies, and Tel Aviv’s impact on the growing tensions between Washington and Tehran.
In order to provide a balanced report on this subject, I decided to reach out to American author and historian William Stroock, for his expert opinion as well.
Sarah Abed: You’ve written 18 books, three of which focus on Israel. Can you give us a little synopsis of Israel Strikes the two-part series? Also, in Israel at War: and her enemies, you’ve chronicled the wars Israel has been in since 1947, how do you think it’s strategies might change if a new war were to arise, who would that war be with and why?
William Stroock: Israel Strikes is a speculative novel in the tradition of Tom Clancy about an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program and the follow-on war in Lebanon and Syria. In Israel Strikes: War of the Red Sea the fighting spreads to Gaza with Israel invading Sudan to cut off the flow of Iranian arms and missiles to Hamas. Israel’s next war, barring an internal revolution in Iran, will pit the Jewish state against Iran and Hezbollah. This is the existential conflict in which neither side will care about public relations or civilian casualties. Expect Lebanon to be destroyed and Syria to be dragged into the conflict as the IAF destroys every bit of infrastructure in the country to prevent help from reaching Hezbollah from Iran. One thing we haven’t seen in past wars, I would expect Israel to counter Iranian ballistic missiles with ballistic missiles of its own, launched from Israel and from five Dolphin class submarines each capable for launching several ballistic missiles. Iran’s oil platforms are extremely vulnerable.
Sarah: Some would argue that Israel is in favor of a war between the United States and Iran, others have said that's not the case. What are your thoughts on this?
William: The Israelis usually don't like it when the United States intervenes in the Middle East as doing so introduces new variables for them to deal with. An American war with Iran almost certainly means Iran would try to provoke Israel by launching missiles against it, as Saddam did in 1990. While the Americans have greater military capabilities against Iran's nuclear facilities there's no guarantee the US could degrade those facilities to Israel's satisfaction. So, an American war on Iran is probably not in Jerusalem's interest.
Sarah: Do you think that a military confrontation between Israel and Iran is inevitable? How would that scenario play out?
William: War must never be inevitable and usually comes because of leadership failures (like the US Civil War or the Great War). That said, war between Israel and Iran is likely. We can expect Iran and Hezbollah to launch a large-scale missile strike on Israel, followed by Israeli retaliation and Invasion of Lebanon in an all-out war to destroy Hezbollah. Iran would probably attack Israeli targets overseas while Israel would hit Iranian nuclear sites. Both sides would break new ground in cyber warfare, with attacks on one another's digital infrastructure. One should also consider the media war.
Sarah: What impact could a war between Israel and Iran have on the neighboring countries, primarily Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq?
William: A war will destroy Lebanon. The Israelis have signaled for years that they will hold nothing back this time. Syria would most likely suffer serious damage to infrastructure as Israel attempts to cut off Hezbollah. Iraq is in the Iranian sphere and could probably add some diplomatic support to Tehran.
Sarah: How confident are you in Israel’s military and weapons capabilities, if a new war were to start in the region? What do you attribute that confidence or lack thereof to?
William: The Israeli Defense Force remains undefeated. Today the IDF is the best trained, led, and unlike the wars of the 1948-1973, the most lavishly equipped army in the Middle East. No Arab army could possibly defeat the IDF in a conventional war, and the Arabs know it. The IDF walloped HAMAS in the last three conflicts. The IDF was not properly prepared for war with Hezbollah in 2006, nevertheless at the end of the war the IDF stood on the south bank of the Litani once more. Israel has been planning for the next war with Hezbollah ever since. That planning includes extensive mountain and urban warfare exercises. Good armies learn from past mistakes and the IDF made many in 2006. The IDF is a good army.
Sarah: How would you respond to experts that say Israel hasn’t been a superpower in over a decade and without Washington’s generous financial and military support (which American taxpayers are paying for) it wouldn’t be able to function?
William: Between 1948 and 1967 Israel defeated multiple Arab nations without American military assistance. American military aid to Israel amounts to about $3 billion a year and comes in the form of block grants used in turn to buy sophisticated weapons like F-35 fighters and bunker buster bombs from American companies. When Israel uses American equipment, the American military sees what that equipment can do in combat. The Israelis have an indigenous weapons industry that has developed the Iron Dome and Arrow anti missiles systems and the tank-based Trophy anti-rocket system all designed and built in the aftermath of the 2006 war. The relationship benefits both countries as they share technology and intelligence. Has Israel lost anywhere in the last decade? People who say Israel is weaker now than in 2006 simply don’t know what they’re talking about.
Sarah: Lastly, some have blamed the instability in the Middle East on Israel. How do you respond to that?
William: The Middle East was unstable for several thousand years before 1948. Peace there eludes even god. If Israel ceased to exist, Egypt would still be poor, Lebanon would still be divided along religious lines, Syria would still be at war and Iran would still be in the grip of an Islamist thugocracy. Groups like ISIS and Al Qaida and nations like Iran, through its Hezbollah proxy, do far more to destabilize the region. Al Qaida and the Iranian backed Shia militias were two of the Iraqi Insurgencies’ three prongs, the third being the Sunnis and Saddam hold outs. Iran has its hand in Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen. Iran destabilizes the Middle East, not Israel.