Ira Straus

Israel’s Options on Striking Iran

There are four main options:

  1. Give in to Biden and the media: call it quits. Maybe put a nice face on it, call it a win — while swallowing the defeat. Accept Biden’s rule of passively waiting for and defending against attacks. Concede the right of escalatory initiative to Iran, and escalation dominance as well.
  2. Make pinprick strikes against Iranian military-terrorist targets abroad. This would make a more positive point, although not enough to reestablish Israel’s objective escalation dominance.
  3. Retaliate inside Iran. Hit enough military targets to restore deterrence. Don’t hit too many civilians; that could create a rally-around-the-flag effect.
  4. Make a transformative strike: destroy major strategic targets.
  • Smash up Iran’s nuclear program and ballistic missiles. These threaten the entire world as well as endangering Israel’s survival.
  • Destroy Iran’s drones production facilities and stockpile. These are being used to prop up Russia and kill Ukrainians, as well as to arm Hezbollah and the Houthis for attacking the world, and of course for endangering Israelis.
  • Smash up the Quds forces. These are hated by the people for violently repressing them as well as by their victims abroad.

Benefits of the fourth approach

The final approach – a full strategic response — would aim to destroy enough of the regime’s power and prospects as to send it reeling. It would make the world a safer place for the whole Wst.

It could also give the Iranian people the courage to finally topple the regime. They are in fact heavily against the Islamist regime. This was seen by the whole world in the mass demonstrations against it in 2022. An extraordinary 80% opposition to the regime has been confirmed by a brilliantly organized scientific survey in 2023.

Thus far the people have confined themselves to protests, because the forces of repression have seemed so strong. An Israeli strike that seriously sets back Iran’s military power would be one that would create a momentum against the regime.

The momentum could even give courage to the regime’s own internal skeptics and moderates. For decades they have satisfied themselves with crumbs of concessions, like winning elections that the powers above them have allowed at times while preventing them for doing much on their basis. If Israel hits Iran’s power structures hard enough, it could finally give them the courage to save their country and overturn the powers they have served.

Doing what Israel needs to do

Israel is a frontline state. It cannot afford yielding passively to the easy temporizing delusions that are popular in far away states, and in their media.

Israel has done what it had to do in the past. It defied the dishonest condemnation of the West, to the benefit of all.

This is what Israel did when it destroyed the nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria. Their reactors were aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

Israel suffered shamelessly dishonest condemnations for these vitally beneficent actions. The condemnations came from the same Western governments that should have been praising it: Israel was saving them too from a much more dangerous world. They came from the same media that are routinely lying about Israel today and condemning it for the very things they should be praising it for. They came from the same G7 countries that Biden is mobilizing to dissuade Israel from doing what it needs to do.

But Israel did it anyway. It defied the anticipated condemnations. It saved itself and the world from an existential threat.

It can do it again.

About the Author
Chair, Center for War/Peace Studies; Senior Adviser, Atlantic Council of the U.S.; formerly a Fulbright professor of international relations; studied at Princeton, UVA, Oxford. Institutions named above for identification purposes only; views expressed herein are solely the responsibility of the author.
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