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Culture War Roundup for the week of April 8, 2024

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Iran-Israel War(?)

Well it's happening gents. Iran has launched a massive attack at Israel, consisting of at least 100 drones followed up by cruise missiles, and with ballistic missiles assumed (possibly confirmed) to follow. Presumably this is intended to saturate and overwhelm Israeli Air Defenses. Iran has stated this is a response to what is claimed to be an Israeli strike on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, which killed seven members of the Revolutionary Guard including two top commanders. Israel has not claimed responsibility for this attack, but it is largely agreed by those in the know that Israel did it. Without attempting to consensus build, I will assume arguendo that Israel did in fact bomb the Iranian Consulate unless I see evidence to the contrary. Netanyahu has convened his war cabinet, the British PM has condemned the attack, and President Biden while apparently initially going to address the nation has instead called a "lid" meaning no more announcements today.

Civilians in Tehran and across Iran are preparing for what is believed to be an inevitable Israeli counterstrike.

As of writing Israeli, British, American, and allegedly Jordanian jets are in the process of intercepting drones and missiles en route to Israel. The attack appears to be against exclusively military targets, a pleasant change of pace from the general behavior of Middle Eastern combatants.

Update: Well it appears this was much ado about what has become something of a nothingburger. While I hesitate to call a mass drone/missile strike by Iran against Israel nothing, well. Iran has stated that the matter is concluded, and Israel has claimed interception of 99% of the incoming drones and missiles. Israeli medical authorities have reported no casualties as of a few minutes ago, aside from a Bedouin 10-year-old girl in serious condition. This number may rise, but it is my opinion that it is unlikely to break mid double digits.

Update 2: After a phone call between Biden and Netanyahu, it appears that Israel no longer intends to retaliate. The tit has been tatted, and since no Israel citizens have died, and only the one poor girl was injured, the Netanyahu administration seems willing to just let this one go instead of escalating.

I have no idea why the hell Israel decided that right now was a good time to kick the Iranian hornets' nest or what they hope to achieve out of it. Isn't Gaza enough on their plate? Are they really deluded enough to think "Uh-oh, international community is not buying that we are poor blameless victims anymore, better start something to make it look like we're poor blameless victims"?

We're damn lucky things cooled down so fast, but again - what the hell was Israel hoping to achieve by this?

It's not "kicking the Iranian hornets' nest" so much as it is business as usual. The Iranian leadership likes to use the ambiguity of the IRGC's (Islamic Revolutionary Guard's) non-government/military status as a means to launder their support for various militant groups in the region. That said, I don't think anyone who follows middle eastern politics is under any illusions about where Hamas or the Houthis are getting their munitions from. Meanwhile, Israel's historical response to such technicalities has often been something to the effect of "damn the torpedoes international opinion, full speed ahead", and this would seem to fit that pattern.

Did Hamas not publicly laud him as the main IRGC point man on Hamas funding and the October 7th op?

I have no idea why the hell Israel decided that right now was a good time to kick the Iranian hornets

They are trying to pull in Russia and the USA into a hot conflict. They have been for a while.

Israel is pretty friendly with Russia, many of Putin’s close allies have Israeli citizenship and the FSB uses Tel Aviv as a spy hub; in the Wirecard case the FSB’s operation was controlled by a Jewish ex-FSB/KGB senior figure whose son (an Israeli lawyer) assisted with the laundering of the funds to support Russia-aligned Libyan rebel groups and Chechen friends of Putin. The last thing Israel wants is a US/Russia war, they don’t like Russia’s alliance with Iran and Assad and therefore participate in some of the power conflict around Armenia/Azerbaijan etc, but Russia isn’t an enemy really.

I have no idea why the hell Israel decided that right now was a good time to kick the Iranian hornets' nest or what they hope to achieve out of it.

They don't get to decide when they get actionable intel that a specific target is likely to be in a place that is reachable in a strike and poses acceptable risk of collateral damage or other mishap.

He decided to go to Damascus at that time and to run a sloppy opsec ship. That's what dictated the timing.

I think Bibi needs a war to stay in power. The west has been looking to replace him with someone more global west friendly for a while. Israel probably also recognizes that it's long term prospects are quite bad. Demographic issues. Surrounded by enemies and probably the most hated country in the world with large parts of Africa and almost all of the ME being against it for religious regions. West also seems to be losing support especially younger generations due to increase in immigrants and the upper classes obsession with oppressor/oppressed dynamics that they then racialize and apply to the global population. It probably feels now or never for them.

I think it’s mostly a myth that most of the ME is against them. It feels to me like they are now just a chip in geopolitical games. The Saudis supposedly helped with air defense yesterday. Long-term MBS seems to understand that oil will not always be the economic tool for Saudi Arabia and he does not want his country to go back to being goat herders. Israel and tech transfer seems to be a part of his long-term game. If Israel wasn’t friends with the Arabians I would guess that Iran would be openly interested in deal-making.

While it is true that the modern crop of leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE all exhibit competent understanding of geopolitical considerations and the obligations therein, I would caution against presuming the general public in each country has made the similar calculation. Main Street in every arab capital was filled with racuous celebration of Oct 7, and arabic twitter and telegram was afire with excited pronunciations of Israels destruction by the Iranian strike before the lack of Tel Avivs destruction became too evident for such celebrations to continue. Even now arab twitter has merely shifted conspiracism from 'the coverup of Israels destruction must be so great if they cannot bear to show a single destroyed building l' to 'Israeli/American perfidy causing the Arab government to betray the realization of Israels destruction'. Israel remains a thorn in the Middle East, a permanent reminder of failure that started with the loss in 1948, and will always remain so even if the Israelis all take a 20 year cruise and let the Arab civil war commence 2 seconds after the last jew sips their welcome margarita.

That IRGC QF general was a prominent leader with a job description that boiled down to “kill Israelis.”

Israeli leaders judged him worth killing to reduce capabilities and send a strong signal. They were aware of potential Iranian responses in doing their calculations.

Hamas would not be nearly the threat it was without years of IRGC QF support. See also: Hezbollah. While Iran appears to not have been directly involved in the 7 Oct attack, Iran is the primary source of all the terrorist threats Israel faces because of the support they provide.

Israel has been killing QF officers in Syria for years, often when blowing up supply dumps. Syria is essentially a major QF logistics hub to ship weapons to Hezbollah. This recent attack was simply a prominent example of that.

It’s surprising to you only if you don’t know that fighting Hamas in Gaza is but one front in a larger war that has been going on for decades between Israel and Iran and its proxies/allies.

Given the effectiveness of missile interception, I think it is hard to argue with the results. From Israel's point of view, the Iranian regime already hates them maximally and is kept in check purely by military consideration, not a lack of desire to wipe Israel of the map.

Purely military speaking, trading two generals plus change against a random civilian is a tit-for-tat game that Israel wins. There is also the costs of attack and defense to consider, which might be more favorable to Iran (launching a rocket is way easier than intercepting one), but on a scale of a few hundred missiles this is a minor concern.

I would guess that Iran wanted higher casualties, but also did not want to invite instant retaliation. I guess they might have wanted to achieve a dozen causalities or so. They erred on the side of too few, which is a lot better than erring on the side of too many for everyone. On the plus side, they learned something about Israel's missile defense capabilities.

We're damn lucky things cooled down so fast, but again - what the hell was Israel hoping to achieve by this?

I think you are right that killing the generals in the embassy might have been a bad move for Israel because of tail-heavy risks. They put Iran in a spot where the decision makers felt they had to retaliate not for military reasons but just to remain credible to their own peers. If they had killed a few hundred Israelis instead, then that would have put Israel in exactly the same spot, resulting in a war which both sides would lose.

I think it comes down to what a general is worth, militarily speaking. If Persia had managed to kill Alexander 'the Great' early on, history would have gone quite differently, but we are not in the antique any more. Instead of depending on having a king who is by chance a military genius, meritocratic systems common in the modern world should churn out a reliable stream of competent generals. From my gut feeling, modern militaries do not depend on a genius who sees a weakness during battle and exploits it in a way which nobody has ever thought of before but more on skilled but replaceable craftspersons employing their craft. You do not need Alan Turing to build Amazon, after all.

So killing two generals seems more of a papercut than a decisive blow, and Israel's actions can be likened to climbing a wall free solo: the fact that it went well for them this time does not make it any less foolish.

I would guess that Iran wanted higher casualties, but also did not want to invite instant retaliation. I guess they might have wanted to achieve a dozen causalities or so. They erred on the side of too few, which is a lot better than erring on the side of too many for everyone. On the plus side, they learned something about Israel's missile defense capabilities.

This assumes that Iranian leaders are constrained to believe in the Israeli government and media's official reports. They are not. Iran is free to spread to its own people that significant damage was done to Israel and that the Jewish world media conspiracy is covering it up.

The overlap between 'general' and 'political faction leader' in nondemocratic countries is often a very small circle. While there may be limited military value in a single general being killed, any relationships he had are killed along with him. Organizational continuity being disrupted, if not outright destroyed, has a very high value even in an ostensibly unified policy. No one may remain to verify which ongoing operation needs its next tranche of funding, for example.

Nevertheless, the Iranian attack straddles the line between 'attempted saturation attack' and 'internal stakeholder presentation'. The lack of concurrent Hezbollah launches leans towards the latter, but the fact that Hezbollah still hasn't been triggered means this was a costly exercise. There were other ways to demonstrate an attempt at striking the Little Satan without revealing launch sites and expending a limited ballistic missile inventory.

meritocratic systems common in the modern world should churn out a reliable stream of competent generals

Most countries spend most of their time at peace. Meritocratic systems tend to produce generals that are really good at politics.

That's why countries spend the first couple years of a war (if they're lucky) fighting the war they prepared for.

Generals have a lot of connections, within their government, within their army, and even outside their own country, that can't be easily replaced. There's a lot of human capital there that isn't really replaceable very easily. The knowledge and experience a general has is pretty hard to simply build institutionally, and it isn't every day you get a good leader, no matter how well-structured your institutions are.

I have no doubt that someone like Soleimani was absolutely irreplaceable. I don't think his death is the difference between greatness and ruin in the way Alexander might have been, but I still do not think Iran has recovered from his loss (and thank god for that).

Besides, kill enough generals, and you won't really have any replacements lined up- you can't really recruit someone with that level of command ability in a day.

The Israel-Hamas (plus Hezbollah) war is already in part an Israel-Iran proxy war. They didn't so much kick a hornets' nest as overstep a very fuzzy line. And Iran getting its back up over the inviolability of an embassy is pretty amusing for those of us who remember 1979.

...you, uh, are aware that Iranian-aligned and supplied groups have been shooting rockets into northern Israel for months now, right? Like, well into the hundreds of rockets. To a degree that 60,000 Israelis were mandatorily evacuated from parts of northern Israel due to the ongoing campaign.

And you are aware that one of the main groups doing so, Hezbollah, is regionally seen and understood as an Iranian proxy-ally, with significant degrees of coordination / support / direct armaments?

And you are aware that the primary agency of Iran that conducts this coordination/arming is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, whose commander was the one targeted in the strike?

This is really not a mystery. Iran has been participating in the Gaza conflict for several months. It has been directly instrumental in its efforts to expand the conflict to a second front in Lebanon against Hezbollah, which it has been arming and coordinating with via its positions Syria. It's not even the first effort to cause a multi-front war, which date to the start of the conflict.

The metaphor of kicking a hornet's nest relies on the implicit pre-state that the hornets are not already out and trying to sting you.

Are you, “… uh … ”, aware that America and Israel have funded insurgency groups in Iran’s backyards for more than a decade now? Groups that went on to kill civilians in Iran? Iran is no more responsible for Hezbollah as Israel is to the insurgent terrorist groups that attack them domestically.

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/2018-09-08/ty-article/in-syria-israel-secretly-armed-and-funded-12-rebel-groups/0000017f-e2ea-d568-ad7f-f3eb54ff0000

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-usa-syria-idUSKBN1A42KC/

A downside of the CIA programme, one of the officials said, is that some armed and trained rebels defected to Islamic State and other radical groups, and some members of the previous administration favoured abandoning the programme.

Are you, “… uh … ”, aware that America and Israel have funded insurgency groups in Iran’s backyards for more than a decade now?

Considering how I posted multiple times over the years on various external supporters for groups in the Syrian Civil War, sure.

Just as you are no doubt aware that Iran was supporting insurgency and terrorist groups to attack its geopolitical enemies for decades before the Syrian Civil War, and as such the Israeli/US involvement in the Syrian civil war was neither the instigating factor nor the basis for Iran adopting such a tactic.

Groups that went on to kill civilians in Iran?

Per your own citation excerpt- and what's not hidden behind a subscription wall- the groups supported by Israel did not, but rather had members who defected to other groups, which were not being funded or directed by the US or Israel to do such.

In fact, the correlation in the citation- of group members who defected to the Islamic State- is a notable contrast with the policy purpose- which was for groups to fight the Islamic State and keep it from the Israeli borders. While a conflation of groups is indeed a convenient and common policy to try an critique Israeli and US policy in Syrai, as far as the policy purpose of 'funding insurgency groups', the rather clear purpose here is not 'to attack Iran.'

Now, while there is certainly an argument to be made for responsibility for unintended/undesired consequences of policy, that argument would be far broader and also self-incriminating to Iran itself given the influence it and its proxies had in kickstarting ISIS. Which, while interesting, negates any real relevance to why Iran is supplying and helping direct hundreds of missile strikes into Israel over the last 6 months, and why that context shouldn't be relevant to why a country might retaliate to that.

Iran is no more responsible for Hezbollah as Israel is to the insurgent terrorist groups that attack them domestically.

If Israel were to arm and direct insurgent terrorist groups for the purpose of attacking Iran to the degree that tens of thousands of Iranians were displaced by conflict, they would indeed be deemed responsible by most reasonable persons.

Now, unless you intend to argue that Iran is to be deemed less responsible for what it has done than Israel is to be in your hypothetical, I'm pleased to see we have a consensus that Iran is no more, and no less, and indeed just as responsible as Israel would be were Israel to pursue an equivalent policy of provocation.

Now, as Israel did not pursue such a policy, but Iran has and is...

I'm mostly concerned about what the fuck this going to do my airfare. I'll keep an eye out for cruise missiles as I'm flying past Tehran.

Damn. Now that's an escalation and a half. I wonder if this gives the Israelis more leeway to continue cracking down hard in Gaza, I can't imagine that troops and artillery, and even most of their jets, are going to see action over Iran.

Air routes are often counter intuitive. The last time I flew from DXB to JFK, the plane flew over Greenland and Canada! Why the North Pole side quest? Idk.

As dovetailing said, great circles. I once saw the Aurora Borealis on a night flight from Germany to Japan.

The explanation you are looking for is "great circles". Your flight probably took close to the shortest route.

Yeah, just not very intuitive to a Mercator projection cel like me.

Surrender to your elongated gall-peters projected reality

They wanted to avoid the Hyperborean Restricted Airspace Zone. If you thought the Iron Dome was hair trigger you've seen nothing yet.

Well, it's turned out to be a nothingburger in part because the Jordanians and the Saudis agreed to help out. IAF fighters were explicitly allowed to fly over Jordan.

It's quite likely that the US organized this in exchange for a promise of non-retaliation on the behalf of the Israelis, which seems like a good outcome all around. The Iranians blow their load for nothing, no one dies, and a precedent is set that all the countries in the region align against Iran.

EDIT: I'll add too that "you can't even hit me" is a stronger position than "if you hit me I will hit back 20x harder".

It seems like how hard Israel hits back is what determines whether this spirals or not, honestly- Iran is per their words ending the matter and Israel does after all have to do something which Iran knows.

Supposedly Bidens already told Israel not to do anything. This looks like a fake attack.

Taxpayers spend $2 billion.

"Massive" seems like an exaggeration. Most of this attacks seems to be slow-flying drones which are easily shot down. They did fire a few ballistic missiles though. Those are much faster and harder to intercept, and it seems like at least one got through ("light damage to an army base insouthern israel"). But Iran has over 3000 ballistic missiles, thats what they would launch if they really wanted to do damage.

Hopefully this just ends here without further escalation.

Did Iran really know the drones were going to be easily shot down?

Well, i cant read their mind (and I cant speak Farsi...). But they should have realized that their drones are roughly at the same level as the small rockets that have been totally shut down by Iron Dome these past few months. Even more so, given the extra distance and warning.

Seemed to be, especially when they prettymuch communicated in their release about the attack that it was going to be majority slow-flying drones.

The death toll seems to have come to a grand total of zero.

This isn't war, this is kayfabe. An event for the sake of having an event. Is the Iranian military truly this incompetent? They could do better than this if they really wanted to cause damage. It feels like the purpose was domestic propaganda. All regimes need some level of popular legitimacy. "We are the only state willing to open fire on the Zionist dogs," is good for Iranian prestige in the region.

Yes, the Iranians are frequently delusional from getting high on their own supply.

They did almost no damage in their retaliation for the Soleimani strike, but that’s not what they believe.

They have to maintain their pride without it getting in the way of self-preservation.

What else could they do? Israel bombs their consulate and kills their people.

(1) We do nothing. Everyone now thinks we're toothless cowards and Israel takes this as carte blanche to do what they like when they like to who they like (2) We respond seriously. Now we've kicked off a war in the region and everyone blames us, the same way that clever bullies can get you in trouble by running to Teacher when you finally hit back at them. (3) We make a token response. This shows we are not just going to lie back and take it, but it also can be cooled down fast enough not to escalate things worse.

I think they went for option three and I think we're lucky they're sensible enough or cautious enough to do so.

What else could they do? Israel bombs their consulate and kills their people.

They could credibly signal they intend to no longer actively engage in proxy warfare and distance themselves from their proxies. They won't, but they could.

Israel bombed the Iranian consulate because the Iranian asymetric warfare commander who has been organizing a multi-month bombardment campaign of Northern Israel was at the consulate, where he was quite likely in the business of facilitating further bombardments because that literally was part of his job. Everyone with an understanding of the region understood that context as soon as the Iranians publicized and admitted it was the IRGC Commander, and that as such this was not a tit-for-tat provocation stand-alone incident where Iran was responding to an Israeli kinetic instigation, but a tat-for-tit-for-tat cycle where Iran would be responding to an Israeli response.

The difference is significant- and telling in how the Arab states responded- as the difference between responding to a response versus responding to an instigating response is that any game cyclic equilibrium will look at the response of the response for indications on whether the cycle will continue. People who believe that an Iranian non-response would be perceived as cowardliness and Israel believing it can act with impunity aren't familiar with the region. The accusations could come regardless- how Iran chose to respond is indicative of how it intends to continue with the policies that provoked the Israeli retaliation.

Plus #3 is a response that is going to be ineffective against Israel, but is a legitimate deterrent to everybody else in the region who doesn't have the Iron Dome setup.

The death toll seems to have come to a grand total of zero.

You know, for all the frequent concerns about AI killbots, modern smart weapons have, in practice driven what is, to use your term, kayfabe. I could point to how concerns about nuclear mutual destruction, while technically a valid concern, have thus seem to have caused a (fragile) truce on Great Power conflict. It seems that one outcome of true "smart weapons" would be the establishment of this sort of kayfabe, like in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Taste of Armageddon," but with no actual deaths, just our robots going at each other with the owners of the losing bots ceding the conflict, because of the implication.

Now that I think about it, the post-WWII era already has quite a few conflicts that are settled not by outright conquest, but by leveraging power into situations where one nation-state could clearly squish the other like a bug, and the loser taps out like a wrestling match, rather than a mano a mano fight to the death. It seems that some of the more enduring conflicts that exist (Israel/Palestine, for example) continue because the "losing" side refuses to tap out, and the rules of the international arena don't really consider such cases.

But it leads us to weird things like today's events, where one clearly-outgunned side is clearly and deliberately firing live ammunition at the other, and the fired-at parties seem to be left batting down the ammunition, and wondering whether it's worth the trouble to flatten the other side.

This was to have been expected given how the Ukraine war has been going. Both sides in that war routinely get a large fraction of their attacking assets intercepted when they attack targets that have substantial air defense protecting them. And Russia has better technology than Iran does, plus does not have to fly their assets over non-friendly airspace first before even getting to the target country. And Israel is small, so relatively easy to cover by air defense, and it has put a lot of resources into air defense. Based on all this, I predicted earlier today, when the news that Iran was launching the attack broke, that about 95% of Iranian striking assets would be intercepted, and it looks like I was pretty correct.

Also, it was obvious almost as soon as the news broke earlier today that Iran had started the strike that they were going for a limited attack, not starting a full-scale war against Israel. Firstly, because Iran has no rational reason to start a full-scale war with Israel, especially not before they have created a nuclear deterrent. Of course, states do not always behave in rational ways. However, secondly, if Iran was launching a full-scale war they would have launched more assets and would have probably managed to get Hezbollah to simultaneously attack Israel.

Israel is small, so relatively easy to cover by air defense

This is a double edged sword -- there's no defensive depth either. Which is why I hypothesize that the permission by Jordan to use their airspace was tactically relevant.

I think the fact that the USAF has bases around and can operate pretty much anywhere in Iraq/Syria/Jordan was probably more relevant.

My understanding is that Jordan and Saudi require the US to get permission for each operation.

Syria of course is a different story.

Hey, US taxpayers are paying for many of the pretty lights in the sky. How much do you think Arrow interceptors cost? Several million each. It wouldn't surprise me if Israel and co spent a cool billion on air defence today. Iran wouldn't have spent nearly so much - they come out ahead even before damage is factored in.

But Israel is also much wealthier than Iran- the cost/benefit analysis in terms of fractions of national wealth looks very different.

Only in nominal terms, in PPP Iran's economy is 3x bigger. While some have issues with purchasing power parity it does seem unreasonable to measure sanctioned countries in USD terms.

For purchasing internationally (and thus for the arms industry) nominal GDP is more important. PPP is a better indicator of domestic prosperity. International suppliers care about what you can offer them at market exchange rates, they don't care about your domestic prices. If Israel can offer me $500 for some small electronics part and Iran can offer me $400, I don't care if it's cheaper to live in Iran.

If Israel is overrun it won’t be for financial reasons. A billion is nothing to it or its benefactors.

True - though past a certain point the cost of the marginal interceptor missile rises to infinity. It's not simple to put those things together! There's no liquid anti-missile market.

Israel seems to have been shooting at Shaheds with air to air missiles: https://twitter.com/YaariCohen/status/1779511490795511988

The cost ratio is something like 10:1 against - unsustainable. It might not even be worth the wear and tear on the aircraft.

It is a win in a multitude of ways:

  1. Israel spent far more on this attack than Iran.

  2. It caused widespread disruption in Israel. Few people slept well last night, flights were cancelled, large numbers of people hid in bunkers and thousands of soldiers participated in the air defence operation.

  3. Air defence is limited by industrial capacity, not money. The interceptors are complex machines and production is limited. SAM were low priority during the 20 years of Iraq and Afghanistan so few SAMs were bought and production capacity was reduced. Now Ukraine is consuming SAMs at a rate several times higher than production and their interception rate is dropping due to shortages of SAMs. Ukraine will also need thousands of SAMs after the war ends to rebuild. Israel is firing SAMs wildly as they are exceptionally casualty averse. Meanwhile China builds missiles are drones at a higher rate than any other country and they are stockpiling their weapons. Depleting SAM inventories is a success in itself.

Iran just gave Israel the option, but not the obligation, to launch a massive attack on Iran without Israel losing the support of the US.

So do you think this is why Israel bombed the consulate? Every reply so far seems to be concentrating on Iran as the aggressor, with nothing about "but their consulate was bombed".

Suppose an American consulate were bombed by anybody, what would you expect the US response to be?

Suppose an American consulate were bombed by anybody, what would you expect the US response to be?

Let's imagine that Iran didn't just bomb a US embassy, but stormed it and took diplomats/civilians hostage. What would happen?

There's precedent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_hostage_crisis

The US response would probably be to tighten economic sanctions on Iran, but to avoid military escalation. As the Ukraine war shows, the US is very wary of escalating conflicts, even with second-tier powers like Russia or Iran.

It was a consulate in name only. It was a QF operational base used to conduct operations against Israel.

The Iranian MFA didn’t lose a bunch of passport stampers here.

“Why did Israel just blow up an Iranian MFA building without provocation” is not the correct framing here.

I suspect the US response to be blaming the free speech rights of an American that was orthogonal to the consulate attack

I don’t follow.

I was making a joke about Benghazi.

Benghazi.

The administration's initial reaction, IIRC, was to claim the attacks were incited by an inflammatory video some American posted on the internet.

I'm pretty sure he's referring to the narrative blaming the 2012 Benghazi attack on "filmmaker" Nakoula Basseley Nakoula's YouTube video "Innocence of Muslims."

More comments

Israel probably bombed the consulate in retaliation for what Iran's proxies did to Israel. International relations is not governed by rules treating agents symmetrically.

The main result has been to reaffirm how utterly hostile the Arab states are to Iran even in the middle of the partial Saudi-Iranian detente. Iran has no force projection, and a combination of the Quds expeditionary force, Hezbollah and a few Shia militias would never be enough to overrun Israel. This has made me a lot more optimistic about Israel’s position in the region; the Arabs and Turks both know that even if the masses hate Israel, Iran is a much more substantial threat. The Arabs just want the Gaza thing to be over (they don’t really care how it ends) and for things to go back to ‘normal’.

Is the Iranian military truly this incompetent?

Yes. They look like clowns. Keep in mind this is a country which fought Iraq to a standstill for ten years, the same Iraq which the U.S. defeated in a week with a 1000-1 casualty ratio during the Gulf War.

It is going to be very tempting for Israel to attack their nuclear sites now after this demonstration of "strength" by the Iranians.

If the Israelis were smart, they might have let some of the missiles get through, lol. This is just too comical.

they might have let some of the missiles get through, lol. This is just too comical.

What world are you living in? Plenty of Iranian missiles got through. It's right there on video. Are people unironically believing the Israeli '99% shot down' routine?

https://twitter.com/RadarFennec/status/1779343332012888288

Yes, I believe the IDF's numbers. I think they say 103 of 110 ballistics were intercepted, and 100% of drones. Potentially the 7 that got through were let through deliberately as a cost/benefit calculation.

Iran remains completely incapable of affecting Israeli warfighting capability. They are not able to accurately target Israeli military installations.

They could, of course, overwhelm Iron Dome if they shot their wad all at once at densely populated areas.

Apparently only half oh the missiles they atempted to launch actually worked: https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/israel-iran-strikes-live-coverage/card/many-iranian-missiles-failed-to-launch-or-crashed-before-striking-target-u-s-officials-say-TCd4YP2fiODhl1t9QDrL

Which on the one hand, lol Iran sucks. But also makes Israels defense look a bit less impressive. 7 leaks from 55 missiles launched is a lot less impressive than the "99%" interception rate we heard at first. More like an 87% interception rate.

The IDF is under extensive domestic pressure to accurately report military casualties. The fact that there are no great number from yesterday is telling. They let some through the way the US let Iran attack some empty, evacuated US bases after Soleimani.

There's also the points that one of the key premise of the Iron Dome system as a system that doesn't just bankrupt the country is it's trajectory tracking for when things are believed to be going for low-risk impact areas. Rather than shooting expensive interceptors at everything, it, well, doesn't, and the parameters for what it does/does not accept risk on are subject to different factors.

As such, Ranger's twitter doesn't really indicate as much as one might want one way or another. Things 'getting through' the Iron Dome isn't the failure state, it's the intended state. At the same time, it doesn't mean the system wasn't being overwhelmed... but also doesn't mean that the system was running out of ammo / got hit / etc.

Without clarity on to what was being hit, there's not much saying whether the system succeeded of failed at it's purpose.

Calling them "the same country" is really oversimplifying, since both countries changed a lot over time.

Notably: Iran purged most of their military leadership after the 1979 revolution, and was struggling to rebuild when Iraq invaded in 1980. They managed to fight back pretty well, considering how lacking they were in equipment for most of that war, and came close to winning. But the US, USSR, and other countries were selling a lot of weapons to Iraq, which kept them going.

When the war finally stopped, Iraq was totally exhausted and indebted, with no one left to sell them weapons. Their soldiers and population were horribly demoralized from the years of bloody warfare. You can't generalize from that and say "oh I guess invading Iran would be a cakewalk." They've had several decades to re-arm and re-train their military. Not to mention that this is a country roughly the size of the eastern United States with a population of 90 million. Israel is 10 million and roughly the size of New Jersey, by way of comparison.

You only need to summary execute couple of Ayatollah and decimate the revolutionary guard - the people of Iran will do the rest.

Iran is the perfect country in which decapitating strike will work well.

You only need to summary execute couple of Ayatollah and decimate the revolutionary guard - the people of Iran will do the rest.

Where "the rest" is anoint a few more Ayatollahs and reconstitute the guard, and hate America even more with even better reason?

Few people in Iran supports the current regime. And if they do reconstitute - you kill them again. Until they are tired of dying

Few people in Iran supports the current regime.

Why should I believe that?

And if they do reconstitute - you kill them again. Until they are tired of dying

I'm not sure why I, or the United States, should care so much. If they did anything significant enough to the US I can see killing them until whoever replaces them includes "don't fuck with the Great Satan" among their policies, but other than that, such a policy seems pointless.

Why should I believe that?

Absolutely massive protests that erupt every couple of years. And the participants there are actually people with something to lose. Unlike the LARP-ers in the west.

They try to obtain nuke. That is actually good enough reason for regime change or preventive nuclear strike.

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I don’t support regime change ops in Iran, but I think the regime has questionable vitality now and, while not at late-80s-USSR level, is kind of coasting on inertia and the successful purging of most internal resistance more than it has huge domestic support.

Not to mention that this is a country roughly the size of the eastern United States with a population of 90 million.

90 million poor Iranian people are not an asset. They are a liability. Zergrush is not a viable strategy in the 21st century. If Israel and Iran shared a land border it might be different, but only because the millions of Iranian casualties would affect public opinion.

Israel has just show that Iranian missiles and drones are essentially worthless. Yeah, if they launched their entire arsenal in one night, they'd do some damage. But they wouldn't affect warfighting ability.

You can't generalize from that and say "oh I guess invading Iran would be a cakewalk."

I didn't say this. No one is saying this. What I am saying is that Iran is powerless to hurt Israel directly. I'll go further. Iran is also powerless to stop Israel from flying over it and bombing whatever it wants. The reason that the U.S. "failed" in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it was trying to invade countries and make those countries like them. This is impossible. On the other hand, killing people is easy. Unless you're Iran of course.

90 million poor Iranian people are not an asset. They are a liability. Zergrush is not a viable strategy in the 21st century. If Israel and Iran shared a land border it might be different, but only because the millions of Iranian casualties would affect public opinion.

A lesson from the Ukraine war is that highly modern weapons which give countries like israel a technological edge get smashed up under large conventional operations which devolve into trench warfare in which quantity has a quality all its own.

Iran doesn’t have the logistics to mobilize large groups of soldiers to the front or to arm, equip, or feed them. It’s a mythical man month problem. Mobilizing more soldiers would actually lead to worse outcomes.

Iran probably doesn’t have the ability to wage a large conventional war on the other side of multiple hostile countries in the least stable region on earth. That’s true. But if troops were crossing the Iranian border, Iran’s millions of conscripts defending itself and operating in nearby hostile countries would be adequately fed and supplied absent a total collapse of Iranian war fighting ability- Iran is able to supply more limited forces quite well on a much longer and more difficult logistical tether and their defense establishment legitimately looks more capable than in the 80s, when starvation was still not the main challenge facing millions of Iranian conscripts.

It was already known by people who closely follow modern war that Iran's missiles and drones have very limited ability to impact Israel's war-fighting capability. I'm not even that much of a war nerd, but I knew it. What happened today is not news in that sense. It changes little about what people who closely observe military stuff think about Iran's military capabilities.

Iran's missiles and drones do, however, have the power to close the Persian Gulf down for a long time if Iran wanted to. They also could severely hurt Saudi Arabia's oil producing capability.

These recent back-and-forth airstrikes are a side show anyway. The key thing for the Iranians is, or at least should be, to build a nuclear deterrent as soon as possible. From what I understand, they are pretty close to it. To the point that I'm actually surprised that they risked destabilizing the status quo by retaliating for the Israeli strike against their leaders in Syria. The status quo actually favors Iran because Westerners are increasingly turning against Israel and have not been doing anything directly to slow the Iranian nuclear program. On the other hand, I think that today's retaliatory strike is unlikely to expand into a full-blown conflict, and the Iranians know this, so it changes little. Today's strike will also do almost nothing to alter Westerners' opinions about which side they want to win, since it is clearly a limited military retaliation for the Israeli strike in Syria.

It was already known by people who closely follow modern war that Iran's missiles and drones have very limited ability to impact Israel's war-fighting capability

"missiles and drones" is really not a useful category. The drones they're using: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HESA_Shahed_136, are propeller-driven and move at 115MPH at low altitude. Very, very easy to shoot down, at least when you have the resources of several advanced nations and days of advance notice. They are, however, being used against Ukraine to deadly effect.

The real danger is the ballistic missiles. Unclear how many of them were launched here, but it doesn't seem to be very many. Those are much larger, they move at several thousand MPH and at a much higher altitude. Much harder to intercept. It does seem like Israel was able to intercept one: https://x.com/Osinttechnical/status/1779312589039694002 . But Iran has over 3000. If they launched all of them all at once, that would be a very deadly threat that even the US would not be able to stop. this reply also goes to @jeroboam because I really think you're underestimating the danger of Iran. This was not an all-out attack by them. This was a minimal attack, to make a show of force but also show restraint.

I agree, but even if Iran launched every single asset that they have, I think that while it would kill many people, it would not knock Israel's military out of war-fighting shape. And that's even before accounting for the fact that it would do even less to hinder the US' war-fighting capability. Ukraine shows that a military that is being heavily supported by the West can endure two years of war against an opponent that has a very large arsenal of missiles, including ones that are better than anything Iran has. Granted, Ukraine is much larger than Israel, but on the other hand the US would have no reason to limit its direct help to Israel as much as it limits its direct help to Ukraine, since Iran does not have nuclear weapons. I hope that soon they will have nuclear weapons, but for now they do not.

It was definitely a limited attack. A full attack would have involved more missiles and drones, and almost certainly would have also included Hezbollah launching an attack.

Why do you want Iran to have nuclear weapons?

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It was already known by people who closely follow modern war that Iran's missiles and drones have very limited ability to impact Israel's war-fighting capability. I'm not even that much of a war nerd, but I knew it. What happened today is not news in that sense.

Yes, I agree with most of this. Iran's actions demonstrate great military weakness and lack of desire to expand the conflict. But I'm not sure everyone knows this. I just responded to a comment that argued the opposite in fact. I'd argue the consensus is Iran is a true regional power.

Iran's missiles and drones do, however, have the power to close the Persian Gulf down for a long time if Iran wanted to.

Probably, but as this isn't 1990 it matters a lot less. They'll just be hurting themselves. The U.S. is the world's largest oil producer and there are large reserves in South America waiting to be developed. Oil trades at $85/barrel, down 60% from 2008 levels in inflation-adjusted terms. Lots of wiggle-room there.

These recent back-and-forth airstrikes are a side show anyway. The key thing for the Iranians is, or at least should be, to build a nuclear deterrent as soon as possible.

Yes. That's the meat. Will Israel attack Iran's nuclear capability? It will be good for the world if they do. Terrorists should not have nukes.

But I'm not sure "everyone" knows this. I just responded to a comment that argued the opposite in fact.

Yep, many people didn't know it of course. But people who even half-seriously follow modern war without being blinded by some sort of bias knew it.

Probably, but as this isn't 1990 it matters a lot less.

Sure, but having the Persian Gulf closed down for months would still be a giant shit show for the world economy. And probably not good for the Democratic Party in an election year given that in today's US political situation, there is unlikely to be some sort of "rally around the flag" effect as a result of any war that didn't start with the US getting directly attacked, and the Democratic Party base is divided about Israel to begin with.

Yes. That's the meat. Will Israel attack Iran's nuclear capability? It will be good for the world if they do. Terrorists should not have nukes.

This is a matter of preference. Personally, I am in favor of Iran getting nukes because I do not wish them to be continually threatened by Israel and the US. The "world" would largely be unaffected. It's not like if Iran gets nukes, they are going to nuke Zimbabwe or Thailand or something. In fact, even if they got nukes, given the reality of mutually assured destruction they almost certainly would not even nuke Israel or any US assets.

I think it's pretty well-accepted that an Iranian nuclear capability would likely result in a number of regional counter-moves, such as:

The regional Sunni Arab states may then perceive a much more serious threat from Iran. They would likely seek to either build their own nuclear weapons or come explicitly under the protection of one of the existing nuclear powers. We're talking Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Oman, Quatar, Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan. Iraq and Syria aren't usually seen as Sunni-aligned, but they may not necessarily take such a thing lying down either.

Israel has long maintained a policy of "nuclear ambiguity", refusing to explicitly confirm that they do have a nuclear arsenal. If Iran does openly have a nuclear arsenal, I would think Israel would change this policy.

It's also the status quo of nuclear geopolitics that nuclear powers are not allowed to attack or threaten non-nuclear powers with nuclear weapons. You can attack, invade, and conquer with conventional weapons, but nothing nuclear. Once you have your own nuclear weapons though, you're now fair game for other nuclear powers to more directly threaten.

So, maybe Israel and Iran openly pointing nuclear ballistic missiles at each other? Not sure if that's a good thing. At least they might both cool their jets a little with the constant proxy wars.

Maybe American nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia? It's possible. There's precedent in America defending them from Saddam's invasion, and the Saudis don't seem terribly interested in manufacturing their own high-tech weapons. Or maybe they would ally with an openly-nuclear Israel? Both don't sound very likely now, but it's hard to see the Saudis just sitting idly by with an nuclear-armed Iran right across the Persian Gulf.

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What's the smallest nation or group that you would like to be armed with nukes. Iran is a state supporter of terrorism with a population of 90 million.

Presumably, Saudi Arabia or Japan having nukes is a much smaller threat so I assume you are cool with them. Let's go smaller.

Taiwan?

Qatar?

Cuba?

Should Catalonia have nukes?

How about Texas?

Hawaii?

The NRA?

Antifa?

The KKK?

Can I get a nuke? I mean, mutually assured destruction if I use it right.

Iran is about the LAST country that should have nukes.

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I think there’s a lot of space between kayfabe and total war. Wiping Israel off the map was never on the table—Iran’s goals have to be more measured. They might actually be satisfied with everyone in Tel Aviv needing to change their pants.

That said, the style probably was more important than the casualties. Announcing “the matter is concluded” via tweet? Is the Trump administration writing their press playbook?

Didn't they write part of it in all caps as well? I definitely had the same thought regarding Trump.

Twitter delenda est.

Repeat after me: Nowhere. In. Two. Weeks.

This’d be a lot more impressive if the OP hadn’t already edited with the nothingburger.

Israel hasn't exposed and humiliated a rival country in awhile, so I suppose it's due.

Iran has blundered badly here. Israel was taking real damage in the Gaza conflict. Now they get to look like the victim again which means the US and its clients will rally to their cause.

I expect these attacks to fail hilariously, and for Iran to be revealed as a paper tiger that is capable of funding terrorists but little else militarily. In fact apparently Iran is already saying that this is the last attack. Their exact words: "The matter can be deemed concluded".

With Iran's threats proven (I'm assuming) to be completely toothless, and with newfound political cover, Israel might now choose to take out Iran's nuclear facilities. I hope they do.

With enemies like this...

So, as far as you're concerned, terrorism is okay when Israel does it?

Or what do you call bombing another country's consulate? While Israel is already engaged in a war?

I hold no brief for Iran, but if they're terrorists, so is Israel.

Or what do you call bombing another country's consulate?

Well, given the facts of this case, what Israel did was a counter-terrorism operation. They bombed a bunch of people who's main function was facilitating Hezbollah rocket attacks into Northern Israel.

Or what do you call bombing another country's consulate?

An act of war, probably. Generally speaking, that's what one state attacking another is considered.

There aren't good definitions of terrorism, but generally speaking, they require non-state actors (or possibly by people from a state pretending to not be state-actors).

I recognize the meaning of the word "terrorism" has slipped and now gets thrown around willy-nilly to refer to any action people don't like.

But no, Israel's attacks on Iranian military officers are not terrorism, especially when those military officers were involved in the planning of attacks against Israel.

The attack of military targets is pretty much the opposite of terrorism. It can still be illegal or cowardly but it isn’t terrorism.

Taking out Iranian nuclear sites is hard because they’re extremely dispersed around the country and highly fortified, predominantly underground. They’re built to be largely resistant to American air strikes.

Israel blundered here. They bombed a consulate, which is going way over the line and looks awful. Israel has once again shown that it fights in a more brutal and barbaric way than other countries. They stepped over the line and Iran managed to make them spend over 500 million on interceptors, shut down their airspace, bombed several of the bases and caused panic throughout their country.

Iran showed that Israeli bombing and chaos in other countries can impact Israel itself. The Israelis stepped out of line and got smacked on the fingers.

Oh give me a break. No Israel does not fight more barbarically compared to other states. You provide no evidence outside of “they attacked a consulate” which has been known to happen when the consulate is more than just a consulate (ask Hillary Clinton about it).

Bring extraordinary evidence for your ridiculous claim.

They took out the guy who both Iranian and Hamas media proudly said coordinated the IRGC’s support for the October 7th attack on Israel.

Iran doesn’t even recognize Israel so projecting traditional international relations rules onto the conflict doesn’t really make sense. This isn’t different to when the US killed Soleimani in Iraq.

This isn’t different to when the US killed Soleimani in Iraq.

Which was also state terrorism. If we're going to go the route of "political assassinations are okey-dokey", then you can't object to foreign countries attempting to assassinate American political and military figures on American soil.

Which was also state terrorism.

Unless it was for the purpose of terror, especially against civilians, for political purposes, it really wasn't.

State terrorism isn't a catch-all term for any sort of lethal activity done by a state, or even illegal actions. And that, in turn, turns to the legality when a party is a military target.

If you want to make an international law argument of it, international laws of conflict absolutely do allow for the deliberate targeting of military commanders, which Soleimani and Zahedi were, of belligerent parties, which the IRGC is and has been.

If we're going to go the route of "political assassinations are okey-dokey", then you can't object to foreign countries attempting to assassinate American political and military figures on American soil.

There's never been a legal objection to parties in conflict killing eachother in the course of armed conflict. It's curious you think that is a retort.

Ultimately international law exists to regulate conflicts between nations by the mutual agreement of said nations, and the derivative force behind this is reciprocity, not external enforcement. The flip side is that if Country A attempts to assassinate Country B military and political figures, Country A doesn't get to claim any defense when struck back... and in this context, Iran has a long history of assassinating political and military figures, as well as targeting civilian targets.

The Americans killed Soleimani because Soleimani was involved in the business of killing Americans. Likewise, the Israelis killed Zahedi because Zahedi was in the business of killing Israelis. Under the laws of armed conflict- which do not require that either beligerrent declare a state of war- that made them legitimate military targets.

Unless you deny that the states involved were in a state of armed conflict- which is not prevented simply due to Iran working through proxies- that would make them valid military targets under the international laws of war. The same laws of war are constructed in such a way that when a valid military target moves into a location protected by laws of armed conflict, that location is no longer protected due to having a valid military target.

Ultimately, international law for armed conflicts is not nice, and does not have an 'It's okey-dokey for me to hit you, but no hit backs' requirement. States may voluntarily choose to refrain from retaliating militarily, but they are under no obligation to.

The Iranian government uses political assassination on foreign soil extensively, though.

I don't think today's strike will significantly change the US and its clients' current stance on Iran. The drone strikes against Saudi facilities a few years ago, which were probably at least funded by Iran if not directly launched by Iran, did not change it. Also, almost nobody who thinks that Israel is not the victim is going to have their minds changed because of today's strike into thinking that Israel is the victim. Iran launched a limited strike against, it seems to me so far at least, military targets. As long as this does not spiral into a full-blown war, the world news will very soon go back to covering the sufferings of people in Gaza the same way as they were doing before.

Maybe the people of Gaza shouldn’t have launched a war; then perhaps they wouldn’t be suffering.

My comment, which you are responding to, should not be interpreted as having any moral meaning. I was not trying to come out either in favor or against the Gazans. Personally I root against Israel, but generally try to keep my bias out of my geopolitical comments because I find that in geopolitical discussion, arguments about morality and arguments that are fundamentally based on tribal rooting for one side or the other are both profoundly boring. Most geopolitics discussion online is constantly getting flooded by people arguing about morality or just simply rooting for their side. Not that I consider morality to be unimportant, but it often hinders looking at geopolitics clearly.

How is this different from when Iran was allowed to bomb some US bases as payback for Soleimani? This stuff is literally negotiated, Iran just released a statement saying that was it. They even provided several days’ warning so that Israel and allies could prefer their defenses or even evacuate certain sites.

I suppose the real indicator of whether it’s escalation will be the damage.

I don't think you can confidently rely on an adverse party's word when judging whether their actions, even negotiated in advance, don't conceal alternate intentions which will only be revealed when they are taken.

Why would you think "Iran says that was it" is good evidence when Iran can say whatever they want but do something else entirely?

That's not even an uncommon tactic.

Russia was of course claiming the troops along Ukraine's border were a training exercise or what-have-you right up until they crossed over.

Famously, many Russian troops themselves didn't know the plan was an actual invasion.

So I'm not inclined to be CONFIDENT that any given action is what the adverse party is saying just because they say it.

My impression is that telling obvious lies to temporarily confuse people is more in the Russian national character than the Iranian national character.

I'm pre-registering a very optimistic prediction. If it was meant to really be act of war/do damage, why was the attack telegraphed in advance? Also, per Fars, only targets identified by government sources so far are bases in the Golan Heights and one in the Negev desert. This matches the pattern of the symbolic post-Soleimani response - remember when people start talking about ballistic missiles that those were used then too. Am I wish-casting? Yes, probably, but I do genuinely think this is probably not going to be disastrous.

Edit: just seen this tweet from the Iranian mission to the UN saying that 'the matter can be deemed concluded'. Thank god, though the danger not passed if some of the missiles/drones do get through and do some real damage.

https://x.com/Iran_UN/status/1779269993043022053

The Soleimani response was not symbolic.

US forces got out of the way because they had detailed intelligence.

Iran wanted actual revenge and in fact believes the US lied about the lack of deaths from the missiles.

Additionally, Iran will continuously try to kill those officials it deems responsible via assassination attempts.

Don’t confuse intent and capability and success.

I agree that Iran intends this as a face saving measure and not as a real attack. But they fucked up... badly.

It appears that almost all of the attacks are being shot down and (it's early so grain of salt) Jordan and Saudi Arabia are even helping Israel shoot them down. This confirms that Iran is much weaker and more impotent than thought. They aren't actually capable of hurting Israel in a direct way.

So the question becomes what does Israel do now. Bill Ackman is tweeting a source called Israeli Radar which says :

"Senior source: Israeli response vs. Iran will be unprecedented; don't go to sleep tonight."

Well, we all know how reliable "senior sources" are so I wouldn't expect an Israeli attack. But I wouldn't rule it out either. Israel probably has 48-72 hours to attack Iran's nuclear program before their hall pass expires.

Edit: Looks like Biden is telling Israel they don't have a hall pass.

In general I agree with you.

However, if Iran launched its full capabilities in conjunction with Hezbollah that would be a mess.

Not in the sense that Iran could meaningfully degrade Israel’s military capacities, but in the sense of wanton destruction and death. Presumably, Israel would respond with an invasion of Lebanon and major retaliatory strikes on Iran.

So Iran still has that option and I don’t think this operation changes the perception of that risk from Israel.

I'd look at traditional media coverage. If the coverage is "Iran launched an enormous attack, stretching Israel's defences to their limits", then face is saved and it worked. But if the coverage is "Iran launched a nothingburger attack and Israel laughed at their incompetence", then Iran might need to escalate some more in order to save the proper amount of face.

While I think it's really the 2nd way, if I thought that anyone cared what I thought, I wouldn't go around saying it, and would publicly stick to the 1st way (while in private I'd still probably make this argument). Because I don't want the situation in the Middle East to escalate any more, and in a lot of ways it seems like this sort of limited exchange is good for both the governments of Iran and Israel. Not that I like either of those governments, but I think it might be bad if either collapsed during the current crisis. (I think the sooner Netanyahu is booted from office, the better, but it should be done in a way that reinforces Israel's democracy.)

I expect nothing from Israel. This feels like a textbook we have to do something but don’t want to escalate so we sent an attack that is easily defended. I believe Iran even said they consider the matter settled.

Honestly though Iran probably needed a handful of dead Israelis. This feels like a prepackaged diplomatic attack.

Most likely you're right.

But I do believe that Israel is at least able to hurt Iran if they wanted to. The same is not true of Iran. Getting all your missiles shot down does not project the message of strength they intended.

Seems too small to reliably overwhelm air defenses. Perhaps an attempt to let Israel know that Iran really thinks Israel overstepped the boundaries of this proxy war they've been fighting. Nothing says "cut that out" as sincerely as high explosives, after all.

I do sometimes wonder how a military determines the appropriate size of a strike to launch in order to send a sufficiently stern message but with minimal risk of actually crossing a line that isn't easily uncrossed.

Requires accurate estimates of your opponent's defensive capabilities and expect that they'll be able to intercept enough that the damage is limited.

I suppose the selection of targets is more important overall, if you can mitigate loss of life AND not strike something that the other side finds particularly valuable then there's less risk of some miscalculation causing worse consequences.

One memorable scene from the SciFi Series The Expanse sees the forces of the Earth Military blow up one of Mars' Moons which was itself the response to the Martian Military destroying one of Saturn's moons which housed an earth-controlled research station. The argument being "a barely populated rock in exchange for a barely-populated rock" was a fair tit-for-tat to discourage further aggression.

BUT, (light spoilers) the actual underlying intention of certain players on Earth was to trigger an all-out war and they were hoping that blowing up a moon that close to the home planet would actually lead to immediate retaliation/escalation. (/light spoilers)

I thought it was a good illustration of how these sorts of calls end up being made, AND the delicate dance that it can entail when you risk misapprehending your opponent and what you think is a slap on the wrist could be an unforgivable offense to them.

Iran apparently referred to this as a “combined operation” so it’s possible that this is just the opening salvo and there will be attacks on other fronts.

I just saw "child safety guidelines" from a pediatrician visit which said not to allow your child out to play from 11AM to 3PM, because of the sun.

Didn't anti-sunlight safetyism peak years ago? Why has the advice continued to get crazier? Is this pediatrician a lone vampire groomer, or is the whole AMA like this?

It wouldn't make me so angry if the children in question weren't pasty obese maggots who desperately need sun and exercise. The doc made a choice to ask "so, are they being exposed to the evils of natural light? Oh, they sit inside and play Minecraft, eating Totino's™ Pizza Rolls™ all day? Good, good, check that health problem off the list. Now, are there any guns or motorcycles in the house? Because they can lead to dangers like going outside and doing things."

I'm not a parent, but everything I've seen of education and child-raising recently has been throwing up giant red flags. How are motte parents dealing with this stuff?

It's funny - I asked my optometrist relative if he had "noticed" anything, like no studies per se, but a gut feeling of something you've realized looking at dozens of eyes a day for years and years. He said he was almost certain that kids not spending enough time outside was linked to why more kids need glasses today. So I'm always trying to do t