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Biden Warned Iran, but They Hit Israel Anyway – So Now What?

Iran took its shot, and what comes next could be revealing.

When asked what his counsel would be to Iran regarding an expected revenge attack on Israel, President Joe Biden turned to the television cameras with steely, resolute eyes and warned: “Don’t.” Well, Iran did. In fact, Iran attacked Israel with force, launching a reported 320 attack drones, cruise, and ballistic missiles. So, what happens now?

The bombardment was not unexpected. As Liberty Nation explained, “Tehran’s leaders threatened to attack Israel this week in retaliation for the Israel Defense Force (IDF) killing one of their top generals. Now the dreaded strike has finally come. Iran reportedly launched more than 300 drones and missiles toward Israel – though the IDF says 99% of them were intercepted.” What comes next? Well, if you thought President Biden would back Israel in a counterstrike, you would be wrong. But if you knew anything about Biden and his feckless worldview, you wouldn’t have expected that anyway.

Israel Cannot Rely on Biden

Just hours after Iran’s bombardment of Israel, Biden let Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu know that the ironclad support we hear so much about was not that solid. Politico reported, “President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States will not join an offensive counterstrike on Iran should Israel choose that road after Tehran attacked it this weekend, according to two people familiar with the conversation.” Government officials are talking all over Washington, DC, counseling Israel to use restraint.

During the same phone call regarding the success of Israel’s air defense – which intercepted nearly all of Iran’s aerial weapons – Biden reportedly told Netanyahu: “You got a win. Take the win.” That is precisely the narrow, myopic understanding of what took place in the skies over Israel that Americans have come to expect from the current White House resident.

In an interview with CNN, John Bolton, national security advisor under former President Donald Trump, posited that the Iran attack was evidence of a failure of Israeli and US deterrence. Furthermore, it was a blessing that only one percent of the missiles got through.

“The way you establish deterrence is by telling your adversary if you ever tried that again, the price you pay will be so much higher than any gain you think you can get” Bolton explained. “You shouldn’t even think about it.”

However, while pundits and media wonks are opining about the immediate geopolitical effects of the Iran attack, more consequential questions must be considered. The missile and drone barrage did no significant damage – this time. “But what happens if the next attack comes all at once from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria as well as Iran?” The Wall Street Journal editorial board asked. To be more successful next time, what did the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) learn from this attack? Perhaps in addition to showing bravado in avenging the death of one of their generals, the purpose was to test how effective the Israeli defense was. Iran now knows what a state-of-the-art air defense looks like.

No One Is Asking the More Important Questions

Israel’s integrated, layered air defense is in-depth with anti-aircraft systems that include long-range interceptions by F-15, F-16, and F-35 fighters that can take down incoming threats at significant range. Drones, missiles, short-range rockets, or even 155 mm artillery shells posing a threat will be engaged by one of the ten Iron Dome anti-aircraft systems, which have a range of 43 miles and are located strategically throughout Israel.

New Banner Military AffairsTo defeat medium-range threats, Israel has deployed David’s Sling, a two-stage anti-missile and anti-aircraft system with a range of 160 miles. The early version of Arrow 2 and the latest Arrow 3 missile systems are uniquely capable of high-altitude intercepts of ballistic missiles like those launched at Israel from Yemen. “The latter [Arrow 3] made its combat debut on Nov. 9 when it intercepted a Houthi missile in what was described as the first time ‘the world had ever seen a battle fought in space,’” Forbes reported. Currently in development, a new system will rely on lasers to destroy incoming threats. Reports are the system will be called Iron Beam. The Israeli air defense systems are integrated and coordinated to be the most efficient at killing incoming airborne threats. As significant as the anti-air missiles systems are, Israel demonstrated that when under attack it could integrate the participating US, UK, and Jordanian fighter aircraft into the air battle. That is a major achievement in command, control, and communications.

After the Iranians threw a canopy of drones, cruise, and ballistic missiles at Israel with a one percent effectiveness rate, the IRGC knows that a barrage of 320 is not enough to overwhelm a sophisticated air defense. Many of the Iranian drones had navigation lights brightly shining. That’s not what you would do if you wanted to ensure the drones hit their targets. Commentators were confused on this point, as it made them much easier to see and shoot down. But if Iran were trying to determine precisely what level of air defense the Israelis would use, making the targets easier to see and engage would more likely prompt the desired response. It would have been a useful tactic.

Should Iran achieve nuclear weapon status, that one percent of 600 or 1,000 missiles or drones with atomic warheads might be enough. But lost in all the jabbering out of Washington, DC, about the significance of the Iranian attack and how Israel should show restraint is any mention of who else benefits. China, Russia, and North Korea now have real-time, empirical data they never had before. They understand it will take more than 320 aerial weapons with conventional warheads of different types to defeat the latest multi-layered and integrated air defense system. They also know what tactics for using the weapons didn’t work. What could be more valuable to America’s enemies?

So, what happens now? Israel will likely take the Biden administration’s counsel to “take the win” about as seriously as Iran took the president’s “don’t.”

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliate.

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