Foreign Policy, Military Experts Urge Israel To Deliver ‘Disproportionate’ Response To Iranian Attacks
This picture taken on April 15, 2024 shows a view of a billboard depicting named Iranian ballistic missiles in service, with text in Arabic reading "the honest [person's] promise" and in Persian "Israel is weaker than a spider's web", in Valiasr Square in central Tehran. Iran on April 14 urged Israel not to retaliate militarily to an unprecedented attack overnight, which Tehran presented as a justified response to a deadly strike on its consulate building in Damascus.
ATTA KENARE / AFP via Getty Images

Numerous foreign policy experts are urging Israel to deliver a “disproportionate” military response to Iran’s attacks over the weekend and are warning that time is winding down to deal with the Islamic Republic before it becomes a nuclear state.

Part of what is driving the concern from foreign policy and military experts is that Iran has strengthened its relationship with Russia and may soon acquire more advanced military hardware from the Russians that will make it much harder for the U.S., Israel, and Arab allies in the region to counter Iranian threats.

The Washington Post reported on Monday night that top Iranian officials recently attended a VIP tour of Russia’s most advanced military systems and that they are reportedly seeking to acquire Russia’s S-400 missile system, which some military experts claim can shoot down stealth fighter jets.

If Iran were to acquire the S-400, and if it really can shoot down stealth planes, then options could be limited for the U.S. and Israel to deal with Iran’s nuclear program if a situation presented itself where it needed to be destroyed. Iran has rapidly increased their production of enriched uranium — in violation of international law — to the point where they now possess enough nuclear material to build a nuclear weapon with a breakout time of one week.

Compounding the issue is Iran’s continued work on building a secret underground nuclear facility located south of the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant. The facility potentially could be deep enough that conventional weapons in the U.S. arsenal may not be able to reach it.

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that Israel should not respond to Iran’s unprecedented attack — which included a combined more than 300 missiles and drones — with a “proportional” response.

“The way to reestablish deterrence is not proportional. That’s academic talk,” Bolton said. “The way you establish deterrence is by telling your adversary, if you ever try that again, the price you will pay will be so much higher than any gain you think you can get, you shouldn’t even think about it.”

Bolton said that Israel should go after Iran’s air defenses, military headquarters of the Iranian military and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and their oil infrastructure.


“And, most importantly, I think Israel should be looking at this as an opportunity to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which is the existential threat that Israel faces,” he added. “I don’t know what they will do. I can’t predict it. But I will tell you this. If Joe Biden, as some press reports have it, is urging the Israelis not to retaliate at all, he is an embarrassment to the United States. This is an American interest to make sure that Iran, which is the principal threat to international peace and security in the region, is, at a minimum, put in its place to spare Israel, to spare the Gulf Arabs, to spare us from the threat that they pose.”

Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a non-partisan institution focusing on national security and foreign policy; Brigadier General (Res.) Professor Jacob Nagel, senior fellow at FDD and a former top Israeli official, said on Monday that a “disproportionate” response would be the only thing that Iran understands.

“If Iran walks away from this moment without paying a severe price, Tehran may be emboldened to deploy its weapons again,” they wrote. “And the next time, these drones and missiles may be armed with nuclear or chemical payloads.”

“Israel must now adopt a doctrine of ‘deterrence by punishment’ where it inflicts disproportionate costs on its enemies and focus its response on a few priority targets,” they continued. “The Israeli military could destroy the weapons deployed against them, including unnamed aerial vehicle development and production plants, as well as cruise missile and drone storage facilities inside Iran. Israel could also hit Iranian ports, oil and gas refineries, pipelines, and other infrastructure that finance the regime.”

Dubowitz and Nagel said that the most important target for Israel should be Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Israel “must now shift to neutralizing Iran’s nuclear scientists and their ability to build an actual weapon,” they wrote. “After this weekend, the threat of a nuclear weapon being deployed from inside Iran toward Israel is a step closer to reality.”

Former British Army Commander Colonel Richard Kemp — who served as chairman of the British government’s Cobra Intelligence Group, responsible for coordinating the work of the national intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6 — also argued that a “disproportionate” response was not only warranted, but needed.

“I don’t think Israel should be looking at a proportionate response, I think Israel should be looking at a disproportionate response here,” he said during a media interview on Monday. “Israel should deliver a very, very severe retaliatory attack or series of attacks against Iran. And the reason I say that, it sounds terrible, sounds like war mongering, it isn’t intended to be that. But in this region in particular, only strength is understood.”

“Since Iran carried out this attack over the weekend, it’s been ridiculed around the Arab world for being ineffective for not achieving anything,” he continued. “And that shows the level of contempt that countries around here and players around here have witnessed. So Israel needs to be to deliver something that will not just be a kind of tit for tat, which will again encourage a further response from Iran, it needs to deliver a level of attack, in my view, yeah, that that really does deter Iran from doing the same.”

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