The Israeli government launched another attack inside Iran this weekend:
A drone attack on an Iranian military facility that resulted in a large explosion in the center of the city of Isfahan on Saturday was the work of the Mossad, Israel’s premier intelligence agency, according to senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the incident.
This attack is just the latest in a series of aggressive moves that the Israeli government has made against Iran over the last several years. Some of the coverage of the strike has framed it as part of an effort to “contain” Iran. As far as I can tell, there has been no acknowledgment in any of the reporting that the Israeli attack was unprovoked and illegal. Israel’s illegal attacks on Iranian and other targets in Syria and Iraq over the years have become so common that no one even blinks when another one happens. They are all defined as “defensive” strikes because the attacker says they are.
As I was saying last week, it is simply taken for granted that the US and Israel can launch attacks against Iran with impunity, and that is how this attack is being treated. US officials have wanted to make clear that this was an Israeli operation, but the administration apparently isn’t going to rebuke or even discourage the Israeli government from conducting more operations like this one. It is probably no accident that this strike came on the heels of the joint U.S.-Israeli military exercises last week that were meant to simulate an attack on Iran. If the US didn’t specifically give Israel the green light for this strike, it has certainly given the Israeli government no reason to think that it would disapprove.
It is worth thinking through what the reaction would be like if Iran had launched a similar attack on Israeli soil. The condemnation from the US and many of its allies would be immediate and deafening. There would be demands from hawkish members of Congress for more sanctions and probably for retaliatory strikes on Iranian targets. The US would hasten to show solidarity with Israel and pledge to provide it with more military assistance.
Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.