The Obama administration has repeatedly vowed that there is "no daylight" between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to Iran, but a pair of new reports show how false the claim actually is. In reality, both countries are fixated on what would happen if Israel attacked Iran's nuclear facilities but they predict vastly different outcomes. The most striking of which centers on the likelihood of all-out war breaking out in the aftermath of a surgical airstrikes, but it goes far beyond that.
All-Out War Reporting from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Jeffrey Goldberg writes that Israeli leaders have a rosy view of how Iran would respond to attacks on its nuclear facilities. So rosy, in fact, that Iran would actually pretend the attack never even happened. "This argument holds that the Iranians might choose to cover up an attack, in the manner of the Syrian government when its nuclear facility was destroyed by the Israeli air force in 2007," Goldberg writes in his Bloomberg View column. "An Israeli strike wouldn’t focus on densely populated cities, so the Iranian government might be able to control, to some degree, the flow of information about it."
Whatever merits this thinking might hold (Goldberg says he's not "endorsing this view"), it stands in total contrast to a Monday New York Times report citing the belief of U.S. officials that an Israeli attack would trigger an all-out war drawing in the U.S. and potentially leaving "hundreds of Americans dead." That report is based on the findings of a classified war simulation held this month and it's not just a few minor military officials who are taking it to the bank. "The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia," report The Times' Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker. "When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there."