What Happened Today: March 10, 2023
Iran and Saudi Arabia make up; The second biggest bank failure in history; Sugarcubes on Women Talking
The Big Story
The bitter rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran may be cooling off, at least temporarily, after Saudi Minister of State Musaad bin Mohammed Al-Aiban and Ali Shamkhani, a close adviser to the Ayatollah, agreed to restore diplomatic relations between the Middle Eastern powerhouses for the first time since 2016. The deal, which was brokered by Chinese diplomats in Beijing, and announced on Friday, will see the reopening of embassies alongside an agreement that Iran will not carry out any attacks on Saudi interests, particularly in Yemen, where the two countries have been embroiled in a proxy war since 2014.
While the United States was made aware of the talks, Carnegie fellow Aaron David Miller said the deal amounts to a “slap in the face” from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to President Biden, aligning the Middle East partner with China just as U.S. relations with China reach a nadir.
The deal won’t do any favors for Israel, as the Saudis, having thrown their lot in with Tehran, will only work with the United States to secure peace with Israel if the United States allows them to develop a civilian nuclear program and lifts restrictions on arms sales. Of course Riyadh could bypass the United States all together by turning to Beijing for arms and support to build its nuclear program. Former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett is concerned, calling the new agreement “a dangerous development” and a “fatal blow” to Israeli attempts to create an anti-Iran coalition that would prevent the country from acquiring nuclear weapons.
In The Back Pages: Overmatch
→ Thursday night in the heart of Tel Aviv, a Palestinian terrorist shot and injured three Jewish Israeli friends out on the town. One of the men remains in critical condition while the other two have been treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The terrorist, 23-year-old Mutaz Salah al-Khawaja, entered Israel from his village of Ni’lin and—significantly—was aided by two Arab Israeli citizens, who drove him to the scene of the shooting spree. Those accomplices turned themselves in to the police on Friday. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for recent Israeli military raids in the West Bank that left 10 Palestinians dead, including at least four gunmen and one 14-year-old civilian. When Israeli soldiers arrived to arrest Salah’s father, Salah Khawaja, he told reporters at the scene that “any young man who witnesses such massacres will naturally respond.”
→ The protests roiling Israel over the Likud-led coalition attempt to reform Israel’s judiciary are now forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take to the skies. While heading to a state visit to Italy on Thursday, protestors who knew of Bibi’s travel plans blocked his route to the airport and forced the prime minister to take a helicopter to catch his flight. The protests also interrupted U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s trip to Israel, and his meetings were moved to near Ben Gurion Airport. At a press conference on Thursday, Austin told Israeli reporters that President Biden has stressed the importance of “building consensus for fundamental changes” in reference to the judicial reform crisis in Israel.
→ Graph of the Day:
Silicon Valley Bank, a popular lender to start-up companies and venture capitalists, has been shut down by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history.
After the bank reported huge losses on government bond investments, shares plunged 60% on Thursday, triggering a similar stock-price free fall across the banking sector.
Venture capital groups advised start-ups—including many Israeli companies that had moved money there to protest Netanyahu—to pull their money out of SVB as soon as possible.
By Friday, the FDIC created the new Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara to transfer insured deposits, promising payouts to clients up to the FDIC’s $250,000 insurance limit. Those with larger balances will be given “receivership certificates,” which may be reimbursed as the agency sells off the bank’s assets.
Noting that SVB was considered a “blue chip bank,” R.J. Grant, head of trading at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in New York, told The Wall Street Journal that “during the 2008-09 financial crisis, bad news from one bank portended bad news at others.”
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→ After allegations by prominent journalist Seymour Hersh that the United States was responsible for the destruction of the Nord Stream natural-gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, others, including Tablet’s Lee Smith, have argued that the United States is not equipped or competent enough to have carried out the attack. Now the German government is weighing in, pointing a finger to a sailing boat rented in Germany by six people with Ukrainian passports days before the blasts. German investigators say that while the boat was large enough to carry the requisite amount of explosives to cause the damage, it would have been difficult for the crew to place all the explosives by themselves. To German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, that means the Ukrainian IDs could simply be part of a “false flag” operation staged by another country to pin the blame on Ukraine, leaving the question of the attack an unsolved mystery.
→ Xi Jinping was elected to a third term as China’s president on Friday, the first time a Chinese leader has served more than two terms. The election was largely a formality, as Xi first orchestrated the abolishment of the term limits that would have pushed him out of office before his yearslong consolidation of power across the Chinese Communist party. He is now surrounded by loyalists in almost every key role of government.
→ Hours before Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw sat before Congress Thursday morning for a hearing on the disastrous East Palestine derailment, a third Norfolk Southern train joined the list of recent crashes for the rail line, this time in Alabama. There have been no reports of leaked hazardous materials, but the contents of the train have not yet been disclosed. At the congressional hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, “Mr. Shaw, the news is reporting that there’s just been a significant derailment in Alabama of one of your trains. … You may need to look into that.”
→ Number of the Day: 69
South Korea, already one of the hardest-working nations on earth—behind only Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Chile in hours worked—has just announced a potential path to increasing the workweek maximum to 69 hours from the 52 currently allowed (40 standard, 12 overtime). Purported by its government backers to give workers more time off on an annual basis, the plan would extend vacation periods after workers spend more days accumulating blocks of overtime pay. Some workers, though, remain skeptical that the longer vacation proposal will integrate into the highly competitive work culture. “If I take a month of vacation, I bet they will just remove my desk,” SJ Cho, an employee at one of the country’s largest conglomerates, told the Financial Times.
→ Quote of the Day:
I can’t give it to you, unfortunately, because this is a question of sourcing, and I’m a journalist; I don’t reveal my sources.
That’s independent journalist Matt Taibbi’s response to questions about whether Elon Musk personally approached Taibbi for the investigative series, the Twitter Files, at Thursday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Taibbi and fellow Twitter Files investigator Michael Shellenberger appeared before the contentious committee to discuss their findings regarding collaboration between the federal government and Twitter to suppress certain accounts and tweets that were deemed dis- or mis-information. Democrats on the committee grilled the veteran journalists and impugned their motives, with Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands referring to them as “so-called journalists” and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) insinuating that Taibbi’s motivations were largely financial, saying, “You hit the jackpot.” Fellow Substack journalist and free-speech advocate Glenn Greenwald posted on Twitter that the “Dems’ hatred toward Taibbi and co. is due solely to the fact that their reporting exposed the US Security State’s censorship regime.”
→ A renowned Japanese scientist announced on Wednesday either a huge breakthrough in genetic technology or the first step toward a world beyond nature. Katsuhiko Hayashi, a researcher at Japan’s Kyushu University, has successfully bred mice with eggs created by adapting male skin cells, and male sperm. The male-male reproductive workaround birthed seven healthy, normal mouse pups, which apparently went on to live a normal life expectancy and even have their own children. While some scientists are excited about the breakthrough, they say replicating it in humans would be difficult, as researchers haven’t managed to create lab-grown eggs from female cells. Hayashi, however, believes we will be there in 10 years … which makes us think of Jeff Goldblum’s famous line in Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Women Talking (2022)
Written and Directed by Sarah Polley
In an isolated Mennonite colony, the exact time and place unclear, women wake up bruised and bloodied—a mystery explained by the town’s men and elders as the work of the devil. The mystery is dispelled, however, when a daughter of the colony sees one of these men leaving her sister’s bedroom. The colony spirals into chaos as the women learn that their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers have been tranquilizing and raping them.
Shot coolly, in deep blues and grays and greens, the film concerns the couple of days the women are given to decide what to do next. The men have left to post bail for those who were identified in the rape, and they issue an ultimatum: The women must either forgive them or leave the colony. Presented with these choices, the women gather in a barn and get to talking, quickly concluding that perhaps there are other options. They could fight the men, for instance, or they could all leave together. Presented with bad choices, the colony’s women make more.
The film, another in the recent release of #MeToo movies, is less a call for a politics of justified anger or righteous retribution than for political imagination and will. The power of the film is not that the women can demand equality or safety—or create these things for themselves—but that they can steal the time to talk about what these things mean.
TODAY IN TABLET:
Protest Porn by Liel Leibovitz
The pleasure-seeking behind today’s righteous causes
Men in Formation by Maggie Phillips
Franciscan friars tackle substance abuse and purposelessness, across the river from West Point
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This piece was published in Tablet, November 2022
Iran’s increasingly sophisticated drone and missile strike packages are driving America’s beleaguered allies to seek protection in Beijing
By Michael Doran and Can Kasapoğlu
By any objective measure, the military power of the United States continues to dwarf that of the Islamic Republic. The protests on the streets of Iran’s cities prove that the regime in Tehran is a decayed husk, deeply unpopular and beset by myriad vulnerabilities that a deft American policy could exploit. The United States has the military capabilities to prevent Iran from advancing toward a nuclear bomb and to deter it from threatening its neighbors—and it can do so without sparking a major war. It has more than enough might to reassure allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that they can rest comfortably under the American power umbrella. What is more, the allies want to remain inside the American system. The erosion of the American order is therefore more the result of confusion in Washington than of objective shifts in global power. But how and when will that confusion cease, so that a more mutually beneficial relationship might flower?
When President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July, he sensed the existing distrust and tried to dispel it. “We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,” he said. But promises like this fail to reassure the allies, who are looking not for sweet words but resolute action that deters Iran. We have seen this kind of mistake in the past. In his famous speech to the National Press Club on Jan. 12, 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson defined America’s “defensive perimeter” in Asia in a way that omitted South Korea. A week later, Congress voted down a major assistance bill for South Korea. Six months later, the North Koreans stormed southward with the support of China and the Soviet Union, who likely concluded that the United States was unwilling to protect its ally.
In the Middle East today, the United States has once again drawn its defensive perimeter in a highly ambiguous fashion. The ambiguity has emboldened China, Russia, and Iran, and sown mistrust in the hearts of allies. The Biden administration has failed to recognize the problem and, therefore, has not begun to address it. Like marriages gone sour and houses in Malibu, international orders erode gradually at first and then all at once. News of the demise of the American order in the Middle East is certainly premature, but the ground beneath it is shifting in very unsettling ways that American policymakers appear determined to ignore.
On Jan. 17 of this year, the Houthis, Iran’s proxy in Yemen, launched an Iranian-made ballistic missile at an oil facility in the UAE near Al Dhafra Air Base, which hosts the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing of the United States Air Force. The missile failed to reach its target when the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), a state-of-the-art American missile defense system, successfully intercepted it. Unmanned aerial vehicles (called UAVs or drones), which the Houthis launched simultaneously, managed to break through the defensive net, killing three people.
This attack marked the first ever use of the THAAD system in combat. One week later, on Jan. 24, the THAAD batteries were back in action, countering two Iranian-made missiles aimed directly at Al Dhafra, where approximately 2,000 American soldiers are stationed. As the missiles hurtled their way toward the Americans, THAAD and Patriot interceptors worked together to down them, narrowly averting disaster. On that day, the Houthis also simultaneously launched two ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia. One was intercepted; the other one wounded two people.
Key elements of these attacks remain shrouded in secrecy. The Americans, the Emiratis, and the Houthis themselves have refrained from identifying some of the targeted sites. For all we know, one of the unidentified targets might have been the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world which holds up to 10,000 people. These attacks could easily have generated a mass casualty event, resulting in more deaths than al-Qaida’s operations on 9/11. If the Houthis had hit Al Dhafra, the resulting loss of American life could have taken the United States into war.
Yet in what has become a clear pattern since the arrival of President Biden in office, American forces launched no militarily significant response to what, in effect, was an Iranian attack on American forces—an event that, in terms of its geopolitical impact, was every bit as important as the widely reported news that Iran is supplying the armies of Russian leader Vladimir Putin with missile and drone packages for use in the Ukraine war. In fact, the developments in the Arabian Gulf and in Ukraine are linked. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been on the receiving end of sophisticated Iranian missiles and drones for around five years now. The immunity from counterattack that Iran has enjoyed has emboldened it to support Russia. Moreover, it has set America’s Gulf allies on a quest for security that, increasingly, is taking them out of the arms of the United States and into the waiting embrace of China. The week before last, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced no less than three summit meetings between the Saudis, the Gulf States, and regional Arab countries with the Chinese, concurrent with the anticipated visit of China’s President Xi Jinping to the kingdom.
One person who has observed and analyzed the threat of Iran’s rapidly advancing drone and missile capabilities more closely than almost anyone is Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., who retired in April as the commander of U.S. Central Command, the combatant operations command responsible for prosecuting the wars in the greater Middle East. On Oct. 6, McKenzie discussed the improved quality of Iranian weapons, emphasizing three systems in particular: ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and drones. “Over the past five to seven years, Iranian capabilities in these three domains have risen to such a degree that they now possess what I would call effective ‘overmatch’ against their neighbors,” he said at a public event at Policy Exchange, a London think tank. “‘Overmatch,’” he explained, “is a military term that means you have the ability to attack, and your defender will not be able to mount a successful defense.”
McKenzie’s remarks were timely and candid, but they danced around the money question. Saudi Arabia and the UAE rely on the United States for their defense: If Iran possesses overmatch against them, does it also possess overmatch against the United States?
Iran’s confidence that it can threaten American forces without cost suggests that it does. “We have built power to defeat the U.S.,” said Gen. Hossein Salami the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite branch of the Iranian armed forces, in September 2021, following an IRGC strike on a CIA hangar inside an airport complex in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. “Today we no longer see a dangerous U.S., but we witness a failed, fleeing, and depressed U.S.,” the general continued.
Salami’s statement was not mere bluster. Iran can supply the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation with drones and missiles for the invasion of Ukraine in part because its products are worth buying, and in part because it no longer fears an American response to actions that might lead to the battlefield deaths of NATO advisers. That’s because, whether from its own territory or from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, or Gaza, Iran can strike the major population centers and the critical national infrastructure of every Middle Eastern country that relies on the United States for its security. The tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz is easy pickings, as is every American base in the Middle East.
And as America relaxes sanctions, in the hopes of luring the Iranians back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran nuclear deal is officially known, the quality of Iran’s drone and missile packages threatens to take another big leap forward. A peek into the guts of the Russian-manufactured missiles that the Russian military is firing at Ukraine today offers a window onto Iran’s weapons of tomorrow. For example, the 9M727, a Russian cruise missile that routinely pounds Ukrainian targets, relies on Western components, including in its mission computer and navigation systems—which Washington has targeted through sanctions. Yet if the JCPOA is resurrected, the IRGC will go on a shopping spree. Its pockets will be filled with cash, and the top global marketplaces will open their doors wide for it. Iran’s weapons producers will integrate Western parts into their own ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and drones, making them smarter, faster, and more maneuverable, and increasing the threat that they pose to American bases and American allies. Indeed, the battlefield in Ukraine already offers evidence that the Iranians, even while under sanctions, are improving their home-made weapons with foreign parts—with electronic components from manufacturers in Texas being found inside downed Iranian drones.
The integration of Western technology will also make Iran’s weapons much more attractive on the international arms market. Historically, Iranian weapons have suffered from a reputation for unreliability, due to imperfect reverse engineering of French, American, Chinese, and Russian designs, and near exclusive reliance on indigenous manufacturing of relatively poor quality. The lifting of American sanctions, however, will allow the IRGC to build a reliable supply chain of Western parts. The resulting standardization of Iranian products will reduce unit costs. Sales and profits will increase significantly. As Iran continues its rise as a global arms exporter, the size, sophistication, and firepower of its arsenals will also rise. Overmatch will increase.
The IRGC’s disruptive military capacity has four core components: drones, missiles, operational art, and a large network of proxy forces. If the IRGC exhibits a special creativity with respect to missiles and drones, it’s because these weapons are a good fit with the organization’s strategic culture. The IRGC has two principal missions: safeguarding the Revolution at home and spreading it abroad. As a praetorian guard tasked with protecting the regime against attacks from an intensely hostile population, the IRGC instinctively gravitates toward weapons that can be operated by a tight network of trusted loyalists without the cooperation of large numbers of politically unreliable recruits. For a group routinely tasked with carrying out terrorist attacks, the appeal of weapons that can strike terror into civilian populations is inherent.
Iran’s drone manufacturing program, one of the oldest in the Middle East, dates back to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Recent advances give Iran membership in an exclusive club—namely, those countries who produce loitering munitions, or smart “kamikaze” drones. Most of Iran’s UAVs are combat-tested, having been deployed in a long list of conflicts stretching from the Gulf to Yemen and Syria. And the list is growing, starting, most notably, with Ukraine. Of course, the Russian military has its own indigenous arsenal of unmanned aerial systems, but it uses them predominantly for surveillance, spotting for artillery, and in electronic warfare networks. By contrast, the Iranian drone program prioritizes strike assets, which operate in concert with missiles to pound targets deep inside enemy territory.
The second component of the IRGC’s disruptive military capacity is missile warfare. According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, Iran has “the largest and most diverse ballistic arsenal in the Middle East, with a substantial inventory of close-range ballistic missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, and medium-range ballistic missiles that can strike targets throughout the region up to 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) from Iran’s borders.” Hezbollah, Iran’s premier proxy, boasts the second largest missile arsenal in the Middle East, greater than that of either Turkey or Israel.
Size matters, of course, but so does repertoire: The missile arsenals of Iran include strategic systems suitable as delivery systems for nuclear weapons. As for their short-range inventory, it now includes road-mobile ballistic missiles fit for battlefield use and easy transmission to proxies. Among these assets, Iran’s solid-fueled missiles, centered on the Fateh-110 baseline, minimize the launch cycle, which is even more advantageous in battlefield engagements. In recent years, Iran has also made significant advancements in its development of cruise missiles.
The third component is operational art. Perhaps uniquely among global arms producers, the IRGC has traditionally held primary responsibility for missiles and drones, which it regards as inseparable components of a unified strike capacity—linking them together at every stage of their life from manufacturing to combat deployment. Iran’s missiles and drones emerge from the same industrial networks, and some weapons share critical sub-systems. The IRGC stores drones and missiles together in underground facilities and deploys them in tandem with innovative and sophisticated concepts of operations.
The final component of Iran’s disruptive military capacity is its large stable of proxy forces. The IRGC has developed a network of nonstate actors, including Hezbollah, the Houthis, and dozens of Iraqi and Syrian militias, who help Tehran counter the United States and its allies in a broad “Axis of Resistance.” The IRGC trains the proxies ideologically, giving them operational coherence and linking them to Tehran while spreading its revolutionary DNA to all corners of the Middle East. The IRGC provides Hezbollah with manufacturing skills, and the Houthis with instruction in assembling the weapons from parts. In addition, Tehran teaches its proxies distinctive concepts of operations based on integrating drones and missiles in combat. The provision of these systems and Iran’s unique way of combining them together is the key to creating a transnational terror network that can have an outsize impact on the battlefield.
When it comes to exporting the Islamic Revolution, the totemic quality of missiles, especially ballistic missiles, adds to their luster in the eyes of the IRGC. Hinting at the possession of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles radiate power and enhance the prestige of the Islamic Republic by placing it, at least symbolically, on the same level as the United States, Russia, and China. When used asymmetrically against the United States and its allies, they serve as propaganda by action, demonstrating the power of the “Resistance Axis” and the impotence of its enemies. “I would argue that, day to day, the possession of [missile and drone] capabilities is perhaps more important to the Iranians than the nuclear [program],” Gen. McKenzie said at the London event. Iranian leaders, he continued, “have perverted their economy, and they have bent their industry to produce these weapons systems. And these are extremely effective systems.”
Indeed, since the IRGC’s intervention with Russia in Syria in 2015, the growing power and sophistication of Iran’s disruptive military capacity have become evident. The most dramatic direct IRGC attack on an American facility came on Jan. 8, 2020, in retaliation for the killing by the Trump administration of Qassem Soleimani, when the IRGC fired between 13 and 16 missiles on Al Asad base in Iraq. Though no Americans died, dozens suffered traumatic brain injuries. The United States took no offensive countermeasures in response.
The IRGC attack on Al Asad base mixed two different missiles: the solid-propellant Fateh-313 and the liquid-propellant Qiam. These missiles have very different flight trajectories and homing angles. Originally derived from a rocket baseline, the Fateh family of missiles follows a quasi-ballistic (pressed and flatter) trajectory, while the Qiam missile’s separable warhead follows a more lofted route. Even if missile defense systems had been deployed to protect the base (they were not), this mix would have complicated the job of the sensors and interceptors. The Al Asad operation demonstrated high-precision capabilities that surprised even seasoned military observers. After that attack, it is clearly wrong to depict Iran’s missiles as “area attack weapons with low accuracy,” as has been the habit of analysts for many years.
As the IRGC’s capacities have grown, the size of Iran’s missile and drone arsenals has also expanded dramatically. “Iran is fielding an increasing number of theater ballistic missiles, improving its existing inventory, and developing technical capabilities that could enable it to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile,” the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency reported in 2019. Its drone program has shifted from building drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions to building predominantly strike assets in industrial quantities. When going on the attack, the IRGC can now choose from pin-prick attacks to heavy bombardments; from taking direct credit for its operations to hiding behind a proxy.
The expanding sophistication and size of the IRGC’s disruptive arsenal allows Iran and its proxies to combine missiles, drones, and loitering munitions in the same “strike package”—a practice that taxes even state-of-the-art air and missile defense architectures. The combination of loitering munitions, ballistic, and cruise missiles that the Houthis launched at the UAE last January exemplifies the trend. Loitering munitions confuse sensors, especially at slower speeds, because they blend in with “ground clutter”—factors such as birds, tall buildings, and storms. In addition, swarms of loitering munitions, cheaper in unit costs, can easily saturate interceptor missiles. With their great maneuverability and low-altitude navigation skills, cruise missiles minimize their exposure to radar or avoid it altogether. Finally, ballistic missiles come in hard and fast like a bullet, carrying large warheads capable of much heavier destruction. Each one of these weapons poses its own special challenge to the sensors and interceptors of a missile defense network. When all three are combined in significant numbers, they will stress any network to a breaking point.
Iran’s disruptive military capacity has shifted the balance of power in the Gulf for two basic reasons. First, the defense economics work decidedly in Tehran’s favor. America and its allies spend more money—tens or hundreds of times more—to down Iranian missiles and drones than it costs Iran to build and launch them. Jeremy Binnie, a defense specialist at the global intelligence company Janes recently made the point in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty with respect to the Ukraine war. While having more missiles gives Russia “the ability to sustain the bombardment against Ukraine,” the delivery of Patriot missile defense batteries will not solve the problem. “It’s eye wateringly expensive and it’s probably not really practical because each [missile] battery only covers one city,” Binnie said. “You would never get enough batteries to get the coverage you would want. You just wouldn’t be able to find them, produce them, and train enough Ukrainians.”
More importantly, when combined in a large strike package, some of Iran’s missiles and drones will inevitably break through America’s defensive shield. Even the most sophisticated defensive systems operating at peak performance cannot prevent at least some of Iran’s weapons from hitting their targets. In the January attacks against the UAE, for example, the defensive network performed well. But people still died. In missile defense, a 90% interception rate is a feat of technical wizardry. But if 1 in 10 or even 1 in 20 missiles breaks through, it’s not long before “success” starts exacting a higher cost than most leaders care to pay. Imagine if in the next attack against the UAE, one of Iran’s missiles were to slip through the defensive net and strike Burj Khalifa. “Success” will result in catastrophic failure.
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