WAR BY SEPTEMBER?….Rosa Brooks is not exactly a neocon alarmist, a fact that makes her prediction of an Israel-Iran war sometime in the next five months more provocative than it might be coming from, say, Charles Krauthammer or Bill Kristol. From her LA Times column today:

Russian leaders continue to mouth the usual diplomatic platitudes about democracy and global cooperation, but Russia is actually playing a complex double game. On Tuesday, Russia launched a spy satellite for Israel, which the Israelis can use to monitor Iran’s nuclear facilities. On the same day, Russian leaders confirmed their opposition to any U.N. Security Council effort to impose sanctions against Iran, and their intention to go through with the lucrative sale of 29 Tor M1 air defense missile systems to Iran.

….The upcoming deployment of Tor missiles around Iranian nuclear sites dramatically changes the calculus in the Middle East, and it significantly increases the risk of a regional war. Once the missile systems are deployed, Iran’s air defenses will become far more sophisticated, and Israel will likely lose whatever ability it now has to unilaterally destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The clock is ticking for Israel. To have a hope of succeeding, any unilateral Israeli strike against Iran must take place before September, when the Tor missile deployment is set to be completed.

….Unfortunately, the Bush administration appears to be asleep at the wheel, too distracted by Iraq, skyrocketing gas prices and plummeting approval ratings to devote any attention to Russia’s potentially catastrophic mischief.

The Tor deal was announced a few months ago, and the United States has objected to it several times since, most recently last week. Beyond that, I have no clue if this sale is as provocative as Brooks claims. Does anyone else?

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