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I assume we’ll know a lot more about what happened here by tomorrow. But I wanted to comment on one aspect of what happened tonight in the skies over Israel. One theory seems to be that Iran fired off a bunch of drones and missiles which it knew Israel would be able to intercept in the great majority of cases. In other words, they get to strike an apparent heavy blow (good for restoring honor/credibility) but with the knowledge the blow wouldn’t really land. So they can avoid regional war/escalation.

Earlier in the evening I was thinking something like this. But the more I hear the less that seems credible to me. Current reports suggest Iran fired some three hundred aerial devices, both missiles and drones, at Israel. A substantial number of those were surface-to-surface missiles. The U.S. appears to have shot down upwards of a hundred of those with anti-missile destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and fighter jets intercepting from the air. Some of the more technical reporting I’ve seen explains how the U.S. destroyers could specifically augment Israel’s ballistic missile defenses. So not just adding more defenses to what Israel has and not just better ones, but interlocking the two, as it were, to create something much stronger.

Let me add the important caveat and that I’m of course no expert on missile warfare. But it just doesn’t add up to me that Iran fired off that much hardware and was confident that few if any of them would find their targets in Israel. The U.S. also seems to have played a very big role in the result, perhaps as many as a third of the shootdowns with other Arab states likely shooting down a small number themselves. If it was just a performative light show I don’t think you’d need the U.S. to be that heavily involved.

What all of that would amount to is that Iran really struck hard at Israel but seems to have failed almost completely. I’m not sure this totally adds up to me. But at least for now it seems more credible to me than the other theory.

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