Articles

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Countdown to Zero in Tehran and Jerusalem

There was a time when Israel did not deal with existential threats by urging the Americans to do something. That time was fairly recent. When Saddam decided he wanted to have his own nuclear reactor, fourteen Israeli Air Force jets put an end to his dream. The year was 1981.

The Reagan Administration supported a UN resolution condemning Israel which stated that it was in "clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct" and which fully recognized "the inalienable sovereign right of Iraq, and all other States, especially the developing countries, to establish programmes of technological and nuclear development."

Prime Minister Begin, easily the most conservative PM to hold the office, replied bluntly. "No "sword of Damocles" is going to hang over our head."

Four years ago Israel launched a quieter attack was launched on a nuclear reactor in Syria, this time with the likely approval and assistance of the United States. Now after all the whitewashing of Iran's nuclear program, it is coming down to the bottom line. Either a comprehensive attack will be launched or Iran's nuclear program will pass the point of no return.

While there are some doubts about whether Israel has the capability to take out the program, in the past they have found innovative ways to do the impossible. It is quite likely that there is a plan on someone's desk for getting the job done. The plan is probably bold, seemingly unworkable and reads as insane to experienced hands, but that would also describe the opening strike of the Six Day War or the Entebbe raid.

The question is why hasn't it been carried out yet and the likely answer is Obama. Not just Obama, but the oddball mix of Clintonites and left-wing Chicago radicals who would be in a prime position to oppose or support any such move. Just as with the takedown of Bin Laden, it is likely that there are figures in the administration who support such a move and those who oppose it.

Israel has no doubt been hoping for a repeat of 2007 and an operation that takes place with the support and cover of the United States. A quiet operation that will mostly go unmentioned. Israel has been hanging on in the hopes that if it walks through the steps laid out by Washington D.C. then it will finally get the go ahead and any of the equipment and local support it needs to get the job done as comprehensively and safely as possible.

The Israeli cabinet and defense establishment has been having its own quiet debate on the subject, just as it before taking out Osirak. As then the lefties are opposed, but their best ammo comes from D.C. which has doubtlessly been stringing Israel along and promising that if Israel is patient then the problem will be taken care of. To the right the argument has no doubt been that the United States will not do anything and that Israel needs to do it alone.

Panetta's statements in the past few weeks peg him as either an idiot or a man sending the signal that Israel is going to have to go it alone. If Panetta was an opponent of direct action all along, which may well be the case, then he is trying to sabotage any possible Israeli operation while disavowing any responsibility for it. Israeli Defense Minister Barak, who has been waiting for the Obamanoids to bring down the Netanyahu government and pave the way for his ascension, has begun talking tough on Iran. And talking in terms of a timeline. That's more significant than anything else, but with the double eye of politics it can be read two ways.

Either Barak is rushing to get ahead and claim credit for any strike. Or he's rushing ahead to claim credit for being tough on Iran, even as he knows that no strike will be carried out because he and his leftist allies have sabotaged any internal momentum on it. But as tempting as it is to be cynical about Barak, and there are plenty of reasons for that, the full substance of his remarks, which are beyond the scope of this piece, suggest a Barak and Netanyahu consensus has been reached on an attack. The triumphalist tone and the camaraderie indicate that the political cards have been dealt.

If the ball is finally rolling on the Israeli side then the situation in Washington has to be tense. It is doubtful that the Obama Administration would back any Israeli strike, openly or under the table. Whatever promises were made to the Israelis in exchange for patience were never sincere and if Israel seriously expected that when the checkpoints were reached and Israel stuck with a covert campaign, that Washington would support a strike, they were kidding themselves. And it would not be the first time.

The campaign of sabotage against Iran's infrastructure and scientists that is being conducted by unknown actors has gotten a lot of attention recently. While the campaign has been blamed on Israel, it is likelier a CIA project being conducted by existing insurgent groups opposed to Iran, with the Saudis as the facilitators. Because this isn't just an America or Israel deal, most of the Gulf oil states who have a lot more pull in Washington have a major stake in this and want something done.

The Obama Administration does not particularly care about Iran's nuclear capacity. Its priority is democratic change in the region. Some of the Chicago crew believes Iran has a right to nuclear development or that its nuclear program would help achieve the Kissingeresque goal of cutting Israel does to size. But this administration also has an affinity for covert ops and it has likely signed on to joint covert sabotage efforts to keep the Israelis from doing something drastic.

Considering the sheer number of Clinton people around, some of them were probably involved in Operation Merlin which attempted to sabotage Iran's nuclear program by providing flawed nuclear plans. Operation Merlin badly backfired and helped the Iranians instead. Stuxnet was likely an idea that came from the minds behind Merlin that Israeli cyberwarfare specialists, namely hackers recruited to work on security operations, made into a moderately workable plan.

The blunt force assassinations may or may not have administration approval, but if they were they being carried out for the same reason, to keep the Israelis and Saudis from doing something more direct about the problem. The assassinations won't stop the program, but they are a warning shot across the bow. The problem is that warning shots don't stop nuclear missiles. 

As the countdown to zero continues, it's become more obvious than ever that nothing short of direct action will. But everyone has their own interests at stake.

The Iranian opposition doesn't want an Israeli strike because it would politically benefit the regime, which might be the case but the opposition has already has its chance to overthrow the government and failed to do it. Diplomats may have confidence in a peaceful transition coming some day, but that day is much too far away, assuming it will even ever come. And should it come there is no reason to believe that the figures at the top of the opposition pile would be averse to a nuclear program or to using it against Israel.

Obama is not a fan of bombing Muslim countries, unless it is on behalf of other Muslim countries. His whole foreign affairs strategy was based around winning the Muslim world over and even an Israeli raid conducted with zero approval and even opposition would still be blamed on the United States. Additionally with an election coming up, a bombing raid could escalate into something bigger and affect oil prices. Given a choice between winning an election or a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv, no one seriously doubts which he will choose.

The Saudis want Iran's nuclear program gone, but they don't want their Shiite rivals scoring martyr points in a confrontation with Israel. Their ideal operation would be as quiet as the Syrian reactor bombing, but even they know that isn't likely to happen, not with an operation of this scope. And if the operation has to happen, then it's better for Israel to get the blame, rather than fellow Muslim countries who might be involved in some small way too.

Finally there is Israel, where everyone who isn't working for Haaretz or the EU agrees that something needs to be done. The debate has always come down to when and how. In security matters most Israelis still assume that the government will eventually do something about a security problem, even as they curse its ineptitude in all other areas.

The primary calculus for this type of decision making is the United States. In the past the Israelis went full speed ahead and apologized to Washington D.C. for it later. That species of confidence is nearly extinct. Boldness and courage are atypical not only among politicians, for whom it was never typical, but among the top military brass who authorized insane operations and even participated in them.

Still the clock is ticking. Whatever arrangements Jerusalem made with Washington D.C. are reaching the end. Netanyahu is often timid, but he isn't stupid. The only thing that might still be slowing him down is the possibility that the elections will swap out Obama for a less hostile figure, but waiting until a new administration gets settled in would take too long. That doesn't mean he might not do it anyway, but it has become much less likely. And a Romney Administration might be friendlier than the current one, but the return of Sununu is not exactly a harbinger of excellent relations either.

Adlai Stevenson blamed Israel for his loss to Eisenhower over the Suez Canal War. That grudge was carried on by his son who served as the United States Senator from Illinois. Carter, who blamed the loss of support from American Jews over his hostility to Israel for his defeat, has turned his grudge into a full time career of bashing the Jewish State. If Obama were to go down to defeat and blame Israel, he could certainly do a good deal of damage, even out of office, more if he were to break with recent precedent and try to reclaim his Senate seat.

But Obama doesn't seem the type to let a single grudge consume this much of his focus and even if he were to go Full Carter, he couldn't do nearly as much damage as he has in office or as an Iranian bomb could do to Israel. Even if an Israeli strike were to make the election tougher for Obama, it is doubtful that he could do that much more damage than he has done already, particularly with plenty of partisan domestic fights to consume his attention.

As the clock counts down to zero, the only real element that matters is the atoms of political courage that have to reach critical mass for a strike that will either cripple or destroy Iran's nuclear ambitions to take place.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

And well they should have 200, they are surrounded by billions of demonically inspired people who want nothing more then to see them thrown into the sea. As for America and her support of Israel-how can America claim to be her friend when we steadfast support her enemies with money that goes to buy weapons to be used against her and support of terrorists ? With friends like us who needs more enemies..the Bible fortells of a time when Israel WILL have to go it alone-prophecy states ALL nations will turn against her. That doesn't necessarily mean they will all march through the dessert with tanks...they -in Americas case simply refuse to help her when her enemies do come against her...you think that scenario is far fetched with the mole we have in the White house now ? Think again. But the good news is Israel will the One help that will never fail her- God Almighty. And woe to those countries who get in His way.
===TheGhostofBelleStarr

Arctic Patriot said...

TheGhostofBelleStarr-

If Israel has God's assistance, why do they need America's?

And, SK-
Can you list what actions the Obama administration has taken that proves it is "hostile" to Israel?

I think his actions-not words- show that he is precisely the opposite.

It's time for Israel to grow up and take care of itself, without American blood or money.

AP

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

If you'll note the article, the only real thing holding back Israel is the Obama Administration.

A succession of Israeli PM's have called for just that, the problem is that successive administrations want to control the situation by controlling Israel.

American blood has never taken care of Israel. American money goes to the US defense industry via Israel.

Anonymous said...

Arctic,

I am afraid of you and your ilk. When Israel does what it must, and gasoline and foodstuffs skyrocket because of a strike-you will no doubt hold the Israelis to the fire-and by extension anyone who is Jewish. You will join the Occupy movement, the Susan Rice clan and the Islamo-centrist capitulates who are the Obama administration in decrying and De-legitimizing Israel's existence.

You state "Can you list what actions the Obama administration has taken that proves it is "hostile" to Israel?"

Here is the only one that makes a difference.

The Obama administration continually pressures Israel into the folly of making peace with enemies who have an overwhelming desire in her demise and have vowed to destroy her. This is public knowledge. What nation would negotiate its own liquidation? What ally would hold the noose and pull the trap door? What type of Ally publicizes the possible war plans of a democracy fighting for its life?

I am glad to see A.P. that you have finally come to terms with who you really are. You and Cindy Sheehan can hold hands while decrying Israels right to defend herself. The US has decided to abandon the Jewish state-in favor of European appeasement and genuflecting to oil rich, culturally backwards oil tribesman.

Israel has never asked the US to fight her wars-and for the record, the Israeli technical prowess has enabled people like yourself to defecate on the Jewish state via computer and a host of advances that have taken mankind to a new level. Your charges of blood and money are the same made throughout history...hollow and vapid.

Rita said...

"...Given a choice between winning an election or a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv, no one seriously doubts which he will choose..."

If I may, respectuflly, disagree with your there, Sultan Knisch: unfortunately, there are some who still believe in Father Christmas.

But I hope that gutsy Israel, despite being knee-capped left right and centre, and having quite a few ennemies within, will trust in the wisdom that it is easier to be forgiven, than to get permission!

Edward Cline said...

In a rational world, in which Western nations retained a modicum of self-respect and self-preservation, countries like Iran simply wouldn’t exist, or wouldn’t be allowed to exist for long. We saw a bit of that policy in the 19th century, for example, when the British went after the Mahdists in the Sudan and militarily crushed them beyond recovery (at least in the Sudan, but Islamism began to crop up elsewhere). Britain took over a corrupt and inept Egypt and sent an army to kick the arse-lifters where it hurt the most. Today, multiculturalism and pragmatism work hand-in-hand to debilitate and emasculate the efficacy of Western civilization, and dither incessantly over the rightness of removing a major nemesis, and, as Daniel notes, the clock keeps on ticking. The ditherers won’t realize their peril until perhaps it’s too late to worry about whether or not Iran really means it. Who will pay the price for the dithering? We will.

Irwin Ruff said...

In response to Rita, who quotes,
"...Given a choice between winning an election or a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv, no one seriously doubts which he will choose..."

I have no doubt that this will be exactly Obama's reaction. In fact, if he thought he could get away with it, he would add an American A-bomb to take care of Haifa. We could expect 95% or 98% of the world's population to be dancing in the streets if they hear about Israel being A-bombed. If Jews won't gather in Israel and perhaps overwhelm the traitorist leftists, they should at least arm themselves to defend against the anti-Semitic onslaught that may be expected in almost all countries.

Anonymous said...

What worries me is that Russia and China are happy the way Iran is evolving. It's more than a Israel VS Iran thing. It's Russia and China VS the USA and allies, at a time where the USA is broke and demoralized after years of war.

Barnslayer said...

Besides obama's moslem allegiance he is most concerned with re-election. If Israel neutralizes iran, obama will have been cheated out of his pre-November grandstand play. I have no doubt he wants to time American involvement for this self-serving goal. Thus my hope is that Israel will do what she must do for her own security. Take out Iran while the other moslem countries are still in disarray. America will, with God's Grace elect a pro-Israel president and our alliance will be redoubled.

PDMI-Arash Irandoost said...

As the founder of Pro-Democracy Movement of Iran (pdmi.org) I do not completely agree with Mr. Greenfield's statement and I quote: " but the opposition has already has its chance to overthrow the government and failed to do it. Diplomats may have confidence in a peaceful transition coming some day, but that day is much too far away, assuming it will even ever come. And should it come there is no reason to believe that the figures at the top of the opposition pile would be averse to a nuclear program or to using it against Israel."

Mousavi can (then and now)hardly be considered an opposition leader. People of Iran do not want a theocratic government. Mousavi, did not want the regime to fall and when he saw the regime about to collapse he went into hiding and confused the protesters. Mousavi said: "Islamic Republic not a word more and not a word less." For Iranians who 96% want a secular democracy, a theocratic system was not acceptable. In my opinion, the West has never been willing to throw its support behind the real secular opposition groups, but there is still a chance to avoid a catastrophy. The West and Obama and Clintonites are too cozy with the current system and want only for the regime to change its behavior, but the theocratic regime to survive for financial gains (oil) of course. The mullahs of Iran are not afraid of the West and consider it their duty to die in the way of Islam and by fighting the "infidels." But they are really afraid of the Iranian people, only if the US and the West could go of their pocket books briefly and support the Iranian pro democracy opposition groups who are secular and pro west and will take care of this regime without any wars. War is not the best choice, helping the opposition to fight this regime is. Sadly it looks like the West has decided that it wants to see religious governments to prop up in the Middle East. Just look at Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and soon Syria, Obama is in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood and cut a deal with them when he was running for presidency three years ago- now he is paying back for helping him get elected. I agree with Mr. greenfield that a change within the regime (which Iran lobby is pushing for) will be a short term solution. Mousavi has already proven that he is more pro Nuclear Iran than Ahmadinejad and he is the Blood of Iranians on his hands, under orders by Khomeini when he was a vice president under Khamenei. Mousavi's leftist/Marxist past fueled by his Islamist fanaticism are far more dangerous than Ahamdinejad whose bark has been louder than his bite. All regimes leaders are barbaric rapists and criminals and must be tried in the international courts for crimes committed against humanity. Islamic Republic cannot be reformed, lets do not fool ourselves, regime change is the best option for Iran and the West! But who is listening?

Arash Irandoost!

Anonymous said...

My thought is the Israelis don't have the equipment to do it. Hamas and Hezbollah and possibly the "new" Egypt would massively respond. The gulf states also have a dog in this fight. Perhaps the Saudis would twist zeros arm to do something about the threat to their dynasty. That is the best hope.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Arash, I agree with you, but I am not so sure what percent of your country does, and it doesn't change the basic numbers that regime change is unlikely to happen before a nuclear weapon is deployed.

Edward Cline said...

Arctic Patriot: Obama is a nihilist. Everything he touches dies, or is corrupted, or eviscerated. Nihilism is his basic agenda. His communist background has prepared him for that role. Nihilism is his tool to bring down America and see Israel destroyed. So, yes, examine everything he’s ever done or said especially concerning Israel – and I mean everything, aside what he’s done to this country – and ask yourself again if he’s “hostile” to Israel.

Anonymous said...

I think more emphasis for the calculus of Israeli leaders has to be placed on the number of missles Hezbollah and Hamas have, rather than the Neville Chamberlain-type occupant of the White House.The problem is that Barak has weakened the deterrent power of Israel by pulling out of Lebanon in 2000 and Olmert by not finishing off Hezbollah in 2006. Plus the Goldstone Report. The Israeli manner of prosecuting actions with one hand tied behind their back has hurt them in a region where Assad slaughters hundreds of his people with impugnity, Low credibility that they will make an enemy pay and meaning what they say- Tupac

Anonymous said...

I have come to the conclusion that every thing the Obama administration does is with an eye to the ultimate destruction of Israel. That's why virtually the entire middle east has been permitted to be taken over by radicals.

The administration's recent mention of Israel's intentions was intended to hamstring Israel, and was a clear warning to its Muslim buddies.

It's the only thing that makes sense.

Ex-Dissident said...

I will lend some support to AP's stance that Americans should first and foremost be concerned with America and not meddle in others' affairs. However, the statement that American blood was used to secure Israeli interests is wrong. AP, can you provide an example of when Americans went to battle over Israeli wars?

As far as Iran and Arash's post...I have no reason to believe that your good intentions will fare any better than those of the Mullahs for both Persians and the rest of the world. Seriously...trying people in some international courts? My advice: go and settle your own affairs. If you believe that 96% of the population supports you, then take a bat and start bashing the current administration officials over the head, and you will be proclaimed a hero. However I doubt both your estimates of the population and your abilities to provide effective leaders for the Persians.

Altalena said...

Arash, I second Daniel's remark about the uncertain, but likely rather low, percentage and effectiveness of a secular Iranian opposition.

One aspect of the 'Green Revolution' that I can't dismiss is its self-chosen color of green. And the fact that the rebelling youths kept chanting 'Allahu Akbar' on the rooftops to each other for keeping the spirit alive.
I'd like to know your take on how this fits into the notion that these opposition groups are mainly secular.

Anonymous said...

Obama has established that he leads "from behind" when it comes to foreign policy. He was elected by the rubes that bought Axelrod's rubbish because their minds were dimmed from too many reality shows and watching "American Idol" to distinguish between fact and fantasy. Obama will let the Israelis attack. If it appears successful he will attempt to join in to hog the credit for 2012. If it is ineffective or fails, he will re-discover his mad love for Muslims and have some resolutions introduced at the UN condemning Israel because his half-arsed sanctions would have of course worked. Remember, this is a guy who only wants to re-distribute the wealth and go on vacation.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

True, though 'green' in the region predates Islam for obvious reasons in that climate. But certainly it has an Islamic context now.

Paardestaart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paardestaart said...

Arctic jeered: "if Israel has God's assistance, why do they need America's?"

I hope for your sake that you are a true believer, Icy one, although I´m pretty sure that you do not..

In that case you should be afraid, Arctic, be very afraid: if Israel did not have god´s assistance, how the hell do you think it survived for so long? Because America ws Israel´s biggest friend? You mean to say that supporting the jews just enough for them not to be destroyed all at one fell blow, but at the same time forcing the jews to fight with one hand tied behind their back, and always having to withdraw when they threatened to be winning has made the difference?
The fact that now it does not even pretend to have Israel´s back does make a difference, although only a small one. For of course Israel has always had to go it alone.
It should have acted on that fact always, especially in 1963, when a window of rare opportunity had been prised open by the incredible victory Israel won, probably with god´s help, for inexplicable and miraculous it was

Frankly I think that if He was not and is protecting Israel, it´s because He does not exist. It´s people like you that make me afraid he really doesn´t

Paardestaart said...

Arctic jeered: "if Israel has God's assistance, why do they need America's?"

I hope for your sake that you are a true believer, Iceman, although I´m pretty sure that you do not..
In that case you should be afraid, be very afraid: if Israel did not have god´s assistance, how the hell do you think it survived for so long? Because America was Israel´s biggest friend? You mean to say that supporting the jews just enough for them not to be destroyed all at one fell blow, but at the same time forcing them to fight with one hand tied behind their backs, always forcing them to withdraw when they threatened to be winning has made the difference?
The fact that now it does not even pretend to have Israel´s back dóes make a difference, although only a small one. For of course Israel has always had to go it alone.
It should have acted on that fact always, especially in 1963, when a window of rare opportunity had been prised open by the incredible victory Israel won, probably with god´s help, for inexplicable and miraculous it surely was ..

Frankly I think that if He was not and is protecting Israel, it´s because He does not exist.
It´s people like you that make me fear he really doesn´t

Post a Comment