Silverstein and McGovern ponder prospect of Israeli attack on Iran

Israel/Palestine
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Two well-informed analysts have posted new articles today noting mounting indications that Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak might be on the verge of launching a war against Iran.

Richard Silverstein begins his Tikun-Olam commentary this way:

I have been writing for more than two years about the possibility of an Israeli war against Iran (make no mistake, an Israeli attack on Iran will not be just a single discrete operation, but involve an ongoing, and regional war).  And I’ve never felt closer to the idea it was going to happen.

In part, his fears are based on the message the Israeli leaders are delivering via their own media:

I’ve been reporting here on numerous Israeli media sources who’ve noted the increasing apocalyptical rhetoric from both Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu concerning the Iranian threat to Israel.  Never have a I read so many Israeli commentators reporting virtually the same portraits of leaders ready for war, and at the same time.  It’s ominous, I tell you.

Silverstein cites a report that apparently appears only in the Hebrew print edition of today’s Haaretz that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta just flew into Israel for his second meeting with Barak in two weeks. Recalling that the U.S. government, including Panetta personally, have thus far blocked an Israeli attack, Silverstein expresses hope that the result will be the same this time, but he quotes Haaretz reporter Amos Harel’s observation that “Lately the administration has refrained from direct remarks about a possible Israeli strike.” Silverstein’s interpretation of Washington’s recent reticence: “Because Obama, with falling popularity ratings especially within the Jewish community, doesn’t feel strong enough to step in front of this oncoming train (wreck).”

The post concludes:

U.S. defense secretaries don’t meet their Israeli counterparts twice in two weeks and fly half way around the world in order to discuss sanctions.  I smell war in the air.  God, I hope I’m wrong.  So many will die if I’m not, and needlessly so.

Meanwhile, over at Consortium News, former CIA analyst and Gaza Freedom Flotilla veteran Ray McGovern offers a similar analysis in a much longer piece entitled “Israel’s Window to Bomb Iran“:

There are mounting signs that the right-wing Israeli government may think the timing is right for an attack on Iran, with growing alarms inside Israel about alleged Iranian progress on building a nuclear bomb – and with President Barack Obama fearing loss of key Jewish political support in 2012 if he doesn’t go along.

With Obama clearly afraid to stand up to the Israelis, McGovern suspects that they might launch an attack without even waiting for a “green light” from Washington:

The Israelis might well conclude that the formidable effectiveness of the Likud Lobby and kneejerk support of the U.S. Congress as well as still powerful neoconservatives in the Executive Branch (and on the opinion pages of major American newspapers) amount to solid assurance of automatic support for pretty much anything Israel decides to do.

In McGovern’s reading, however, the Israeli leaders’ push for war stems not just from their unchecked power in Washington, but also from their growing strategic isolation in their own region. In this context, he suggests, the goal of an attack would be not only to delay Iran’s nuclear program, but also to “mousetrap Washington into an even closer military relationship with Israel.”

McGovern doesn’t clearly spell out how that “mousetrapping” would unfold, but my guess is that he’s assuming that Iran would retaliate, directly or indirectly, not only against Israel but also against U.S. interests in the region – perhaps against U.S. forces remaining in Iraq, perhaps against Western tanker traffic and/or U.S-backed Gulf states – and that Obama et al. would then feel they’d have no choice but to join in some kind of all-out assault on Iran and anyone in the region associated with it.

In short, Armageddon….

In any case, McGovern’s piece also includes interesting material on two related issues: Bush and Cheney’s chagrin voe their own intelligence apparatus’s 2007 finding that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development program four years earlier, and the Obama Administration’s craven support for Israeli policies with respect to the 2010 and 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotillas.
 

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