Why did Ehud Barak postpone joint US-Israeli military exercise?

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak

Yahoo News’s Laura Rozen has reported an important story: tips from anonymous US sources, as well as information leaked to Israel Radio, suggest that it was Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak who actually postponed a US-Israeli missile defense exercise, which would have seen 5,000 US personnel and advanced American missile defense systems deployed to Israel.

Multiple analysts have suggested that the postponement demonstrates the Israeli government’s contempt for Obama and an ongoing effort to back the president into a corner in an election year over Iran. Two theories stand out.

The first view is that the postponement is supposed to send Obama a message that he had better be more assertive against Iran if he wants Israel to stand down. The hawkish, pro-Netanyahu Israeli site DEBKAfile reports that the cancellation was approved of at the top by Bibi himself and that critical statements made by hardliners in the government around this time were made to call the President out over his “flagging resolve”:

It was perceived as a mark of Israel’s disapproval for the administration’s apparent hesitancy in going through with the only tough sanctions with any chance of working against Iran’s nuclear weapon program: penalizing its central bank and blocking payments for its petroleum exports.

This was the first time Israel had ever postponed a joint military exercise; it generated a seismic moment in relations between the US and Israel at a time when Iran has never been so close to producing a nuclear weapon.

This week, Netanyahu further orchestrated a series of uncharacteristically critical statements by senior ministers: Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon called the Obama administration “hesitant” (Jan. 15), after which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged the Americans to “move from words to deeds” (Jan 16).

Given DEBKAfile’s right-wing bent, it is safe to say that the aforementioned narrative is how the warhawks in the Israeli government wish their actions to be perceived in the US.

The second theory is that the postponement of the exercise stems from decisions by the IDF on how and when it will attack Iran. Ehud Barak told Israel Army Radio that there are no immediate plans for Israel to attack Iran, seemingly distancing himself from his earlier statements that Israel’s bombing window would close by the end 2012 (Israeli intelligence reported that, like the U.S. intelligence community, it cannot discern Iran’s nuclear intentions). Rozen suggests one possible Israeli rationale for such maneuvering:

“The United States did not seek the delay–and American sources privately voiced concern that the Israeli request for a postponement of the exercise could be read as a potential warning sign that Israel is leaving its options open to conduct a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the spring. Thus, the concern went, it may not want 5,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Israel in April and May, as had been scheduled for the exercise.”

This is a sensible course of action (if you believe, as Ehud Barak does, that Israel has only a year-long window to act in). But Haaretz’s Amos Harel suggests a different military calculus– the delay is not a way of getting the US out of Israel’s way, but of forcing Washington’s hand if an attack materializes this year: 

“. . . [by] putting off the joint exercises until the second half of the year actually fits into a scenario that has Israel attacking Iran in that time framework. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said on a number of recent occasions, including in a November interview to CNN, that the window during which an effective strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities is possible will close in about one year. A massive U.S. military presence in Israel, especially advanced antimissile air defenses, would be very useful in protecting Israel in the event of an Iranian counterattack.”

Harel’s thinking makes sense too. This is more or less how NATO worked during the Cold War: the USSR was deterred from attacking NATO military formations in West Germany because an attack on any NATO member would have been treated as an attack on all of them. The Warsaw Pact copied this deterrence mechanism on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Such binding agreements forced all parties to either limit their autonomy in the name of the alliance, or give up their multinational security umbrella and go it alone. The Israeli logic would work the same way: force Iran to soak up losses inflicted by the IAF without responding, or risk the US military mission’s wrath.

But would the White House be cooperating with Tel Aviv– as it would in the event of any attack on a NATO member– or be taken by surprise by Israeli preemption? I imagine the former is the most likely option, as the U.S. would still have some advanced warning of Israeli mobilization. In any event, Obama would not disengage these troops and ships to try and avoid being associated with Israel’s actions. Amos Harel puts it best: Washington “is asking Israel’s boat not to enter the path charted by its aircraft carrier.” But if and when the chips are down, the President will not cut and run, prior warning or not.

There are all kinds of contingencies that might escalate the conflict. Iran’s own military calculus, for instance. What would the Gulf states, who are most vulnerable to Iran’s armed forces, think of the timing and placement of American forces in Israel? It would be challenging to manage diplomacy and military coordination with the Gulf states against Iran in such an event, even though we’d be attacking a non-Arab country that the GCC governments fear. They fear Iran, but they also fear public opinion in their own countries (and Iranian retaliation). How would Islamist organizations sympathetic to Iran such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah react to an Israeli strike? Would events spiral out of control on the border with Gaza, Syria or Lebanon? It’s easy to suggest that Iran and its proxies would temper their actions because of “redlines,” but no plan survives contact with the enemy.

Barak has seemingly stepped back from his countdown to infinite crisis this week. But as Marsha Cohen writes at LobeLog, “the Obama administration is now trapped in a lose-lose situation, with Israeli politicians doing everything possible to sabotage Obama’s re-election bid while undercutting any movement he might be tempted to make to ease tensions with Iran.”

About Paul Mutter

Paul Mutter is a contributor to Mondoweiss, Foreign Policy in Focus and the Arabist.

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38 Responses

  1. ToivoS
    January 20, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Paul, what do you think? All of the theories and stories you cite come from Zionists or people close to them. Last week we heard that it was the US that cancelled these military exercises. Now, after being filtered through Israel, we hear that it was Barak. This latter story sounds like face saving spin.

    I am confused so that is why I asked: what do you think? If you don’t know your informed opinion would be helpful.

    • Charon
      January 20, 2012, 8:30 pm

      Didn’t DEBKAfile report the other day that it was called of by the US? If they did, the article has been modified, although it still sort of eludes to that conclusion (the one from the other day, not the new one). DEBKAfile make shit up anyways, a broken clock is more reliable. The rare occasion DEBKAfile is ever correct is probably a coincidence.

      I agree that Israel is trying to spin this. They spin everything. Everything to make themselves look good. Their legitimacy and credibility is at an all time low. Even the regular Hasbara folks here have toned down their post counts. They lost the information war and now you got a few (a few is a start) more prominent historically pro-Israel giving a teeny tiny bit of worried criticism which is bizzare coming from people who would never criticize Israel.

  2. BillM
    January 20, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Thanks for at least trying to explain it. This move has me frankly baffled. Harel’s theory is the most plausible, but mostly because all the other theories are so weak. Delaying the exercises to “punish” Obama makes no sense if te exercises would just happen later this year (and closer to the election), and delaying them to “keep Israel’s options open” makes no sense period.

  3. Dan Crowther
    January 20, 2012, 2:32 pm

    I asked the question, “might it have been the Israeli’s who cancelled?” the other day and was shot down immediately. Huh, funny how MW from day to day says something different….. Reminds me of the old saying, “he who speaks first usually has the least to say”

    Personally, I don’t really know what to think; all I do know is that the thrust of Pepe Escobar’s latest – and basically my argument for months and months now- is the US and its allies are gearing up, getting ready for something – with an eye not just on Iran, but Asia and China more specifically. The dollar is being attacked here, and as Escobar says, its wise to follow the money.

    And like I said before, no matter who cancelled or postponed the drill – it helps bibi and hurts barry.

    I really wouldn’t be surprised to read about a US/Israeli “engagement” over Iraqi airspace sometime soon…. the israeli’s are going to press the americans even harder going forward, nothing would surprise me at this point – actually, i take that back – the only thing that would surprise me at this point would be the iranian leadership acting as stupidly as the american and israeli leadership

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      January 20, 2012, 6:01 pm

      Pepe Escobar has written that Iran is being targeted because it wants to stop dealing in petro-dollars and that the Chinese, who own at least a trillion in US debt, wish to do so, as well, but he offers no suggestion as to what currency exists to replace the dollar. This idea was first floated when the euro was strong but now a switch to the euro is out of the question and Iranian rials were never a consideration. We heard this argument first when it was raised as the reason we attacked Iraq. Then we were told that Qaddafi’s threat to establish some sort of a gold standard within Africa was seen as threat to the oil economy as if the late colonel and Libya had such power and that any African state would challenge US hegemony.

      The current state of the US-Israel-Iran triangle raises more questions than it does definitive answers. What has been obvious is that the Israeli leadership and its agents in the US Jewish establishment and Congress have been pressing the US to launch a military attack on Iran, not willing to publicly recognize that through economic sanctions, the US war on Iran has already begun.

      It would seem, for solid economic reasons, that the Obama administration is NOT looking for it to escalate into a shooting war but his power seems to be limited. Given the undeniable influence of the Jewish establishment over Congress–in which members of his own party vote against his wishes whenever Israel’s demands are on the table–he may no longer be the “decider” when it comes to going to war.

      The meaning of what is going on at the moment we can only speculate because none of us has all the pieces to the puzzle, nor do we know how many are missing. What we can and must do is make it abundantly clear that should the US sanctions escalate to a fighting war, that war will be for Israel.

      In 1990, while Iraq was still occupying Kuwait and the neocons were pressing Bush Sr. to stop hesitating and go after Saddam, a friend who owned a large truck and a Chinese junk with a large sail, knocked on my door at 1 am, telling me that he wanted to make an anti-war banner out of the sail and display it on the side of his truck which he planned to park on a major overpass of Hwy 1o1 leading out of San Francisco.

      Without a moment’s hesitation, I said, “No War for Israel!,” and we got another friend who had made posters for the Fillmore in the 60s, to make the letters for the 17 ft banner. Our effort was a major success, although it didn’t stop the war. We heard many sympathetic honks and only one loudly shouted , “F–k you!,” which, incredibly, could be heard above the din of traffic. At nightfall, after being told by the highway patrol that we were creating a traffic hazard, we drove the truck into the Mission District where it became the head of an anti-war march. (For those who don’t believe this was a war for Israel, see Eric Alterman’s “Sound and Fury,” Harper-Collins, 1992).

      I next used the banner in 2003 on the overpass and at anti-war protests and I am planning to drape it on my old Toyota pickup and drive down to SF and do it again. I would encourage MW readers here in the states to make your own signs with the slogan of the day: “No War for Israel! Given the tenor of the times, it needs to be done soon, very soon.

      • LanceThruster
        January 20, 2012, 6:23 pm

        Thank you so much for sharing this memory.

        “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

      • Dan Crowther
        January 20, 2012, 8:36 pm

        great story jeff…. what you say about escobar is not entirely accurate:

        “That Iranian isolation theme only gets weaker when one learns that the country is dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia for rials and rubles — a similar move to ones already made in its trade with China and Japan. As for India, an economic powerhouse in the neighborhood, its leaders also refuse to stop buying Iranian oil, a trade that, in the long run, is similarly unlikely to be conducted in dollars. India is already using the yuan with China, as Russia and China have been trading in rubles and yuan for more than a year, as Japan and China are promoting direct trading in yen and yuan. As for Iran and China, all new trade and joint investments will be settled in yuan and rial.

        Translation, if any was needed: in the near future, with the Europeans out of the mix, virtually none of Iran’s oil will be traded in dollars.

        Moreover, three BRICS members (Russia, India, and China) allied with Iran are major holders (and producers) of gold. Their complex trade ties won’t be affected by the whims of a U.S. Congress. In fact, when the developing world looks at the profound crisis in the Atlanticist West, what they see is massive U.S. debt, the Fed printing money as if there’s no tomorrow, lots of “quantitative easing,” and of course the Eurozone shaking to its very foundations.

        Follow the money. Leave aside, for the moment, the new sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank that will go into effect months from now, ignore Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz (especially unlikely given that it’s the main way Iran gets its own oil to market), and perhaps one key reason the crisis in the Persian Gulf is mounting involves this move to torpedo the petrodollar as the all-purpose currency of exchange.”
        ————

        I think this argument has merit. I also think that yes, here (iran) is an example of where different agendas converge.

      • Dan Crowther
        January 20, 2012, 9:00 pm

        sht, forgot-for the related text to the quote above:

        link to atimes.com

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        January 21, 2012, 8:54 pm

        Dan, I read the original article and while I don’t pretend to be an oil expert, I have seen no convincing argument that the petrodollar is about to be replaced as “the all-purpose currency of exchange.” There was, understandably, a belief as well as the hope on the part of many that it would be replaced by the euro but with that currency shakier than ever that’s off the table. Given China’s control over the value of the yuan or renminbi, that is not likely to replace it and certainly not the Russian ruble or British pounds. Swiss francs?

        When Escobar writes that “India is already using the yuan with China, as Russia and China have been trading in rubles and yuan for more than a year, as Japan and China are promoting direct trading in yen and yuan,” he obviously is referring to commerce other than oil.

      • Keith
        January 21, 2012, 9:13 pm

        DAN CROWTHER- I tend to agree with your assessment. Some folks tend to dismiss strategic considerations too easily. Part of the US grand strategy for the future is to PREVENT the emergence of any and all potential rivals to US hegemony. This has been articulated in the planning documents. If the US sits back and does nothing, the current state of affairs will gradually erode US power. The BRICS countries are currently trying to extricate themselves from the US dominated global system. This, in turn, requires achieving fuel security as well as gaining independence from the global financial system. Attempts to construct pipelines and other measures to secure reliable fuel sources as well as to develop financial alternatives are underway, but will take some time. The US, as the lone superpower, has a narrow window of opportunity to quash these efforts, thereby safeguarding the imperial system, currently in process of transmogrifying itself. Our huge military budgets bespeak of a military intervention to secure empire. It seems crazy, but, to a degree, our rulers are. The coming year looks to be extraordinarily dangerous.

        On another topic, there seems to be a “dark” space in Mondoweiss archives. I am unable to access articles between January 10th through the 18th. Also, I found Bruce Wolman’s conspicuous return on the Donald Johnson thread calling for “moderation” somewhat ominous.

    • kapok
      January 20, 2012, 7:16 pm

      I propose an embargo on the meaningless phrase “going forward”.

  4. Les
    January 20, 2012, 3:08 pm

    It is wrong to believe that Israel put Obama into this lose-lose situation. It was Obama who did it by his comittment to capitulation whenever there is a conflict.

    • justicewillprevail
      January 20, 2012, 3:24 pm

      Ha ha, a joker turns up.

    • pineywoodslim
      January 21, 2012, 10:52 pm

      Obama is indeed a capitulator.

      Obama’s total capitulation to Israel early on is what has put him in this situation. Israel is like a blackmailer–once you give in, they keep coming back for more.

      If Obama had told Bibi a big fat “no” early on in his presidency, Obama would have never been finagled into this corner.

  5. Kathleen
    January 20, 2012, 3:20 pm

    There was a WH press conference recently where questions were asked about direct communication between Obama and Iranian leaders. Remember those NSA transcripts that Biden had demanded during the John Bolton UN non nomination hearings. Supposedly had to do with Bolton, Libby, Cheney and teams alleged wiretapping of Colin Powells communication s with Iran

  6. radii
    January 20, 2012, 3:58 pm

    perception is power in politics and while questions remained in even the most informed minds about what exactly was going on the news cycle played out for days with America canceling the joint drill and now, later, israel says they did – the damage is done – the appearance was that America properly slapped down israel for its bullying the US into another war for them … it does not serve US interests in any way to have israel engage in military attacks on Iran and Russia has rightfully and forcefully said it is a big mistake if it happens – there is zero upside for the US if israel is allowed to compel this to happen … and as for Iran seeking nuclear weapons, there is no evidence for this – in fact, the evidence runs counter: Iran is a member of the IAEA and has allowed inspections and signed on to the agreement whereas israel has not and won’t even acknowledge its own stockpile of 175+ nukes; Iran has not started a war in centuries; Iran would not actually use the weapons if they developed them and they only need to go 90% of the way to production to get 90% of the benefit politically in having them; the intelligence assessment of the USA and others is that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons – only israel and the “think tanks” they control say this; lastly, so what if Iran gets nukes? South Africa had them, Pakistan has them … no one will use them unless they want to insure the destruction of their own people.

    • Citizen
      January 20, 2012, 6:09 pm

      At present, I tend to agree with radii’s assesment, given all that’s happened lately related to Iran; a few days ago the reports suggested it was Obama pulling Israel back, then early this morning I read in some Jewish and Israeli papers it was joint decision, and now I come home to find Israel is saying it was its solo decision. I wonder how many average Americans will be scratching their heads over all this Israel stuff in the news, news coinciding or part of the political campaign for who will be their next POTUS?

  7. justicewillprevail
    January 20, 2012, 4:44 pm

    I wouldn’t believe a word of it. Just about everything that comes out of Israel is spin, whitewash, divert. The exercise was no big deal for the US, so why would Israel cancel to make some sort of power play. It makes no sense. It only makes sense if Israel is desperate to control the narrative, which it always is, and has the arrogance to think that it is bigger than the US, and can slap it down whenever it suits itself. It is delusional, power politics and a desperate attempt to save face. It cannot be a coincidence that the exercise was cancelled right after the Israeli terrorist assassination in Iran, which the US admin was clearly very pissed off about. Making convoluted, nonsensical claims through ‘leaks’ is just the usual attempt to control the agenda and the MSM. Yahoo is a rogue dictator, time for an Arab American spring.

  8. ToivoS
    January 20, 2012, 4:51 pm

    Juan Cole at Informed Consent:

    Despite Israeli attempts to spin the cancellation or postponement of US and Israeli joint military exercises as an Israeli initiative, they were more likely scotched from the American side to show displeasure or to avoid a provocation of Iran when Iran already seems pretty provoked. (Israel has much to gain and nothing to lose from conducting such joint exercises with the US army, insofar as it reinforces for the Middle East region US devotion to Israel’s security).

    which supports the likelihood that all of those Zio stories were just face saving spin.

    • seanmcbride
      January 20, 2012, 6:34 pm

      Of course all these stories from Israel were just face-saving spin — Israel has been caught doing this kind of thing time and time again.

    • Philip Munger
      January 21, 2012, 4:50 am

      I sometimes wonder about Laura Rozen’s ultimate destination or career goal.

  9. American
    January 20, 2012, 6:20 pm

    Well, let’s see now.
    So far we had the excuses that:

    1)Israel called the drill off because of budget cuts…said Israel newspapers.

    2) Then the official announcment by Israel that US and Isr ‘jointly’ called the drills off to as to not enflame tensions with Iran.

    3) Now we have anonomyous sources (Rozen yet again) saying drills were called off by Israel to express comtempt for Obama /or drills were called because the IDF hasn’t decided how they want to attack Iran/ or this was a message to Obama he better attack Iran cause Israel is tired of waiting.

    My money is on all these 1,2 and 3 excuses and whatever the next explaination churned out is:
    A- Rattleing their monkey cages as usual.
    B-Wiping the rotten bannas off their faces to save face.
    C- Trying to make sure Iran still believes Israel calls the shots with the US superpower, not visa versa.

    I would think by now everyone recongizes hasbara when they hear it.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 20, 2012, 6:46 pm

      ok, i am weighing in.

      the most compelling evidence it was not israel who pulled the plug is the very fact they are not on message and speaking in unison. they were caught by surprise, hence…the dual messaging.

      i knew something was up when i first read netanyahu’s newspaper/Israel Hayom (Sheldon Aldeson’s Israeli newspaper) report bright and early.

      has been cancelled due to budgetary constraints, Israel Radio reported on Sunday afternoon.

      It was unclear from the Israel Radio report which side cancelled the drill.

      iow, it was first reported thru the radio sans info and even the PM’s paper wasn’t sure what to say. had it been israel calling it off they would have prepared the hasbara along with the policy (their usual MO). it happened fast and furious! the US canceled and didn’t say a word thru the msm.

      • American
        January 20, 2012, 7:14 pm

        Agree with annie about proof of them getting blindsided by the cancellation….all this anonymous crapola spinning is face saving to not look weaken by the US in front of Iran.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 20, 2012, 7:28 pm

        plus, laura rozen has been duped before by hasbara ‘leaks’

  10. Annie Robbins
    January 20, 2012, 7:22 pm

    paul,

    The first view is that the postponement is supposed to send Obama a message that he had better be more assertive against Iran if he wants Israel to stand down. The hawkish, pro-Netanyahu Israeli site DEBKAfile reports that the cancellation was approved of at the top by Bibi himself ……….Given DEBKAfile’s right-wing bent, it is safe to say that the aforementioned narrative is how the warhawks in the Israeli government wish their actions to be perceived in the US.

    that debka report was from the 17th. it opens:

    debkafile’s sources disclose exclusively that, contrary to recent reports published in Washington, Jerusalem – and this site too – it was Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, not the Obama administration, who decided to call off the biggest ever joint US-Israeli military exercise Austere Challenge 12 scheduled for April 2012.
    Washington was taken aback by the decision.

    Given DEBKAfile’s right-wing bent, it is safe to say that the following narrative is how the warhawks in the Israeli government originally wished their actions to be perceived on jan 15th, hrs after the cancellation:

    US-Israeli discord over action against Iran went into overdrive Sunday, Jan. 15 when the White House called off Austere Challenge 12, the biggest joint war game the US and Israel have every staged, ready to go in spring, in reprisal for a comment by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon in an early morning radio interview. He said the United States was hesitant over sanctions against Iran’s central bank and oil for fear of a spike in oil prices.

    The row between Washington and Jerusalem is now in the open, undoubtedly causing celebration in Tehran.

    Nothing was said about the 9,000 US troops who landed in Israeli earlier this month for a lengthy stay. Neither was the forthcoming visit by Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, Thursday mentioned.

    9,000 US troops who landed in Israeli earlier this month for a lengthy stay?

    that was reported by debka on the 8th:

    debkafile reported Friday, Jan. 6 on US-Israeli-British deployments in readiness for a strike against Iran.

    Thousands of US troops began descending on Israel this week. Senior US military sources told debkafile Friday, Jan. 6 that many would be staying up to the end of the year as part of the US-IDF deployment in readiness for a military engagement with Iran and its possible escalation into a regional conflict. They will be joined by a US aircraft carrier. The warplanes on its decks will fly missions with Israeli Air Force jets. The 9,000 US servicemen gathering in Israel in the coming weeks are mostly airmen, missile interceptor teams, marines, seamen, technicians and intelligence officers.

    what.ever.

    • Charon
      January 20, 2012, 8:46 pm

      I just read the 1/15 article at DEBKAfile a few mins ago, completely missed the “White House called off Austere Challenge 12″ which I thought was there from the other day. Figured it was edited out, glad to see that it’s not. DEBKAfile is about as reliable as Sorcha Faal (Sorcha FAIL). Made up propaganda combined with speculation that on occasion is correct out of coincidence. Getting a smirk out of reading the headlines and leads on their home page, ridiculous nonsense.

  11. iamuglow
    January 21, 2012, 12:13 am

    Ugh. This article is not well thought out..

    Laura Rozen has an anonymous source and we are going to take it over the named Israelis sources in the Israeli media? We are going to believe that Barak asked for this to be called off last month and it is only on the weekend after the Iranin scientist is killed just before the excersice is to start…that its finalized and announced?

    The rationale Rosen speculates about is nonsensical…”Now Israel doesnt want US troops in Israel..?” and the whole Israel will use make air strikes against Iran is not in line what Israels capabilities.

    The simplier story is far more believable. The US called it off for fear that Israel was forcing their hand on Iran…with the escalation of the assasination and then the threat to the Straits of Hormuz.

    Laura Rozen is probably carrying water for somebody to help make this incident seem like it doesnt impact US/Israel relations. You pushing this POV is probably just helping that myth.

  12. patm
    January 21, 2012, 9:12 am

    I was impressed with opaleye’s 6th point in his long comment the other day. Here it is :

    “6. Currently there are 3 carrier groups in or heading toward the Gulf. Why are they there?

    Are they there to deter the Iranians? No. Because everybody in this game knows the Iranians are not going to start this war. Also, if the US really believed that the Iranians *were* going to attack, there is no way they would put the carriers in the Gulf itself, where they are far too vulnerable.

    Are they there to attack Iran? No, because again they would keep the carriers out of the Gulf in that scenario. Also, you would see a massive build up of other air firepower – the carriers are simply not enough.

    So what are they doing there? They are there to deter Israel. By putting carriers groups in such easy reach of Iranian counter-strike, the US is making sure that Israel knows it will be blamed for their loss if Israel attacks. Particularly after repeated public statements making it clear Israel does *not* have a green light for this and then the cancellation of the joint exercise.

    One of the targets of an Israeli raid would be Bushehr, which is on the Gulf coast. So the Israelis would have to fly past the carriers to get there. This puts the US in a position to give a very firm “no”.

    And of course, the media assumes the carriers are there to threaten Iran, so it’s hard for the Lobby to make Obama look “weak on Iran”.

    BTW, in case you wonder why the USN is sending carrier groups into a confined body of water where they are extremely vulnerable to missiles, torpedoes and mines: politicians in Washington routinely use the carriers in this way, overriding the Navy’s objections to putting them at such extreme risk. The public mostly doesn’t realize how vulnerable these things are, especially to modern “smart” torpedoes that are almost impossible to stop.

    The point here is that the US is compelled *currently* to view Israel as a dangerous and unpredictable military player and the US cannot avoid taking steps to deal with this situation.”

    ****

    Are there flaws in this argument ?

    • American
      January 21, 2012, 5:19 pm

      “Are there flaws in this argument ?”…patm

      I don’t see any.
      I think opaleyes analyzed the real reason our ships are in the Gulf and it makes more sense than our assuming from media hype that our moves are for Israel.
      I believe this also because I am convinced Obama does not ‘intend’ to attack Iran and the US does not believe Iran will attack our ships, short of some all out war we don’t intend to start.
      Our ship aren’t at risk unless Israel does something…..a message I am sure Israel has gotten.

      • patm
        January 22, 2012, 8:37 am

        Our ship aren’t at risk unless Israel does something…..a message I am sure Israel has gotten. American (my bold)

        Yes, Bibi may be a nasty piece of work, but he’s not a madman, nor I imagine is Ehud Barak. They’ll have put the lid on any plans for an attack against Iran—at least for now, imo.

    • pineywoodslim
      January 21, 2012, 11:04 pm

      The only flaw I would see is your statement that:

      “So what are they doing there? They are there to deter Israel. By putting carriers groups in such easy reach of Iranian counter-strike, the US is making sure that Israel knows it will be blamed for their loss if Israel attacks.”

      While military strategists will blame Israel–and of course Israel won’t care a bit if it’s blamed–if Iran strikes, damages, or sinks a US naval vessel, the American public abetted by the media and the lobby will overwhelmingly call for blood, Iranian blood, not Israeli blood.

    • seanmcbride
      January 22, 2012, 11:29 am

      There are no flaws in this argument — it’s right on the mark.

      The US government is exerting massive pressure on Israel not to attack Iran. And our worse than useless mainstream media are not reporting the real story — their only concern is to save face for Israel. That is all they care about — not about the disastrous consequences for Americans of an Israeli attack on Iran. Nor did they care about the disastrous consequences for Americans of a neoconservative attack on Iraq. They are for the most part neoconservatives themselves.

      • patm
        January 22, 2012, 12:21 pm

        They are for the most part neoconservatives themselves.

        Yes, the old adage is true: “If you want freedom of speech, own a newspaper.” Or these days a radio station or tv channel.

        However, there is some sunlight back in the US media: the return of Bill Moyers to PBS. This weekend he talked with Reagan Budget Director David Stockman about “Crony Capitalism.” Also NYT reporter Gretchen Morgenson on money and politics.

        It was not happy talk, no “confidence fairies” these two.

        link to truth-out.org

  13. Ramzi Jaber
    January 21, 2012, 10:28 am

    With the zinosit criminal regime of israel, nothing is EVER what it seems on the surface. The fact that there are all these “theories” serves israel.

    Their strategy is simple: blackmail the USA so USA does what israel wants. It has worked since zionism was created.

  14. atime forpeace
    January 21, 2012, 6:13 pm

    Israel and the United States are like a dog and his/her owner.

    And they role play.

  15. Les
    January 21, 2012, 7:23 pm

    Why did Obama send top US general to Israel to grovel before Netanyahu? This is how a world power treats a more than well paid puppet government!

  16. Hostage
    January 22, 2012, 8:24 am

    It’s just as likely that the US postponed the exercise and allowed the Israelis to take the credit as a face saving gesture.

    If you believe what you hear from back channel US government sources, then you’ll become just one more of their many friends in the media.

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