The Israeli case for war in ‘The New York Times’

Obama in Oval Office Feb  13 photo by Pete Souza
Obama on telephone, Feb 13, White House photo by Pete Souza

An extraordinary op-ed in the New York Times today is entitled “Israel’s Last Chance to Strike Iran.” Written by Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, the article deepens the impression that members of Israel’s security establishment have a faucet at the Times which they can turn on at pleasure. Thus on the eve of Netanyahu’s AIPAC visit, Yadlin observes with alarm that Israel cannot bomb Iran as effectively as the U.S. can; yet if President Obama waits much longer, Israel will be forced to act alone. Israel, however, is willing follow Obama’s schedule provided it gets “ironclad American assurance” that he will bomb when a moment arrives on which the two countries have agreed in advance.

This is discussed in public, in a famous American newspaper. For what purpose if not to soften American opinion? The New York Times is helping one more war after Iraq and Afghanistan–a war against Iran–to become for us an everyday fact, an
understood arrangement.

A similar proposal of war was floated in the Times a little over three weeks ago, in an op-ed entitled “To Weaken Iran, Start with Syria.” The author, Efraim Halevy, was director of the Mossad from 1998-2002. He asked his American readers to recognize the good sense of his idea that the U.S. combine with Russia to overthrow Assad and install a mutually agreeable puppet regime in Syria. Like the follow-up suggestion by Yadlin, that earlier argument for an American attack on Israel’s behalf was presented in the language of emergency. It was an opportunity that the U.S. must seize or else–an “option” (as Halevy called it) which “we do not have the luxury of ignoring.”

The high strategy op-eds by luminaries of a foreign power, appearing so close together in the Times, deal with superficially different subjects but they are by no means incompatible. The first asks us to see an attack on Syria as a logical way station to the bombing of Iran. The second concedes that, given “ironclad American assurance,” Israel may be willing to wait a little longer before joining the U.S. against Iran. (Long enough maybe for the fall of Assad.)

Meanwhile President Obama continues a policy of minimal explanation concerning Israel and Iran. He gave a hostage to fortune and contradicted warnings by his
secretaries of state and defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs when he
said that the U.S. was marching “lockstep” with Israel on Iran. Characteristically, as three years of his presidency have shown, Obama works by tacking and co-opting. He goes some distance to meet the most dangerous of demands, and seems not to have understood the impression of weakness which this pattern has infallibly conveyed. His counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, by contrast, moves rapidly, emphatically, and unembarrassed in the medium of American politics. He has the assistance of the jingo media of the far right but also the mainstream media. Is it wrong to suspect that Obama is entering his next encounter in a usual state of mind for him–passive, wishful, and ill-advised?

About David Bromwich

David Bromwich teaches literature at Yale. He is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and has written on politics and culture for The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. He is editor of Edmund Burke's selected writings On Empire, Liberty, and Reform and co-editor of the Yale University Press edition of On Liberty.
Posted in Iran, Israel Lobby, Media, Neocons, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 55 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. seafoid says:

    DB expands on the theme of Bibi and Obama in this slam dunk from the New York Review which is worth reading in full.

    link to nybooks.com

    Barack Obama from the start of his presidency has exhibited an almost exclusive taste for the dignified part of government. During the BP oil spill, his remoteness from the plod and toil of problem-solving showed day after day. That was a “teachable moment,” if ever there was one: a public catastrophe that implicated the environment and energy resources close to home for all Americans. The moment escaped this president, as the nuclear disaster in Japan has also escaped him. He never broke a sweat as he could have—literally and figuratively—by descending into the muck on the spoiled Louisiana beaches. Few presidents have ever seemed farther than Obama from being “in the thick of things.” The impression came back as he left Washington with Netanyahu triumphant, and took a plane for Ireland to speak of hope and peace.

    On May 26, at the urging of the President, the Senate and House voted to renew the Patriot Act. Obama signed it with a teleportable pen, from France. He has said that he would look to the future, not the past—a slogan that nullifies the large part of justice that consists of accountability—but here was an element of the Bush-Cheney past that he chose to project into the future with as little discussion as possible. Obama’s real trouble has come, however, in his attempts to inhabit the present. He is slower to react than most people, far slower than most politicians. He gave away six months of the health care debate without pressing his initial advantage while the resistance sprang up all around, the Tea Party was created, and congressional enemies gained on him. He let the controversy over his birth certificate blow up to absurd proportions over two and a half years before dispelling all doubts at a stroke in a press briefing that was hastily called and testily managed. At present, he is waiting for Afghanistan to calm down and let him withdraw troops on a deliberate schedule. But things can flare up while you are waiting, or flare up elsewhere and set back every cautious preparation.

    The position of a moderate who aspires to shake the world into a new shape presents a continuous contradiction. For the moderate feels constrained not to say anything startling, and not to do anything very fast. But just as there is trouble with doing things on the old lines, there is trouble, too, with letting people understand things on the old lines. At least, there is if you have your sights set on changing the nature of the game. Obama is caught in this contradiction, and keeps getting deeper in it, like a man who sinks in quicksand both the more he struggles and the more he stays still. This is one lesson of his passage from inaction in Egypt to action in Libya, and from his summons of reform in Cairo in June 2009 to the guarded speech from the sidelines in May 2011.

    • Great article, thanks.

      Obama, either a conniving con man or an arrogant doofus in over his head. Probably both, but the degree of either is unimportant.

  2. eljay says:

    I really like how Israel and the U.S. are discussing and planning offensive warfare as though it were nothing more than a lunch date. Will the warmongers in these rogue, nuclear-equipped nations be held accountable for their actions? Probably not. And that’s a damned shame.

    • Citizen says:

      Some nasty surprises await our war mongers–or rather, the parents and nuclear families of our US Navy kids:
      link to veteranstoday.com

      (You really got to read this! And spread it around! The tone alone might crack a bit of all that MSM & political Israel First wax in Dick and Jane’s ears)

      • Daniel Rich says:

        @ Citizen,

        When MJ Rosenberg turns his attention to this link to usslibertycoverup.com he’ll have my respect. The surviving sailors deserve our respect and our effort/s to see to it that ‘we’ don’t turn a blind eye to injustice. Be it past, present or future.

        • Daniel Rich — why are you bringing up the USS Liberty? That’s “something that maybe sorta kinda happened in the past” that we should forget about, according to Matt Kroenig.
          Live in the present, folks; Iran is a happenin’ place; time to bomb Iran NOW!

          (h/t to our good friend Myron Kaplan of CAMERA for doing the transcript)

          • February 21, 2012 – 9:52 AM
          Host: GRETA BRAWNER.
          Guest: MATTHEW KROENIG, Council on Foreign Relations, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow.
          Topic: U.S. tensions with Iran.
          Caller: Phil from Los Angeles, California (click here to listen).
          C-SPAN fails to adequately address anti-Israel caller’s canard concerning accidental attack on an American ship.
          Caller: “I just wanted to let you know that I am a United States Navy combat wounded veteran. I served my country honorably in 1967 aboard the USS Liberty that was deliberately attacked by the government of Israel in a sneak attack using unmarked jet aircraft. Israel is no friend of America, I guarantee that. They murdered 34 of my shipmates aboard the USS Liberty and wounded 174 others, including myself. So, I think it’s time for the United States to cut the ties with Israel. Let Israel fight their own wars including Afghanistan and Iraq. Go to [caller refers to a Web site dedicated to railing against American foreign policy, Jews and the Jewish state]*** if you want to learn more about the USS Liberty. God bless America”

          Host (addressing the guest): “Alright. Are you familiar with that scenario of the USS Liberty and what he was outlining there – is there any evidence of that?“****

          Guest: “It was a case that took place a few years ago. There was – Israel attacked a U.S. ship. And there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding that – whether Israel knew it was a U.S.. ship or not. It is something that happened in the past. I think if we look at the strategic situation today, we see that Israel is a close ally to the United States. The Middle East is a very important strategic region. We don’t have many close allies in the region. I think that maintaining that strong partnership with Israel is important. Again, when we think about the Iran nuclear issue, it’s a mistake to think of this as something we are doing as a favor to Israel. Even if Israel were not in the picture, we would be concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. We have our own interests and it makes sense to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

          ** Myron did a pretty good job w/ the transcript but failed to include the caller’s opening — a very gracious, “Thank you for taking my call.”

          *** here’s the website that Myron was shy about mentioning: Wake up America!

          ****Greta Brawner relies on “Is there any evidence” or “What is the evidence” to burnish her journalistic creds — when she wants to. I’ve never heard her ask “What is the evidence” that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, or, “the evidence of the NPT treaty is that Iran IS ENTITLED TO ENRICHMENT.”

          As this comment is being typed Ardeshir and Ellie Omani of AIFC, Iranian American Friendship Committee are leading a protest outside the offices of Council on Foreign Relations in NYC where Kroenig is once again beating the drums, urging Obama to attack Iran NOW (evidence be damned).

          from AIFC:

          “Iranian communities across the U.S. and in Iran are outraged by learning that Jonathan Tepperman, Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, the bi-monthly publication of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), has allowed Matthew Kroenig’s toxically anti-Iran article: “Time to Attack Iran” to appear in the Jan/Feb. 2012 issue of the magazine. As if this egregious act was not enough to bring discredit to the magazine and the Council on Foreign Relations, CFR is sponsoring a public “live debate” on March 1st, to convince Americans that war on Iran, just as the ones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Syria, in its early stages, is the rational, humane and civilized method of dealing with the differences between the two countries of U.S. and Iran.

          It is a well-known fact that is verified numerous times by even some top U.S. officials in the U.S. Administration and intelligence services, including by the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and President Barack Obama among many others in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has no nuclear weapons or even programs.

          American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), consistent with our 8 year Mission Statement, call on all Iranians and Americans who do not wish to witness another war – this time on Iran – to join us in a protest picket line in front of the Council on Foreign Relations to voice your opposition to this meeting that intends to promote war, death and destruction of yet another country in the Middle East. “

        • tomloveswine says:

          The USS LIberty is a very important matter. The USA government has thousands of individual who intercept communications. The Israel jets communications would have been intercepted in Turkey, horn of Africa, and ships. The Israel government has similar intercept units along with Russians, French and British.
          The conversation between the pilots and ground would tell the truth of what happened that day. I suspect the failure of Israel, USA, French, British, Russian officials to release the tapes pretty much tells the fact that it was not an accident but a pre planned attack. Two major issue I have is the official Israel story was they were search for a submarine when they came upon the USS LIberty. The Israel jets were armed with Nalpalm and who goes after submarines with Nalpalm. Second is only one ship was attacked outside of a harbor and that one ship was the USS Libertyl

        • Citizen says:

          Daniel Rich, yes, while, as an American humanist, I respect MJ Rosenberg’s stances generally, you are correct–he does pull his punches, as you exemplify by noting he has never addressed the USS Liberty incident and its long cover-up to this day by successive US regimes post 1967. Another punch he pulls concerns BDS–he recently posted an article arguing a general BDS against Israel is misguided because innocent Israelis would be negatively impacted. He never mentions why that was OK as to apartheid S Africa, but not as to Israel.

    • Daniel Rich says:

      @ eljay,

      Q: I really like how Israel and the U.S. are discussing and planning offensive warfare as though it were nothing more than a lunch date.

      R: Well, Sir or Madam, I have been flabbergasted for a while now when confronted with the ease of how ‘we’re’ absorbing news with regard to Israel’s unprecedented and uncanny influence on the US’ foreign policies. You don’t cure cancer with a band aid, that’s all I know.

  3. Les says:

    Relative to our media, AIPAC has always been a bit player. And the starring role has always been assumed by the New York Times.

  4. Thank you David, so very well put:

    Obama works by tacking and co-opting. He goes some distance to meet the most dangerous of demands, and seems not to have understood the impression of weakness which this pattern has infallibly conveyed….Is it wrong to suspect that Obama is entering his next encounter in a usual state of mind for him–passive, wishful, and ill-advised?

    • Daniel Rich — why are you bringing up the USS Liberty? That’s “something that maybe sorta kinda happened in the past” that we should forget about, according to Matt Kroenig.
      Live in the present, folks; Iran is a happenin’ place; time to bomb Iran NOW!

      (h/t to our good friend Myron Kaplan of CAMERA for doing the transcript)

      • February 21, 2012 – 9:52 AM
      Host: GRETA BRAWNER.
      Guest: MATTHEW KROENIG, Council on Foreign Relations, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow.
      Topic: U.S. tensions with Iran.
      Caller: Phil from Los Angeles, California (click here to listen).
      C-SPAN fails to adequately address anti-Israel caller’s canard concerning accidental attack on an American ship.
      Caller: “I just wanted to let you know that I am a United States Navy combat wounded veteran. I served my country honorably in 1967 aboard the USS Liberty that was deliberately attacked by the government of Israel in a sneak attack using unmarked jet aircraft. Israel is no friend of America, I guarantee that. They murdered 34 of my shipmates aboard the USS Liberty and wounded 174 others, including myself. So, I think it’s time for the United States to cut the ties with Israel. Let Israel fight their own wars including Afghanistan and Iraq. Go to [caller refers to a Web site dedicated to railing against American foreign policy, Jews and the Jewish state] if you want to learn more about the USS Liberty. God bless America”

      Host (addressing the guest): “Alright. Are you familiar with that scenario of the USS Liberty and what he was outlining there – is there any evidence of that?“****

      Guest: “It was a case that took place a few years ago. There was – Israel attacked a U.S. ship. And there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding that – whether Israel knew it was a U.S.. ship or not. It is something that happened in the past. I think if we look at the strategic situation today, we see that Israel is a close ally to the United States. The Middle East is a very important strategic region. We don’t have many close allies in the region. I think that maintaining that strong partnership with Israel is important. Again, when we think about the Iran nuclear issue, it’s a mistake to think of this as something we are doing as a favor to Israel. Even if Israel were not in the picture, we would be concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. We have our own interests and it makes sense to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

      ****Greta Brawner relies on “Is there any evidence” or “What is the evidence” to burnish her journalistic creds — when she wants to. I’ve never heard her ask “What is the evidence” that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, or, “the evidence of the NPT treaty is that Iran IS ENTITLED TO ENRICHMENT.”

      As this comment is being typed Ardeshir and Ellie Omani of AIFC, Iranian American Friendship Committee are leading a protest outside the offices of Council on Foreign Relations in NYC where Kroenig is once again beating the drums, urging Obama to attack Iran NOW (evidence be damned).

      from AIFC:

      “Iranian communities across the U.S. and in Iran are outraged by learning that Jonathan Tepperman, Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, the bi-monthly publication of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), has allowed Matthew Kroenig’s toxically anti-Iran article: “Time to Attack Iran” to appear in the Jan/Feb. 2012 issue of the magazine. As if this egregious act was not enough to bring discredit to the magazine and the Council on Foreign Relations, CFR is sponsoring a public “live debate” on March 1st, to convince Americans that war on Iran, just as the ones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Syria, in its early stages, is the rational, humane and civilized method of dealing with the differences between the two countries of U.S. and Iran.

      It is a well-known fact that is verified numerous times by even some top U.S. officials in the U.S. Administration and intelligence services, including by the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and President Barack Obama among many others in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has no nuclear weapons or even programs.

      American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), consistent with our 8 year Mission Statement, call on all Iranians and Americans who do not wish to witness another war – this time on Iran – to join us in a protest picket line in front of the Council on Foreign Relations to voice your opposition to this meeting that intends to promote war, death and destruction of yet another country in the Middle East. “

      • Kathleen says:

        Greta always rolls over when it comes to Israel in regard to Iran. So obvious in her line of questioning when someone is questioning Israel’s intentions but never ever challenges guest or callers when they repeat inflammatory comments about Iran. Never questions goes along with the ride

  5. yourstruly says:

    unless the occupy movement comes out in opposition to another war it’s going to lose whatever support it still commands, assuming it still has a hold on the 99%. and since this winter has turned out to be very mild, bad weather can no longer be cited as an excuse for the movement’s continued inactivity. come on, occupiers, either go after the warmongers (especially these israel firsters) or stop making like you’re serious about change, because an iran war breaks out and the occupy movement will be blown away by a groundswell of rally-round-the-flag/my country right or wrong sentiment that invariably occurs whenever our government decides to take us into one of its preemptive wars.

  6. BillM says:

    This is looking like the big push. They are openly playing their trump card: “Crazy Israel.”

    Israel has always used that card very well, acting crazy to force the US to intervene and solve the problems Israel doesn’t make things worse. (Bush, enamoured of Sharon, tried to copy this without understanding that only the little guy can act crazy; when the big guy acts crazy, he scares his friends much more than his enemies). This op-ed pushes the crazy Israel line very hard. It barely mentions an Iranian nuclear bomb (once sentence in paragraph 9), it abandons the silly “zone of immunity” arguement, and goes straight for the throat: the US must step up war rhetoric/preparations to head off a crazy Israeli attack.

    • seafoid says:

      Very interesting haaretz comment
      link to haaretz.com

      Israel will demand the US maintain the veto vote in the UNSC and ignore the illegal settlements and demand the Palestinians negotiate on Israel’s terms or Israel will attack Iran. The US might think Israel is mad enough. The Palestinians will be screwed again
      talknic 01.03.12 16:21

      • pabelmont says:

        I called the whiteHouse, waited 4 minutes, told the rep. that [1] I opposed a USA attack on iran, [2] only 19% of Israelis suipport a unilateral Israeli attack on iran, [3] many Jews do NOT think like AIPAC; [4] so GOOD LUCK to president Obama resisting all this war talk.

        The rep understood. Will Obama? Or is it “Oh Mama!” time?

        When, if ever, will a USA president struggle free of the dead hand of AIPAC dictation? Presumably by telling qa big TRUTH to the US people to counter the BIG LIEs of AIPAC and the neocons.

        • Daniel Rich says:

          @ pabelmont,

          I sincerely respect your efforts, I wholeheartedly do. I do have this nagging feeling in the back of my head though, the one that goes like, ‘They don’t really care about you and I or our thoughts.’

    • In an astonishing, um, discussion (looked more like a food-fight at a Hannukah party) between Hillary Mann Leverett and Michael “beet cheeks” Rubin, Rubin’s closing shriek was, “We HAVE to keep up the war rhetoric against Iran!!” (or something like that; hard to hear him exactly, Leverett was strangling him with his own necktie aka impaling him with his own petard.)

      • Kathleen says:

        I love Hillary. She looks like a 23 year old and then just knocks her opponents out with one fact after another. And then her direct experience negotiating with Iran. But the MSM just will not have the Leveretts on. Too afraid of facts

    • Shingo says:

      This is looking like the big push. They are openly playing their trump card: “Crazy Israel.”

      Which is ironic give the war party’s line that Iran is run by the mad mullahs.

    • Kathleen says:

      Watch and listen to what Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski had to say this past Sunday about the upcoming Obama/Netanyahu meeting. Dr. Zbig basically said Obama backed down to Netanyahu. Needs to take a stand this time around. Will not support Israel if they attack and no flying through US air space to attack.
      link to globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com

  7. Woody Tanaka says:

    It thought I remember reading that there was a trial a few years ago in Southern Germany (Nuremberg, maybe??), where political leaders (I can’t remember who, exactly, Hermann somebody and Rudolf somebody, and a bunch of others) were tried and executed for “participat[ing] in the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression.”

    I guess those things are no longer bad.

    • Daniel Rich says:

      @ Woody Tanaka,

      Q: …were tried and executed…

      R: Germany doesn’t have a death penalty and thus doesn’t execute its prisoners. That’s done by more sophisticated countries like China, Russia, Iran and the US.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        “R: Germany doesn’t have a death penalty and thus doesn’t execute its prisoners. That’s done by more sophisticated countries like China, Russia, Iran and the US.”

        Germany wasn’t the prosecuting authority at Nuremberg, and the death penalty was implemented.

    • Kathleen says:

      The Bush administration should be on trial at the Hague for the disaster in Iraq. Hopefully an Iraqi Simon Wiesenthal will surface.

  8. Jeff Klein says:

    Interesting that The Times offers a small correction to the op-ed for getting a date wrong, but allowed this zinger:

    “After the Osirak attack and the destruction of the Syrian reactor in 2007, the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs were never fully resumed.”

    Possibly correct for Syria — if they even had a nuclear program — but glaringly wrong about Iraq, which had a nuclear program legal under the NPP in 1981 but launched an accelerated covert nuclear weapons program after the Israeli attack. And contrary to the author’s implication that the US approved of the Israeli attack, it was strongly condemned by the Reagan administration, which cast a rare vote against Israel at the UN.

    Of course, Iraq’s nuclear program was dismantled after the first Gulf War, to little effect in forestalling the 2003 US invasion. The lesson is exactly the opposite of what the writer suggests.

    • i think (as i recall) the israel’s stole american intelligence to get the coordinates for the osirak attack. so this from the nyt

      . He was expecting a rebuke. Instead, he was faced with a single question: How did you do it?

      i do not believe that.

      • Dan Crowther says:

        you think the americans were upset?

      • BillM says:

        They didn’t steal the intelligence. They had full access to all American intelligence; they didn’t even have to request it, they could just pull it (which they did without directly informing the US). After the raid, there were a few sanctions, particularly requiring the Israelis to request most intelligence (not that they didn’t get it, they just had to make the request), so the US wouldn’t be surprised again. The US was able to review what the Israelis had used, so they knew exactly how the Israelis did it. But I suspect the rest of the story isn’t far wrong. The US really wasn’t all that upset by the bombing. Their biggest fear was that Iraq might somehow accept Iran’s offer of peace to unify against Israel at this point. However, that fear quickly faded, so the raid was no big deal.

    • lysias says:

      I am currently reading Fidel Castro’s autobiography, as told to Ignacio Ramonet in several interviews. Castro says that, when Israel destroyed the Osirak reactor, it was acting as the instrument of the U.S.

      I was surprised to see him say that, but Castro strikes me as a pretty level-headed guy.

    • Israeli firsters still point with pride to Israel’s attack on Osirak and see it as the model for an attack on Iran.

      Joseph Cirincione, now at Ploughshares, has consistently argued that Israel’s attack on Osirak resulted in more danger for Israel and other states in the region, not less.

      In this 2004 colloquy Israeli professor Beres implies that Israel operated from some prophetic vision ten years hence to “save American lives.”
      For his part, in addition to raising his usual argument that Israel’s attack propelled Iraq to even greater efforts at developing nuclear weapons (which also increased Iran’s fear of Iraq) Cirincione also debunks one of the Israel firsters other talking points, that Iran with nukes would set off a domino of other states in the region seeking nukes. Cirincione says Israel’s nuclear arsenal IS causing Arab states to think about getting nukes:

      “That brings up the matter of preemption, crucial for Israel’s survival, says Professor Beres. He cites the 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq’s nuclear installation before it became active:

      “When Israel destroyed the Osirik nuclear reactor outside of Baghdad before it went on line, it saved the lives of tens of thousands of Americans who would otherwise have died facing nuclear weapons in the 1991 Gulf War. We believe a conventional, non-nuclear preemption by Israel would be preferable, if necessary, to sitting back and allowing Arab and/or Iranian nuclear weapons.”

      The Osirik attack was less than it seems, contends Joseph Cirincione, director of nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He doubts it sets a useful precedent for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, as some propose:

      “That strike was not effective. It simply drove the program underground, and in fact, Saddam expanded the program after 1981 to produce a program that had several thousand people working for it by 1991. And Iran’s facilities are much more dispersed, much more comprehensive than Iraq’s were.” Professor Beres does not rule out a preemptive attack on Iran, but concedes the difficulties:

      “It would be advisable if it got to a certain stage, although operationally and tactically, a preemptive attack which we call anticipatory self-defense under international law would likely be much more difficult against pertinent Iranian targets today than it was against Iraqi targets on June seventh 1981.”

      “Mr. Cirincione says the repercussions of a raid on Iran would be huge both for Israel and the United States. He adds there is no guarantee Arab nations would not continue to try to go nuclear:

      “Even if Iran can be convinced not to go ahead with its nuclear program, the long-term pressures are just unstoppable that sooner or later countries are going to acquire those nuclear weapons. Israel might be presented with not just one but two, three, maybe four countries in the region with nuclear weapons.” That is why Israel should work toward a nuclear free zone, says Mr. Cirincione. And that, responds Professor Beres, would be the end of Israel:

      “If Israel were ever to accede to a Middle Eastern nuclear weapon free zone, it might wind up being the only country without nuclear weapons. The Arab states in the region and Iran would surely continue to violate this expectation, as they have others. This would be virtually a suicidal step by Israel.”

      Only in a situation of complete trust could Israel surrender its nuclear weapons, and that surely does not exist at present, says Professor Beres. Mr. Cirincione agrees Israelis are under great pressure:

      “They feel insecure, and even though nuclear weapons do nothing to protect them against suicide bombers, they still are very hesitant to give up any military capability in the current situation. So the only way to bring about a weapons free Middle East is really simultaneously to address the regional issues, including resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

      This is a challenging agenda, says Mr. Cirincione, but not as daunting as going to war.

  9. I am not sure if most commentators quite understand how the USA is now seen outside of the continent?

    From downunder the USA is now seen as a nation of mad warmongers. AIPAC, Israel and so forth are invisible. No surprise of course; there is essentially no independent news gathering, so we see what is on the wire or the tube only.

    In Australia the local green branches tried to delay council based boycotts, and were massively attacked by the media and parliament. I suppose this all ensures that when the next major war happens, we will be being blown up at your side.

    • lysias says:

      On the Beach takes place in Australia, doesn’t it?

      Is it true that Kevin Rudd was replaced as PM by Julia Gillard because Rudd was insufficiently subservient to the U.S.?

      • 1. Yes indeed.
        2. it has been alleged, but australian politics is played as a blood sport. I think that Julia just saw an opportunity. She blew it by supporting a carbon tax after saying that she wouldn’t. one of her ministers is now making his own play…

        what is disturbing is that a lot of american money goes into trying to influence aussie politicians; less so with NZ cause it is so small. They don’t even bother to deny it.

    • Daniel Rich says:

      @ southernobserver,

      This is not meant as an insult to you, your country or countrymen, but didn’t the Commonwealth’s member states always form a ring tighter than a yak’s ass during conflicts [WWII,WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc.]?

      • no, we supported our friends. It wasn’t simply the commonwealth or our boys would never have been dying in Korea or Vietnam. In every miserable tin shack town in new zealand there are simple monuments to the world wars, with lists of names of those who died. Remember just how small the whole of NZ is compared to even a medium sized capital, and you bleed.

        cannon fodder for donkeys, thats us.

        I am begging that you don’t do it to us again, this time to ‘protect the world’ from a country that hasn’t attacked anybody in modern history.

  10. RE: “He gave a hostage to fortune…when he said that the U.S. was marching “lockstep” with Israel on Iran.” ~ Bromwich

    FROM WIKIPEDIA: (excerpt) . . . Lockstep marching was a characteristic trait of American prisons of the 19th century.[2] “Inmates formed in single file, right hand on the shoulder of the man in front, left hand on the side; the convicts then stepped off in unison, raising the right foot high and shuffling with the left.”[3] The reason for the shuffling step was the chain that connected the legs of a chain gang. . .
    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    P.S. RE: “give hostage to fortune” ~ Bromwich
    WIKTIONARY:
    to give hostage to fortune – To take an action or make a statement that is risky because it could cause you trouble later.
    SOURCE – link to en.wiktionary.org
    ALSO SEE – link to phrases.org.uk

  11. How do american soldiers feel about going to war because Israel demands it of them?

    has anyone done a survey?
    can that community of soldiers be canvassed to discover how they may feel about this?

    it could be helpful to enlist the men and women in uniform who may not feel like defending the Israeli flag.

    i’m just saying and sure hope it isnt anti semitic of me to suggest that u.s soldiers shouldn’t die for Israel, afterall democratic donations from israel firsters is probably as large as those to the repubs and we know that both of those parties represent americas interests. bwaaahahahaha.

  12. piotr says:

    I understand that current price of gasoline includes 50c to a dollar “war-mongering premium”, based on common assumptions among traders of oil futures that (a) there is a high chance of either Israel or USA attacking Iran, and (b) would that happen, the consequences of Iran’s retaliation on world-wide oil supply would be dire.

    Israel and USA can engage Iran in Mutually Assured Economic Destruction. This is the problem: no option of a cheap small war. Simple war mongering costs billions (in the case of USA, that would be 100 millions per day for the country, and 200 millions per day for non-oil producers in the country, so about 70 billion dollars per year for those of us who do not produce oil). Mind you, “the market” is currently operating under the assumption that there is a CHANCE of war. The cost of actual war would be quite a bit larger.

    In other words, the mere CHANCE OF WAR costs us quite a bit. Unfortunately, this “last chance” lasts for years, so there is no reasonable end in sight. I would be personally relieved if Yadlin was correct and in few months this topic would be abandoned for good.

    Optimistically, Israel got some problems in providing citizens with both guns and butter. Generals kvetch that they had to decrease funding of many essential programs. And now that war-mongering premium increased the cost of gasoline, GoI decided to cut the gasoline tax, and perhaps it can patch the resulting budget gap by cutting funding to IDF yet further. Also, while USA can easily go through a very profound cuts in world oil markets, the consequences for Israel would not be so limited. For example, the conflict can spill to Syria and Hezbollah, and “mutual Dahiya doctrine” may lead to a very severe damage to all port facilities. Or microchip factories etc.

    On the other hand, the logic is elusive. Why is it the last chance for Israel to start a war and spectacularly wreck its own country, rather than doing it, say, 5 years from now?

    • lysias says:

      And that warmongering tax goes straight into the pockets of oil companies and oil-producing governments, does it not?

    • Jeff Klein says:

      I referred to this article on a different thread, but here it is again:

      We’re already paying a ‘War Tax’ at the gas pump
      link to baystatebanner.com

      I also think the Israelis see the nuclear issue as their window of opportunity to get the US to destroy another of their regional enemies. They would be just as anxious to see Iran attacked, whether or not it had a nuclear weapon, but without being able to wave that “nuclear threat” around, there is little chance they would get the opportunity to pull the US into doing it for them. That’s why all the level-headed reporting of comments from Panetta and others is irrelevant. “Iranian nuclear weapons” are the opportunity to get what they wanted anyway. They don;t want to let the pretext for war to slip through their fingers. Like Iraq.

  13. Daniel Rich says:

    I guess it’s rather easy. Stop reading rags that overtly push for Israel’s ‘supreme democracy in the ME.’ It’s a contradiction in terms and not feasible at all. No profit? No ‘news.’

  14. lysias says:

    Ethan Bronner still reporting for the New York Times from Jerusalem: Israeli Troops Raid Two Palestinian TV Stations in the West Bank.

  15. Denis says:

    “He has the assistance of the jingo media of the far right but also the mainstream media. ”

    The word “jingo” here fascinates me. It means jingoistic, I guess, but jingoistic with respect to whom — Israel or US?

    We all know he’s doing the defensive euphemism thing: using “jingo media” to imply “Jewish media” in a way that will, hopefully, avoid the inevitable charges of anti-Semite. Go ahead and say it, dude. We’re all thinking the same thing.

    I mean, this is a vital question. Whose rights and welfare are the US media — right, left, middle — promoting?? Certainly not the US’. I would like Obama to make a public statement as to how many US soldiers is an appropriate number for defending Israel, and how the US will benefit from that loss of life. 58,000 died for nothing in VN, so we can use that as a starting point. Do we go up, or down on that number?

    Backing Israel has never benefited the US. Not one time in 63 years. Backing Israel is a losing proposition, always has been. Time to get out of the way and let them stand on their own.

    Two years ago Obama promised Israel that if Iran ever threw a nuke at Israel, the US would respond in kind against Iran. Right promise — wrong country. He should have promised Iran that umbrella, and if Israel ever fired the first nuke, the US would retaliate in kind against Israel. Then Iran would have no excuse to be building warheads and Israel could see the folly and danger of rattling their nukes. Policy of ambiguity, my tush. Remember the Liberty.

  16. ToivoS says:

    I find Bromwich’s argument, this article as well as the Huff Po piece, convincing and disturbing. It is not so much that Obama’s policies are too much to the right, but that Obama lacks fundamental leadership instincts to even win on those issues he supports. It is a man that is pathologically unable to take the initiative but to sit passively while events overwhelm him.

    We will see in the coming months. I have been convinced for some time that Obama really does not want to go to war against Iran. We will see if Netanyahu, AIPAC and the Republican opposition succeed in forcing him to go to war. We can’t blame the lobby if that happens, it will be Obama’s failure.

  17. Daniel Rich says:

    That will also be an excellent opportunity for Russia to test its missiles link to rusnavy.com

  18. Kathleen says:

    From the article
    “Today, Israel sees the prospect of a nuclear Iran that calls for our annihilation as an existential threat. An Israeli strike against Iran would be a last resort, if all else failed to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. ”

    Total lies. Iran has never called for Israel’s annihilation. But Israel daily threatens Iran.

    Israel striking Iran is the first resort. There is absolutely no hard evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. But Israel and the I lobby just keep repeating the lie over and over again

  19. Kathleen says:

    If Israel attacks Iran they are well within their rights to strike Israel back

  20. Kathleen says:

    link to raceforiran.com
    AYATOLLAH KHAMENEI ON THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC AND THE “BIG SIN” OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

    Posted on February 29th,

    “We want to prove to the world that nuclear weapons do not bring about power. This is because the nuclear powers are suffering from the biggest problems today. They dominated the world through nuclear threats, but today such threats are no longer effective. We want to say that we are not after nuclear weapons, that we do not believe nuclear weapons bring about power and that we can break the kind of power that is based on nuclear weapons. By Allah’s favor, our nation will do this.

    Of course, you know that the pressure they exert on us – the pressure of sanctions, threats, assassinations and other such things – is a sign of their weakness. It shows that whatever they do will only strengthen our nation. Their actions will only convince our people that they have chosen the right goal and that their movement is continuing in an appropriate way. As a result, the enemy has been infuriated.

    This movement is not just a nuclear movement. Today their pretext is the nuclear issue. They use the nuclear pretext to impose sanctions on us. How long is it since the nuclear issue was first brought up? The sanctions have been there for thirty years. Why were they imposing sanctions on us when the nuclear issue did not exist? It is just a matter of fighting a nation that has decided to become independent, a nation that has decided to resist oppression, a nation that has decided to expose oppression, a nation that has decided to stand up against oppressors and oppression, a nation that is determined to convey this message to the entire world. We have tried to convey this message and by Allah’s favor, we will try even harder in the future. Sanctions, political pressure and other such things will not be effective. When a nation decides to stand firm, when a nation believes in divine assistance and its domestic power and capacities, nothing can stand in its way.”

  21. ToivoS says:

    Justin Raimondo is not that popular here at MW but his latest column certainly reflects the opinions of many our commentators: link to original.antiwar.com

  22. Grant F. Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, discusses the “Occupy AIPAC” counter-summit in Washington, D.C. from March 2-6; his article “The Mossad Has Long Given Marching Orders to AIPAC;” the fine line between a domestic lobby and a foreign-controlled intelligence operation; and how constant warmongering and talk of “existential threats” gets AIPAC’s hardcore American donors to open their wallets.

    link to antiwar.com