‘FT’: Iran obsession suggests ‘western policy is driven by Israel’

US Politics
on 34 Comments

The other day I asked why David Sanger of the New York Times is so focused on Iranian nuclear program and not North Korean nukes. The Financial Times raises the same question. Gideon Rachman:

Yet it is Iran’s non-existent nukes that continue to obsess the west. Diplomats have spent so long trying to stop Iran that I get the impression they no longer even ask themselves why it is such a high priority. Press them, and you will get explanations about the dangers of a Middle Eastern arms race and Iran’s regional ambitions.

Interestingly, few seem to take seriously the idea that Israel often evokes – that Iran might actually commit nuclear genocide.

Western concerns are valid. But, in themselves, they do not seem compelling enough to explain the desperate focus on Iran. The main reason the Iranian dossier is so urgent seems to be the fear that Israel will soon attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, provoking a wider war. American and European diplomats are reluctant to put it quite that directly, since this carries the uncomfortable implication that western policy is driven by Israel. But when people say “time is running out” over Iran, it is the prospect of an Israeli attack they are usually thinking about. 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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34 Responses

  1. radii
    June 29, 2012, 2:49 pm

    these “journalists” need to drop the pretense – they are educated and know full-well that the whole Iran gambit is about israel’s regional power – once again with the blood and treasure of the U.S. as the mechanism – israel allows its own citizens and businesses to continue to trade with Iran! … yet the international sanctions preclude others from such trade as a means to “punish” Iran … that is the money part of it … the whole situation is a farce – any respectable journalistic organization would publish a map with the multitude of U.S. and other Western bases that encircle Iran which show clearly the country is safely contained

    • mijj
      June 29, 2012, 10:27 pm

      > “any respectable journalistic organization would publish a map with the multitude of U.S. and other Western bases that encircle Iran which show clearly the country is safely contained”

      it’s not that Iran needs to be “safely contained” in any case. Iran doesn’t have a habit of aggression and conquest.

      It’s the US and Israel that need to be “safely contained”.

  2. pipistro
    June 29, 2012, 3:36 pm

    European attitude is lead by a strange mixture of State submission and people ignorance. I mean, people don’t even know what’s up, as it happened for Iraq, politicians sell cheap their souls, minds and stuff. As a rule.

  3. pipistro
    June 29, 2012, 3:49 pm

    One shouldn’t be a genius, anyway, to understand. By the way I don’t think it’s a matter of nukes, it takes just a glimpse at the map.
    link to wp.me

  4. HarryLaw
    June 29, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Clinton just added China and Singapore to the list of countries with the waiver on oil imports exempting them from sanctions and cutting their banks off from the US banking system, 20 countries in all now including India, Iran now has most of its biggest customers still on board, not that China with its billion and a quarter population would allow its vital energy and foreign policy be dictated to by 7 million Israelis, through the US congress, the sanctions will fail, what then?

  5. Citizen
    June 29, 2012, 6:24 pm

    It is ridiculous beyond reason, this intense focus on Iran by the US, which has a history of attacking Iran in various ways and who’s military bases and navy surround Iranian borders while US drones fly in or very near Iranian space and US cyberattacks on Iran continue, while draconian economic sanctions are held against the Iranian people, the Iranian central bank to be targeted directly tomorrow.

  6. American
    June 29, 2012, 6:52 pm

    Well gee, wonder why anyone thinks Israel runs anything in the US. You will need a barf bag for this latest bill the Israel firsters cooked up.
    While the UK tries to do something about Israeli cruelty to Palestine children, the US extends their loans and gives them even more free weapons.

    link to govtrack.us

    S. 2165: United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012
    112th Congress, 2011–2012. Text as of Mar 06, 2012 (Reported by Senate Committee).

    Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO
    S 2165 RS
    Calendar No. 437

    112th CONGRESS
    2d Session

    S. 2165

    [Report No. 112-179]

    To enhance strategic cooperation between the United States and Israel, and for other purposes.

    IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

    March 6, 2012

    Mrs. BOXER (for herself, Mr. ISAKSON, Ms. COLLINS, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. COBURN, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mr. HELLER, Mrs. MCCASKILL, Mr. RUBIO, Mr. HOEVEN, Mr. MORAN, Mr. PRYOR, Mr. NELSON of Florida, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. WYDEN, Mr. BOOZMAN, Mrs. SHAHEEN, Mr. BURR, Mr. BROWN of Ohio, Mr. CASEY, Ms. KLOBUCHAR, Mr. PORTMAN, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. VITTER, Mr. COONS, Mr. LEE, Mr. BEGICH, Mrs. GILLIBRAND, Mrs. HAGAN, Ms. AYOTTE, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, Mr. KIRK, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. JOHANNS, Mr. INOUYE, Mr. WICKER, Mr. AKAKA, Mr. INHOFE, Mr. CARPER, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. HATCH, Mr. CORNYN, Mr. WARNER, Mr. BAUCUS, Mrs. HUTCHISON, Mr. COCHRAN, Mr. TOOMEY, Mr. MERKLEY, Mr. KOHL, Mr. COATS, Mr. BROWN of Massachusetts, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. BARRASSO, Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota, Mr. SESSIONS, Ms. CANTWELL, Mr. GRASSLEY, Mr. RISCH, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. REED, Mr. FRANKEN, Ms. LANDRIEU, and Mr. SHELBY) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

    June 27, 2012

    Reported by Mr. KERRY, with an amendment

    [Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic]

    ——————————————————————————–
    A BILL

    To enhance strategic cooperation between the United States and Israel, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012’.

    SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
    Congress makes the following findings:
    (1) Since the State of Israel was established in 1948, Presidents of both parties and both Houses of Congress, supported by the American people, have recognized the special bond between the United States and Israel, based on shared values and shared interests.

    (2) The Middle East is undergoing rapid change, bringing with it hope for an expansion of democracy but also profound challenges to regional security–particularly to our most important ally, Israel–and to the national security of the United States.

    (3) The past year has witnessed the fall of old regimes and the rise of political parties in the Middle East who must now choose between a course of moderation and inclusion in the international community or a course of extremism and isolation.
    (4) The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing its decades-long pattern of seeking to foment instability in the Middle East, particularly in this time of dramatic political transition.

    (5) At the same time, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of international law.
    (6) A nuclear-weapons capable Iran would fundamentally threaten vital United States interests, encourage regional nuclear proliferation, further empower Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, and pose a serious and destabilizing threat to Israel and the region. (7) Over the past several years, with the assistance of the Governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas have increased their stockpile of rockets, with more than 60,000 now ready to be fired at Israel. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to develop its missile technology as well, including cruise missiles.
    (8) As a result, the Government and people of Israel are facing a fundamentally altered strategic environment fraught with new and profound challenges.

    SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF UNITED STATES POLICY.
    It is the policy of the United States:
    (1) To reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, as President Barack Obama stated on December 16, 2011, ‘America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable,’ and as President George W. Bush stated before the Israeli Knesset on May 15, 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, ‘The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty.’.
    (2) To provide the Government of Israel the military capabilities necessary to deter and defend itself against any threat or possible combination of threats.
    (3) To assist the Government of Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security, and to encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
    (4) To veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.
    (5) To support Israel’s inherent right to self-defense.
    (6) To pursue every opportunity to expand cooperation with the Government of Israel on defense and national security matters and across the spectrum of civilian sectors, including advanced technology, agriculture, medicine, health, pharmaceuticals, and energy.

    SEC. 4. SENSE OF CONGRESS.
    It is the sense of Congress that the United States Government should take the following actions to assist in the defense of Israel:
    (1) Seek to enhance the capabilities of the Governments of the United States and Israel to address emerging common threats, increase security cooperation, and expand joint military exercises.
    (2) Work to encourage an expanded role for Israel within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.
    (3) Expand already-close intelligence cooperation, including satellite intelligence, with the Government of Israel.
    (4) Examine ways to strengthen existing and ongoing efforts, including the Gaza Counter Arms Smuggling Initiative, aimed at preventing weapons smuggling into Gaza pursuant to the 2009 agreement following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as measures to protect against weapons smuggling and terrorist threats from the Sinai Peninsula.
    (5) Provide the Government of Israel with necessary support to increase development and production of joint missile defense systems, particularly such systems that defend the urgent threat posed to Israel and United States forces in the region.
    (6) Make every effort to assure the provision to the Government of Israel of defensive equipment through such mechanisms as lend-lease, to include air refueling tankers, missile defense capabilities, and specialized munitions.

    (7) Undertake efforts to make available for purchase by the Government of Israel surplus defense items, particularly those resulting from the end of United States combat operations in Iraq.
    (8) Offer the Air Force of Israel additional training and exercise opportunities in the United States to compensate for Israel’s limited air space.

    SEC. 5. ADDITIONAL STEPS TO DEFEND ISRAEL AND PROTECT AMERICAN INTERESTS.
    (a) Extension of War Reserves Stockpile Authority-
    (1) DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005- Section 12001(d) of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2005 (Public Law 108-287; 118 Stat. 1011) is amended by striking ‘more than 8 years after’ and inserting ‘more than 10 years after’.
    (2) FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961- Section 514(b)(2)(A) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2321h(b)(2)(A)) is amended by striking ‘fiscal years 2011 and 2012’ and inserting ‘fiscal years 2013 and 2014’.
    (b) Extension of Loan Guarantees to Israel- Chapter 5 of title I of the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003 (Public Law 108-11; 117 Stat. 576) is amended under the heading ‘Loan Guarantees to Israel’–
    (1) in the matter preceding the first proviso, by striking ‘September 30, 2011’ and inserting ‘September 30, 2015’; and
    (2) in the second proviso, by striking ‘September 30, 2011’ and inserting ‘September 30, 2015’.

    SEC. 6. REPORTS REQUIRED.
    (a) Report on Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME)- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the status of Israel’s qualitative military edge in light of current trends and instability in the Middle East region, including what, if any, mitigating technologies could be provided to the Government of Israel to counter increasing threats in the region.
    (b) Reports on Other Matters- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the following matters:
    (1) Actions to improve the acquisition process for the purchase of F-35 aircraft by Israel, particularly with respect to cost efficiency and on-time delivery, taking into account the urgent need of the Government of Israel for such aircraft.
    (2) Efforts to expand cooperation between the United States Government and the Government of Israel in homeland security, counter-terrorism, maritime security, energy, cyber-security, and other related areas.
    (3) Actions to integrate Israel into the defense of the Eastern Mediterranean.

    SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.
    In this Act:
    (1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES- The term ‘appropriate congressional committees’ means–
    (A) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate; and
    (B) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.

    (2) QUALITATIVE MILITARY EDGE- The term ‘qualitative military edge’ has the meaning given the term in section 36(h)(2) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2776(h)(2)).

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012’.

    SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:

    (1) Since 1948, United States Presidents and both houses of Congress, on a bipartisan basis and supported by the American people, have repeatedly reaffirmed the special bond between the United States and Israel, based on shared values and shared interests.

    (2) The Middle East is undergoing rapid change, bringing with it hope for an expansion of democracy but also great challenges to the national security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly to our most important ally in the region, Israel.

    (3) The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing its decades-long pattern of seeking to foment instability and promote extremism in the Middle East, particularly in this time of dramatic political transition.

    (4) At the same time, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

    (5) A nuclear-weapons capable Iran would fundamentally threaten vital United States interests, encourage regional nuclear proliferation, further empower Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, and pose a serious and destabilizing threat to Israel and the region.

    (6) Over the past several years, with the assistance of the Governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas have increased their stockpile of rockets, with more than 60,000 now ready to be fired at Israel. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to add to its arsenal of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, which threaten Iran’s neighbors, Israel, and United States Armed Forces in the region.

    (7) As a result, Israel is facing a fundamentally altered strategic environment.

    (8) Pursuant to chapter 5 of title 1 of the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003 (Public Law 108-11; 117 Stat. 576), the authority to make available loan guarantees to Israel is currently set to expire on September 30, 2012.

    SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.

    It is the policy of the United States:

    (1) To reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. As President Barack Obama stated on December 16, 2011, ‘America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable.’ And as President George W. Bush stated before the Israeli Knesset on May 15, 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, ‘The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty.’.

    (2) To help the Government of Israel preserve its qualitative military edge amid rapid and uncertain regional political transformation.

    (3) To veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.

    (4) To support Israel’s inherent right to self-defense.

    (5) To pursue avenues to expand cooperation with the Government of Israel both in defense and across the spectrum of civilian sectors, including high technology, agriculture, medicine, health, pharmaceuticals, and energy.

    (6) To assist the Government of Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security, and to encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

    (7) To encourage further development of advanced technology programs between the United States and Israel given current trends and instability in the region.

    SEC. 4. UNITED STATES ACTIONS TO ASSIST IN THE DEFENSE OF ISRAEL AND PROTECT UNITED STATES INTERESTS.

    It is the sense of Congress that the United States Government should take the following actions to assist in the defense of Israel:

    (1) Seek to enhance the capabilities of the Governments of the United States and Israel to address emerging common threats, increase security cooperation, and expand joint military exercises.

    (2) Provide the Government of Israel such support as may be necessary to increase development and production of joint missile defense systems, particularly such systems that defend against the urgent threat posed to Israel and United States forces in the region.

    (3) Provide the Government of Israel assistance specifically for the production and procurement of the Iron Dome defense system for purposes of intercepting short-range missiles, rockets, and projectiles launched against Israel.

    (4) Provide the Government of Israel defense articles and defense services through such mechanisms as appropriate, to include air refueling tankers, missile defense capabilities, and specialized munitions.

    (5) Provide the Government of Israel additional excess defense articles, as appropriate, in the wake of the withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq.

    (6) Examine ways to strengthen existing and ongoing efforts, including the Gaza Counter Arms Smuggling Initiative, aimed at preventing weapons smuggling into Gaza pursuant to the 2009 agreement following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as measures to protect against weapons smuggling and terrorist threats from the Sinai Peninsula.

    (7) Offer the Air Force of Israel additional training and exercise opportunities in the United States to compensate for Israel’s limited air space.

    (8) Work to encourage an expanded role for Israel with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.

    (9) Expand already-close intelligence cooperation, including satellite intelligence, with Israel.

    SEC. 5. ADDITIONAL STEPS TO DEFEND ISRAEL AND PROTECT AMERICAN INTERESTS.

    (a) Extension of War Reserves Stockpile Authority-

    (1) DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005- Section 12001(d) of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2005 (Public Law 108-287; 118 Stat. 1011) is amended by striking ‘more than 8 years after’ and inserting ‘more than 10 years after’.

    (2) FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961- Section 514(b)(2)(A) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2321h(b)(2)(A)) is amended by striking ‘fiscal years 2011 and 2012’ and inserting ‘fiscal years 2013 and 2014’.

    (b) Extension of Loan Guarantees to Israel- Chapter 5 of title I of the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003 (Public Law 108-11; 117 Stat. 576) is amended under the heading ‘Loan Guarantees to Israel’–

    (1) in the matter preceding the first proviso, by striking ‘September 30, 2011’ and inserting ‘September 30, 2015’; and

    (2) in the second proviso, by striking ‘September 30, 2011’ and inserting ‘September 30, 2015’.

    SEC. 6. REPORTS REQUIRED.

    (a) Report on Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME)-

    (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the status of Israel’s qualitative military edge in light of current trends and instability in the region.

    (2) SUBSTITUTION FOR QUADRENNIAL REPORT- If submitted within one year of the date that the first quadrennial report required by section 201(c)(2) of the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-429; 22 U.S.C. 2776 note) is due to be submitted, the report required by paragraph (1) may substitute for such quadrennial report.

    (b) Reports on Other Matters- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on each of the following matters:

    (1) Taking into account the Government of Israel’s urgent requirement for F-35 aircraft, actions to improve the process relating to its purchase of F-35 aircraft, particularly with respect to cost efficiency and timely delivery.

    (2) Efforts to expand cooperation between the United States and Israel in homeland security, counter-terrorism, maritime security, energy, cyber-security, and other related areas.

    (3) Actions to integrate Israel into the defense of the Eastern Mediterranean.

    SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

    (1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES- The term ‘appropriate congressional committees’ means–

    (A) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate; and

    (B) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.

    (2) QUALITATIVE MILITARY EDGE- The term ‘qualitative military edge’ has the meaning given the term in section 36(h)(2) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2776(h)(2)).

    Calendar No. 437
    112th CONGRESS

    • Roya
      July 1, 2012, 12:10 am

      While the UK tries to do something about Israeli cruelty to Palestine children… . Out of curiosity, what has the UK been doing?

  7. Avi_G.
    June 29, 2012, 7:08 pm

    You know what else is driven by Israel? Islamophobia and anti-Semitism against Arabs.

    A shooting that took place yesterday, Thursday, at Ft. Bragg received little to no coverage in the mainstream press. Had the shooter had an Arab-sounding name, the media would have been all over this.

    And check out Google News’ front page. Nothing.

    link to fayobserver.com

  8. Les
    June 29, 2012, 7:54 pm

    If anyone wonders why Israel misses Egypt’s former leaders

    June 29, 2012 page 4 Financial Times (US edition)

    Gas convictions

    An Egyptian court has set jail terms and fines totalling $2.3bn for seven men convicted of squandering public funds in a natural gas deal with Israel. The seven, including former oil minister Sameh Fahmy, were convicted of losing more than $700m in public funds by selling natural gas at a discount under a 2005 deal, the state news agency said.

    In full: link to ft.com

  9. piotr
    June 29, 2012, 8:04 pm

    My theory is that both Russia and China are against any attack on Iran (both officially and REALLY) and that may easily retaliate for inducing Shanghai Agreement country to deny USA the right of military transit to Afghanistan. With Pakistan doing it already, and Iran not offering that service either, that would place our forces under siege.

    Today Uzbekistan, our autocratic friend, withdrew temporarily from a defense agreement with Russia and other Central Asian countries which means that it can allow for such transit unilaterally. But if Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will stick with Russia and China, Uzbekistan will not be able to help. Definitely there is some diplomatic struggle there.

    Another piece of news is that Turkey tested the Russian upgrade of Syrian air defenses, and they worked, Turkish plane down. An old type of plane, but flying low, so a good show for the radar system. Now NATO and Israel can be on receiving end of their own favorite: little conflict to showcase new weapon systems and stimulate sales. Suppose that Israel will attack Hezbollah: will Iron Dome show its superiority? Will improved missiles of Hezbollah destroy the port and industries in Haifa?

    My theory number two is that it would be VERY awkward for Hezbollah to attack Israel purely “in solidarity” with Israel. But a prior attack on Lebanese territory would remove that political problem. Hezbollah may choose to put up some plywood missiles in a mock-up of the launching position (no need to waste real stuff). Definitely an attack on Iran will raise response levels to hair trigger and a shootout involving Lebanon, Israel and Syria will be damn hard to avoid.

    • Annie Robbins
      June 29, 2012, 9:30 pm

      My theory number two is that it would be VERY awkward for Hezbollah to attack Israel purely “in solidarity” with Israel.

      is this what you meant to type piotr? i’m confused.

      • piotr
        June 30, 2012, 11:58 am

        solidarity with Iran, sorry

  10. ColinWright
    June 30, 2012, 2:46 am

    “…But when people say “time is running out” over Iran, it is the prospect of an Israeli attack they are usually thinking about. “

    At least in her saner moments, I don’t think Israel would attack Iran completely on her own. Too obviously, it would lead to her greater isolation in the world, perhaps cause a cooling of support in the United States, and at best only temporarily delay what is a largely imaginary threat to begin with. Iran is not suicidal, she is not going to nuke Israel, and even the most dim-witted Israel-lover knows that perfectly well.

    Then too, Israel likes to be ‘clever.’ If she’s actually going to attack someone, she tries to give them the opposite impression. Witness the run-up to ‘Cast Lead.’ So all the sabre-rattling and military exercises, while frightening, aren’t necessarily evidence that Israel is going to do anything. Their true significance may be just the reverse. We didn’t have anything resembling this nonsense before Israel bombed Saddam Hussein’s reactor. If Israel was going to do this, it would have already happened, and it would have come out of a clear blue sky.

    What Israel does want is for the United States to attack Israel. That, in many respects, would have the opposite effect. It would drive us into — rather than out of — Israel’s corner. From being ‘our only ally in the Middle East’ Israel could go to being ‘our only ally.’ She’d have us all to herself at last.

    Failing that, Israel wants to clearly implicate us in her attack. Hence the demand for aerial tankers and bunker busters. If we won’t bomb Iran ourselves, our clearly giving Israel the green light will serve almost as well.

    • piotr
      June 30, 2012, 2:25 pm

      “What Israel does want is for the United States to attack Israel. That, in many respects, would have the opposite effect.”

      I guess that I should again say “sorry”, one of “Israel”‘s here is Iran. And clearly, United States attacking Israel would have an opposite effect to United States attacking Iran. In any case, how USA could avoid being implicated in an Israeli attack? From the point of view of Eurasian countries (countries that have at least part of its territory in Asia), Israel is an American pet, and if USA cannot control it, it does not remove the full responsibility. And this is where the backlash will happen.

      • ColinWright
        July 1, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Yes and no. There’s no sudden division. Our attitude could fall anywhere between our response to Israel’s invasion of Sinai in 1956 and simply attacking Iran ourselves — and the closer it falls to the latter, the more clearly we will be culpable, and the more people will think it is appropriate to attack us in response.

        Obama COULD (and should) make some statement about how the US has never carried out or supported carrying out an armed attack on another country for doing what Iran is doing, and that he refuses to condone an unprecedented act of aggression. Etc, etc. He could probably carry the day.

        However, he lacks the courage and the political skills for this. That’s why he’s such an awful president. He’s terminally incompetent.

      • Citizen
        July 1, 2012, 3:38 pm

        I agree that Obama could go to the bully pulpit and speak over the head of AIPAC et al, and his message would be well taken by enough Americans to assure his second term, but he won’t take the actually modest chance, preferring instead to believe his Israel First handlers that he would go down in flames as too weak on “defense” in handling Iran.

        Obama seems to be a man pussy-whipped by his wife, and by AIPAC, and he’s too ambivalent to resist the less integral call to match GOP’s call to ratchet up Israel-Right-Or-Wrong or be seen as a weakling. The only thing Obama is not ambivalent about is American black reparations in any form and securing a second term as POTUS.

    • AllenBee
      June 30, 2012, 5:52 pm

      piotr: “it would be VERY awkward for Hezbollah to attack Israel [sic. shd be Iran] purely “in solidarity” with Israel.”

      Colin Wright: “What Israel does want is for the United States to attack Israel [sic. shd be Iran]. ”

      Freud is alive & well and living in Tel Ehran.

  11. Les
    June 30, 2012, 11:02 am

    If Obama feels it will be necessary for his re-election, he will not wait for Israel to attack Iran.

    • ColinWright
      July 1, 2012, 1:42 pm

      I know. It’s disgusting. As I say, if this were Bush II, at least we would have the dismal comfort of knowing he was doing what he wanted to do. With Obama, we have the more degrading spectacle of watching a man being frightened into doing what others want him to do. It’s the difference between watching me eat a steak and watching a Hindu feeling he has to do it if he wants to get that contract.

    • Citizen
      July 1, 2012, 3:39 pm

      Les, you are correct.

  12. piotr
    June 30, 2012, 12:38 pm

    From the traditional Washington-centric view of the world, the idea to make USA attack Iran can be smart. But Iran is not surrounded by hostile or indifferent countries. It is a part of “Eurasian core”. And while Eurasian countries have their share of differences and a mix of making deals and backstabbing each other, one can list Russia, China, India and Pakistan as resolutely opposed. USA can bribe or otherwise entice countries in Central Asia but that can go only so far: Putin showed that Russia also can aid overthrowing a corrupt regime with a “color revolution”, in Kyrgyzstan. And Afghanistan is landlocked there: Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia.

    I also think that “everybody” wishes us to be gone from Afghanistan, although it is a delicate issue. We are protecting a narco-state that floods Eurasia with heroin. Using drones we f….p relationship with Pakistan. Taliban had a good record on heroin issue, but it was in conflict with Iran, Russia and India, so there is some tangle there — would Iran supply good weapons to Taliban? If the priority is to hurt USA, why not.

    It is a bit hard to figure why Obama’s policies in Afghanistan are so insane. An outlandish theory can be that the possibility of disaster there is preventing any attack of Iran which could be a disaster in ANY case, so it actually stabilizes our position in Asia.

    • Philip Weiss
      June 30, 2012, 1:11 pm

      interesting analysis piotr. thank you

    • mijj
      June 30, 2012, 3:11 pm

      > “would Iran supply good weapons to Taliban? If the priority is to hurt USA, why not.”

      That takes the assumption that Iran’s attitude to the US is that of US’s attitude to Iran.

      However, not so. The US regards Iran as a runaway slave and is keen to return Iran to its former servitude. The US will trumpet any hint of active self-defence by Iran as justification for an attack by the US. (Cowboy justification: eg. Syria and NATO)

      Iran would just like the US to go away. Prodding the US with a stick won’t work. … and anyway, the US is hurting itself just fine.

      • ColinWright
        July 1, 2012, 1:47 pm

        “would Iran supply good weapons to Taliban? If the priority is to hurt USA, why not.”

        Why not? Because the Taliban are Sunni fundamentalists, that’s why. Iran is as opposed to the Taliban as we are. They even offered to cooperate with us in our invasion/occupation of Afghanistan. When we refused, they shrugged their shoulders and went about securing their interests on their own — which (as in Iraq) they have been quite successful in doing.

      • piotr
        July 1, 2012, 2:56 pm

        I wrote a conditional sentence. Sunni extremists attack and kill Shia and Ismailites (I guess, those are also Shia, but of non-Iranian flavor), so giving arms to them clearly goes agains some priorities that Iran may have. However, AFTER BEING ATTACK, Iran may change the ordering of the priorities. There is also a question if “anti-Taliban” resistance organizations can be armed and activated, especially of Dari speakers.

    • Danaa
      June 30, 2012, 4:42 pm

      Piotr, I concur with Phil, interesting analysis. Here is though another, much simpler theory for the irrationality of US policy in Afganistan, especially under Obama: as the foreign service advisors and the state department were purged of ‘realists”, what came in their place is not just more “pro-israel” views but most importantly, the less competent. We use the label “realist’ to describe people who are capable of looking at several sides of issues, putting ideology – such as they have, aside. Being a pragmatist allows also a broader and deeper view of actions – pros AND cons. Ideologues and individuals with agendas are often led astray by their own wishful thinking, irrational fears and/or focus on some side issue, and are therefore incapable of offering the kind of truly dispassionate analysis that a President – or a military commander – needs to base decisions on.

      What I am suggesting is that US foreign policy in general – and by association – even its imperial projection – are compromised by the fundamental incompetence of those whose job it is to provide advise and plot action. This, BTW, is my answer to the Max Ajl and Chomskite viewpoint that in the game of chicken and egg, it’s the Empire before The Lobby. Basically, my answer is that this kind of view seeks to answer the wrong question. it’s not who or what comes first. It’s which way does basic competence flow. And it is by compromising the competence of any and all advise that a president and state policy framers receive that poorly conceived and ill-advised actions flow. That is why the China and Russia desks at the state department seem adrift as well, and the approach to Africa and South America appear downright bizarre. When the really smart and dispassionate guys were purged, competence went with them, leaving this strange amalgamation of pointless aggression, waste of resources and invitation to blow-backs.

      That leaves only the military and the national Security establishments to push back on any truly foolhardy courses of action. Unfortunately, the latter have been compromised as well – more so by the day. Which leaves only the military as the last agency capable of offering any rational analysis capability. Since israel + Lobby really could care less about pure American interests – including pointless engagement of military resource and/or waste of personnel – they see the US Military command as inimical to their interests – by definition they stand in the way of complete Israelization of US foreign policy engagements. So if you are an israeli living in your own self-concocted bizarro universe – what do you do? you try and box in the military through veiled and not so veiled threats to upstage them, compromise their budget (through congress) while trying to get through the military-industrial door (which they are busly trying to open wider every-which-way). It is lucky for the US that our military and Israel’s are still run by pragmatists (I don’t mean to draw too much of a parallel here but the militaries speak with certain common language ). Caveat: the israeli military high command is not static – slowly but surely the more militant religious operators are rising through the ranks. my estimate is that we are less than 5 years away from the first fanatic israeli military general. When that happens, all bets will be off.

      If someone is willing to connect the dots – they are just lying in wait. Unfortunately, the dot connection business is not for the feint of heart. This kind of exercise leads where it does, and what is revealed is not exactly inspiring.

      • piotr
        July 1, 2012, 3:04 pm

        The simplest explanation of irrational drift of Obama policies is that violent policies always drift like that, unless there is some powerful reason why they should not.

  13. Daniel Rich
    June 30, 2012, 6:52 pm

    @ Phill,

    Q: not North Korean nukes.

    R: What North Korean nukes? There are no North Korean nukes. They [NK] detonated a trainload of dynamite in a mine or cave. There is no shred of evidence of NK having nukes, so I don’t think it is wise to say it here [@MW] as if it is a [true] fact.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    link to globalsecurity.org

    Does anyone here play poker?

    NK surely tries.

    • ColinWright
      July 1, 2012, 1:52 pm

      Well, it might have been an authentic test that fizzled. See their recent rocket launch.

      I imagine North Korea follows that Stalinist paradigm that ‘you will produce x tractors by next May or you’ll be shot!’

      So the tractors come out. That they don’t run is secondary. Somebody’s just doing what they can to keep from getting shot.

      It’s a stretch, but I suspect something similar is dogging their weapons programs.

      • Daniel Rich
        July 1, 2012, 6:47 pm

        @ Colin Wright,

        Let me first make clear that I’m absolutely no expert on NK issues. Here in Japan we see [or read in my case] many stories of NK defectors or smuggled out images of NK. Keep in mind though the following:

        “As for the nuclear tests, the first announcement from North Korea was made in October 2006. Experts did not recognize it as a nuclear explosion. Most likely, it was a very powerful underground TNT explosion. ” – link to english.pravda.ru

        “Seismographs all over the world detected a blast at around 1 kiloton or less – equivalent to the explosive force of 1,000 tons of TNT. For a nuclear device, that would be so weak that the French defense minister suggested that “there could have been a failure” with the North Korean reported test. ] ” – http://www.freakingnews.com/North-Korea-Explodes-Nuclear-Bomb-Pictures–1172.asp

  14. ColinWright
    July 1, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Isn’t this essentially a softer version of that letter that garnered the signature of only 44 Senators?

    I note that while neither of my senators (Feinstein and Boxer) signed the letter, both support this resolution. The inference is that AIPAC went too far with their last gambit and is now retreating to the sort of thing they can get the whole Senate to sign off on.

    It could be worse.

  15. ColinWright
    July 3, 2012, 1:41 pm

    On the Iran front in general, this headline from Haaretz caught my eye: “The time for diplomacy with Iran is over – bring on the sanctions”

    Those ‘negotiations’ lasted what? Five minutes? And they didn’t work, so it’s on to sanctions.

    Okay, but how long have people been dicking around with trying to talk to Israel? So where’s “The time for diplomacy with Israel is over – bring on the sanctions”?

  16. Frank G
    July 25, 2012, 4:45 pm

    I can’t figure it out, either I am stupid and missing out on something, or this whole thing about Iran’s nukes is a big sham fostered by Israel; Israel the very country that has developed nuclear capability with the blessings and assistance of the West, western politicians are driving this campaign against Iran and nuclear arms proliferation in the Middle East. Israel with the help of Germany and the U.S. is developing nuclear war heads for submarines; can any one tell me why a tiny small make shift country would need these capabilities. The West should know that sooner or later those nuclear war heads are going to be aimed at targets in their own countries. STOP ISRAEL NOW BEFORE ITS TOO LATE.

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