Obama talks to Iran and washes hands of Israeli attack, Ynet reports

on 69 Comments
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Iranian drill in Strait of Hormuz (Photo: Ynet/MCT)

Ready for Labor Day weekend news flash? Hold onto your hats. Directly after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Dempsey announced  he wouldn’t want to be “complicit” if Israel attacked IranYnet reports (via interlocutors) the U.S. has informed Iran we will not be backing any Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities in return for Iran steering clear of attacking American assets in the Persian Gulf.

This is an explosive assertion. Reuters reports this is being “played down” by Israeli officials. The White House “did not immediately respond to a request for comment” on this report but gave more “no daylight between” lip service yesterday.


Israeli officials played down a report in an Israeli newspaper on Monday that accused Washington of secretly negotiating with Tehran to keep the United States out of a future Israel-Iran war.

Israel’s most widely-read newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, said Washington had approached Tehran through two unidentified European countries to convey the message that the United States would not be dragged into hostilities if Israel attacked Iran over its nuclear programme.

The paper said the United States told Iran it expected Tehran in return to refrain from retaliating against U.S. interests, including its military in the Gulf. The report did not disclose any source for its information.

An Israeli official, who asked not to be identified, described the report as illogical.

“It doesn’t make sense,” the official said. “There would be no need to make such a promise to the Iranians because they realise the last thing they need is to attack U.S. targets and draw massive U.S. bombing raids.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment over the Israeli newspaper story, which appeared during the Labor Day holiday.


The Obama administration says it is strongly committed to Israel’s security and to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Sunday: “I can tell you that there is absolutely no daylight between the United States and Israel when it comes to the necessity of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”


Let’s not forget Israel’s demand for a statement from Obama about an attack on Iran by Yom Kippur or at the UN General Assembly on September 25. In the light of those demands, Dempsey’s statement is understandable, explosive, believable and revealing. But what do we make of this latest assertion regarding ‘negotiations’ with Iran? Sounds a little like the kind of stuff cooked up by the opposition  during an election cycle!

Things are heating up, that’s for sure.


Israel’s top-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Friday that there had been an “unprecedented” and “angry” exchange between Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv earlier this month over Iran.

Quoting a source who was present at the meeting, Netanyahu had criticised Obama for not doing enough to tackle Iran. The U.S. ambassador Daniel Shapiro took exception and accused the prime minister of distorting Obama’s position.

Quoting the sages: pressure drop, oh, pressure, Oh yeah, pressures gonna drop on you.

Update: Reuters is now reporting U.S. denies Israeli newspaper report of secret Iran contacts.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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69 Responses

  1. quercus
    September 3, 2012, 2:02 pm

    Maybe Netanyahu can have a temper tantrum at the upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly. Perhaps he will gnash his teeth, tear his hair, and cry ANTI-SEMITISM! Perhaps he’ll have a complete nervous breakdown. Won’t that be a sight to see.

  2. Carowhat
    September 3, 2012, 2:18 pm

    It’s hard to believe a US president would have the courage to defy Israel like this, not to mention risk the wrath of his wealthiest donors.

  3. Les
    September 3, 2012, 2:27 pm

    Moon of alabama picked up on Dempsey’s implication that such an attack by Israel would be illegal.

    “I don’t want to be complicit if they (Israel) choose to do it,” Dempsey was quoted as saying by Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Friday, suggesting that he would view an Israeli attack as reprehensible or illegal.


    • Annie Robbins
      September 3, 2012, 2:38 pm

      thank les, not sure if you had a chance to open the very first link in my post. maybe i should have blockquoted him to make it more obvious. but i did use nine words to make the link. i hope everyone takes the opportunity to open it.

      and speaking of picking up on the implication it would be illegal, b wasn’t alone (except as is often the case, b said it first):

      Because that is the net effect of Dempsey’s statements in London last week, especially his yet-to-be-properly-explained use of the word “complicit” as in “I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.” Complicit? As in what – war crimes?

      (my bold) http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/general-dempsey-is-complicit-in-goading-israel-to-attack-iran.premium-1.462230

    • traintosiberia
      September 3, 2012, 4:25 pm

      I did not see this comment on the front pages of NYTimes, WaPO or Chicago Tribune or La Times. I might have missed.

    • radii
      September 3, 2012, 4:41 pm

      Dempsey is very sharp and his use of the words “I” and “complicit” were carefully chosen and deployed as strategic rhetorical weapons. He is telegraphing his clear personal command decision against any such action has been stated to our civilian command structure and that he has put his position and career on the line with his stance – and that any such attack is viewed as elective, not necessary, in terms of U.S. national interests

      • Annie Robbins
        September 3, 2012, 4:57 pm

        he has put his position and career on the line with his stance

        i seriously doubt dempsey, in his official capacity (2nd link in post:
        The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff was speaking to journalists in London, where he attended the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games as head of the US delegation. ) would throw any surprise curves against the wishes of his commander in chief. iow, he wasn’t putting his career on the line, he was cementing it. unless of course romney wins the election but in that case he’d probably resign anyway.

        also, it’s the job of the joint chiefs of staff to think in terms of U.S. national interests . it is likely he has that job because his personal judgement is respected.

        lea park has a story up today about dempsey and implications of his statement too.


      • Abierno
        September 3, 2012, 6:08 pm

        Its important to put Dempsey’s comments in context: They occur as the 120 non aligned countries conference takes place in Tehren with China and Russia sitting in, and with Ban Ki very publically taking Iran to task for their civil rights violations as well as Aminedijad’s commentary toward Israel. Kameni publically reinforces his position that nuclear warfare is contrary to the strictures of the Koran. This was a game changing conference which spent considerable time addressing issues
        of peace in the Middle East. Unquestionably, all present at the conference were aware of the changes in Iran’s nuclear program (detailed elsewhere) and Iran’s continuing dialogue with the IAEA.

        Add this, the US is in no financial position to wage yet another unfunded war. And further, while Iranian nuclear facilities are well protected, I have seen no information regarding protection of Dimona. An Israeli-
        Iranian war would have the potential to spread radioactive, nuclear
        toxins throughout the middle east, rendering one of the largest oil producing areas of the world a potential wasteland, to say nothing of
        the exceptionally large number of unintended civilian deaths. Obama is well aware that Netanyahu’s delusion of a “clean” surgical strike with
        limited civilian deaths is just that, a psychotic delusion.

    • Hostage
      September 4, 2012, 10:06 am

      suggesting that he would view an Israeli attack as reprehensible or illegal.

      Of course it would be illegal to launch an unprovoked premeditated attack on any country based upon the flimsy grounds of your own biased national intelligence estimates. I think he was hinting that the US would not invoke the Hague Invasion Act (American Service-Members’ Protection Act) to pull the proverbial Israeli fat out of the fire after an attack on Iran. The President and the Congress have to find a military commander who is willing to accept and follow a patently illegal order for that law to ever be implemented.

      Iran has taken the US military to the ICJ and to an international court of arbitration as a result of previous US military attacks, e.g. :

      In its Judgment, which is final, without appeal and binding on the Parties, the Court finds first, by fourteen votes to two, that “the actions of the United States of America against Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 and 18 April 1988 cannot be justified as measures necessary to protect the essential security interests of the United States of America under Article XX, paragraph 1 (d), of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights between the United States of America and Iran, as interpreted in the light of international law on the use of force”

      –ICJ Oil Platforms case (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America) 2003 link to icj-cij.org

      Putting all the current bullshit about “red lines” aside, the legal test employed by the United Nations in the post-WWII tribunals has been that the need for a defensive preventive attack must be “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”

      On several occasions I’ve referred the hasbarists here to that information and some ASIL, journal, and SSRN papers on the general illegality of preventative attacks. They all cite the Israeli bombing of Iraq’s Osirik nuclear reactor as a classic example of an illegal attack that was condemned unanimously by the United Nations Security Council as such (more below). The Pro-Zionist American representative to the UN, Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, stated that the United States understood Israel had violated international law and the UN Charter, in particular because it had not exhausted peaceful alternatives before striking. Other countries noted the more obvious objection, that Israel had put forward no evidence that an attack against its territory was imminent, let alone underway. See:
      *Mary Ellen O’Connell, “The Myth of Preemptive Self-Defense”The American Society of International Law President’s Task Force on Terrorism
      *James Thuo Gathii, “Assessing Claims of a New Doctrine of Preemptive War Under the Doctrine of Sources”, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 1-34, link to ssrn.com

      Iran would undoubtedly go straight to the Security Council and IAEA as a victim state and demand that they comply with their own previous resolutions, which condemned and prohibited military attacks on nuclear facilities as illegal acts. What we are discussing would be a war crime committed on the territory of Iran. The Iranian government could file an Article 12(3) declaration after the fact and request that the responsible individuals be investigated and prosecuted by the ICC.

      The UN Security Council condemned the premeditated attack on Iraqi nuclear facilities as a clear violation of the UN Charter and international norms by a vote of 15-0; and called for Israel to immediately place its own nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the IAEA. See S/RES/487 (1981) link to un.org

      The Israeli attack on Iraq’s nuclear power plant also resulted in IAEA resolutions that declared the practice a violation of the UN Charter and international law. The international community of states would also have very little incentive to continue to permit IAEA inspections of their facilities if they only serve as a tool or precursor for US or Israeli aggression:
      * link to iaea.org
      * link to iaea.org
      * link to iaea.org
      * link to iaea.org

  4. David Nelson
    September 3, 2012, 2:35 pm

    These comments will throw more uncertainty into Israel’s calculation. Not knowing whether America will be there to finish the job Israel starts will considerably increase the perceived cost to benefit ratio for Israel.

    • seanmcbride
      September 3, 2012, 2:55 pm

      David Nelson,

      Regarding Israel’s calculations of the cost/benefit ratio associated with attacking Iran, there is something I don’t understand: couldn’t Iran respond in clear self-defense by targeting all its missiles on Israeli nuclear facilities (including Dimona), with disastrous consequences for Israel?

      Am I missing something obvious?

      • David Nelson
        September 3, 2012, 3:24 pm

        Probably not Sean, my personal belief is that this has been a hoax all along, and has been intended to coerce America into either attacking or into giving israel more money and weapons. imo, israel never had any intention of initiating anything other than their dirty secret wars and assassinations.

      • traintosiberia
        September 3, 2012, 4:27 pm

        Israel would not have initiated 1967 war,1982 war,1996 war and 2006 war if it did not have the blessings (active support if necessary ).

      • David Nelson
        September 3, 2012, 3:28 pm

        i presume the Israeli thought might be that if America attacked Iran, Iran would be so pre-occupied with defending against America, Israel will not have to worry so much about Iranian missiles and only have to defend against Hizbollah if they were to even enter into something aggressive. Israel was/is hoping to get this war on the cheap.

  5. NickJOCW
    September 3, 2012, 2:43 pm

    Wow, put that in a pipe and smoke it!

  6. ColinWright
    September 3, 2012, 3:16 pm

    I wonder if the story’s a plant?

    The idea may be to force Obama to deny he said this — and in so doing, imply that the US would back an Israeli strike on Iran.

    If so, it would be a classic example of an IsraelGame. They love trying on things like this. It makes them feel clever.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 3, 2012, 4:00 pm

      “I wonder if the story’s a plant?”

      yeah, of course i considered that. not sure if that was clear in my commentary re “Sounds a little like the kind of stuff cooked up by the opposition during an election cycle! ”

      lots of obama said this and obama said that begging for statements from obama to be used to frame against him in bill kristol’s emergency committee scare commercials against him.

      but who knows. the israelis have been known to leak stuff to pressure washington into a corner before (remember when they blathered the iranian/swiss/cia communique allover the front page implicating the US in the murder of the scientist? i am expecting a constant stream of bloviations out of israel between now and the election. constant.

      • ColinWright
        September 3, 2012, 4:08 pm

        Whatever the truth of the matter, it may backfire: Israel tends to be ‘clever’ but extremely short-sighted.

        Israel’s not going to like it if Obama seizes the opportunity to simply not deny the story, and leave behind the implication that the US WON’T back Israel — without ever having had to say so.

      • American
        September 4, 2012, 12:46 am

        Obviously a plant or leak but by who?

        I see nothing Israel gains by planting a story like this. Israel plants it just to get a denial from Obama? Naw.
        And the average public isn’t reading this stuff so it’s not leaked/planted for the average voter by the Romney team.
        Unless it’s aimed at only US Jews or Israelis who can vote in US elections it isn’t worth much anti- Obama wise politically.

        My guessing is..

        –Iran could have planted this to further unnerve Israel.

        –Or it could be a US plant to send Israel another message and make them sweat the US position…add to Dempsey’s recent statement.
        Irs is probably guessing like we are on whether this is a Iran plant story or US plant or the US actually communicated this to Iran.

        –Then the US could have actually told Iran this . It would make sense for O to do that if he is totally opposed to a US Iran attack.
        Because if Israel does attack Iran we don’t want Iran to retaliate on any of our assets thinking we are in on Israel’s attack because then we would be drawn in. So O is saying don’t hit anything of ours and we won’t hit you if Israel does attack you.
        O would have nothing to lose in sending this message to Iran in order to protect US assets in the Gulf and nothing to lose either in letting it be leaked to Israel because he can deny it as ridiculous he would be communicating with Iran and do the standard no daylight Israel yada,yada and still keep Israel on edge over it cause they won’t know for sure if he did or didn’t. If I were Obama it’s exactly what I would have done, including the denial, to add insult to injury, to Israel.
        Doing the old two step. lol

  7. Dan Crowther
    September 3, 2012, 3:17 pm

    I find this incredibly hard to believe. I just can’t believe this – all anonymous sources; israeli outlets “outing” a (soft) Obama before the election and so on. Ehh, I just don’t know – it would be great if it was true though

  8. tommy
    September 3, 2012, 3:55 pm

    Despite a small faction of neo-conservatives, war with Iran is quite unpopular in the US. I think Ron Paul’s popularity in Iowa was greatly influenced by his forthright position of nonaggression in regards to Iran, and popular opinion against war with Iran helps the president make such assurances, if true. A long term assurance of nonintervention is what Iran seeks from the US. Maybe this is a first step.

    • Citizen
      September 3, 2012, 6:04 pm

      @ tommy
      Even though it seems absurd in terms of the ramifications, I don’t think most Americans have even thought a minute on a war with Iran for whatever reason despite the fact at Tampa the GOP put that probability squarely on the table.

    • Kathleen
      September 3, 2012, 11:50 pm

      I disagree. I have heard many folks repeat the neocons unsubstantiated claims. With less that 1% of the U.S. American population actually feeling any direct effects from the Iraq/ Afghanistan wars not sure if folks really connect the dots. Oh we hear Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow say the American public are “war weary” I hate to say from what. The majority of Americans have barely any interest in how many Americans and Iraqi people have died in that war based on a “pack of lies”

      Dempsey has been impressive from the beginning. Sober level headed, makes sense (his voice and demeanor are like former Rep Kucinich). All of this is so confusing. I think Israel will do it… strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Banking on if they get in trouble we will be forced to respond. Don’t think they need a green light from the U.S. Think they are in a desperate mode.

  9. lyn117
    September 3, 2012, 4:02 pm

    It seems that Netanyahoo is throwing his hat in Romney’s corner of the ring, and is actively stumping for him. Given, as one MSM commenter said, that both parties aren’t that far apart on Iran, I’m not sure what it will gain Israel in the long run. Of course, the whole claim that Iran is a threat to Israel is bogus anyway, Israel’s military is twice the size of Iran’s and regardless of whether Iran got a nuclear weapon, it would not use it to attack Israel. The whole point of destroying Iran is to allow Israel to easily invade and dominate Lebanon, maybe more of Syria too, or just make them more pliable.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 3, 2012, 4:21 pm

      lyn, US/IS seek regional hegemony and iran challenges that. hence, squash them. thousands of years of culture? like iraq..no prob.

      • Citizen
        September 3, 2012, 6:07 pm

        @ Annie

      • Kathleen
        September 3, 2012, 11:43 pm

        Not so easy

  10. Taxi
    September 3, 2012, 4:07 pm

    What kinda soap did he use?

    Liquid or drone?

  11. traintosiberia
    September 3, 2012, 4:33 pm

    It is possible that it is a plant but military chief has said something that will severely restrict any movement to a war with Iran. Its worth note that the Neoocns have not started baying for his blood yet.

  12. ColinWright
    September 3, 2012, 4:38 pm

    Of perhaps equal significance in all this is Biden campaigning in Pennsylvania — by accusing Romney of seeking to involve the US in a war with Iran.


    This may be a trial run — let Biden stick his neck out, and see how it plays out. After all, that’s what vice-presidents are for.

    The way the wind is blowing on this, Obama may very well decide he can publically disavow US support for an Israeli attack on Iran. He could wind up winning votes by it. It’s been obscured by the furious bellowing of the Israel lobby — but Americans don’t actually want to have a war with Iran. We don’t want to have a war with anybody at the moment. Afghanistan and Iraq have put us off our feed for the nonce.

  13. ToivoS
    September 3, 2012, 4:57 pm

    I think report could be true. If the US did make the overture it would not be leaked by our side. Such an overture would be difficult to hide from Israel so it is likely they would find out. Israel is obviously trying to get the US to deny the report and hence, weaken the message we passed on to Iran.

    The US has been signalling for weeks now that we would not support an Israeli attack against Iran. Dempsey’s statement is just the most recent and explicit one. Indirect signals can be easily misinterpreted so this is very positive, if true — we are now directly letting Iran know that Israel would be on its own if it were to attack.

  14. NickJOCW
    September 3, 2012, 6:11 pm

    True or untrue, it was a leak not a scoop, so there was a purpose behind it. Although Press TV reports the Dempsey/Guardian interview, there does not appear to be any Iranian mention of such a report, and it does appear to have evoked a denial

    It’s incorrect, completely incorrect,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told Reuters while accompanying President Barack Obama on a campaign trip in Ohio. “The report is false and we don’t talk about hypotheticals.


    At first I favoured Colin’s suggestion that it might have been designed in Israel to produce a White House denial, but suppose it originated from the White House with the purpose of floating the notion of leaving the whole thing to Israel, thus evoking a Well, and why not? response from a war weary electorate. You then deny the report as beneath consideration while leaving the hypothetical content hanging in the air. It used to be a familiar press technique: XYZ denies any truth in the rumour that…

  15. gingershot
    September 3, 2012, 6:31 pm

    The only way Netanyahu’s plan would have worked (an unilateral Israeli attack dragging the US in immediately) has been CHECKMATED by Obama and Iran

    These back channel US-Iran negotiations are a great sign of increased cooperation AGAINST Israel and with this new info Dempsey’s remarks suddenly all becomes much more clear – THIS is what Gen Dempsey’s very public remarks to Israel about not being ‘complicit’ were all about: Iran and the US have a DEAL to stop Netanyahu’s attack.

    Iran may have even insisted that Dempsey make the deal public -in order to gauge his sincerity.

    We can be assured that Netanyahu and Israel WILL NOT ATTACK Iran if they know they and they alone will reap the whirlwind of such an attack, sans the US.

    This is what is STOPPING the Netanyahu attack and this is why the entire Israeli security, military, and political echelons are unanimously and vehemently opposed to Netanyahu carrying out his in-motion plans

    This is a brilliant move and the necessary and sufficient step to force Netanyahu to abandon his already in-motion attack plans –

    Obama has split Israel from Netanyahu – it’s absolutely brilliant – and he also split the American Middle Class and Economy from Romney’s Neocons and Israeli policy at the same time.

    • ColinWright
      September 4, 2012, 12:38 am

      gingershot says “We can be assured that Netanyahu and Israel WILL NOT ATTACK Iran if they know they and they alone will reap the whirlwind of such an attack, sans the US. “

      We can guess that will be the case. It rests on the assumption that Israel is a rational actor, not driven by internal compulsions — and it’s not clear to me that this is the case.

      Like all politicians, Netanyahu et al respond above all to domestic pressure. If enough Israelis feel strongly enough about attacking Iran, it’ll happen — however suicidal and irrational such a move would be.

  16. gingershot
    September 3, 2012, 6:33 pm

    Israeli Lobby/Neocon plans to ‘start a war with Syria and Iran’ will HURT the American Middle Class – that’s what Joe Biden just came out with this yesterday pm

    Biden is counterpointing the American Middle Class and America’s economic survival AGAINST the very well known ISRAELI/ISRAELI LOBBY plans.

    Romney’s advisers and policies are all the whole Israeli Lobby/Neocon gang’s policies warmed up from the Bush/Cheney days – Dan Senor, John Bolton, Max Boot and the rest of the Weekly Standard gang

    The Israeli Lobby/Neocon plans are the ISRAELI PLANS

    These are Israel’s men in America and going against THEM is going against Israel itself, since all they do is parrot Israeli plans (in close coordination with Netanyahu himself, not infrequently)

    Israeli schemes and attempts to hoax the US into a war with Iran will HURT the Middle Class -woah!

    There it is folks – behind this curtain you have the American economy and Middle Class surviving – and behind the other curtain you have the Israeli Lobby/Israeli side you have Romney, the 2nd Great Depression, $8 dollar gas, and 2 more wars. CHOOSE!

    Even Americans fed nothing but 30 yrs of AIPAC sandwiches can understand that!

    These are simply amazing, historic developments…

    • Abierno
      September 3, 2012, 7:19 pm

      This discussion started out with reference to Moon of Alabama which is not only an exceptional blog site but also a song from Brecht’s Three Penny Opera which details a scenario in Berlin in the 30’s much like the one the US faces today. Your comment, Gingershot, outlines it clearly. Consider the associations of Adelson, Rove, Romney and, the Republicans’ own “Mac the Knife,” Paul Ryan – the script fits perfectly. Hopefully, some exceptional, avant garde theatre group will stage a modern day version with all the relevent parties represented prior to the election. Art is an exceptionally effective at communicating ideas, fusing the political and emotional connotations that mark the crucial aspect of the message.

    • American
      September 4, 2012, 1:53 am


      “plans to ‘start a war with Syria and Iran’ will HURT the American Middle Class – that’s what Joe Biden just came out with this yesterday pm

      Biden actually said this? Well praise the lord if he did!..it means O has the right strategy ..concentrating on the middle class being hurt by a war….to counter the zio/neo Romney Israel camp.

      But Debbie Wasserman needs to shut the hell up, she was on TV today drooling and going on and on and on about gays and hispanics and every other niche group…totally overdoing it…ranting on and on about minorities. Everyone knows the dems support immigrants and gays but the voters are sick of hearing about the single issue voters 24/7 even if they do support gays and immigration.

  17. douglasreed
    September 3, 2012, 6:46 pm

    Looks as if the world has finally got the message: Israel’s claims are bogus. Iran has no nuclear bomb or nuclear weapons BUT Israel has an estimated 400 Nuclear warheads making it possibly the 4th most powerful nuclear weapons state in the world. And that massive arsenal is undeclared and uninspected and secreted away from te IAEA inspectorate of the UN.

    Finally the US has decided that it will not risk the lives of American servicemen in order to satisfy the warmongers of the eastern Mediterranean or to collude in attacking another UN member state. If Netanyahu wants to attack Iran, then let him get in a plane himself and risk his own life and the lives of his servicemen.

    The military of truly democratic states are there for defense and national security not to start unprovoked and unjustified, illegal conflicts that can easily escalate into a nuclear war that could damage the world, causing untold deaths, bloodshed and contamination of huge swathes of land and crops.

    Without US funding and military aid and expertise, Israel is just another small, middle Eastern state with ideas of military and economic might far above its capacity.

  18. just
    September 3, 2012, 6:50 pm

    My heart just did a happy dance, and tears came to my eyes.

    Thanks, Annie. Here’s hoping for the best.

  19. dbroncos
    September 4, 2012, 12:06 am

    We shouldn’t forget the fantasy-land plans of the Israel Firster neocons in the lead up to the Iraq war when they openly boasted about regime change beginning with Iraq and continuing with Iran, Lebannon, Syria… Though its much less likely to come true now than before the Iraq fiasco, I think this fantasy is still on their agenda. If America can be drawn into a war with Iran, who knows, anything could happen. War is a slippery slope. American ground troops could be committed and before you know it we’re on a regime change mission in Iran. An American ground invasion of Iran is far fetched but so was the Iraq war to those of us who understood that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, everything to do with Israel and that a war of choice against Iraq would damage our national security, not enhance it.

    Israel has had a good deal of success drawing the US into large scale wars on their behalf (’67, ’73, ’82, ’03). Will this report make them believe that it won’t work this time with a war on Iran? I don’t think so. Israel Firsters have been accustomed to getting their way for decades. We haven’t heard the last of their chants, “bomb, bomb Iran!”

  20. ColinWright
    September 4, 2012, 12:42 am

    ‘Quoting the sages: pressure drop, oh, pressure, Oh yeah, pressures gonna drop on you.’

    Now you’ve got that song running through my head.

    Well, could be worse…

  21. American
    September 4, 2012, 1:38 am

    Remember this? From the war gaming on Iran.
    This paragraph is why I think it’s entirely possible, and logical, and perhaps advised by US command, that O sent a message to Iran to affirm the US would not be connected to any Israeli strike on Iran.

    ”Officials said that, under the chain of events in the war game, “”Iran believed that Israel and the United States were partners in any strike against Iranian nuclear sites and therefore considered American military forces in the Persian Gulf as complicit in the attack. Iranian jets chased Israeli warplanes after the attack, and Iranians launched missiles at an American warship in the Persian Gulf, viewed as an act of war that allowed an American retaliation.””


    U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran

    WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.

    The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, according to officials who either participated in the Central Command exercise or who were briefed on the results and spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature. When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.

    The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities

    Officials said that, under the chain of events in the war game, Iran believed that Israel and the United States were partners in any strike against Iranian nuclear sites and therefore considered American military forces in the Persian Gulf as complicit in the attack. Iranian jets chased Israeli warplanes after the attack, and Iranians launched missiles at an American warship in the Persian Gulf, viewed as an act of war that allowed an American retaliation.”

  22. Sin Nombre
    September 4, 2012, 3:32 am

    There are situations in which the evidence is just too slight, contradictory, confusing and/or etc. that, to be careful, one just has to say that no real conclusions can be drawn yet and I think this is one of them.

    On the one hand it makes a helluva lot of sense that hard on the heels of Dempsey’s “not complicit” language the U.S. would be going and signaling Iran that if it’s attacked the U.S. will indeed be … non-complicit.

    And one can suspect that the Obama Admin is sensing Israel getting ready to attack and so is trying to pull the rug out from under same right now.

    Plus, all this would well account for the reports of Netanyahu going ballistic on our Ambassador just the other day.

    On the other hand however … what’s the use of the U.S. using intermediaries sending this message to Iran if the spokesperson for Obama is then going to immediately and categorically deny that message which he has seemed to do with Carney?

    Plus then there is the well-known Israel tactic of putting out a story like that so as to try to force U.S. admins to deny them and so fix us in a contrary policy.

    True, that’s risky because Obama could have delightfully seized upon the story and just have said “no comment” to call Israel’s bluff, but the fact is … he didn’t, did he? Carney was out there saying there’s no truth whatsoever to same pretty categorically.

    It also seems to me to be way way out of character for Obama esp. but indeed for any US Pres. in the present circumstances to be so bold as to risk the politics of being revealed as secretly “cozying up to” the Iranians/”appeasing” them or etc. (I.e., just simply talking with them, even indirectly.) Just think of the resonance of the words “Irangate II” in the White House now, and they know that of course the Neo-cons would be using it in a second if true, and calling for Congressional investigations with AIPAC behind ’em all the way.

    And doing so now, after Obama’s been doing nothing before but breaking his back appeasing Israel? And after just saying he’s *increasing* sanctions on Iran and now allowing new covert operations against it?

    Something just doesn’t ring right, and there’s so many actors out there, with so many agendas, and this doesn’t even begin to take into account rogue actors ….

    Plus then one has to take into account one’s own hopes and now that affects one’s beliefs. Mine is that of course I hope this report is true, which then makes me be more dubious about it automatically.

    For right now then I’d say at *best* the evidence is just too inconclusive to judge, if not in fact tilting away from the validity of this story.

    Just my .02 cents.

    • Kathleen
      September 4, 2012, 7:54 am

      “something just doesn’t ring right” Dempsey has been a clear spokesperson from the beginning. Have confidence in him not to fall prey to the pressures from the neocons. Think he has U.S. security in the first place position where it should be no matter what. But how many yellow lights has the U.S. put out there to Iraq (Kuwait) Israel (Gaza etc). Proceed with caution and we’re not with you or against you. Too much energy, pr campaigns, false intelligence proliferation has been put into this bad bad bad Iran strategy. Israel seems to be determined one way or the other and Obama is damned if he does and damned if he does not support Israel in this what seems to be a suicide effort on their part. According to military specialist who have run mock attacks, consequences Israel can not come out without being seriously injured if they decide to do this.

      In regard to back channel communications with Iran seems like they have gone on before. Remember the rumors that the NSA transcripts that then Senator Joe Biden etc were demanding from John Bolton had to allegedly do with Bolton and team wiretapping Colin Powell’s communications with Iran etc. Although Flynt Leverett has said there has been little to no direct negotiation with Iran for over 30 years because the I lobby throws an absolute hissy fit at that idea. But maybe just maybe this administration has been successful at getting (Dennis Ross) and the rest of the warmongers off our countries back. But not placing any bets.

      Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett have an important read up over at Race for Iran.

    • lobewyper
      September 4, 2012, 8:37 am

      Sin Nombre said:

      “On the other hand however … what’s the use of the U.S. using intermediaries sending this message to Iran if the spokesperson for Obama is then going to immediately and categorically deny that message which he has seemed to do with Carney?”

      I think this sort of thing happens all the time–things are said privately that are then denied publicly. I agree that it’s probably a complex interplay of actors/forces that are difficult to grasp due to lack of adequate information. Perhaps Russia and China have been applying counterpressure on the US because they don’t want war in the mideast for economic reasons. I think Kathleen is correct about Dempsey’s credibility. What has been the reaction from Israel and its supporters regarding his recent comments about “complicity?” Have any congress-people commented on Dempsey or on this report of a deal between Iran and the US? It is well-known that foreign relations can involve bluff and outright lying. I don’t see the “no daylight” statements as necessarily invalidating this Ynet report.

  23. marc b.
    September 4, 2012, 8:40 am

    The paper said the United States told Iran it expected Tehran in return to refrain from retaliating against U.S. interests, including its military in the Gulf. The report did not disclose any source for its information.

    An Israeli official, who asked not to be identified, described the report as illogical.

    “It doesn’t make sense,” the official said. “There would be no need to make such a promise to the Iranians because they realise the last thing they need is to attack U.S. targets and draw massive U.S. bombing raids.”

    so, are the iranians rational actors or ‘mad mullahs’? this anonymous israeli ‘official’ seems to be the latest to have gone off script.

  24. Sin Nombre
    September 4, 2012, 9:13 am

    Yet another thing to consider regarding the validity of this story of Iran “backchanneling” is whether any other news outlet eventually confirms it. So far at least I don’t think I’ve seen that done, and of course you’d expect the Israeli papers in particular would be wildly going after that, and yet their majors haven’t so confirmed yet. (Although it’s admittedly a bit early in the story.)

    Still and all, one nice thing to see is that Dempsey hasn’t been called on the carpet to reel back his “not complicit” talk.

    So take that, Bibi.

    • lobewyper
      September 4, 2012, 11:23 am

      I’m waiting to see what Richard Silverstein has to say about this.

  25. American
    September 4, 2012, 10:49 am

    interesting …..

    In the Iranian poker game, Netanyahu and Barak have overplayed their hand

    Israel Hayom, the newspaper seen as having close ties to the PM, has been laying off the war drums lately. Senior Haaretz analyst Amos Harel wonders: Does this indicate that Netanyahu is seeking a ladder to climb down from the tree?

    By Amos Harel | Sep.04, 2012 | 2:01 PM | 19

    Some government officials have recently started poring over Israel Hayom every day. Because the daily is seen as having close ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, these officials believe its front-page headlines can offer clues to Netanyahu’s intentions, especially on the crucial issue of whether to attack Iran.

    In recent weeks, Israel Hayom has featured a barrage of worrying reports on Iran’s nuclear progress and Washington’s failure to halt it. But over the last few days, something interesting has happened: Last Friday, the paper instead highlighted a statement by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, that he doesn’t want America to be “complicit” in an Israeli attack on Iran right now. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s disturbing report on Iran’s nuclear program got second billing.

    On Sunday, Iran was mostly relegated to the daily’s inside pages. On Monday, it returned to the headlines, but only in the form of Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s vague statement that the IDF can act “anywhere, anytime.”

    In short, the paper that has been beating the war drums for weeks is now muting them. Does this indicate that Netanyahu is seeking a ladder to climb down from the tree?

    The number of Israeli statements and leaks about Iran has been so large, and the analyses of what Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak really intend so contradictory, that people are grasping at straws in an effort to figure out where things are headed.

    Here is a less speculative assessment: In the Iranian poker game, which they are playing primarily against Washington, Netanyahu and Barak raised the stakes a few weeks ago. From Haaretz’s interview with “the decision maker,” aka Barak, to the leaks of classified information regarding the dialogue with the United States, Netanyahu and Barak have been ratcheting up the pressure. But they appear to have overplayed their hand.

    The result has been a tougher American stance that has led Israel to calm down a bit, as reflected in recent reports that Barak has changed his mind and now opposes attacking at this time. Thus many officials now believe an attack is not as inevitable as it previously seemed.

    Yet the disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington over Iran has become even more fraught, and the issue of American support for Israel has consequently gained prominence in the U.S. presidential campaign. Over the long run, this is liable to be a serious mistake.

    In the best case, described as a possibility in a leak Monday to the New York Times, President Barack Obama will publicly set red lines and promise to attack if Iran crosses them. In the worst case, he will make do with vague generalities about Iran – but will certainly remember to settle accounts with Netanyahu if he is reelected. Either way, it’s hard to dismiss the damage the recent outpouring of Israeli verbiage has done to our strategic relationship with America”

    • seanmcbride
      September 4, 2012, 11:17 am

      At this point, Netanyahu is probably desperate for the United States and Europe to hold him back from following through on his promise to attack Iran. He never intended to attack Iran on his own — he hoped to prod, goad and coerce Americans into doing that job for him — which they have refused to do.

      Now Netanyahu needs America to restrain him from going to war — that is, to provide him with a fig leaf to back down and retreat with some semblance of dignity. But the whole world knows what is really going on.

  26. Taxi
    September 4, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Chomsky reckons that “America and israel are the greatest threat to peace”:

  27. NCINA
    September 5, 2012, 12:07 am

    I don’t expect the US to fight a single war ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Israel since it never has historically. Unlike the US during Gulf War One, Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel has never dragged other nations into wars to fight, die and get maimed for it. The US and coalition has killed, maimed and destroyed more people in Iraq alone than Israel has in 63 years.

    I maybe wrong but I get the distinct impression that this article is to gloat and sneer when the real human tragedy will be that real people will die which will happen with an Israeli strike. With all his faults I get the gut feeling the Nethanyahu wont go down in history has the Prime Minister that allowed Iran the bomb. History has proven those that threaten to kill you mean it.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 5, 2012, 2:30 am

      I don’t expect the US to fight a single war ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Israel since it never has historically.

      i get a kick out of this quote , have you read it yet? http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/barak-to-us-be-afraid-be-very-afraid-of-the-sword-at-our-throat.html

      And therein lies the irony of Obama forcing Israel to put its citizens and soldiers at risk to do something that he should be authorizing the U.S. military to do.

    • ColinWright
      September 5, 2012, 3:16 am

      NCINA: “Israel has never dragged other nations into wars to fight, die and get maimed for it. “

      They’re doing their damnedest right now vis-a-vis Iran.

      Moreover, they’ve certainly tried in the past. Remember the Liberty? Then I distinctly recall them participating with Britain and France in an attack on Egypt — although to be fair I’m not sure whose idea that was, and I’ve a feeling Israel hadn’t gotten to be the tail wagging the dog yet by then. Finally, of course, we did somehow wind up in Lebanon in 1982, where several hundred Americans did variously die and get maimed.

      “…With all his faults I get the gut feeling the Nethanyahu wont go down in history has the Prime Minister that allowed Iran the bomb.”

      Ish’allah, Netanyahu will go down as the Prime Minister who mounted the attack on Iran that led to Israel’s demise.

      As I’ve noted, Israel will inevitably attack somebody. Attacking Iran would be the choice most likely to lead to Israel’s final isolation and extinction — so let’s hope he goes for it!

      This really is like pulling a tooth. I’m for getting it over with.

    • Woody Tanaka
      September 5, 2012, 8:28 am

      “I don’t expect the US to fight a single war ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Israel since it never has historically.”

      Wow, the ingratitude of the zios to the country that permits their shitty state to exist is astounding. You people should learn some respect.

      “Unlike the US during Gulf War One, Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel has never dragged other nations into wars to fight, die and get maimed for it.”

      LMAO. Iraq was all about Americans fighting, dieing and getting maimed to protect israel and the oil. Two birds. One stone.

      “With all his faults I get the gut feeling the Nethanyahu wont go down in history has the Prime Minister that allowed Iran the bomb. ”

      It’s not up to israel to allow or not allow another state the weapons they deem necessary to protect itself.

      “History has proven those that threaten to kill you mean it.”

      Yawn. Go get therapy. The only thing that is keeping any supposed threat alive is the blood-thirsty sword rattling by the likes of the ‘yahoo and his fellow-criminals in occupied Palestine.

    • eljay
      September 9, 2012, 9:54 am

      >> History has proven those that threaten to kill you mean it.

      Given the incessant warmongering threats emanating from Israel and the United States, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Iran would want to develop a nuclear deterrent capability ASAP.

  28. HeresJohnny
    September 9, 2012, 9:31 am

    Iran has had many years to plan out a response to be attacked. Western thoughts believe that Iran would seek revenge and strike back at Israel and close the straight of Hormuz. But let’s say that Iran knows it cannot win a conflict against Israel that is supported by the US.
    What if Iran does not fire a shot back? What if Iran engages in cold war tactics that force Israel into a constant and full time war stance? Israel’s young population would be unable to work, attend school or support the economy while doing full time military service. Israel tourism industry would die. Israeli emigration would stop and many rational Jews may just leave Israel. Israeli’s will live in constant fear of having missiles drop on their homes while they sleep.
    Iran could go back to the UN and demand to have the sanctions lifted from them, in light of the attack against them. With oil money flowing back into Iran – Iran will expand its missile program and continuously provoke Israel with them.
    Could Iran gain the sympathy of other countries to come to its side, to further pressure Israel?
    History has shown many times that the Arab nations will not win a shooting war with Israel, could their greatest weapon be the Israelis themselves?

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