Why did Obama greenlight the offensive?

This, from John Cassidy’s blog in The New Yorker, raises obvious questions:

3. Did the Obama Administration know about the Israeli attacks in advance? On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Major General Amir Eshel, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, was in Washington last week, just days before the attacks began. (Israeli generals and politicians often visit Washington; Eshel could have been in the U.S. to discuss Iran, among other topics.) The Pentagon also confirmed that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had talked to Ehud Barak, his counterpart in Israel, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether those discussions took place before or after the violence began. The initial Israeli attack, which involved assassinating Ahmed Al-Jabari, the military commander of Hamas, and bombing dozens of underground sites where the Israelis suspected Hamas was concealing weapons, including long-range missiles, was clearly well planned. Although the pretext for the strikes was a recent escalation of violence by Hamas, including the firing of an anti-tank missile that injured four Israeli soldiers, this looked like an operation that the Israeli government had been preparing to carry out for some time.

It makes sense that Obama knew and green lighted the offensive, the question is why. It is possible that with great cunning he allowed Bibi Netanyahu to walk into a trap of his own making but that accords a level of skill and principle to his foreign policy team that has hitherto not been evident. The cock-up makes greater sense, but the conclusion is unavoidable, he is Israel’s creature. It is his great luck though, that this affair may have an ending that could change that.

About Ed Moloney

journalist
Posted in Israel/Palestine

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

  1. It is possible that with great cunning he allowed Bibi Netanyahu to walk into a trap of his own making but that accords a level of skill and principle to his foreign policy team that has hitherto not been evident.

    there’s always the possibility his fp team could act differently during a second term.

  2. yourstruly says:

    what would be the effect on u.s. mideast policies if everyone opposed to our government’s green-lighting of israel’s gaza incursions notified her/his congressperson/senator as well as the white house of their feelings on the subject? nothing but a waste of time? maybe, but remember what happened 4 years ago when congress first took up the bank bailout? well, it was inundated with messages from a populace enraged by the possibility that the banksters would be bailed out of a mess that was of its own doing. better yet, the house voted overwhelmingly against that bailout. alas, as lobbyists moved in & did their thing the representatives reversed themselves, but for a moment, at least, public opinion had prevailed. which is to say, how’s about our inundating congress & the white house with demands about ending this special relationship with israel?

  3. ahmed says:

    What are a few hundred Palestinian lives in a game to eliminate a rival who made him look weak.

  4. lysias says:

    I suspect there was a deal: Israel agreed not to attack Iran and to postpone any military action until after the U.S. election, in return for Obama’s promise to greenlight an attack on Gaza after the election.

    • W.Jones says:

      How often have you heard politicians make promises they would do or allow things “after the election”. In this case, rather than meeting activists’ wistful hopes of his cleaning up the IP conflict and oppression after the election, “after the election” has another meaning, I’m afraid. :(

  5. radii says:

    I can’t imagine any kind of deal that has anything for America in it … israel never follows through, never delivers and we never push them for anything due to their lobby … it is unfathomable why the entire U.S. gov’t is in lock-step on this Gaza campaign in support of israel … we know they won’t stop settlements, they won’t lessen the violence, they won’t act in good faith ever … were we extorted? … what could they have over us? There is NO upside for the U.S.

  6. Keith says:

    ED MOLONEY- “It makes sense that Obama knew and green lighted the offensive, the question is why.”

    Ed, I think that the simplest explanation is that Obama is not a hypocrite. The empire is currently involved in numerous overt and covert military operations around the globe, drone strikes, special forces operations, kill lists, etc, which target defenseless civilians, therefore, it would be hypocritical for Obama to restrain Netanyahu from engaging in similar activities. Besides, Obama has clearly demonstrated that he has wholeheartedly adopted the neoconservative game plan for remaking the Middle East, with Syria currently under assault and Iran in waiting. The US and Israel are two warfare states doing what comes naturally. Now that Obama has his second term he no longer has to play-act for his base. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

    “If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war… our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” (Michael Ledeen, following 9/11/01 attacks)

  7. Let’s say Obama disapproved of this killing spree. What, really, could he do? Very little. No US govt would ever dare restrain the rabid Israeli dog, and few have ever tried. In any case, it’s fairly obvious that Obama wholeheartedly approves of this latest little war. I would say the Israeli gen merely informed Obama that they were cooking up a war. I doubt he asked his approval for what is, in their terms, a minor little escapade.

    • American says:

      “No US govt would ever dare restrain the rabid Israeli dog,”..Maximus

      Tell us more….why would no US gov ever dare to restrain the rabid dog?

  8. Talkback says:

    Cause Obama is just a puppet?

  9. yourstruly says:

    seems to me that the official narrative on the mideast is undergoing an admittedly slight yet significant shift from israel can do no wrong to israel may be an impediment to the full acceptance of american leadership by the arab/islamic world. the signs are subtle, perhaps, and inconsistant. phil keeps pointing this out (correctly, i believe) as is the los angeles times’ in its recent coverage of palestine/israel along with last sunday’s “up with chris” msnbc program. actually the first hints that there was something anew on p/i occurred a couple years ago when general david petreaus reported to congress that israel’s intransigence vis-a-vis a peace accord with the palestinians endangered u.s. troops in iraq/afghan. about the same time vice president joe biden & also hillary clinton said essentially the same thing. except soon thereafter, for whatever reason, general petreaus recanted & rejoined the israel can do no wrong crowd. then there was president obama’s refusal to meet with israeli pm netanyahu. while slight significance was attached to that refusal, by itself, but alongside perceivable, albeit slight, differences in media coverage, is the public being prepared for the big switcheroo, where our government tells the public that national security & other u.s. interests necessitate a new approach to the mideast? and once this happens, how long before msm comes out in support of justice for palestine? wishful thinking? yes! but hopefully more.

    • yourstruly says:

      p.s. could president obama’s insistence that egypt come through in its effort to broker a truce agreement serve as a possible cover for him (obama) when/if he tells the public about the need for new thinking on p/i.

  10. RE: “. . . this looked like an operation that the Israeli government had been preparing to carry out for some time.” ~ John Cassidy’s blog in The New Yorker

    SEE: “Israeli offensive in Gaza was years in the making”, By Josef Federman, Associated Press, 11/19/12
    LINK – link to sfgate.com

  11. RE: “Did the Obama Administration know about the Israeli attacks in advance? On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Major General Amir Eshel, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, was in Washington last week, just days before the attacks began.” ~ John Cassidy’s blog in The New Yorker

    MY SELF-CONGRATULATION(S): I am feeling so darn good about having voted for Jill Stein of the Green Party rather than “O’Bomber” who obviously authorized Israel to once again “mow the lawn”* in Gaza in keeping with Israel’s “Iron Wall” “obsession”. I do not believe Netanyahu would have been able to “play” Jill Stein (“for a fool”, or “like a violin”) nearly as easily as he has been able to “play” Obama.
    I guess I should thank my lucky stars that I don’t live in a “swing state” where I might have been tempted to vote for Obama/O’Bomber as the “(not very) lesser evil”!
    Israel is truly the “little sadist”, but Obama, AIPAC and the United States are the “Big (Global) Sadist(s)” ! ! !

    * SEE: “Preparing to ‘Mow the Grass’ in Gaza”, By Paul R. Pillar, consortiumnews.com, 3/17/12
    LINK – link to consortiumnews.com

    Jill Stein - link to jillstein.org

    The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) - link to gp.org

    • P.S. FROM THE GREEN PARTY, WITH MY EMPHASIS:
      GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATEShttp://www.gp.org
      For Immediate Release: Friday, November 16, 2012
      The U.S. is ignoring the source of the conflict and chain of incidents leading up to the current Gaza crisis, say Greens

      WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders said today that the U.S. must pressure Israel not to resume its war on Palestinians living in Gaza, and that the illegal blockade and hardship imposed by Israel on Gaza must end.
      “President Obama and Congress have the clout to stop a repeat of the 2009 Gaza War, in which more than 1300 Palestinians were killed, including 700 civilians, over 300 of them children. Thirteen Israelis were also killed, of whom three were civilians. This is a ‘David and Goliath’ fight, with nuclear-powered Israel acting in disregard for international law against a dispossessed people living under siege. Israel’s assaults on Gaza will not make Gazans go away or resolve the conflict,” said Muhammed Malik, former co-chair of the Miami-Dade Green Party, who recently spoke at the Students for Justice in Palestine National Conference at the University of Michigan. 2009 Gaza War casualties: see link to dci-pal.org and figures referenced at – link to en.wikipedia.org Green Party leaders noted that targeted assassinations are illegal and that the airstrike authorized by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak that killed Hamas military commander Ahmad al-Jabari also killed his 14-year-old son.
      The Israeli airstrike ended two days of calm after news that Egypt had brokered a truce between Israel and Palestinian officials. The truce was meant to end a surge of violence that resulted in more than 100 missiles fired out of Gaza and repeated Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, where people are already living in conditions comparable to an open-air prison. – link to democracynow.org “The Obama Administration should press for an immediate ceasefire and resumption of the negotiations. Claims by Israeli and U.S. officials that the IDF is trying to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties are not credible. Washington and the U.S. media have focused on the increased Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza but are ignoring the chain of incidents, including killings of Palestinian civilians, that motivated Hamas to fire rockets out of Gaza,” said Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2012 nominee for President.
      “The terrorism that Israel is using to maintain the occupation far outweighs the retaliatory terrorism committed by Hamas. Unless these assaults can be halted, we’ll see another massacre of Gazan civilians and further deterioration of the city,” added Dr. Stein. (For a timeline of events leading up to the recent confrontation, see – link to electronicintifada.net and link to fair.org “The U.S. government and most U.S. media have ignored the heart of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, including Gazans — Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their native land, ongoing colonization of Palestinian land in Israel and the Occupied Territories, and Israel’s refusal to allow refugees to return home, as prescribed by international law. Over two thirds of Gazans are from Israel and the West Bank,” said Justine McCabe, co-chair of the Green Party’s International Committee. – link to gp.org While self-defense and armed resistance against military occupation are legal under international law, no such law tolerates attacks on civilians. Greens have urged support for Palestinian and Israeli peace groups and for nonviolent resistance, and have called for an end to all violence targeted at unarmed civilians. Greens insist that regional stability and security for all the people of Israel and Palestine are not possible until peaceful negotiation based on international law resolves the conflict.
      The Green Party of the United States has called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and U.N. directives, ends the occupation of Palestinian lands, and observes full and equal human rights for Palestinians within Israel and the Occupied Territories, including the right to return home.
      Washington must stop aiding Israel’s violations of human rights. Israel has a budget surplus and 6.5% unemployment. U.S. taxpayers, facing austerity and unemployment at home, are seeing $3 billion of their tax money sent annually to Israel, which receives 60% of all U.S. foreign military financing,” said David Schwartzman, member of the DC Statehood Green Party and the Green Party’s International Committee.”Israel’s history of aggression towards Palestinians and neighbors like Lebanon and Syria has made it increasingly isolated internationally. If this situation continues, we’ll see more animosity directed against the U.S., and chances for peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians will dwindle. Nor will Americans indefinitely accept their government’s misguided Middle East policies and pay exorbitant tax dollars for it,” said John Rensenbrink, Maine Green and member of the International Committee.

      SOURCE – link to gp.org

  12. flyod says:

    obama not only green lighted this operation, he financed it

  13. Les says:

    Israel’s fifth column in the US is more than our media and our politicians.

    “Young Americans who served in the IDF but live in the States are arriving in Israel to join their combat units.”

    link to haaretz.com

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      Hopefully these bastards buy it in the sand. And if they don’t, they should have their citizenship stripped. When Americans are dying overseas, any American who dons another state’s uniform (and soils himself by putting on an i’d’f one) should, at best, suffer the loss of citizenship and a 100% tax on his property for good measure.

  14. RE: “On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Major General Amir Eshel, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, was in Washington last week, just days before the attacks began. (Israeli generals and politicians often visit Washington; Eshel could have been in the U.S. to discuss Iran, among other topics.) ~ John Cassidy’s blog in The New Yorker

    MY COMMENT: Surely not even Israel would have the unmitigated chutzpah to allow such a public, high-level visit of this type (“Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel . . . met with American officials”) to occur immediately before they were going to initiate a major, long-planned attack on Gaza that the Obama administration was not aware of. If the visit had been long-scheduled, the commander of the Israeli Air Force would have had a “scheduling conflict” and been unable to make his visit.
    It would be absolutely unpardonable for Israel to allow such a high-level visit to give the appearance of the Obama administration having signed-off on “Pillar of Cloud/Defense” when the Obama administration had (in fact) not even been informed of it! That just is not done by allies! ! !

  15. RoHa says:

    As far as I can tell, Obama has never vistied Israel, so the photographs and videos are not from a hotel there.