Why did Obama greenlight the offensive?

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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.

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