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Mark Perry: Israel and Iran’s ‘low-level war’ is ‘dangerous stuff’

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The car of an Israeli diplomat burns after a bomb went off in New Delhi, India
(AP Photo/Joji Thomas, Economic Times)

Tensions rose sharply in the Middle East this week after a bomb blast in New Delhi, India injured an Israeli diplomat and another bomb was found under the car of a Tbilisi-based Israeli diplomat. Police in Thailand also announced that they have detained a group of Iranians found with explosives.

Israel immediately blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the attacks, and Thai police said that the bombs in their country were meant for Israeli diplomats as well. Thai officials also said that “the devices they found were similar to the ones used in Delhi and Georgia.” Iran has denied the charges, and Juan Cole pointed out that India, so far, does not suspect Iran in the blast in New Delhi.

The overseas attacks come as Israel’s reported involvement in the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists garners more attention and as harsh sanctions continue to be placed on Iran.

For more on the escalating situation, I called up Mark Perry, a journalist and historian who is a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy (FP) magazine and Al Jazeera. Perry authored the recent bombshell piece in FP that exposed how Israeli intelligence attempted to recruit known Pakistani terrorists to wage covert war on Iran by disguising themselves as CIA agents. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, which took place two days ago.

Mark Perry speaking on Al Jazeera (Photo via DJIA TV)

Alex Kane: Israel has accused Iran and/or Hezbollah of being behind the recent attacks in New Delhi, India and Georgia. What is your immediate take on the accusation?

Mark Perry: Well, Israel has a lot of enemies. It could be anyone. I suppose that it’s not unpredictable that they would accuse Iran, but I don’t think Hezbollah was involved. Hezbollah, as we know, does larger operations, they usually take their good time, so maybe it’s Iran, but we don’t know. There’s a long list of suspects, and the suspicion is Iran, but it’s only a suspicion.

AK: And have you been in contact with any government sources about this?

MP: Well, obviously policy makers here are convinced that Israel and Iran, and know that Israel and Iran, are conducting a very low-level, asymmetric war. So they come to the natural conclusion that if Israel uses proxies to kill Iranians, then it’s likely the Iranians will respond. One of the reasons the United States does not like to get involved with this sort of thing–and we do not target or assassinate foreign government officials–is because we don’t want it happening to us. We want to stay clear of it. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the United States did steer clear of this.

AK: These attacks come days after NBC reported that Israel had been coordinating with the Iranian terror group the MEK to assassinate nuclear scientists in Iran. Obviously, it’s an interesting report in the context of your own article in Foreign Policy that pointed to a different Sunni extremist group in Pakistan that Israel had been collaborating with. What are your thoughts on this news in the context of your own reporting as well as the attacks overseas?

MP: Well, NBC did a good job and they got it. The story was always out there, there were a lot of reporters following it. It doesn’t come exactly as a shock. It was headlined in the mainstream media as kind-of to be expected. That Israel is cooperating with the MEK is not a surprise. They’re a much more robust group than, say, Jundallah. They certainly have the capabilities to do assassinations inside of Iran. They are a natural suspect in the killing of the scientists.

My immediate response to NBC’s story was, “yeah, well of course.” It was out there waiting to be proved and to be shown, and it was shown. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t at all surprised. You know, the brass ring was there to be grabbed. The question was who’s going to do it first. You know, with that said, I think it’s still very hard to prove. I think NBC did a very good job of showing that it was true.

AK: So you reported that Israel was collaborating with Jundallah. And now NBC is reporting that they’re collaborating with the MEK. Is it possible that Israel is collaborating with even more groups?

MP: Well, I don’t know that. And my story didn’t say that Israel had successfully recruited Jundallah, or that Jundallah had carried out operations on behalf of Israel.

Listen, my view on this is really pretty simple: this is dangerous stuff. When you recruit a terrorist group, you become a state supporter of terrorism by definition. I think that’s the real story here–that Israel attempted to recruit Jundallah using a false flag is a big story, and that Israel has been shown to use MEK is a big story.

But the elephant in the room, the story that no one is really talking about and that is there to be talked about and ought to be, publicly, is — is it a good idea for the United States to have a strategic ally that is recruiting terrorist groups to conduct terrorism? The United States’ answer to this question is we do not do this. We do not hire terrorists to conduct terrorism. It undermines every single principle of the war on terror. So the fact that Israel is doing it should be talked about in the consuls of government, it ought to be talked about in public, it ought to be condemned, they ought to be told in no uncertain terms that their relationship with the United States will change if this continues. The United States has done plenty of wrong in the world, and continues to do plenty of wrong in the world, but one of the things that we don’t do, is we don’t recruit terrorist organizations in the war on terror. It completely undermines every single principle in the war on terror that we have, and that includes the Bush administration right through to the Obama administration.

AK: And what do you think this all means for the future of Iranian, U.S. and Israeli relations? Do you think that this is moving very fast to a full-out war in the region, based on recent events and reports?

MP: I go from day to day. Yesterday I thought, boy, we’re really close. Today, I don’t think we’re close. Tomorrow, I’ll probably think we’re close. No one really knows. Anytime you escalate on something like this, you run the danger of starting a conflict you don’t want. And I’m a military historian, and everyone says, well, what is the historical metaphor? Is it August 1914? Everyone says, oh, it’s August 1914.

It’s August 1941. In August of 1941 the Japanese high command met in Tokyo and determined that they would bomb Pearl Harbor because the United States would not respond or would enter into negotiations and that they could get away with it. Four years later, 80 percent of their cities were destroyed, millions of Japanese were dead and Japan was absolutely on its knees.

No matter what you think is going to happen in the conflict, it’s not going to happen. You take your plans and you throw ‘em away, and multiply your assessments of losses by three, four or five and you understand that war is a serious business and that if you enter into it, you’re not going to get away with a surgical strike. Iran is not going anywhere–it’s going to be there forever. And if you hit Iran and you’re Israel, I think you’re asking for much bigger trouble than, “well we can do it today and tomorrow, and they’ll sit back and say, ‘gee, we shouldn’t develop nuclear weapons.’” That’s not going to happen. If there’s a war, we don’t know where it’s going to end, but one thing’s for sure: it will be a lot worse than we think.

AK: Is there anything you want to add before we go?

MP: The only thing that I would add is, in kind of nosing around Washington for the last six months, and particularly in talking to the military, it’s very clear to me what the United States does and does not want. And this administration does not want a war with Iran, and the U.S. military does not want a war with Iran, and will do a lot to make sure there isn’t a war. The people out there calling for a conflict–I mean, I think this morning the Washington Post had an editorial that sounded like, you know, “let’s do this”–people who say, “let’s hit Iran before they get nuclear weapons,” is a completely irresponsible position. And it’s usually taken by people who don’t have skin in the game–who don’t have members of their family in the military. We’re asking, in an era of non-conscription and volunteer army, we’re asking other people to pay a price for us. Before we do that, we have to exhaust every other alternative, and we haven’t yet.

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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55 Responses

  1. lobewyper
    February 17, 2012, 8:32 am

    Alex Kane wrote:

    “But the elephant in the room, the story that no one is really talking about and that is there to be talked about and ought to be, publicly, is, it is a good idea for the United States to have a strategic ally that is recruiting terrorist groups to conduct terrorism? The United States’ answer to this question is we do not do this. We do not hire terrorists to conduct terrorism. It undermines every single principle of the war on terror.”

    Absolutely kee-rect, Alex. The US of A has always prided itself on its self-sufficiency to terrify others whenever it has been deemed necessary. :)

    • February 17, 2012, 9:09 am

      Alex — critical typo error in your post:

      But the elephant in the room, the story that no one is really talking about and that is there to be talked about and ought to be, publicly, is, it is a good idea for the United States to have a strategic ally that is recruiting terrorist groups to conduct terrorism?

      should be IS IT . . .

      • Alex Kane
        Alex Kane
        February 17, 2012, 9:20 am

        Thanks, it’s fixed! Good catch.

      • February 17, 2012, 9:21 am

        great post, btw. Genius idea to interview Mark Perry. thanks.

    • radii
      February 17, 2012, 1:08 pm

      and doesn’t allowing israelis, israeli jews no less, to continue to conduct trade with Iran for profit, undermine every principle of isolating and weakening the “existential threat” that is Iran ???? Yet, israel winks and nods and allows its people to continue to business with Iran while manipulating the world into a needless conflict with Iran to serve its regional superpower ambitions … Iran is the big bogeyman, but israel will still take its money

      • Mayhem
        February 17, 2012, 9:08 pm

        @radii: Where is the evidence to substantiate that Israel is doing business with Iran? Or is this your imagination getting the better of you?

      • annie
        February 17, 2012, 9:31 pm

        i think radii meant israelis.

        there was also the recent case of the computer company sending products to iran via turkey.

      • February 17, 2012, 9:45 pm

        Mark Rich made his millions selling otherwise sanctioned Iranian oil.

        there was a report about a year ago about Israel’s bank Leumi importing marble from Iran to finish a bank in Tel Aviv.

        In “Thirty Years War” (iirc) Ronen Bergman tells the story of how, as the shah was falling, Jews in Iran commandeered airplanes to fly planeloads of Persian rugs and other goodies out of Iran and to Israel.

        recently, at the behest of Israel lobby, Persian rugs were put on the sanctions list. Just speculation but wouldn’t be surprised if Israelis are importing Persian rugs, perhaps thru Turkey. Haim Saban has fine Persian rugs in his CA home.

      • Cliff
        February 17, 2012, 9:53 pm

        Mayhem, go do some research before you smear radii.

        It’s documented that wealthy Israeli businessmen are doing business w/ Iran.

      • Chaos4700
        February 17, 2012, 9:59 pm

        You mean after the Iran – Contra Affair, I assume, Mayhem?

      • Mayhem
        February 17, 2012, 10:35 pm

        There will always be selfish individuals who chase the dollar and have no scruples, but that does not negate the fact that Israel and Israelis are pushing very hard on sanctions although there is increasing scepticism by officials on the effectiveness of sanctions on quelling Iran.

      • Chaos4700
        February 17, 2012, 11:59 pm

        “Selfish individuals who chase the dollar and have no scruples” pretty much sums up Israeli culture vis-a-vis the settler enterprise. How many hospitals did Israel attack in Gaza? How many nukes does Israel have? Who is the real threat that needs to be sanctioned and contained, lest more civilians die in international waters from violent hijack raids out of Tel Aviv?

  2. Midwesterner
    February 17, 2012, 8:42 am

    Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.

  3. marc b.
    marc b.
    February 17, 2012, 9:04 am

    playing with fire.

    a couple of points made elsewhere, especially at R. Silverstein’s site.

    1. israel/mossad took control of the crime scene, apparently stepping all over the toes of indian investigators:

    “New Delhi, Feb. 15: The National Security Guard (NSG) was not allowed to gather forensic samples from the Israel embassy car blast site near the Prime Minister’s house on Monday because of “some diplomatic reasons”, a senior official said today.

    The disclosure came on a day an Israeli team, including Mossad officials, met Indian investigators and provided inputs, including a suggestion that a local module could have used a magnetic bomb supplied from abroad.

    “It was very weird that our post-blast study team was not allowed to visit the site and gather samples, citing some diplomatic reasons. Our experts, whose only job is to study and conduct research based on collected samples, were denied this opportunity,” the official added.”

    2. as juan cole notes, to the extent that india has gathered information, it believes that the signature of the attack suggests that it may be the work of an indian ‘muslim module’ rather than the iranians.

    3. press reports of basic factual accounts of the bombing are ‘conflicted’. thus, for example, a press photo shows the bombed vehicle engulfed in flames on a public way, while JPost reports that In the first attack, the wife of an Israeli diplomat was injured when a bomb exploded in her car in New Delhi, India. The woman succeeded in driving to the Israeli embassy where she was evacuated to a nearby hospital. credit to ‘tito’ on silverstein’s site for pointing this out.

    • Justice Please
      Justice Please
      February 19, 2012, 5:52 pm

      “The National Security Guard (NSG) was not allowed to gather forensic samples from the Israel embassy car blast site near the Prime Minister’s house on Monday because of “some diplomatic reasons”, a senior official said today.”

      What the fuck. The Israelis are really acting like they control the whole world. Classical hubris, thinking such behavior will never backfire.

  4. gingershot
    February 17, 2012, 9:16 am

    Israel and her Israel Lobby deliberately creates the conditions where an ‘accident’ is inevitable and then capitalizes on it – that’s their entire modus operandi

    If there was not such a media blackout on these machinations then these tactics would be able to be stopped or otherwise aughed out of operation – so that’s why they need the media as well

    Just to make sure the accident can be spun for their purposes, Sen Joe Lieberman and the rest of the AIPAC cut-outs in Congress make sure there are no lines of communication or diplomacy possible in order to maximize the chances of a Neocon-sought ‘accident’ that can be used as a casus belli

    • yourstruly
      February 18, 2012, 7:24 am

      no matter the risk of precipitating ww iii, an israel first congress in cahoots with the settler entity for the purpose of regime change in iran? meanwhile, msm carries out its assigned task of tricking the public into buying into another “righteous” war.

      at a time when there’s this need for a real awakening in the u.s. of a., where oh where is the occupy movement?

  5. casaananda
    February 17, 2012, 9:20 am

    Mark Perry is one of the few notable journalists in DC who’s “independent” and has a brain, it seems.

    • Justice Please
      Justice Please
      February 19, 2012, 5:50 pm

      Yes, and I commend him for talking about the Israeli elephant in the room and openly stating, that the US military does not want this war.

      However, this strikes me as odd:

      “The United States has done plenty of wrong in the world, and continues to do plenty of wrong in the world, but one of the things that we don’t do, is we don’t recruit terrorist organizations in the war on terror”

      Again, it’s nice that he mentions the “plenty of wrongs” the US government did and does, but of course they hired terrorist orgs from time to time. Osamas CIA-funded terrorists in Afghanistan versus the Soviets come to mind. One might also argue that the “freedom fighters” of Libya are terrorists.

      And of course, “shock and awe” is a tactic that is the very definition of terrorism.

  6. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    February 17, 2012, 10:06 am

    “One of the reasons the United States does not like to get involved with this sort of thing–and we do not target or assassinate foreign government officials–is because we don’t want it happening to us. We want to stay clear of it. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the United States did steer clear of this.”
    How does this go unchallenged??

    “We do not hire terrorists to conduct terrorism. It undermines every single principle of the war on terror. ”
    “we” don’t? sht, that news to me. what exactly does one call, say, a guatemalan dude, hired by blackwater to be a “private security operator” ?? I would say a mercenary ( and there are plenty of foreign mercenaries hired by the US and it’s contractors all over the ME and elsewhere) – and when these mercenaries kill innocents, as they have routinely done, what do we call that? Terrorism.

    I can’t believer MW is a sounding board for the “Israel AND Iran now engaged in covert war” nonsense, when the only evidence we have for iranian involvement is the accusations of Israeli’s and neo-cons.

    Your doing the same thing the mainstream press when it reflexively calls people accused of terrorism – mostly with ZERO evidence- “terrorists” as in, the “terrorist anwar al awlaki” — why are you doing this?? Stop.

    • February 17, 2012, 10:54 am

      you make an important point, Dan (as usual). The headline — the grabber — feeds the MSM narrative.

      it’s great to get Mark Perry to comment on MW, but his fulsome praise of NBC suggests just a bit of the CYA rule in action.

      NBC’s Bob Wildrum’s report on Israelis hiring terrorists to terrorize assassinate Iranians was so slanted it should have been broadcast from a hill in SanFrancisco, not NYC. For example, throughout his segment on NBC he identified the MEK as “the People’s Mujahaddin of Iran,” which I know and some on this forum may know is a group of Iranians who fought WITH Saddam Hussein and AGAINST Iran in the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war, and that is still fighting against Iran. Wildrum never explained that important relationship with clarity.
      Here’s a quote, at the very beginning of his report (ie. the part where people pay most attention, take away most information):

      “Q: Who or what is this group?”
      Wildrum: “It’s the People’s Mujahaddin of Iran. They have been active as a terrorist group going back to the 1970s. In the 1970s they killed six Americans–three military officers, three civilians. The US has had them on their radar for years. And in the ’90s they finally put them on the terror watch list. Some very important people have been lobbying to get them off it. “

      So far, Wildrum has communicated that this group is associated with Iran; that they’ve been “terrorists” for years; that this Iran-associated group has killed Americans; that they are now, finally, on the terror watch list.

      The obvious implication is that the group is associated with Iran, rather than the reality of the situation which is that the MEK is DISLOYAL to Iran.

      Wildrum makes this oblique reference to that major fact — that MEK is disloyal to and acts against Iran — in this next statement:

      “They have been the biggest thorn in the side of the Iranian regime for years.

      That is the closest Wildrum comes to informing his audience that MEK is a group that is actively and notoriously disloyal — traitorous — to Iran. Instead, with his next statement, Wildrum implies that Israel’s motives are ‘good’ and MEK has a motive as well. Wildrum says,

      “I think the key thing is both of them have a motive . . .I mean for Israel it’s trying to stop a nuclear program and it’s trying to use assassination as a tool. It is not something that is unfamiliar to them . . .they’ve done it in the past. . . .For the [MEK], according to the officials, what we’re seeing is an opportunity for them to combine with Israel’s biggest external enemies and attack with impunity at the core of their nuclear program. “

      Wildrum utters no statement to the effect that these actions are contrary to American values, practice, or ‘rules of engagement’ (even if they’re just on paper, as Dan pointed out); his statements suggest approval — anything that harms Iran’s ‘nuclear program’ is okey dokey. Wildrum makes that point clear in the next statement:

      ” And again, it shows that the Iranian regime, the Iranian Republic, is not as powerful as it could be seen because these attacks keep going on.”

      Wildrum later says that while “nobody is happy” about this, even tho [Larijani] said the nuclear program still goes on, “it’s obviously having a psychological effect. I think there’s no way —.”

      So Wildrum manages to associate MEK with “Iran” and plant the perception that this is an evil Iranian group that killed Americans, NOT that it’s a disloyal Iranian group that killed Americans; that what Israel and this group did is not so bad because it harmed Iran, and that’s a good thing. He concedes that it’s

      “[bad] for the United States [because] what it says is that the great moral value that Israel has is being diminished by them working with a terrorist group on assassinations.

      This last statement is simply stunning for its logical failure and for its obliviousness to what Ronen Bergman said in his part of the report — namely, that “Israel has been assassinating people ever since its establishment and has used assassination of foreign leaders more than any other country and less hesitant to do so than Saddam or Stalin.” How can the “great moral value” of THAT scenario be “diminished?”

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        February 17, 2012, 3:15 pm

        And right on cue – another “Al Qaeda Terrorist Plot” “thwarted” in DC:

        “The man, in his 30s and of Moroccan descent, was nabbed following a lengthy investigation by the FBI, initiated after he expressed interest in conducting an attack. It’s unclear how the FBI learned of his aspirations.

        The man thought undercover FBI agents assisting him in his plot were associates of Al Qaeda.

        When he was arrested Friday in Washington, he was carrying with him a vest supposedly packed with explosives, but the material inside was not actually dangerous, Fox News was told. ”

        Its “unclear” how the FBI “learned of his aspirations” — I’ll tell you how, they did what real cultists do, they targeted this guy and radicalized him, and when he “took action” they arrested him, and congratulated themselves for stopping terrorism (that they enabled in the first place)

        And on an on we go….the slow dance to war… but you know, no big deal.

      • seafoid
        February 17, 2012, 4:52 pm

        the slow dance to war

        But other official analysts working on Iran have identified what one described as a “sweet spot”, where the mix of diplomacy, political timetables and practical issues come together to suggest that if Israel launches a unilateral assault it is more likely in September or October, although they describe that as a “best guess”.

        If you want a sweet spot in September the propaganda needs to start rolling in February. I don’t buy the crap that Iran attacked Israeli targets in India and Georgia. It’s all part of the media war.

        Anyway Iran is a war too far for Israel

      • seafoid
        February 18, 2012, 7:34 am

        The Zurich paper NZZ gave Ronen Bergman a whole page to regurgitate the
        hasbara against Iran on Sunday last.

    • lysias
      February 18, 2012, 1:10 pm

      Surely the U.S. has a long history of supporting terrorists attacking Castro’s Cuba. Surely Alpha 66, for example, is/was a terrorist organization.

  7. annie
    February 17, 2012, 10:24 am

    really good interview alex. (as usual!)

    Israel has accused Iran and/or Hezbollah of being behind the recent attacks in New Delhi

    just thought i would note that israel accused iranians of the india attack weeks before it happened.

    A report in the Hindustan Time said that Israeli intelligence warned India of an imminent threat to Israeli establishments and individuals, giving them a list of about 50 individuals – all Iranian nationals – believed to be involved in such a plot.

    “A list of about 50 Iranians was submitted by a high-level Israeli delegation to the Union home ministry over two weeks ago… Israel requested that the individuals named on the list be kept under surveillance,” a New Delhi security source told the newspaper.,7340,L-4189825,00.html

    imo, on the israel/iran/india front here’s a story with huge impact we are not hearing too much about in the press here:

    In the wake of new oil sanctions by the European Union (EU) and US on Iran, India has recently come under a heavy pressure from the Western powers to curtail its trade with Tehran and use its influence to get Iran to resume talks over its nuclear programme.

    India is a major importer of Iranian oil and it announced on the eve of its talks with the EU on February 10 in New Delhi that it would dispatch a large business delegation to Tehran later this month to exploit the trade opportunities in the aftermath of the latest round of sanctions slapped on Iran by the European Union and the United States to block its oil revenues and force Iranian leadership to come to the negotiating table over its suspected nuclear weapons programme

    ……The Iranian issue was discussed prominently at the 12th India-European Union Summit in New Delhi last Friday……India imports $12 billion worth oil annually from Iran. It is the second largest importer of crude oil from Iran and its daily imports from Iran vary between 350,000- 400,000 barrels.


    under a new agreement, India and Iran have settled the issue of oil supplies with New Delhi to make 45 percent of overall payment in Indian rupees and pay the rest by investing in Iranian infrastructure, Iran’s ambassador to India, Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh said last week.

    He said India will expand the list of exports to Iran to pay for part of oil imports from Iran. “We are certainly not losing profit, and it’s clearly up to the US and the EU to stop or not to stop exports to Iran. But Delhi will continue trading with Tehran,” he added.

    • American
      February 17, 2012, 4:12 pm

      Ditto, excellent Alex.

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      February 17, 2012, 4:15 pm

      Q: israel/iran/india front

      R: Will Ireland/Indonesia/Iraq/Ireland/Italy be/come a ‘non-terrorist’ front?

      • W.Jones
        February 17, 2012, 9:02 pm

        Not without Iceland.

  8. ritzl
    February 17, 2012, 10:54 am

    Another insightful interview, AK.

    This is not a criticism, but I would like to hear Perry’s take on the mechanics and objectives of the public pronouncements and US pushback about attacking. Where is it coming from and what is its purpose, politically. That analysis might supply some specifics that we can write our Congress about to help head this off.

    As marc b. pointed out from Cole’s and Silverstein’s sites (not to mention Greenwald in his tireless criticism of US media war propaganda), Israel seems to be herding us/the US in the direction of involvement if not outright attack.

    I mean who lets Martha Raddatz on a destroyer to do a warmongering puff piece, while at the same time there seems to be substantial resistance to an attack at the Presidential or SoD level? There seems to be an internal battle in this admin, and to know more about inside specifics would help us anticipate the moves, perchance to help counter them more effectively. A war with Iran may be (must be) the line that is not crossed and the beginning of significant popular recognition and pushback to the Israeli influence machine. The consequences of not doing so are catastrophic, economically, Constitutionally, and prejudicially (if that’s a word).

    Thanks again.

    • February 17, 2012, 11:17 am

      say Alex, how about interviewing Joe Sestak on this issue? He commanded an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf for a number of years, and his wife worked for an agency (or think tank) that evaluated basing strategy in the Middle East, specifically around Iran and Afghanistan.

      • ritzl
        February 17, 2012, 4:05 pm

        Are you saying Perry has a conflict of interest in reporting this? If so, what is it?

    • nomorewaryouprats
      February 18, 2012, 4:30 am

      Yeah, the dissonance is striking. You have Panetta saying Iran has not yet decided to make a nuke and the former Shin Bet head saying a nuclear Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel, and then you have our fleets flying the flag in the Strait Of Hormuz within easy range of Iran’s carrier-killing advanced anti-ship missiles and Washington ratcheting up economic sanctions against Iran and her allies a la U.S. provocations against Japan prior to WWII. I don’t have any “inside specifics” but based on what I have read here(?) and elsewhere, both we and the Israelis have reasons for taking out Iran, it’s just that we disagree on the timing. Israel is claiming the Irani nuclear program is soon to enter an immunity zone after which the effectiveness of a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear sites will be greatly diminished. Thus Tel Aviv believes the window for action closes around Springtime. Much closer to the election is optimal timing for Obama. Plenty of time beforehand to gin up war fever sotto voce in the MSM while mouthing diplomatic pieties, and not enough time after the shooting starts to be blamed for the blowback.

      I believe Likud sees their main chance to cement Israel’s status as an untouchable regional hegemon and to fulfill their ambition of achieving Eretz Israel slipping away thanks to a dithering Obama. America and Nato have been serially destroying Israel’s enemies for a decade and Obama picks now to go wobbly against Israel’s most dangerous foe? How bitter for the authors of PNAC and In Defense Of The Realm to be so close to seizing their heart’s desire and to see their grand project, the work of twenty years, forestalled by this, this…Other. There’s this photo I’ve seen of Netanyahu glaring at Obama with such fury, with such contempt, such visceral hatred I have no trouble believing the Adler option has crossed his mind.

      I’d like to believe Obama’s move against Iran is just pandering to shore up support versus his pro-Likud Republican rivals, and that he doesn’t really intend to bomb Tehran, but I can’t. Like Iraq, like Libya, Iran is guilty of the gravest crimes against America. Not only does she squat on our oil, she has threatened to go off the petrodollar reservation. The whole world must buy our debt in order to buy petroleum. As a consequence of Kissinger’s tidy arrangement with the Saudis 65% of global commerce is conducted in dollars. Dollar demand alone allows America, history’s greatest debtor and now functionally bankrupt, to borrow and print the money which fuels her insatiable social and warfare spending. Those nations which act to undermine the primacy of the petrodollar as the world’s reserve currency, ironically as Iran has just done again by concluding a bi-lateral agreement with India to barter oil for goods in a bid to lessen the impact of U.S. sanctions, threaten the very existence of America. Obviously, wars fought to prop up the dollar can themselves bring the Empire crashing down the world economy is so fragile, but it is simply not an option to let oil producers go off the petrodollar and have a tsunami, trillions upon trillions of dollars of our debt, come crashing back on our shores from panicky creditors. If that happens, the dollar will be worthless not only as a security but as a currency.

  9. seafoid
    February 17, 2012, 1:58 pm

    is china going to lend money to a bust US to fight another pointless war in the middle East for Israel ?

  10. LanceThruster
    February 17, 2012, 2:07 pm

    Israel immediately blamed Iran and Hezbollah

    Don’t forget Al Qaida while you’re at it.

  11. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    February 17, 2012, 3:47 pm

    Q: … another bomb …

    R: A hand grenade in a plastic bag? Who’d pull the pin?

  12. American
    February 17, 2012, 4:01 pm

    False flag.
    We knew false flags would be next.

    • seafoid
      February 17, 2012, 6:17 pm

      Even if they put together a world class story Iran is a risk they can’t cover adequately. It’s just not worth it. Israel hasn’t been in a proper war since 1973 remember.

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      February 18, 2012, 12:15 am

      @ American,

      Q: We knew false flags would be next.

      R: “… and part of our [US] unshakable commitment to Israel’s security…” — the White House

      Think anyone or anything can shake that joined at the hip part loose?

      • American
        February 18, 2012, 2:27 am

        “Think anyone or anything can shake that joined at the hip part loose?”……Daniel

        Yea, I think someone(s) could. I am a believer in the blowback to extremes. Something will happen eventually, the US Israel fetish is too extreme for something not to, and then things will change.

  13. seafoid
    February 17, 2012, 4:45 pm

    “is it a good idea for the United States to have a strategic ally that is recruiting terrorist groups to conduct terrorism? The United States’ answer to this question is we do not do this. We do not hire terrorists to conduct terrorism. It undermines every single principle of the war on terror.”

    The war on terror is fought without principles. Once the US started waterboarding it lost the war.
    And they still can’t figure out the Taliban.

    • Citizen
      February 19, 2012, 7:57 am

      US forces in Afghanistan (especially) and Iraq use that tried and true Mafia way of getting their way–wads of cash in a bag. Every US grunt knows the score. They don’t for a minute trust the locals they are arming, training, etc. Just one or two of those wads of cash they see their sergeant giving to the local volunteers from the nearby villages would set PFC Adams up very well if he ever gets back home in one piece.

  14. seafoid
    February 17, 2012, 5:28 pm

    “In August of 1941 the Japanese high command met in Tokyo and determined that they would bomb Pearl Harbor because the United States would not respond or would enter into negotiations and that they could get away with it. Four years later, 80 percent of their cities were destroyed, millions of Japanese were dead and Japan was absolutely on its knees.”

    Israel now and Japan in the early 1940s have so much in common. Both highly militarised societies run by soldiers. Sharing a sense of invincibility. Never lost a war. Divinely inspired.The Japanese had the same respect for their enemies that the Zionists have for the Arabs.
    If it isn’t G-d in Israel now it was Shinchoku (the divine Oracle) in Japan

    commonly refers to the Three Divine Commands which Ninigi, the “imperial grandchild,” received from Amaterasu, as reported in the Nihongi section entitled “The Descent of the Heavenly Grandchild” (tenson kōrin). These three commands are 1) the command regarding “everlasting heaven and earth” (tenjō mukyū); 2) the command to “honor the precious mirror;” and 3) the command regarding “rice-ears from the heavenly garden.” The three emphasize respecting and worshipping kami in exchange for their guarantee of an everlasting reign by the tennō, a peaceful realm, and a prosperous land. In addition, according to Nihongi the attendant kami Amenokoyane and Futodama received the command to “attend and protect the palace” from Amaterasu and Takamimusuhi, as well as orders concerning a “divine fence” (himorogi) and a “heavenly rock-boundary” (iwasaka). These were mandates to support and protect the tennō’s line. Together with the previous three commands, the latter make up the “Five Divine Commands.”

    The militarists claimed that the Divine Oracle was absolute and signified that the land of the gods (Japan) would never perish . Where have we heard this before?

    “During the war we were taught that the land of the gods was a righteous divine country” Yamada , “So lovely a country will never perish” P 152

    The book is a cracking read for anyone interested in what happens to militarist regimes run on divinity

    The militarists went too far and lost it all.

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      February 18, 2012, 12:20 am

      @ seafoid,

      Don’t forget the immense rivalry between the regular Japanese Army and Navy at that time.


      Brits in Malaysia, China, the Dutch in Indonesia, Yanks in the Philippines, Perry’s gunboats in Tokyo bay.

      • seafoid
        February 18, 2012, 4:32 am

        I was talking to someone from Argentina yesterday about the Falklands war. There were several military coups in the late 70s that were supported by the people. It never starts off as insane.

        What Israel is doing now is not rational.

  15. yourstruly
    February 17, 2012, 8:44 pm

    hey, social media savvy mw’ers, how about starting a twitter campaign against israel firsters, against our government’s unconditional support of israel and against an iran war?

    • annie
      February 17, 2012, 9:18 pm

      speaking of israel firsters, did you read joshua holland’s: Dear Israel Lobby, We Give Up — Please Give Us an Acceptable Way of Insulting You,_we_give_up_–_please_give_us_an_acceptable_way_of_insulting_you?page=entire

      • Bumblebye
        February 17, 2012, 9:31 pm

        It made me laugh!
        Couldn’t help thinking someone with the right sort of funny bone could make it into a MontyPythonesque sketch – every insult they chuck our way is all fine and dandy, but even the most bland label we try to tag them with is anti-semitic for some obscure reason or other!
        Wouldn’t something like that on youtube be a fantastic hit!

      • annie
        February 18, 2012, 12:49 am

        hey! did you notice his link and reference to phil? i should have pointed that out.

        Wouldn’t something like that on youtube be a fantastic hit!

        i am so waiting on the followups to shit zionists say. i swear it is an untapped market. this is gonna be really fun when they start pouring in, and they will.

        cracks me up, especially:

        ut the ease with which Ackerman accepted this supposed association with a neo-Nazi highlights one of the problems with his column. I’ll grant that “Israel firster” is clumsy, and lacking in civility. Yet it’s such a benign slur compared with the casual and constant smears levied against those who criticize our government’s tacit support for the occupation. Calling people “anti-Semites,” “self-loathing Jews” or “terrorist sympathizers” is a hundred times more offensive, but those smears are deployed so frequently and casually that one can almost forget that we have this debate that’s marked with wildly asymmetric incivility. Scholars like Steven Walt and nice Jewish boys like Thomas Friedman and Eric Alterman are constantly being accused of holding truly heinous views — of wanting to see women and gays stoned and lusting for the deaths of millions of Israelis. It’s as outrageous as it is ubiquitous from the [FILL IN THE BLANK] crowd.

  16. American
    February 18, 2012, 4:35 am

    “AIPAC is expected to make the resolution an “ask” in three weeks when up to 10,000 activists culminate its annual conference with a day of Capitol Hill lobbying….
    This will be a war for Israel started by US Israel Firsters … will end our Israel problem in the end..but at a big price. Take names.

    Efforts to change U.S. red line on Iran has Senate Dems worried about war

    By Ron Kampeas · February 17, 2012

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — Is America’s red line on Iran moving?

    A new bipartisan resolution introduced Thursday on Capitol Hill is part of a growing effort to shift the longstanding U.S. red line from Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon to having the capability to build one. Such a shift would bring U.S. policy in line with Israel’s approach.

    The resolution — a nonbinding Senate statement backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – calls on the United States to prevent Iran from acquiring even the capability to build nuclear weapons.

    It was introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and has 32 co-sponsors, roughly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. In order to garner Democratic support, the resolution’s authors had toned down its original language.

    “I’m trying to build a bipartisan consensus around something we all believe in,” Graham said when asked by a reporter why he had removed language that seemed to threaten Iran with military force.

    But the bill is already provoked jitters among Democrats anxious over the specter of war.

    As it now stands, the resolution “affirms that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”

    The language that was removed would have affirmed “that it is within the power and capabilities of the United States Government to prevent the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”

    Noting the “power and capabilities” of the United States seemed too close to saber rattling for some Democrats, insiders said. A number of senators asked Graham to include an explicit denial that the resolution authorized military action; he flatly refused.

    Capitol Hill insiders say that if Graham had not changed the language at all he likely would have failed to garner more than nominal Democratic support.

    “They couldn’t find any Democratic co-sponsors until they addressed those concerns,” said Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network, a think tank allied with foreign policy realists and liberals, and one of a number of groups that made representations to Democratic senators in recent weeks to tone down the resolution.

    The threat of military action is key to the resolution’s potency, Lieberman said, but he emphasized that the resolution did not seek to authorize such action.

    “We 32 original sponsors of this U.S. Senate resolution want to say clearly and resolutely to Iran: You have only two choices — peacefully negotiate to end your nuclear weapons program or expect a military strike to end that program,” Lieberman said at a news conference Thursday.

    Were it not for the back and forth over the language, the resolution would have been introduced a week ago. The delay and the sensitive negotiations over language may presage tensions with Democrats as AIPAC leads the drive among pro-Israel groups to ratchet up pressure on Iran this year.

    Jewish Democratic insiders note that the Democratic party remains spooked over the political fallout of its acquiescence a decade ago in the buildup to the Iraq War.

    “There are clearly plenty of people, especially in the Democratic Party, who are reluctant to drive to war with great rapidity,” a Jewish Democratic activist said.

    AIPAC is expected to make the resolution an “ask” in three weeks when up to 10,000 activists culminate its annual conference with a day of Capitol Hill lobbying.

    As it is, the resolution has failed so far to attract the support of some key Democrats on the committees critical to its passage, Foreign Affairs and Armed Services. Among those missing are pro-Israel stalwarts like Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Fifteen of the resolution’s 32 backers are in the Democratic caucus, a figure that includes Lieberman, who caucuses with the party.

    An official with a pro-Israel group said that more senators are expected to sign on in coming weeks.

    The resolution’s sponsors seemed eager to suggest that the resolution reinforces Obama administration policy. Graham began the news conference by sounding a note that others among the eight senators present would repeat: “President Obama has stated that it’s unacceptable for Iran to obtain a nuclear capability.”

    In fact, Obama has never used the “nuclear capability” phrasing, speaking instead of Iran “getting,” “obtaining” or “acquiring” a nuclear weapon as a red line.

    “America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal,” Obama said last month in his State of the Union address.

    There have been instances where nations like Brazil and South Africa have earned plaudits for renouncing weapons even though they likely retained capability to develop them quickly.

    Senators sponsoring the bill said capability is the more sensible red line when it comes to a belligerent regime like Iran’s. Casey said that an Iran with a nuclear capability would drive nuclear proliferation and could hand off know-how to terrorist proxies.

    “The fact that they could give it to a terrorist and that it would lead to proliferation in that region is reason alone to support this resolution,” he said Thursday.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government reportedly has pressed the Obama administration to adopt Israel’s “capability” standard. According to media reports, Netanyahu refuses to give the United States advance warning of an Israeli strike unless the Obama administration agrees to make capability its red line — to strike before Iran enters an “immunity zone,” in the words of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

    Graham suggested the utility of adopting Israel’s red line would be to keep Israel from going it alone. He noted that he soon would be visiting Israel and meeting with Netanyahu.

    “I will convey to the Israeli prime minister: We expect you never to lose control of your own destiny, but you need to understand there has been a sea change in Washington. Please understand that we share your view that Iran should not have a nuclear weapons capability,” Graham said.

    In recent weeks, there have been signs that the Obama administration has moved toward Israel’s posture; Defense Secretary Leon Panetta now speaks of the “development” of a nuclear weapon as a red line.

    Still, there are signs of gaps remaining between the Obama administration and Congress members. In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier Thursday, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, made clear that the administration continues to perceive a substantive strategic difference between capabilities and acquisition.

    “We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so,” he said in written testimony. “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

    Graham, in an exchange, pressed him on the point.

    “You have doubt about the Iranians’ intention when it comes to making a nuclear weapon?” Graham asked.

    “I do,” Clapper answered.

    “So you’re not so sure they’re trying to make a bomb?” Graham asked.

    “I think they’re keeping themselves in a position to make that decision, but there are certain things they have not yet done and have not done for some time,” Clapper said.

    “I guess my point is that I take a different view,” Graham concluded. “I’m very convinced they’re going down the road of developing a nuclear weapon.”

  17. seafoid
    February 18, 2012, 7:32 am

    If Israel attacks Iran will it adopt the same “zero risk” principles as it did for Cast Lead? Will the Iranians and indeed the wider world accept standard Israeli operating procedure for Gaza in a different theatre ?

    “My claim, on the basis of direct testimonies from soldiers who took part in the Cast Lead campaign, is that previously accepted rules of engagement were changed and that a “zero-risk” policy was adopted—for the first time in Israel’s history. In effect, this can only mean greater civilian casualties. Mine is by no means the only Israeli voice protesting the new modus operandi as falling short of the ethical standard that the army had hitherto set as its norm (even if it sometimes, perhaps often, failed to live up to this norm).

    One should not dodge the moral question by speaking of “accidental damage to civilians,” or by refusing to acknowledge that many innocents died in the deliberate attack on the police cadets in the opening moments of the war, or, more generally, by ignoring the consequences of the tremendous firepower unleashed by Israel during the operation. What is worse, none of the above can be isolated from the current wave of nationalist hysteria, racist legislation, self-righteous posturing, and self-destructive policies that has engulfed the State of Israel and now informs much of its public discourse —including official statements by government spokesmen, the Foreign Ministry, and many members of the Knesset. .”

    Will the nation explode when Israeli soldiers are killed? How many dead Jewish soldiers before they call it off? How many Gilad Shalits will they tolerate ?
    If the torturing of Jewish conscripts appears on youtube how will the nation respond?

  18. NickJOCW
    February 18, 2012, 11:10 am

    Russian TV has reported several times recently that a growing movement in Israel is calling for a halt to the escalating accusations levelled at Iran, getting cencerned, apparently, at where it seems to be leaving. Does anyone know about this?

  19. Kathleen
    February 19, 2012, 2:12 pm

    This morning on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS the new Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Dempsey had the most rational, fact based takes on foreign policy and the use of our military that I have heard in a long time. He said that they have determined that the “Iranian regime is a rational actor” That “diplomacy is having an effect” He also had a great deal to say about sanctions against Iran. A real conficence builder. Sanity

  20. richb
    February 19, 2012, 11:47 pm

    I started using Twitter more heavily during the 2009 Iranian Presidential Elections. One of the handles I followed was an opposition news source known as Iran News Now. They had 25 related tweets today on recent events and showed insight that is desperately needed. I edited these tweets for continuity and style.

    Every Nowruz (Persian New Year) since 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama has addressed Iran and the Iranian people. Three months after Obama’s 2009 Nowruz speech, in which he reached out to Iran, the people rose up against the regime during the Iran Election protests. Obama’s outreach to Iran in 2009 removed 30 years of hostility and the threat of an attack on Iran, freeing the people to protest the regime.

    But in 2011, with immense pressure from Israel and the Israeli lobby in the U.S., Obama’s policy on Iran turned towards the same old confrontations. With the 2012 U.S. elections imminent, Obama has had to appear tough on Iran, the current favorite bogeyman of the Republican party. Obama’s political calculus vis-a-vis Iran, Israel, and the upcoming elections have left the Iranian people carrying the horrendous bill.

    Of course, any U.S. president has to contend with the powerful Israeli lobby in the U.S., which may explain Obama’s current policy on Iran. But a policy of confrontation and pressure on Iran by U.S. administration is extremely risky, and could lead to huge unintended consequences for  the world. A much smarter policy on Iran: exploit divisions between the Ahmadinejad camp and the Supreme Leader’s camp by being open to genuine talks. Whenever the U.S. has ratcheted down the confrontational tone with Iran, the hardliners in Iran have had a tougher time holding power.

    Current U.S. policy on Iran has been a huge gift to Khamenei and the hardline clerical/military industrial complex that controls Iran. The current U.S. policy on Iran harms primarily the Iranian people and empowers the hardliners holding them hostage. The current U.S. policy on Iran is hurting the one Ace in the pocket for Iran and the world–the Iranian people. Iranian people  are dealing with a cancer in their country–the regime. Only by empowering the Iranian people will the regime’s behavior change.

     So how can the world empower the Iranian people? Not by sanctions and belligerence or by acknowledging the regime’s exaggerated pomp. The world can empower the Iranian people by calling Khamenei’s bluff and by (paradoxically) engaging the regime in real talks. Talks with the regime take away the regime’s power–it’s reliance on belligerence from the west to stifle opposition at home. It is only in a climate a lack of national security threat from the outside that Iranians can realistically confront their dictatorship. Using sanctions to force peace-loving Iranian people to scrounge for basic survival needs lets the regime continue to challenge the world. Threatening to attack Iran makes Iranians that want to change their country for the better stay relatively quiet. Nobody wants to be attacked. 

    I hope that Obama’s 2012 Nowruz speech takes the dynamic outlined in the last 20 tweets into account. Iranians need the U.S. as their friend. I hope that the world recognizes the tremendous resource that is the Iranian people, and invests in them instead of forsaking them. Iran and the  U.S were friends and allies once.  It behooves both peoples to try to steer their goverments towards peace. The entire world will benefit.  Iranians in 1979 had a revolution because they wanted a real republic, a real democracy. They got a theocratic dictatorship instead. It is my hope that through smart diplomacy, barriers for the people of Iran to be able to change their own country are removed.

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