Earlier this week, Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com picked up a tweet from Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen.
Contempt expressed for US in this interview by interviewer & interviewee striking http://t.co/5i2VYvaYFt
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) December 30, 2013
Rozen linked to a Times of Israel interview by David Horovitz of former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, in which the men dismissed the Iranian deal out of hand and Oren repeatedly questioned President Obama’s resolve to take action against Iran because of the war-weariness of the US public. Obama needs to pose a “credible military threat” of pinpoint bombing to neutralize the nuclear program, Oren said. Because if that fails to stop Iran, the US might have to go in later and “flatten” the country. And though Oren said such bombing was not a “real option,” he also refused to rule it out.
Read some of this dialogue to see how other-worldly it is. First, Oren on the peculiarities of the US public:
So one of the differences [between the US and Israel] is of structure. There are differences of public opinion, where in the United States you have a lot of war-weariness, and actually support for the interim agreement [with Iran]. You have to acknowledge that there is an American public out there, whose opinion is not always heard here because all you see are American leaders. You don’t often see the American public. We learned from the Syrian episode last summer (when Obama pulled back from a threatened punitive strike after the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons) that that public can be pivotal in decision-making.
Implication being: we’re not war-weary in Israel.
And here’s Oren saying that Obama isn’t doing what needs to be done, a real threat of attack, now, which would obviate the need for a massive attack later, in which “you’re going to flatten all of Iran.” As you read this, note that he doesn’t rule out that massive attack. When Horovitz says it’s unthinkable to carry out such an attack, Oren deflects him. “Much more difficult.”
O: The constant paradox of the military threat, as we always said, was: the more credible, the less the chance you have to use it.
But it’s also: If you do have to use it, the earlier you use it, the less damage there will be than later. Why? Because if you can still stop [the Iranian program] at the enrichment cycle, then you are neutralizing certain facilities before they can move out [the enriched material]. But once they move it out, and it goes underground, you’re going to flatten all of Iran. Then you’re talking about massive, massive bombing campaigns. So the military option is only a real option if it’s used, you know, incredibly early on.
It’s only credible if it’s pinpoint, if it’s surgical. Because if you miss that moment, then you’ve got to bomb all of Iran. You don’t know where this room is [to which the Iranians would move their highly-enriched uranium and fuses].
H: And nobody would contemplate doing that?
O: Much more difficult.
H: Unthinkable because of the civilian casualties…
O: Everything. You’re talking a much bigger operation.
H: How credible is [the talk of a resort to force] at any point? The Russians and the Chinese would not go along under any circumstances, surely, would not be part of or sanction military intervention even if it’s clear that Iran is becoming a nuclear weapons state.
O: I know the American part. President Obama says that he’s serious, that all options are on the table — he just said this again in Washington — and that he’s not bluffing. They certainly have the capabilities.
The question is not whether the president says, All options are on the table. The question is whether the Iranians believe it. And there is nothing that would indicate — at least to us, to Israeli observers — so far that the Iranians believe it. On the contrary, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the Iranians don’t believe it.
H: Such as?
O: The Iranians planned to blow up a restaurant in Washington. They planned to blow up Israel’s embassy, in downtown Washington. Same plot… Now a country that’s planning that type of terrorist attack in the capital of the United States is not particularly afraid of military retribution. Agree?’
Then there’s this about the special relationship between the countries. I wonder how much these two militant religious nationalists are taking American support for granted:
H: So here you are trying to serve the interests of our country in its relationship with its best ally, in a situation of different contexts, and different threats. How are we doing in terms of that relationship. Is it okay? Are the personal withering assessments by the leaders of each other impacting on that relationship?
O: They had 11 meetings. Personal meetings. I was in all of them. They’re perfectly fine. They were open and candid and friendly. There were some laughs. There were some real laughs in those meetings. Obama claims to have spent more time on the telephone, and in his personal relations [with Netanyahu] than with any other foreign leader, and I think he’s probably right. A lot of hours. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with two countries whose interests on this issue cannot be entirely confluent — because of the structural differences and because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
H: But who are intertwined.
O: They are intertwined.
I wonder how long the US and Israel will be intertwined so long as bombing its neighbors is Israel’s recommended policy. Even special relationships can come to an end, when the thrill is gone.
Raimondo says that Iran is the big issue of 2014. He fears that Israel will drag us into war. Despite Oren’s backhanded acknowledgment of the US public’s resistance:
Aha! The public! The forgotten factor in American foreign policy decision-making is – finally! – making a comeback. That’s good news for those of us in the US who want a more peaceful, less confrontational US policy in the Middle East and around the world – and decidedly bad news for the Israeli far-right government that has as its Foreign Minister a man who once threatened to bomb the Aswan dam.
The Israelis have an extensive propaganda operation in the US, and a vocal fifth column in Washington: yet that hasn’t been quite enough to push us into war with Iran. What would do the trick? Aside from a terrorist attack on the US – like the alleged (and, in my view, completely bogus) Iranian plot to blow up a Washington restaurant and kill the Saudi ambassador – which would change the political dynamics by 180 degrees, the Israelis have some options.
An Israeli attack on Iran would not only end US-Iranian negotiations, it would inevitably drag us into the conflict. And while that might not be the best way to improve Israel’s fast-degenerating alliance with the US, it would certainly accomplish the goals the Israelis have set for themselves: the crushing of Iran and the shoring up of Netanyahu’s right-wing base in Israel, which is braying for war with the mullahs – and seething with resentment against the “incompetent” and untrustworthy Americans.
Israeli foreign policy, in a nutshell, aims at getting the Americans to pay the price for Tel Aviv’s aggression – against the Palestinians, against the Lebanese, against the Syrians, and most of all against the Iranians. The Israeli strategy has been to keep their own indigenous Arab population and neighboring Arab states in a state of pre-modernity so as to ensure the regional hegemony of the Jewish state.