Where’s the great Christopher Walken when we need him? “I’ve got a fever! [1] And the only prescription is … Bomb Iran!” That’s the story, at least in Israel. Fever pitch will rule at least for the next six months.

This past weekend, the Israel Hayom newspaper – financed by casino mogul and Mitt Romney groupie Sheldon Adelson – dedicated a whole supplement to the fever. Lead articles had titles such as “Bomb or Bombing: Poker with the Cards Close to the Vest.”

Yet earlier last week, a leak to the Yediot Ahronot daily [2] revealed that the cream of Israel’s military leaders are against war on Iran – known in its aseptic version as “preemptive strike.”

It’s an impressive cast of characters. Here we have chief of the general staff Benny Gantz; the chief of operations of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Ya’akov Ayash; Tamir Pardo, the head of Mossad; Aviv Kochavi, in charge of Aman, the military intelligence directorate; the department heads of Mossad; the head of the Israeli Air Force Amir Eshel; not to mention at least four ministers of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s eight-man “kitchen cabinet.”

There are qualifiers. Some admit they would only support an attack on Iran if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei – or International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors – announced a major weaponization game changer. Some others admit they will only support an attack if the US is on board; that’s the case of retired Mossad heads Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy and former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

The key player here is of course Gantz. He’s always kept the attack option on the table. But he has also leaked that he knows any attack, even successful, won’t smash Iran’s nuclear program; besides, he also fears the geopolitical repercussions. When Gantz admitted a tiny sliver of all this on an Israeli TV channel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the report to “disappear.” [3]

So it boils down essentially to Bibi and Barak against all the above. This poses at least two key questions. How could Bibi possibly order an attack when the best Israeli informed minds know that would inflict a maximum six-month delay on Iran’s nuclear program, according to extensive American calculations? And that a strike would definitely lead Tehran to abandon its current, prudent, “latency period” and go for broke on the weaponization front?

Murphy, take my call

Non-denial denials will spring up from all corners, but only people tripping on Alice in Wonderland believe Israel would attack Iran without an absolute green light from Washington. Russia, China, Pakistan, everyone knows about the US-Israel game of rearranging musical chairs preceding a possible attack on Iran. [4]
Hebrew University Political Science professor Ira Sharkansky, blogging at the Jerusalem Post, mentions yet another former Mossad head saying that Israel should not – and most likely will not – act without US consent.

This new collective foreign policy blog tried to answer some of the imponderables. But it still boils down to that old Hollywood maxim; no one knows anything.

No one knows whether the Israeli military may have come up with some magic, aerial attack route (without, for instance, overflying Iraq; forget about a ground attack and forget about nuking Iran); whether it has the means to launch a mini-Shock and Awe against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon; whether it has enough last-generation bunker busters to penetrate Iranian installations deep underground; whether it has just-in-time intel, for that matter.

Murphy’s Law applies here. Even the Pentagon knows that everything that may go wrong may actually go wrong. [5]

And even if it doesn’t, the trillion-dollar question still remains; what kind of game is US President Barack Obama actually playing?

All would be excused if this were just sunburn caused by prolonged summer beach exposure. But we’re talking about war, preemptive war, bypassing international law – and based on a concentric set of hypotheticals, not to mention lies.

The IAEA, US National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), and even Israeli intelligence know there is no Iran nuclear weapons program. Russia – which has thousands of technicians in Iran – also knows it.

The notion that Iran is a threat to Israel springs up from a Dadaist manifesto. Israel is an actual – undeclared – nuclear power (it never subscribed to the NPT); Iran (which subscribes to the NPT) is not.

As John Glaser at Antiwar.com succinctly summarized, “the US has Iran militarily surrounded, has conducted covert ops along with Israel, constantly threatens Iran with preemptive military strike, and is heaping harsh economic sanctions.” [6] Threat? Who’s threatening who here?

Yet what is extraordinary is how Tel Aviv manages to strike one fabulous PR coup after another – at least in terms of brainwashing American public opinion – by just changing the red line. [7]

Just read carefully this Barak interview with CNN. [8]

It’s all here. There is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. Iran is not a threat – immediate or otherwise. What we have here is the defense minister of a country saying that another country should not be allowed to enter a “zone of immunity” beyond which it cannot be harassed, attacked, bombed, invaded.

Imagine if this was a Chinese or Russian defense minister nonchalantly proclaiming it out loud on American TV.

Back to the Great Game

The whole convoluted premise for an Israeli attack on Iran turns out to be bogus.

A number of countries – such as Japan, South Korea and Brazil – have the breakout capability in terms of assembling a nuclear weapon; the technology is decades old. This does not mean that they will do it.

The fact that Tehran allows immensely intrusive IAEA inspections and has offered concessions over the years that go way beyond its obligations under the NPT proves it does not want to build a bomb tomorrow (or yesterday, according to Israel). And even if it did, that would be detected just-in-time.

As it stands, Obama seems to bet that poker player Bibi won’t have the guts to order an attack on Iran while he’s in the Oval office. This is a plausible enough argument for why Obama might be tempted to launch an October surprise; but ultra-cautious, pragmatist Obama might only go for it in absolute desperation. As for Bibi, he would love Washington to do the dirty work for him (Israel, technically, can’t do it, and Benny Gantz knows it). So Bibi is already on “Waiting for Mitt” mode.

In terms of the Big Picture – the New Great Game in Eurasia – the Iranian nuclear program is just an excuse; the only one in the market, actually. This goes way beyond Israel and its own regional fever.

Cutting through the fog enveloping the 33-year-long wall of mistrust between Washington and Tehran, Washington’s fever remains the same, from Clinton I and II to Bush I and II to Obama and beyond; we need regime change, we need a Persian satrapy like we had before, we need all that oil and gas in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea for the West, and not for the East, we need to control this vital strategic node in Eurasia. For this fever, there seems to be no cure.

Notes: 1. See here
2. ‘Bibi Can’t OK Iran Strike As Defense Chiefs Demur’, Jewish Daily Forward, July 31, 2012
3. See here
4. US, Israel arranging roles in Iran war theater?, Russia Today, August 6, 2012
5. U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran, New York Times, March 16, 2012
6. Ehud Barak Admits Iran Has Defensive Posture, No Weapons Program, Antiwar.blog, August 03, 2012
7. Can We Still Tell if Iran Decides to Build a Nuclear Bomb?, The Atlantic, Aug 6
ml 8. CNN THE SITUATION ROOM, July 30, 2012


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