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Dagan, Panetta Warn Bibi Against Iran Adventure

If you only read the Israeli English language press from earlier today you’d get an entirely skewed idea of Leon Panetta’s visit to Israel and his consultations with Ehud Barak.  The Haaretz story says Panetta warned Israel against pursuing policies regarding Iran that were not “coordinated” with its international allies.  Sheesh, some tough statement, right?  If that was all that was said, the F-16s would be fueled by now and ready for takeoff.

Later in the day, the language of the stories seemed to have been toughened considerably.  The Hebrew language stories are considerably more intense.  The coverage also adds a previously unheard from actor in this drama, Meir Dagan.  Anyone who’s read this blog over the past few months knows the astonishing facts of Dagan’s bold and unprecedented public warning against an Israeli attack on Iran.  Today, the former Mossad chief continued his offensive.  The Hebrew headline of Amos Harel’s Haaretz story is:

Dagan Seeks to Restrain Netanyahu and Barak:
Iran Still Far from Nuclear Weapon

Harel writes that Panetta came to Israel with a single message: that Washington opposes an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Dagan too delivered a timely lecture the same day at Tel Aviv University, in which he said that:

“The military option is still far from being the preferred one for Israel.  As of now, there are still  tools and means available that are far more effective.”

He also said that Iran remained far from the point of no return in its nuclear program.  In fact, Dagan asserts that Iran is currently facing one of the most “problematic periods” in its history since the 1979 revolution.  The radical camp among the clerics is embroiled in internal difficulties.  Dagan added that while Israel’s military status is especially good due to the fact that there is no immediate war threat, its strategic position was “the most grave in the nation’s history.”  For this, he lays the blame squarely at the feet of Bibi Netanyahu:

I disagree with many of the decisions made by our side which contributed to this predicament.

He was undoubtedly referring to the deterioration of Israel’s relations with Turkey and Egypt, among others.

Walla’s coverage of Dagan’s speech notes that he disagreed with recent IDF reports that warn of the danger of a multi-front war which would involve the use of WMD.  On the contrary, the ex-Mossad director says it is Israel’s own leadership that endangers it.  The nation’s political leadership is most likely to damage its legitimacy on the international stage.  In other words: we are our own worst enemy.

Haaretz portrays Panetta’s message to the Israelis thus:

His message for Barak, at their second meeting in two weeks, appeared to be simultaneously embrace and restrain: America is standing by Israel, but an uncoordinated Israeli strike on Iran could spark a regional war. The United States will work to defend Israel, but Israel must behave responsibly.

Washington has been worried by statements various senior Israeli officials have made recently that seemed to take an aggressive line on Iran. The issue has taken on new urgency because, in the view of many Western military experts, the window of opportunity for an aerial assault on Iran will close within two months.  In normal winter weather conditions, it would be very difficult to carry out such a complex assault.

israeli planes refueling

Israeli war planes refueling in mid-air as they would during flight to attack Iran

I’ve consulted with several Middle East observers who’ve told me they believe Israel cannot attack Iran without direct U.S. assistance.  Of course, it has received some of that with the delivery of 50 bunker buster bombs that would be necessary to penetrate Iran’s heavily fortified nuclear facilities.  But Israel will need even more help including the types of massive air refueling tankers we have, and which it does not have enough of to conduct such a long-range mission.  If we assume that Obama opposes such a strike and will not provide the operational support necessary to carry it out, then perhaps what we’re seeing is more saber-rattling by Israel to distract the world from its woes in other quarters like Egypt and Turkey.

And speaking of those refueling tankers, Yediot’s print edition published a profile of the IAF’s first and only female flight engineer which contains tantalizing references to preparations for a mission that likely involves an attack on Iran:

The air crew is now preparing for one of the most complex, sensitive flights that the air force conducts: “Our mission is to refuel war planes to lengthen the distance they can fly.

The article closes with a bit of human interest about the flight engineer, who had just been married:

As she brought her hand in front of one of the jet engines suddenly a ring sparkled.  Captain Dana married the boy of her dreams a week before we flew with her.  Now, instead of a honeymoon flight, she prepares for a bold, and entirely different flight mission.

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{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Piotr Berman October 4, 2011, 12:49 AM

    As Saddam discovered, it is easier to start a war with Iran than to finish. Eliminating nuclear program is problematic because it is modular and dispersed. Worse, such an attack would not touch the Iranian capacity to retaliate, and the blowback would fall first on USA (Afghanistan, Iraq, Gulf), then on all oil consumers, and Israel would get blowback from the blowback.

    Sicilian expedition of the glorious (until then) city of Athens comes to mind.

  • dickerson3870 October 4, 2011, 2:38 AM

    RE: “The issue has taken on new urgency because, in the view of many Western military experts, the window of opportunity for an aerial assault on Iran will close within two months.” ~ Haaretz

    MY COMMENT: Netanyahu is itching so badly to unsheathe the mighty “sword of David” that he probably has a very large, severe rash as a consequence! Allegorically speaking, one might even call it a diaper rash of sorts.

    POTENTIALLY THE MAKINGS OF A “PERFECT STORM”: Israel’s Window to Bomb Iran ~ by Ray McGovern, Antiwar.com, 10/04/11

    There are mounting signs that the right-wing Israeli government may think the timing is right for an attack on Iran, with growing alarms inside Israel about alleged Iranian progress on building a nuclear bomb — and with President Barack Obama fearing loss of key Jewish political support in 2012…
    …Yet the key factor in any Israeli decision to send its aircraft and missiles to Iran is the degree to which Netanyahu and other hard-line Likud leaders believe that President Obama is locked into giving blanket support to Israel — particularly as election 2012 draws near.
    The Israelis might well conclude that the formidable effectiveness of the Likud Lobby and the knee-jerk support of the U.S. Congress as well as still powerful neoconservatives in the executive branch (and on the opinion pages of major American newspapers) amount to solid assurance of automatic support for pretty much anything Israel decides to do…

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2011/10/03/israels-window-to-bomb-iran/

    P.S. Todd Gross, TV Meteorologist:

    “Look, look at this. We got Hurricane Grace moving north off the Atlantic seaboard. Huge… getting massive. Two, this low south of Sable Island, ready to explode. Look at this. Three, a fresh cold front swooping down from Canada. But it’s caught a ride on the jet stream… and is motoring hell-bent towards the Atlantic. What if Hurricane Grace runs smack into it? Add to the scenario this baby off Sable Island, scrounging for energy. She’ll start feeding off both the Canadian cold front… and Hurricane Grace. You could be a meteorologist all your life… and never see something like this. It would be a disaster of epic proportions. It would be… the perfect storm.”
    The Perfect Storm (2000) HQ trailer [VIDEO, 02:25] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVwuy-4TzU8

    • dickerson3870 October 4, 2011, 3:03 AM

      P.S. ALSO SEE: Avraham Burg: Israel’s new prophet ~ By Donald Macintyre, The Independent, 1 November 2008
      Avraham Burg was a pillar of the Israeli establishment but his new book is causing a sensation. It argues that Israel is an “abused child” which has become a “violent parent”. And his solutions are radical, as he explains to Donald Macintyre.
      LINK – http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/avraham-burg-israels-new-prophet-979732.html

    • lysias October 4, 2011, 3:06 PM

      Plus, Netanyahu and other ethnic supremacists in Israel may see a general Middle Eastern war as a golden opportunity for ethnic cleansing and redrawing boundaries.

  • weindeb October 4, 2011, 5:08 AM

    Nice to hear about the newly married girly. “Now, instead of a honeymoon flight, she prepares for a bold, and entirely different flight mission.” Cute. Somehow lessens any stress one might feel about this Israeli (and American) latest. For a short while I was becoming a wee bit alarmed when I read, “Of course, it (Israel) has received some of that (U.S. assistance) with the delivery of 50 bunker buster bombs that would be necessary to penetrate Iran’s heavily fortified nuclear facilities.” And then there was that quotation from Ray McGovern offered us by dickerson3870: “…with President Barack Obama fearing loss of key Jewish political support in 2012…” How easy to complete the dots. Our House has now moved to deprive the Palestinian Authority of 200 million dollars as punishment for seeking some justice, we’re probably quite gently pleading with the Israeli powers that be to take it easy with the rest of the world – okay, Iran to be precise, as the target de jour – and thus continue to disenchant much of the Muslim world, only to wonder why it is they so “dislike our way of life.” You begin to realize that with a few more staunch little allies like Israel we can kiss the future goodbye. But these are unnecessarily depressing thoughts when you remember the bit about that newly married captain flashing her wedding ring.

    • David October 4, 2011, 7:51 PM

      Sort of redeems the whole thing, doesn’t it? That little human interest amidst such inhuman interests. I am kidding.

  • PersianAdvocate October 4, 2011, 6:27 AM

    The schizophrenia of the press regarding Iran’s ability to defend itself against an attack makes me laugh. First, they are a threat. Then, they are a laughable photoshop failure. Which is it? The same goes for Israel’s ability to actually do anything against Iran.

    I hate to be the Buzzkill Bob here, but didn’t a medium sized forest fire have Netanyahu flying through Uranium plumes like a worried mother, begging for help from the international community to put it out before all of Israel went down in flames? Does this sound like a country that can defend itself against Iran? If Israel attacks Iran, Iran has full justification within all international laws and norms to declare Total War on Israel. And Iran, as much as some of the ignorant hecklers would like to make it seem, is not exactly incapable.

    The truth is that this attack WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Militarily, it’s a sure loss. Diplomatically, the end game would be complete isolation. Additionally, it would create a true and justified threat out of an “existential” one (read: HORSE SH*T). This is all Kabuki Theater to distract from a Palestinian Statehood Declaration. Plain and simple.

    • PersianAdvocate October 4, 2011, 12:41 PM

      Richard, also, I’m sure you saw Haaretz’ article about Assad ranting to the Turkish FM about how Israel, the US and Europe would be attacked by Syria and Iran simultaneously.

      LOL… who believes this stuff?

      • herenot October 5, 2011, 3:42 AM

        “LOL… who believes this stuff?”

        anyone who remembers the first gulf war.

        • PersianAdvocate October 5, 2011, 1:39 PM

          I’m referring to his statement that Iran would join the brawl. You’d have to be out of your mind to believe that.

  • pabelmont October 4, 2011, 9:01 AM

    It will never happen, except that Israel’s leadership givers every indication that it is NUTS and has a well-developed policy (which it may even believe in as an element of religious certainty) that it is inevitably successful when it acts with a CRAZY LACK OF RESTRAINT. (Gaza, Lebanon). PLUS it never, ever takes USA’s criticisms seriously, and USA — for its part — is frightened (politically) to UTTER criticisms clearly or loudly.

    Be fun to hear Panetta say, for attribution — YO ISRAEL YOU ATTACK IRAN YOU ON YOUR OWN. But he will say this, if at all, only in private. And not be believed, because USA always comes through for Israel. Always. Because of security — security of USA’s politicians.

    • lysias October 4, 2011, 12:49 PM

      When Göring protested to Hitler that actually going ahead with the attack on Poland was a very dangerous step, Hitler’s answer to him was, “Ich habe in meinem Leben immer Vabanque gespielt [All my life, I've always bet the house].”

  • lysias October 4, 2011, 12:47 PM

    During World War Two, the knowledge that one was about to set out on a dangerous mission was often the impetus for getting married.

    • David October 4, 2011, 7:54 PM

      That’s right! I recall the stories.

  • editorsteve October 4, 2011, 7:44 PM

    I hear from not-well-placed Israeli friends that this might be the last chance to attack Iran, because when the Iranians retaliate and shut down oil traffic from all producers around the Gulf, there is enough slack in world oil supplies, given the lowered recession demand, to make up for it.

    Actually, there isn’t enough slack anyway. Not even close. Are these kinds of nutty remarks actually showing up in the Hebrew press? I rarely see them in the English-language papers.

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