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Haaretz Columnist: Bibi, Barak No Mandate for Iran Attack

Haaretz columnist Sefi Rachlevsky raises the quaint notion (in a country which honors democratic principle in the breach, if at all) that plans, of which many reputable Israeli military and security correspondents have begun writing in the past weeks, for an Israeli attack on Iran do not have a mandate, not just in Israel, but in America as well.  Rachlevsky insists that the generals and intelligence chiefs man battle stations and do their duty to stop this disaster in the making:

Each and every opponent of an attack within the defense establishment must therefore make it clear to the duo [Barak and Bibi] that they can’t behave like this. It is not possible to endanger an entire nation for years via an underhanded, opportunistic maneuver – not in the dead of night; not by hastily convincing a few elderly rabbis; not in defiance of the entire defense establishment; not in defiance of all the past and present heads of the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad, the Shin Bet security service, Military Intelligence and the Atomic Energy Commission; not in defiance of the United States; not when Ahmadinejad and his gang of messianists are growing weaker; not when there are signs of American measures in the wake of Iran’s attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s impending severe report; not when the clouds are about to burst [reference to oncoming winter, during which weather conditions prevent an Israeli attack]. Just plain no.

There are things that even a duo, the one-half of which is brave and talented [a back-handed compliment to Barak], can’t do on its own. They have no mandate. Not now. Not like this.

As with many liberal Israelis, I’m afraid he puts too much stock in Israeli democracy and the decency of the Israeli electorate.  Indeed, polls show that a majority of Israelis (and Americans as well) believe an attack on Iran is inevitable.  If you asked them whether they supported an attack right now, the numbers might decline.  But until there are Israelis in body bags (sorry to put this so baldly) Israel will be just fine with an attack on Iran.  They’ll think of how clean and efficient the IDF attack on the so-called Syrian reactor was and expect the same from an Iran attack.  Not realizing of course that hitting Syria is far different from hitting Iran.  Starting wars is easy for Israel.  It’s peace that’s hard.

Seymour Hersh has written extensively about fierce opposition within the U.S. military to a U.S. attack on Iran.  This apparently went a long way toward persuading George Bush that he should not allow him number 1 male rogue, Dick Cheney, lead him into war.  I’m not sure whether the Israeli military has the will, spine, or strength to stare down a Bibi bent on raising David’s sword against the Iranian Goliath (never mind that this David has up to 400 nuclear warheads at his disposal!).

Though I’d prefer not to believe this, I believe that George Bush exerted a much firmer restraining hand on Ehud Olmert than Barack Obama can on Bibi Netanyahu.  First, Olmert was more pragmatic than Bibi and willing to be restrained.  Second, Bush had a far more favorable relationship with Israel than Obama (whether portrayed rightly or wrong).  Third, Obama seems to lack any spine or convictions on any matter related to Israel or indeed the entire Middle East.  Put frankly, if Bibi launched the F-16s I don’t think Obama could or would stop him.  I never thought I’d say this and didn’t believe it for the longest time.  I hope, of course, that I am wrong.  But fear I am not.

We now have U.S. senators like Dianne Feinstein stating publicly (on FoxNews no less) that we’re on a “collision course” with Iran and that it will be “only a matter of time,” before we crack heads.  From there it’s not such a leap to imagining the Obama administration might actually try to spin an Iran attack as it did the Bin Laden and Al-Awlaki assassinations–as bold strikes against world terror.  After all, it’s not hard, in the minds of many Americans to turn the Iranian nuclear program into a dastardly attempt to turn the Middle East into a radioactive wasteland ruled over by crazy, messianic Iranian mullahs.

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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Andy October 17, 2011, 10:58 AM

    Actually, America is on a collision course with a day of financial reckoning if these f*cking overseas wars don’t come to an end, and I’m sorry to say I don’t see that happening any time soon. It’s going to worse before it gets better, folks.

    • David October 17, 2011, 6:15 PM

      But I thought these endless wars were a stimulus to the economy? The wars stimulate the transfer of wealth from middle class Americans to the 1% well-represented in the MIC. If the wars dribble to an end, these people will seek, and get, tax cuts!

  • delia ruhe October 17, 2011, 11:20 AM

    “Put frankly, if Bibi launched the F-16s I don’t think Obama could or would stop him.”

    There’s no way he could stop him, even if he wanted to. Moreover, if Bibi launched an attack, Obama would have to follow suit because, in search of American Jewish votes, he’s now locked himself into high-flown anti-Iran rhetoric, and Americans will expect him to follow through. More important, he’s also trapped in all his protestations of unconditional support for Israeli security. He’d have to put American troops where his mouth is.

    In sum, I think Bibi is figuring out how best to exploit him — and I think it will end in war.

    • Richard Silverstein October 17, 2011, 11:42 AM

      Sure he could. An armada of F-16s in the air is a sitting duck for any military force that has the wherewithal to take a crack at them. They have to fly 1,000 miles or so before reaching their target. That’s quite a distance & leaves them quite vulnerable. Though of course, the U.S. would never shoot down an Israeli aircraft.

      • Johnboy October 17, 2011, 4:56 PM

        The USAF doesn’t need to shoot them down. All the Americans then have to do is to scramble every fighter jet they have, and that will ensure that the entire Iranian air force waiting for those IDF jets.

        It really won’t matter how much better the Israeli jets are: they aren’t going to be able to dogfight ANYONE with bunker-buster bombs hanging off the pylons.

        Israel needs *surprise*, and the Americans are perfectly positioned to deny them that.

        The USAF just has to kick up a hornet’s nest if the Israelis look like launching a raid, and that alone will be enough to make the Israelis turn back before they get to Iranian airspace.

        • Richard Silverstein October 17, 2011, 6:55 PM

          But I fear the U.S. will help, not frustrate the raid. It helps Obama to have a foreign enemy to beat up on just like Bush had Al Qaeda. Iran will do just fine.

  • dickerson3870 October 18, 2011, 12:45 AM

    RE:”As with many liberal Israelis, I’m afraid he puts too much stock in Israeli democracy and the decency of the Israeli electorate.” ~ R.S.

    SEE: The Second Herzl ~ by Uri Avnery, Antiwar.com, 10/17/11

    (excerpts)…an ethnic-religious community, living for millennia as a persecuted minority in a hostile environment, acquires a mentality of its own. It fears the “goyish” government, the source of unending evil edicts. It sees everyone outside the community as a potential enemy, unless proven otherwise (and even then). It develops an intense sense of solidarity with members of its own community, even a thousand miles away, supporting them through thick and thin, whatever they do…
    …All this pervades their worldview, their religion, and their traditions, transmitted from generation to generation…
    …When the Zionists started to arrive [in Palestine] and founded the new community, called the “Yishuv” (settlement), it seemed that Herzl had been right. They started to behave like the embryo of a real nation…
    …And then the awful thing happened: the Holocaust.
    It brought all the old Jewish convictions back with a vengeance…
    Not only the Germans were the guilty, but all the nations who looked on and did not lift a finger to save the victims. So all the old beliefs were true after all: The whole world is against the Jews; we must defend ourselves whatever it takes; we can only rely on ourselves…
    …Right from its founding, the State of Israel became the Holocaust state.
    But we are not a helpless ghetto anymore — we have powerful armed forces; we can indeed do unto others as others have done unto us…
    The old existential fears, mistrusts, suspicions, hatreds, prejudices, stereotypes, sense of victimhood, and dreams of revenge that were born in the Diaspora have superimposed themselves on the state, creating a very dangerous mixture of power and victimhood, brutality and masochism, militarism and the conviction that the whole world is against us. A ghetto with nuclear weapons…

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://original.antiwar.com/avnery/2011/10/16/the-second-herzl/

  • John Welch October 18, 2011, 4:04 AM

    US will not fund, facilitate Israil AF attack on Iran. Nor will US then invade Iran, which is the Israeli right-wing / American neo-con fantasy.

    USAF already told Pres GW Bush that an American air-raid on Iran would be idiotic. Refused when asked in 2006.

    Reasons still hold good: targets are spread; bombers would miss some; only grunts could occupy Iran.

    Joint Chiefs said, “Grow up, George”.

    “Bibbi” can huff and puff, but he will be able to attack Iran only after he has occupied Syria.

    Not likely.

  • Chayma October 18, 2011, 11:03 AM

    I concur with John Welch,

    What Israeli neo cons want is for the US to give them the green light, but they don’t want to do it on their own. It’s suicidal.

    Richard the bunker busters alone cannot guarantee a success against Iran, those Israeli’s who do think it does only do so because they think God is on their side, of course they can’t explain why Iraq went wrong if God is on their side and for the secularists (Likudniks) they want the US to join in.

    It won’t happen. It’s only a matter of time till Iran goes nuclear.

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