Others with more and longer background can correct me, but I can’t remember a time in Israeli history when a sitting prime minister was at war with the former Mossad and Shabak chiefs over plans to go to war against an Israeli enemy, and did so publicly. It’s simply unheard of, and violates so many conventions of Israeli political and intelligence discourse, I can’t begin to count. That’s what makes this scene so interesting. You’re watching the dissolution of old, opaque rules of discourse, hopefully to be replaced with a regimen that is more open, more transparent. When it comes to making war, Israel is a bit like the old Soviet Politburo. A few generals and intelligence figures agree with a prime minister and defense minister on a course of action and it happens. Just like that.
And of course, you’re watching a never before seen spectacle of a public debate among the lions of Israeli political and intelligence cultures about whether Israel should go to war. Hardly ever happened as far as I can recall.
The Kuwaiti paper, Al Jarida who, the Guardian says, has a history of publishing authoritative stories using high level Israeli sources, reports (Arabic and Hebrew here and the Guardian’s report here) that Bibi Netanyahu has demanded an investigation of leaks orchestrated by Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin designed to sabotage his plans to attack Iran. This will bring about the unlikely scenario of the current Shabak director, Yoram Cohen investigating his former boss and its most recent chief, Diskin, and the former Mossad chief as well. Again, I can’t ever recall something like this happening. They may’ve investigated a general or cabinet minister, but two intelligence chiefs at the same time?
Netanyahu is said to believe that the two, Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin, wanted to torpedo plans being drawn up by him and Ehud Barak, the defence minister, to hit Iranian nuclear sites. Tzipi Livni, leader of the opposition Kadima party, is also said to have been persuaded to attack Netanyahu for “adventurism” and “gambling with Israel’s national interest”.
The paper suggested that the purpose of the leaks was to prevent an attack, which had moved from the stage of discussion to implementation. “Those who oppose the plan within the security establishment decided to leak it to the media and thwart the plan,” it said.
This development is at least partially in response to a dare flung down by Dagan yesterday in a speech he gave, in which he railed against Yuval Steinitz for calling him a criminal who leaked military secrets. Dagan dared anyone to prosecute him. This appears to be Bibi’s response. It’s gettin’ mighty interesting. Add to this that Haaretz reported yesterday that Ehud Barak had reporters in to his office to lobby them in favor of an Iran attack. If you’re going to investigate Dagan and Diskin, why not the sitting defense minister as well? The Iranian have to be sitting back and watching all this with great interest to see which of the Israeli Titans will be left standing in the ring at the end of the match.
It goes without saying that it is Diskin and Dagan who are doing a great service to Israel by forcing this issue out into the open. They know that if Israelis knew about what was at stake they might question the assumptions of their leaders about going to war. I can’t think of a higher calling in a democracy than that. Of course, the irony is that while they were intelligence chiefs their agenda involved repressing or criminalizing others who held the same or similar goals among the Israeli Palestinian population and even Israeli Jews. But what matters is less what they did in the past, and more what they do and believe now.
The Walla report linked above is interesting because the source speaking from the prime minister’s office makes the bogus claim that Dagan and Diskin leaked the information “in order to damage the prime minister and defense minister.” That’s trying to turn this fight into a grudge match. Whatever mutual hostility there may be between Dagan and Bibi, stopping a war goes far beyond getting back at someone for not extending your term (as Bibi did to Dagan). Further, Bibi has at least as much of a grudge against Dagan, since the latter dissuaded the senior ministerial committee last year from attacking Iran, according to Dagan’s account.
Walla also quotes “authoritative” Israeli security sources as saying that plans for an Iran attack passed from the planning to the operational stage. In other words, given approval by the political echelon, the strike was good to go. Which explains why the former security chiefs acted.
It’s also worthwhile noting that another Israeli media outlet reports that Netanyahu, when asked to comment on this story “didn’t deny it.” The Channel 2 news reported linked in the previous sentence notes that its source is the same one who leaked to the Kuwaiti paper and that the source is within the prime mininster’s office. I’m trying to figure out why Bibi would be leaking to a Kuwaiti newspaper. Why would he want a foreign, Arab news source to be reporting this?
(1) Israel is really the most dangerous threat to the world and will sink us into the worst war ever executed by mankind – the appearance that Israel is at ends about the attack is an illusion intended to cover an imminent strike;
(2) This is a means of distracting from a very real Palestinian issue that Israel can’t escape, in which case this would be a bandaid solution to a gaping wound, and Israel does not intend to attack Iran in actuality; or,
(3) Israeli leadership really are at odds over whether or not to strike Israel.
I tend to doubt number one and three because the transparency of the threats indicate that Israel has no intention of attacking Iran (you don’t shout this from the rooftops, specifying what you will attack, when and how to media). Number two seems to be the most likely. From a top-level view, we know that Israel cannot feasibly delay or stop Iran’s nuclear program. The unjust Israeli strike would give Iran proper justification to defend itself and make a bee line towards developing a nuclear weapon, in fact, thereby speeding up any process that SUPPOSEDLY exists. Also, Israeli actions, both covert and overt, indicate that their intelligence in Iran is dismal and outsourced to the shotty MEK. I tend to doubt they would even know where nuclear facilities for weaponization would be, hypothetically speaking. Iran is the size of UK, Spain, France and Germany combined. Good luck finding a needle, underground, in a haystack.
Iran also recently endorsed and successfully passed a 107-ZionistStooge vote in the UN demanding that the last three NPT reviews’ suggestions (Israel come clean about its nukes and sign the NPT) be followed, particularly regarding nuclear disarmament. Thus, there is virtually no backing for such an attack throughout the world, even among commonly die-hard Israeli-supporting factions.
Your argument dismissing 1 and especially 3 is missing the point – it’s not Bibi or even Barak shouting from rooftops that they are going to hit but those opposed to it, like Dagan (who I am beginning to like more and more at least on this). Ok it COULD all be an elaborate bluff but as RS pointed out it’s not very credible, the Mullahs and RG don’t blink when it comes to this sort of thing, they are ready to meet their maker if pushed hard enough, especially by Israel and the US. As for finding the targets, they have the intel and firepower to find and destroy whatever there is sooner or later, and they were able apparently to take out the scientists in Iran and get the virus into the works. And the usual suspects are lining up against Iran, only China and Russia are serious opponents, and they have shown they can be bought off at least in a case like Libya, or are willing to let the West dig itself another hole, although this one might be too big and deep even for them.
But all that said if for some reason they don’t do it (though they would surely like to) there’s still a gain in it as a distraction and cover for tougher sanctions etc.
I defer to Tony Karon… who defers to the NOTORIOUS B.I.G.:
Also, I don’t think the Mullahs are as ready to die as you say. I think they try too hard to show how ylect an inner peace rather than an outer violence. There is a path to reform in Iran and it necessitates a removal of the external threat to Iran’s ability to function as a state free of outside interference.
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/11/03/ohmygawd-they-did-it/ What external threat?
err *too hard to show how religious they are and don’t reflect an inner peace rather than outer violence. (editor is out to lunch lol)
Not lightly, but if pushed hard. And not to back down to bluff, if bluff it is. Agree though that Iran will reform if not under constant attack, given time, generational change alone guarantees it plus technology. It almost happened before Ahmadinejad.
Just to point out – yet again – that if Israeli plans have “passed from the planning to the operational stage” then according to Israeli doctrine the Mullahs now ALREADY HAVE sufficient cause for them to launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel, AND call that pre-emptive strike a “defensive war”.
Has there been much discussion about post-attack scenarios? It would seem like Netanyahu and his cronies would want some incident or some way to juice-up the Israeli people, no less the US, EU, China, etc, in case it isn’t a simple bomb bomb and thank you goodbye. There has been next to nothing in the US press; can’t imagine the US would want to get into another ME mess. What are the assumptions about how much the US would be willing to wade into a conflict?
It’s not like there hasn’t been a lot of warning to Iran that the suspected regions of nuclear facilities are about to get a whole lot of bombs dropped. Iran will most certainly respond in a robust way; might new fronts open? Lebanon and Gaza (with unofficial Egyptian support), which would introduce a ground conflict; this is just what the doctor ordered for Assad of Syria; if the conflict drags on, could the hatred of Israel inspire widespread popular support from Egypt?
Nehemia Shetresler (an ultra-rightist on social and economic issues, yet a dove) raises in today’s Haaretz an obvious yet significant point: talking about Israel’s need to prepare for a solo attack on Iran helps Ehud Barak in his struggle against the proposed cuts in the security budget (which were suggested as a way of raising socially-oriented budgets, in accord with J14 demands, without increasing the government’s deficit). The Israeli security establishment has often raised the public’s fears of war when its gargantuan budget is was threatened. This may also be an important context for the current Iran “leaks”.
A bunch of years ago I taught a class at a Washington, DC university; after one class I was talking to a continuing ed student and, by a related issue, I asked him what he did for work; he responded that he was in an office (DOD I suspect) that calculated the death and destruction that would result from a nuclear exchange between the US and the USSR. I asked him what it was like doing such a thing; he said that you get used to it; it was like being an accountant.
I wonder how much Netanyahu and Barak and the Israeli public have thought about ‘truth or consequences’.
I wonder whether there are death and destruction accountants that have informed Netanyahu and Barak the full range of the death and destruction that could result.
“truth or consequences”
In broad terms the consequences are known and have been for a half century or more. A sample for bed time reading:
Woodwell, G.M. (Ed.). Ecological Effects of Nuclear War, Brookhaven National Laaboratory, BNL 917 (C-43), August 1963.
Vineberg, Robert. Human Factors in Tactical Nuclear Combat, G.W. University, Tech. Report 65-2, April 1965
Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States. The Effects of Nuclear War, 1979
And without which no personal library is complete:
Glasstone, Samuel and Philip J. Dolan (Eds). The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd edition, 1977
And for those digitally challenged this last comes with a circular slide rule called the Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer.