The emerging developments are not confusing anymore. The US and Israel have decided to seal the fate of Iran’s nuclear installations. And it is not very far off. According to some assessments, the attack can take place any time between now and October, 2012. Israeli newspaper Haaretz made the claim that preemptive strike plans on Iran’s nuclear sites were shared between Prime Minister Netanyahu and US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon two weeks ago and that the message was that should upcoming P5+1 talks fail military action will become necessary.
According to The Times of Israel, a former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy hinted recently that the moment of truth on Iran’s nuclear drive was now imminent. “If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks,” Halevy, who is also a former national security adviser and ambassador, told The New York Times. In an Israel Radio interview later Thursday, he added that Israel’s threats of military action had a certain “credibility” and “seriousness.” He said the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syrian issue, were the key regional concerns, and reiterated that “If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”
The New York Times report, focusing on Wednesday’s talks here by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, said there was “feverish speculation” in Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “will act in September or early October.” Apart from Netanyahu’s concern that Israel’s military option would “soon” become redundant, the paper cited several other reasons “for the potential timing.” Among them, it said, was the fact that “Israel does not like to fight wars in winter.” Also, Netanyahu “feels that he will have less leverage if President Obama is reelected” while, were Mitt Romney to win the November elections, “the new president would be unlikely to want to take on a big military action early in his term.”
According to this article, a number of administration officials say they remain hopeful that Israel has no imminent plans to attack and may be willing to let the United States take the lead in any future military strike, which they say would not occur until next year at the earliest. The New York Times further reported that Israeli officials are less confrontational in private and that Netanyahu understands the consequences of military action for Israel, the United States and the region. They say they know he has to maintain the credibility of his threat to keep up pressure on the United States to continue with sanctions and the development of military plans.
In his interview with The Times of Israel in late March, Halevy said that if the then-upcoming international talks with Iran on thwarting its nuclear program did not quickly produce a breakthrough, there will be “nothing else left” but a resort to force. He also said he had no doubt that for the past few years Israel has been readying its capabilities to meet the Iranians if necessary by force.
The National Interest, in its latest article clearly anticipated that President Obama could bomb Iran in late October to try and ensure that it does not develop nuclear weapons. A devastating strike would create an upsurge of patriotism in America and fully neutralize Mitt Romney’s contention that Obama is a foreign policy wimp. It could allow Obama to sweep to victory in November. Obama will do it to salvage his image being tarnished by his opponents in reelection bid. Mitt Romney is singlehandedly pushing the entire debate about Israel and Iran to the right. The parameters have changed markedly. His efforts to ingratiate himself with Jewish donors and voters have prompted him to suspend any notion of an independent American foreign policy in the Middle East. Traditionally, the green or red light for military action has come from America, at least when it comes to actions that directly impinge upon American interests. Ronald Reagan, for instance, successfully demanded that Israel halt its attacks on Lebanon in 1983. Romney, by contrast, has effectively promised to give Israel a veto power over military action, indicating that he will do whatever Benjamin Netanyahu wants.
The article reports that Obama has not been far behind in giving Netanyahu close to carte blanche. But he has not gone as far as Romney in endorsing the threat that Iran should be precluded from having the capability of building a nuclear weapon. But as Netanyahu champs, or tries to give the impression of champing, at the bit to bomb Iran, Obama must be weighing whether or not he should call Netanyahu out on his threats. So far, the Obama administration has been doing everything in its power to dissuade Israel from speedy action. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit to Israel was another sign that the administration is trying to reassure Israel of its commitment to its security. But his emphasis was on sanctions:
But as someone said, politics is ruthless heartless and Obama may have to outmaneuver his opponent for a trouble-free reelection. He can give a surprise in coming October.
- Iranians should be ‘very fearful for next 12 weeks,’ ex-Mossad chief tells NY Times (timesofisrael.com)
- Panetta: US force an option against Iran nukes (cnsnews.com)