Monday, February 6, 2012

Israel can’t win any war of attrition with Iran; Diplomacy is the only alternative available....

John Kirkman said...

I regard Israel as a bigger threat to my personal security than Iran. This is based on past personal experience with Iranian officers, trips to Tehran and Tel Aviv, and just watching the operation of the U.S. Congress, which is surely the most corrupt, cowardly incompetent bunch of slime balls to ever saddle the citizens of this country with certain disaster. AIPAC has clearly demonstrated that money buys power among the spineless and dishonorable “leaders” of our country. As a former military aviator and a past pilot with Pan Am it was my unfortunate lot to witness first-hand the result of incompetence in leadership positions, in and out of combat.
The military power of Israel is a creation of the United States, and if there is a war between the Persians and the Israeli’s, I hope the Persians kick their ass. Not only did we murder their president, have the US Navy shoot down one of their airliners - which led directly to the tragedy over Scotland which killed my union president who was in command of that aircraft – but we have supplied Israel with nuclear and other weapons to murder the Iranians and any other victim of the month chosen by the savages from Tel Aviv. We have created a monster that is about to turn on us, and we so deserve it for electing the most graceless bunch of scum balls to leadership positions in the history of our country....

Israel is a country that has never fought a first rate enemy except Jordan in the bad old days before "Arabification" of the Jordanian Army. Even then the small, undersupplied and underarmed Jordanian force fought the Haganah, Palmach and Irgun to a standstill in 1948-49. In '67 only the total air supremacy provided by Zionist lobbying in the US gave the IDF the "edge" needed to defeat Jordanian 40th Armored Brigade in the West Bank. Long ago they flew a few aircraft to Iraq and destroyed a couple of above ground buildings at Osirak. Oh, yes, Sharon violated a UN cease for in Egypt in '73, one that Israel had requested and thus "won" the battle of the Chinese Farm. In Lebanon, IsraHell has been soundly defeated on the battleground 3 times. It has been thrown out of Lebanon in 2000 by the valiant Resistance of Hezbollah and totally defeated again in its savage war of 2006 by Hezbollah and the people of Lebanon. On these things rest the Israeli meme of their inheritance of the "mantle" of military greatness....

Nevertheless, they think they can wage successful war against Iran. Fine! Let them, but as the post WW2 Germans used to chant - "Without us...."

Israel can’t win any war of attrition with Iran; Diplomacy is the only alternative available....

We don’t miss out on David Ignatius, because he is believed to be wired into the US security establishment. He can go seriously wrong - for example, on Pakistan’s ISI or the Afghan war - but we should still read him so that we can read between his lines. Indeed, DI’s column in today’s WaPo weighing the prospects of an Israeli military strike on Iran makes strange reading.

Ignatius’ opinion piece keeps upfront the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran in the coming 3-month period. He speculates that Iran may not retaliate, but may simply roll over like the Ugandans did in 1976 or the Syrians in 2007 when the valorous Israeli jets appeared on their skies.
Even more curious is Ignatius’ outline of the US thinking. As per DI, Barack Obama will bestir himself only if Iran attacks US military assets or targets American interests or threatens Israel’s security! That is, Obama will remain stand-offish so long as Iran lumps the Israeli strike.
The most hilarious part in DI’s column is that Israel too knows it is not possible to substantially damage Iran’s nuclear programme and so it may have to return for “another strike in a few years.” That is to say, Israelis (and Obama) would expect the Iranians to be like sitting ducks for the Israelis to come and bomb the daylights out of them every now and then!
And, why would Iran be so very afraid? Because, according to DI, Iranians are nervous that any retaliation might trigger US retribution which would cause a collapse of the feeble Islamic regime!
Why is DI allowing his byline to be trifled with? Evidently, all this is a bit of ‘coercive diplomacy’, whilst the Obama administration really hopes is to cajole Tehran to “finally open serious negotiations for a formula to verifiably guarantee that its nuclear program will remain a civilian one.”
But then, it is crystal clear by now that coercive diplomacy won’t work with Iran. Whereas, constructive engagement can, as the recent back channel contacts during the fracas over the Strait of Hormuz testifies. Iran is past the point of being militarily threatened. In fact, a military option doesn’t really exist.
Divested of western propaganda, Iranian revolution enjoys a substantial social base. Also, the Islamic revolution represents national aspirations which are embedded deep in Iran’s social and political history. The great social mobility that the revolution generated makes its foundations virtually unshakeable. The self-styled Iran analysts and pro-Israeli polemists in the US who are a dime a dozen today cannot comprehend this.
The Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs in Harvard recently published a masterly policy brief titled “Attacking Iran: Lessons from the Iran-Iraq War”. In sum, Iran is probably one of a handful of countries today which have the capacity to switch back and forth from a conventional war to a “people’s war”. If Saddam Hussein were alive, he could have advised the Americans and the Israelis about the hazards of getting entangled in Iran’s “people’s war”.
Israeli professionals who know what war is about and the surprises that wars can hold and ultimately, what wars could turn out to be (despite meticulous planning), are capable of grasping this grim reality.

Obomba/CIA have spoken on Iran. He chose a terrific occasion that would catch prime attention of the American public - a live interview during NBC’s Super Bowl pre-game show on Sunday night. In essence, he laid to rest the feverish speculations over the meaning of defence secretary Leon Panetta’s intriguing ‘leak’ that Israel might attack Iran through the coming 3-month period.

I read somewhere that the best favor you could do to your drunken pal who wants to drive home after the party, is to steal his car key so that he calls a taxi for the ride home. Well, that’s what Obama just did.
His statements that US and Israel move “in lockstep” on that Iran issue and that he knows of no Israeli decision to attack Iran – “I don’t think Israel has made a decision on what they need to do” — and, equally, his affirmation that his officials “don’t see any evidence that Iranians had the intentions or capabilities” to strike targets on US soil and, of course, that diplomacy still remained the “preferred solution” to resolving the standoff with Iran — all this will very substantially help dissipate the war clouds gathering on the Persian Gulf skies in recent weeks.
To my mind, Obama’s most important remark was the following: “But they [Iranians] have not taken the step they need to, diplomatically, which is to say, ‘We will pursue peaceful nuclear power, we will not pursue a nuclear weapon.” Are we hearing a peace formula?
Obama is not insisting that Iran should abdicate its natural right to pursue a nuclear programme, as allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but on its part Iran could help matters by allowing additional safeguards that would allay the apprehensions of the international community regarding the verifiability of its professed intentions not to make nuclear weapons. The critical part indeed is Obama’s open acknowledgement that Iran’s nuclear programme, as of now, remains a peaceful programme.
I found it fascinating that Obama, who is a highly cerebral politician, also signalled something by speaking during an interview where his main message was, “I deserve a second term, but we’re not done. We’ve made progress, and the right ting now is to just make sure we don’t start turning in a new direction that could throw that progress off.” And then, lo and behold, Obama went on and on speaking for much of the interview on the issue of Iran.
What I can make out from this is that this gifted statesman decided to gently stepped back from his increasingly rowdyish election campaign, which is still hotting days, to make a commitment that these might be early days but he wasn’t interested in whipping up Iranophobia. Simply put, he won’t play domestic politics with the Iran nuclear issue. It is a helpful assurance that Tehran may take note when the general wisdom is that Obama is a cold-blooded politician who wouldn’t hesitate to go to war with Iran if that helped secure his re-election campaign.
Some serious back channel contacts are surely at work. My instinct is that Obama made a big decision to take note of the positive signals from Tehran that it is interested in meaningful engagement. Of course, it requires patience to make out the Persian puzzle, but the fact remains that Tehran literally stooped to conquer the IAEA inspectors who visited last week. And the inspectors gladly promised they’d return later in February on a second visit. Meanwhile, Obama spoke.

Posted in Diplomacy, Military, Politics.

The Zioconned Death Tango continues; US undercuts message to Israel....
By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius last week that he believed Israel was likely to attack Iran between April and June, it was ostensibly yet another expression of alarm at the Israeli government's threats of military action.

But even though the administration is undoubtedly concerned about that Israeli threat, the Panetta leak had a different objective. The White House was taking advantage of the current crisis atmosphere over that Israeli threat and even seeking to make it more urgent in order to put pressure on Iran to make diplomatic concessions to the United States and its allies on its nuclear program in the coming months.

The real aim of the leak brings into sharper focus a contradiction in the Barack Obama administration's Iran policy between its effort to reduce the likelihood of being drawn into a war with Iran and its desire to exploit the Israeli threat of war to gain diplomatic leverage on Iran.

The Panetta leak makes it less likely that either Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian strategists will take seriously Obama's effort to keep the United States out of a war initiated by an Israeli attack. It seriously undercut the message carried to the Israelis by General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last month that the United States would not come to Israel's defense if it launched a unilateral attack on Iran, as Inter Press Service (IPS) reported on February 1.

A tell-tale indication of Panetta's real intention was his very specific mention of the period from April through June as the likely time frame for an Israeli attack. Panetta suggested that the reason was that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had identified this as the crucial period in which Iran would have entered a so-called "zone of immunity" - the successful movement of some unknown proportion of Iran's uranium enrichment assets to the highly protected Fordow enrichment plant.

But Barak had actually said in an interview last November that he "couldn't predict" whether that point would be reached in "two quarters or three quarters or a year".

Why, then, would Panetta deliberately specify the second quarter as the time frame for an Israeli attack? The one explicit connection between the April-June period and the dynamics of the US-Israel-Iran triangle is the expiration of the six-month period delay in the application of the European Union's apparently harsh sanctions against the Iranian oil sector.

That six-month delay in the termination of all existing EU oil contracts with Iran was announced by the EU on January 23, but it was reported as early as January 14 that the six-month delay had already been adopted informally as a compromise between the three-month delay favored by Britain, France and Germany and the one-year delay being demanded by other member countries.

The Obama administration had also delayed its own sanctions on Iranian oil for six months, after having been forced to accept such sanctions by the US Congress, at the urging of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The administration recognized that six-month period before US and EU sanctions take effect as a window for negotiations with Iran aimed at defusing the crisis over its nuclear program. So it was determined to use that same time frame to put pressure on Iran to accommodate US and European demands.

By the time the news of the postponement of the US-Israeli military exercise broke on January 15, Panetta was already prepared to take advantage of that development to gain diplomatic leverage on Iran.

Laura Rozen of Yahoo News reported that US Defense Department officials and former officials, speaking anonymously, said Barak had requested the postponement and that they were "privately concerned" the request "could be one potential warning signal Israel is trying to leave its options open for conducting a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in the spring".

The Israelis were not on board with that Obama administration tactic. In fact, Netanyahu seemed more interested in portraying the Obama administration as favoring a soft approach on Iran in an election year.

Instead of reinforcing the effort by Panetta to use the six-month window to bring diplomatic pressure, Defense Minister Barak, speaking on Army Radio on January 18, said the government had "no date for making decisions" on a possible attack on Iran and, adding "The whole thing is very far off."

Another indication that the Ignatius column was not intended to increase pressure on Israel but to impress Iran is that it did not reinforce the message taken by Dempsey to Israel last month that the United States would not join any war with Iran that Israel had initiated on its own without consulting with Washington.

Ignatius wrote that the administration "appears to favor staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits US assets which would trigger a strong US response". But then he added what was clearly the main point: "Administration officials caution that Tehran shouldn't misunderstand: the United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israeli population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel's defense."

Ignatius, who is known for reflecting only the views of the top US defense and intelligence officials, was clearly reporting what he had been told by Panetta in Brussels.

Further underlining the real intention behind Panetta leak, Ignatius went out of his way to present Netanyahu's assumptions about a war as credible, if not perfectly reasonable, hinting that this was the view he was getting from Panetta.

The Israelis, he wrote "are said to believe that a military strike could be limited and constrained". Emphasizing the Israeli doubt that Iran would dare to retaliate heavily against Israeli population centers, Ignatius cited "One Israeli estimate" that a war against Iran would only entail "about 500 civilian casualties".

Ignatius chose not to point out that the estimate of less than 500 deaths had been given by Barak last November in response to a statement by former Mossad director Meir Dagan that an attack on Iran would precipitate a "regional war that would endanger the [Israeli] state's existence".

After that Barak claim, Dagan said in an interview with Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper that he assumed that "the level of destruction and paralysis of everyday life, and Israeli death toll would be high".

But Ignatius ignored the assessment of the former Mossad director.

The Panetta leak appears to confirm the fears of analysts following the administration's Iran strategy closely that its effort to distance the United States from an Israeli attack would be ineffective because of competing interests.

Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian-American Council, who worked in the State Department's Office of Iranian Affairs from 2006 to 2010, doubts the administration can avoid being drawn into an Israeli war with Iran without a very public and unequivocal statement that it will not tolerate a unilateral and unprovoked Israeli attack.

"Friends don't let friends drive drunk. And sometimes the only way to ensure that a friend doesn't endanger you or themselves is to take the away the car keys," Marashi said.