The Iranians Are Determined: Galloping to a Confrontation



Israel, Ma’ariv 

By Nadav Eyal



If the world’s strongest military superpower pledges to act when necessary, why jump the gun?



Translated by Viktoria Lymar


Edited by Steven Stenzler



10 February 2012




The contempt for the IAEA, the American declaration about an Israeli attack in the spring and Obama’s forced reassurance – all these are leading to the point of no return.



It’s fascinating to follow the shadow diplomacy of the upcoming confrontation with Iran. It ranges from the official statements to the media talk, and from there – to disinformation and sometimes, tongue slips.


On the whole, the United States and Israel tried hard the last year to create the infrastructure for a “credible military threat” on Tehran, so that the Iranians would fully understand the possible ramifications of the continued nuclear military development. From “all the options on the table” to “Iran won’t have a bomb,” a series of announcements (and moves as well) for making clear the credibility of the threat to use force.

This tactic is controversial, it should be said. Meir Dagan*, for example, is positive that exactly excessive military threats might push Tehran to the corner and cause it to “break ranks.” His stance has not been accepted so far. The United States and Israel are doing everything to corner the Iranians, out of faith that otherwise, the latter won’t have a reason to compromise. But in the framework of these tactics, too, there are jarring sounds.


For instance, The Washington Post story. The American Defense Secretary - asserted senior columnist David Ignatius - believes that Israel has decided to attack in the coming spring and will do so. Ignatius hasn’t brought a direct quotation of Secretary Panetta, but he also didn’t have to; he escorted the Defense Secretary on his visit to Brussels. The scoop has not been denied.

Obama Contradicted His Secretary of Defense



Now, there are several possibilities: either Panetta said the things because he believes so and didn’t mean for them to be published, or he conveyed them and does not have faith in it – and actually meant for that to go public. A sophisticated brain would assume straight away that this is about a premeditated leak. The Americans want the Iranians to be afraid, so they intimidate with the Israeli whip and with airstrikes.


Or perhaps the Americans know about another time appointed for the attack and are interested in misleading Tehran. Or, they may disclose this detail in order to thwart Israel’s offensive intents. Of course, there’s one more probability: that Panetta spoke way too freely.  


Or could it be that the journalist Ignatius thought that the stuff issued for the sake of background is in practice sort of “off record” – for writing, however, not for quoting. The speculations are endless, but this quotation was bad either way: bad for the global diplomatic efforts (if Israel has made up its mind – why make an effort?), bad for the United States (that apparently is unable to exert influence on Jerusalem), and bad for Israel – should it intend to attack in March.


All this already does not matter, because this week, there came a response from the White House. President Obama gave an interview to NBC and had to explicitly say that he does not believe that Israel has decided. He contradicted what was alleged by his defense secretary. A heavy blow for sophisticated minds which never suppose that possibly, a decision maker would slip on his tongue.



The Road Map Has Failed



There have been a few more heavy blows this week. For example, a punch to an optimistic belief that the Iranians would become more flexible vis-à-vis the IAEA and furnish it with the keys to the beginning of the solution. Tehran has done everything possible in order to create this impression in the eyes of the delegation of monitors that recently visited there. According to the news reports before the visit, for the first time the Iranians were ready to talk about specific allegations that they are engaged in experiments designated for a military facility.    

This week, it turned out that the visit to Tehran ended up in a dramatic fiasco. After a relatively successful two days of discussions, where a road map was established for further diplomatic progress, a stroke came. Tuesday, the Iranians presented to the team of negotiators on behalf of the Agency an envelope – and inside, their proposal for continuation of the contacts.

The way of presenting the document was weird, to say the least. The inspectors read and got stunned. “We’ve realized that they only want to buy more time through these negotiations,” a diplomatic source in Vienna commented this week. There would be another round of talks. Afterwards, unless Russia and China all of a sudden become newly religious, the options are steadily getting shut down.


Wait a Minute for the United States



Ultimately, this is a matter of trust. The United States tells Israel: don’t attack for the moment. If the Iranians suddenly break the IAEA seals, if they run for the bomb, we all will know it. Should this happen, the Americans go on, we commit to act. So promised Obama, and so did Panetta. And as a matter of fact, the question to be asked is: Why not? If the world’s strongest military superpower pledges to act when necessary, why jump the gun?


What does Israel respond? You can only guess that. If this happens, Israel maybe replies to America, it’ll already be too late. We won’t know how effective this operation is going to be. The nuclear arms race in the Middle East has already begun. In order for it to stop, the Iranians should have the brakes put on them before they foray to the bomb. And naturally, you’d better not underestimate the political self-persuasion of the decision makers who preached for years on the issue of the Iranian threat.

Where is the trust in this picture? In the question of to what extent Barak and Netanyahu rely on the Americans. To what extent they believe them that if there’s a need, the United States will act, and will act fast, and will ignore the immediate considerations of oil and domestic politics.

If they believe America, it’s hard to gather why this is worthwhile for our decision makers to take action now. On the general balance, it’s preferable to wait and believe that the Americans will do the job, in the case the Iranians break the rules. If there’s no trust, on the other hand, a unilateral Israeli raid turns into a far more likely scenario. Again, a question of trust.



The Putin Regime: Global Arms Dealer



In the stream of news on Syria, a report went missing this week that the Amnesty organization published on the situation in Darfur, and particularly, on arms supplies for this bloody conflict.


In actual fact, from Syria and to Sudan, it’s the same story. Russian, Chinese and Byelorussian weaponry, Amnesty postulates, is fueling the activities of the government and the violent militias in Darfur. The Chinese and the Russians are dealing the arms with a clear knowledge that they are to find application in Darfur province. Among other things, we’re talking guns, air-to-land missiles, Russian helicopters, Sukhoi aircraft – glory of the Russian industry. All of them are being shipped to the country headed by a man who is wanted for trial in the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.

The Putin regime that has been supplying weapons to the Assad family, and also to the Iranians, is the key supplier of killing tools within the frame of the ongoing war in Darfur. Only in 2011, almost 100,000 people have lost their homes there – but Moscow doesn’t care, precisely as it does not care about the residents of [Syrian] Homs or the way it is viewed around the world. A suspicious mind would even probably opine that this is what Russia wants, indeed – long and bloodthirsty wars which would provide much employment for its military industry that, in contrast to the Western one, is not restricted by U.N. resolutions and morality issues.


Putin has failed in an attempt to restore Russia’s status as a global [super] power, like in the days of the Soviet Union, but in one thing he did succeed: to identify a new vision, after the downfall of the Soviet ideology. It looks like Putin’s envisioning the new Russia as a [super] power of Lords of War. If the things continue as they are, this is no less fatal a master plan – maybe, even more than that of the Communist empire.

Original Hebrew article:


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* Former Mossad Chief


** The Hebrew image says: ON THE WAY TO A NUCLEAR BOMB:

The Iranian Threat