Thursday, May 17, 2012
Israeli Government In Lockdown As Iran Decision Nears
As Iran continues to enrich uranium and work on moving its nuclear sites underground, there are a number of signs that the mood in Israel is hardening and that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his inner cabinet are fairly close to a decision to strike Iran.
Iran has threatened numerous times to destroy Israel, and the Israelis are not prepared to allow what they consider an existential threat to become a reality.
Aside from the risk of direct attack from Iran, Israel also has to consider the risk that the Iranians could supply a nuclear warhead to the openly genocidal Hezbollah and Hamas, who already have missiles supplied by Iran on Israel's borders.
If the Israelis are going to take out Iran's nuclear facilities, they only have a window of a few months. In any event, a strike, if it happens, will almost certainly occur before the U.S. presidential elections in November.
Lately, there have been no bellicose statements from Israeli military figures or from cabinet insiders. Instead, there's an ominous silence, an indication that Netanyahu and his cabinet may have already decided how to proceed.
The surprise coalition with Kadima to form a national unity government and avoid going to an election Netanyahu and Likud were certain to have won is another signpost. Obviously, Netanyahu doesn't want any political distractions in the next 18 months. As I and a number of others (most notably, Charles Krauthammer) have observed, this is exactly what the Labor Party did prior to the Six Day War, bringing Menachem Begin and the opposition on the Right into the government.
Another sign that Israel has already made a decision on Iran is the appointment of Major General Amir Eshel as the new Israeli Air Force commander. While he has a good background as a combat pilot who flew Skyhawks in the first Lebanon War back in the 1980's, a lot of his experience has been in training, planning and operations. He's exactly the sort of general you'd want to have in charge of the IAF to fine tune a plan to take out Iran's nuclear program and oversee mission prep, and according to several of my sources he enjoys a great deal of respect from the IAF rank and file. And on another front, , the Israelis have just taken delivery of another German-built Dolphin class submarine capable of hitting Iran with ballistic missiles.
Yet another indication of how things are going comes from U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said in a statement this week that American military plans to strike Iran were "ready" and the option was "fully available".
This is a fairly transparent sign that the Obama Administration suspects that Netanyahu and his cabinet have already made their decision and are trying to delay an Israeli strike by telling them to leave it to the U.S.
If the Obama Administration had a different kind of relationship with Israel, that would be one thing. But given that the current president and his administration have been perhaps the most anti- Israel in history, I doubt the Israelis are going to let a vague promise of American action sway them into depending on President Obama's good will. If I were in their place, I wouldn't.
As I've written on these pages before, President Obama has given every indication that he's perfectly fine with a nuclear Iran and would only use the military 'option' Ambassador Shapiro is talking about if he's down in the polls and needs an October Surprise to help his re-election efforts.
The Israelis might just see to it that President Obama won't that option to use come October.