Israeli officials say they won't warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.And from Russell Burgos' blog:
What it amounts to is a formal declaration that, if the US attempts at any point to differ seriously with Israel's far right, the alliance is over. That's after the most serious sanctions ever imposed on Iran, a covert war, and greater isolation for the Tehran regime both at home and abroad than at any point since 1979.
Senator Joseph Lieberman and 31 other United States Senators have introduced a resolution expressing the "sense of the Senate" that containment is no longer a viable strategy for the U.S.-Iran strategic interaction. In the press release on Lieberman's website, we are told that "by rejecting any policy that would rely on containment of a nuclear-weapons capable Iran, this bipartisan resolution sends a clear message to Iran's rulers that the United States will stop them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability."
No, actually, it doesn't. Nor is it intended to.
What this resolution is intended to do is send a "clear message" to the White House.
That message states that the Senate will block any attempt to use diplomatic ends to resolve the on-going confrontation between the United States and Israel -- something the White House clearly recognizes, since the administration has already announced it will resist this transparent effort to push the United States to accepting, as the default foreign policy, the preferences of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer.I don't mean to minimize Israel's well-founded fears of what Iran might do to it if it were develop a nuclear weapon. Israel isn't a large country, and even the detonation of one or two nuclear warheads would mean the end of the state. (Of course, it would also mean the end of thousands of Israeli Arabs, but the image built up in the media—even on the "liberal" MSNBC—of "mad dog" Iranians tells us that they would be acceptable collateral damage.) And Mr. Netanyahu does have a valid point when he makes this claim:
If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. The world’s most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off.So Israel has a vested interest in seeing to it that Iran doesn't acquire a nuclear weapon. And the West has that same interest, as a nuclear-armed Iran could exert hegemonic power over the Middle East oil fields.
But then there's this little tidbit:
Newsweek is reporting that Israel has received 55 US-made GBU-28 bunker-busting bombs, citing it as evidence that the US-Israeli military relationship is deeper than ever, despite the bad chemistry between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu. The other fruit of that relationship, the journalist Eli Lake reports, is an intriguing cooperative venture between Israel and some of its Arab neighbours to set up a radar array to give early warning of an impending Iranian missile attack
WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.
The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible.
So why the rush to war from the right wing commentariat and the hawks in Israel?
It serves one immediate purpose: to destabilize the situation enough so that President Obama is hurt in the political arena.
It used to be said that American politics ended at the border. In foreign affairs, the nation spoke with one voice. But ever since Pres. Obama's inauguration, as far as Israel has been concerned, the GOP has acted with a shamelessness in undermining official US government policy. GOP lawmakers such as Eric Cantor have all but guaranteed Israeli leadership that they will "make" the President bend to right wing orthodoxy as far as the Middle East is concerned. From right after the 2010 elections:
NEW YORK -- Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday during a meeting in New York that the new GOP majority in the House will "serve as a check" on the Obama administration, a statement unusual for its blunt disagreement with U.S. policy delivered directly to a foreign leader.
"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," read a statement from Cantor's office on the one-on-one meeting. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."
Israel is just one more front in the right wing's effort to do away with Pres. Obama politically. But such a strategy serves a larger purpose.
The Bush wars—especially Iraq—were a bonanza for military contractors that hadn't been seen since the end of the Cold War. War sells, and business was booming. The downsizing of the US military opened up a space to be filled by the likes of KBR and Blackwater, providing services that the military couldn't. The days of the miscreant private doing KP duty were no more; and security in theatre for VIPs would no longer be provided by troops, but by mercenaries—often recruited from the very ranks of the US military. It was military Keynesianism on a massive scale, even more so than during the Cold War. The vast majority of the US populace didn't benefit; but the right people did, the ones who bankrolled right wing politics.
And uncertainty in the Middle East fuels oil speculation. It's no accident that the current clamor for war comes right before the US summer driving season, and, more importantly, before the US general elections. With the economy starting to gain traction, and giving Democrats much hope for reversing the losses of 2010, a spike in oil prices would be one way to derail the recovery, and turn what the right wing considers a fickle electorate against the President and his party. It doesn't need to be said that as an ancillary benefit, higher oil prices economically help those interests who are most against this President.
For the right wing, the enemy changes, but the enemy remains the same. They possess no principled foreign policy; when they're in power, foreign policy bends to private interest. Out of power, foreign policy is a cudgel with which to beat the Democrats. They switch from enemy to enemy, one blending into another, until they make it seem that the enemy of the day has always been the enemy, the new Hitler, the harbinger of a new Holocaust. If Iran won't do, then China is always in the wings, or a resurgent Russia. The only thing that matters to the right wing is political power in service of private interest. In that, they're not the pure totalitarians of 1984; but, give them time enough and space enough and they might learn the lesson. It's our job to make sure they fail.