OOps, wired news
Alex Jones is jumping the gun
NATO & Obama .. to Congress Jeered,
Let not make fun, hun
When we turn this into a Pun
U.S. Defense Chief to Israel: We’d Hit Iran Harder Than You
By Spencer Ackerman Email Author March 8, 2012 | 5:31 pm |
Categories: Info War, Israel, Nukes
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hosts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu at the Pentagon, March 5, 2012. Photo: Office of the
Secretary of Defense
The Obama administration is trying to strike a delicate diplomatic
balance on Iran’s nuclear program. It’s got to credibly threaten Iran
so its Israeli allies don’t go off and bomb the Iranians on their own,
potentially starting yet another Mideast war. But it can’t threaten
Iran so much that the Iranians strike first or deepen intransigence
toward international weapons inspectors. That’s the backstory for
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s odd boast on Thursday that the U.S.’
bombing campaign would be way better than whatever the Israelis come
Panetta did everything but dismiss an Israeli bombing run during an
interview with Yochi Dreazen of National Journal, a Danger Room pal.
“If they decided to do it there’s no question that it would have an
impact,” Panetta said, “but I think it’s also clear that if the United
States did it we would have a hell of a bigger impact.”
That’s not just Panetta’s typical florid language. (Even if his
spokesman tweeted that the comments are a non-story.) It’s a
simultaneous chin check to Iran and passive-aggressive way of
An Israeli bombing run would be formidable. It would surely feature a
lot of suppression of Iranian air defenses, spoofing of Iranian
command systems, and jamming of Iranian radars, all before stuff
started really blowing up.
But practically no analyst thinks it would destroy Iran’s nuclear
program. It might set it back for a few years. But Iran’s buried its
nuclear facilities — the ones people know about — deep, and apparently
use a super-hard kind of concrete to protect them. Earlier this week,
the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that Israel asked Panetta for
advanced bunker-busting bombs and refueling aircraft, two key
components to a sustained bombing campaign that Israel doesn’t
sufficiently possess. Panetta’s spokesman, George Little, told Danger
Room the story was incorrect, though Israel’s needs are real.
Maybe the Israelis are OK with setting the program back a couple years
instead of ending it. But they’ve also got to prepare for Iranian
retaliation, including missiles that can hit Tel Aviv and the prospect
of a new wave of terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, there’s little doubt that Panetta’s correct. The chief of
staff of the U.S. Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz, indicated last week
that his bombers could light Iran up. But he questioned the wisdom of
a potential strike, wondering what the actual objective would be. That
followed on Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, telling CNN that such a strike was “not prudent.”
And that got the Israelis angry and fearful that the U.S. wouldn’t
credibly threaten a bomb attack, leaving them to hint about taking
matters into their own hands. That in turn got President Obama to tell
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg he “had Israel’s back.” But in a press
conference this week, Obama softened that bellicose tone. Which raised
the prospect of an Israeli strike again. The Atlantic‘s new Iran
Doomsday Clock says it’s ten minutes to midnight — that is, a war.
Panetta’s comments represent the administration’s newest attempt at a
balanced public line on Iran and Israel. He prefaced that Israel
should give sanctions time to compel a change in Iranian behavior.
Then he subtly told Israel that its attack would be amateur hour and
warned Iran against making him reach for his revolver.
All that represents an awkward truth for the United States. Obama,
Panetta and the rest of the president’s national security team say
they don’t have a containment policy for an Iranian nuke, they have a
prevention policy. That’s debatable. But they definitely have a
prevention policy for an Israeli strike, even if it’s an undeclared
Law of the Shoe!
Kick em out!