To War or Not to War
by Stephen Lendman
Will Obama wage more wars or won't he? He's already fighting multiple direct and proxy ones. November elections approach. Electoral priorities dictate policy.
On the one hand, Americans are fed up with wars. More risks offending supporters who want current ones ended. Holding back gives Republicans a campaign issue. Acting tough against alleged enemies sometimes sells well. Smart money says not now.
Doing the right thing doesn't matter. Imperial priorities take precedence. Odds favor full-scale Syrian intervention. Timing alone remains unknown. Consequences can wait for later. Will Iran be next?
On August 3, Haaretz headlined "Netanyahu: If Israel attacks Iran, I will take responsibility for the consequences," saying:
He criticized Israeli security officials for suggesting they're concerned about taking responsibility for agreeing.
Unnamed ones believe "Netanyahu remains steadfast in his determination not to rely on the United States, and can be expected to order the IDF to attack Iran in the coming months."
Others think he's bluffing. It's "psychological warfare" to pressure Washington to attack. Asked about repercussions if he acts unilaterally, he said "I'll go and say that I, I am responsible."
Some with him said "he pounded the table and his chest with his fist." His fuming didn't stop. "I've had enough of this atmosphere," he said.
Ranting shows poor leadership skills. It's also reveals his megalomaniacal worldview. He menaces everyone regionally and beyond.
He rails against regional rivals. He always prefers having Washington do his dirty work. He admits Obama won't act now. Greater pressure is needed to budge him. False flags always shove hard. Both countries have long histories using them.
If war looks imminent as some say, that strategy seems likely. Netanyahu's office refused to comment on quotes and histrionics attributed to him.
Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) isn't shy about controversial reports. Some have credibility. Others are too fanciful or implausible to believe. Still more come straight from Israel's propaganda handbook.
DF's August 5 report may combine some of all three. Headlined "Wartime tasks split: US to smash Iran's missiles, Israel tackle Syria, Hizballah," it said:
An unnamed "US military source" said "American armed forces are standing ready for war with Iran." Prioritized is "destroy(ing) Iran's Shebab-3 ballistic missile batteries."
They can strike Israel, Gulf states, and US regional bases. Iran's missile arsenal is large. Syria and Hezbollah have their own. War might unite them against a common foe. None seek conflict but will defend themselves effectively if attacked.
Tiny Israel would be battered. So would US regional assets. Level-headed commanders know the risks.
DF claims America's Aegis missile defense, Israel's Arrow rockets and Iron Dome offer adequate protection. Putting them to the test may prove them more porous than protective. Neither country wants that known if true.
On August 4, Defense Minister Brig. General Ahmad Vahidi said Iran successfully test-fired its fourth generation Fateh 100 missile. Its range is 300km. It's able to strike and destroy land and sea targets with 100% accuracy.
Few countries match this capability, he added. He stressed it's strictly defensive against aggression. Iran threatens no one. It's prepared to defend itself effectively if attacked.
On August 4, Reuters said Israel's cabinet hasn't discussed Iran since last October. With war imminent, consideration would be prioritized. Against Syria and Hezbollah also as action against one might involve them all.
An unnamed Israeli official said it's possible post-October Iran was discussed. No "concrete decisions or policy advances" were taken. Cabinet members are split on Iranian policy. So are retired IDF generals and Mossad officials.
"Israel's top military and intelligence echelon were 'entirely against' launching a unilateral strike...." Doing so takes on formidable opposition, they believe. It might also be self-destructive.
Days earlier, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy warned about a possible attack in weeks. Don't underestimate Israel's resolve, he said. At the same time, Netanyahu said no decision was made. The usual all options are on the table repeats. It's wearing thin.
On August 5, Haaretz headlined "In comments about Iran attack, Israeli ex-officials may be sounding the alarm," saying:
"In the past 72 hours, three former top guns of Israeli intelligence have discussed, with unnerving candor, a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Do they know something that remains opaque to the public?"
Earlier whispers became audible. More public debate is heard. Two former top Israeli intelligence officials oppose attacking unilaterally.
Major General (res.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash believes doing so is likely. He calls it a mistake. He disagrees with Defense Minister Ehud Barak claiming Tehran nears an "immunity threshold" after which it would be impervious to attack.
Ignored are annual US intelligence reports saying no evidence suggests Iran is developing nuclear weapons. All US, other Western, and Israeli officials (past and present) accept it as fact.
It doesn't deter hawkish rhetoric or possible plans. Iran's nuclear program is more pretext than threat. Israel wants a regional rival removed. Washington wants independent leaders replaced by pro-Western puppets.
Time alone will tell if Netanyahu's bluster is real. No one wins if Iran is attacked. The same holds for Syria and Hezbollah.
Major General (res.) Amos Yadlin believes an attack is imminent. He also discounts alleged urgency. What do these former security chiefs know that others don't?
Former intelligence officers get security briefings even though they're not involved in planning or decision-making. They know how to analyze information and read between the lines.
Whatever Netanyahu prefers, high level Israelis urge caution. They also have doubts about challenging a formidable foe.
Overseas, "Netanyahu has had to ward off a series of messages and signals casting doubt about the desirability of an attack." Washington wants nothing this aggressive pre-election.
Hopefully cooler Israeli heads outnumber and outweigh hawks. Haaretz commentator Gideon Levy is one. On August 5, he headlined "Another avoidable war," saying:
"Like its predecessors, the next war is being portrayed as unavoidable. It’s hard to see how it could be more successful than the previous ones. It’s easy to see how it could be the most terrible."
Officials on both sides speak publicly. Some expect war in weeks. Others strongly oppose it. Is Israel about to launch "another avoidable war?"
It had four or five earlier. None turned out well. Previous failures may pale in comparison to attacking Iran, Syria and/or Hezbollah.
Israel always declares wars waged successful after fighting them. Later analysis proves otherwise. Hezbollah in 2006 was a shadow of its current strength. It hit Israel hard enough to give it pause about attacking again. Syria and Iran have formidable militaries.
Israel's bite may prove less effective than its bark. Posturing about an unavoidable war doesn't wash. No one threatens Israel. Attacking nations able to strike back in kind shows recklessness combined with lawlessness.
Lying publicly about likely Israeli casualties is shameless and irresponsible. Several hundred are mentioned. Expect many thousands, considerable destruction, and Israeli nuclear facilities attacked.
Dimona is one of many. They're prime targets in response to attacking comparable Iranian sites. Israel and surrounding areas will become irradiated. Risking it should be denounced.
Levy's article opposes war but misses the point. He asks who decides who lives or dies? Strikes against Israeli nuclear sites affect all Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, and others. Targeting Iranian facilities harms millions more.
Radiation contamination touches everyone. Nuclear wars aren't winnable. They're lose-lose writ large.
Levy said thousands of Israelis may be killed and wounded. At issue are millions throughout the region and multiples more in Iran. They weren't mentioned in his article.
Perhaps he forgot they're as human as Israelis. He's wise enough to know. Hopefully a follow-up article will correct his oversight. Maybe it'll denounce all wars and encourage Israelis to oppose them.
All are "avoidable." One war begets others. Risking nuclear fallout from attacking Iran is madness. Top priority is avoiding it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.