‘Hype or Reality?’


“… However, we must note that Israeli “spin” (if spin is all it remains) about the risk of an attack has reached levels and taken forms that we have not seen in several years. So, we thought it timely to re-evaluate the factors that might plausibly lead Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli leaders to opt for preventive war. Beyond development of the Fordo facility, three factors strike us as especially relevant in this regard.  

The first is the prospect of President Obama’s re-election. Israelis with access to the Prime Minister’s office tell us that Netanyahu and his inner circle have long believed that Obama is politically vulnerable. From this perspective, ordering an Israeli strike before the U.S. presidential election in November could seem the “smart” play: it would be very hard for Obama to try to distance himself from the Israeli action (something that, according to Ignatius, the Obama Administration seems to believe it can do) without seriously jeopardizing his re-election; at the same time, if Obama were to win re-election, it is better, from an Israeli perspective, to have this potentially unpleasant business of an illegal war against Iran out of the way before he is sworn in for a second term. (Recall that, the last time that the Israeli military invaded Gaza, it did so at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, to ensure that the campaign would be over before Obama was first sworn in.)  

The second factor is Israeli perceptions of the strategic fallout from the Arab spring. Mubarak’s fall, especially, has spooked Israeli political and military leaders. One might think that, at such a time of tumultuous change and uncertainty in the region, Israel would be best served by hunkering down and staying out of (more) trouble (than it is already in). But, based on a lot of experience dealing with Israeli national security professionals while we served in the U.S. government, we can envision a scenario in which Israeli decision-makers persuade themselves that this is precisely the time to re-establish the credibility of what Israeli elites like to call their “deterrent edge”—a misuse of the term deterrence, for it really refers to Israel’s ability to use force first, whenever, wherever, and for whatever purpose it wants. 

–Third, with the withdrawal of American military personnel and assets from Iraq, Iraq is left with, effectively, no air defense capability—which means that Israeli planes would have a more-or-less clean shot into Iran through Iraqi airspace.
We are going to watch this one very, very closely. “

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
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