American Policy Toward Israel

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American Policy Toward Israel including (1) former Vice President Cheney telling Mike Wallace Aug 30 that he had strongly advocated attacking Iran's nuclear facilities while Vice President, (2) the Wall Street Journal Lead Editorial Aug 31 saying Israel is about to attack Iran's nuclear facilities after very-publicly "war gaming" attack scenarios WITH EGYPTIAN COOPERATION, (3) the announced intention of the Gulf State Six (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman) TO EACH GO NUCLEAR if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, and (4) Iran's reaction to the military threat from Israel and Egypt by requesting the United Nations to condemn at a September meeting any attack on anybody's nuclear facilities under any circumstances.

Our suggested reading is "A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel" by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh - available from your local library or from Amazon.com ($18.47 new or $15.11 used - plus shipping, or $9.99 electronically). And for extra credit, "Israel is Real" (library - Amazon for $17.82/$13.75 + shipping) which, as seems to be suggested by the reviewer, takes the provocative view that Jews should not be fixated on having a homeland despite the fact that Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler were denied admission by the rest of the world and sent back to Germany. The NY Times Reviews of both books are posted here.
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johnkarls
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American Policy Toward Israel

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Perhaps the most timely issue at the moment, despite the headlines regarding Health Care legislation, is American policy toward Israel and the peace process.

President Obama and his negotiator, George Mitchell, are desperately trying to lean on all parties with any influence – except, perhaps, the Russians who historically have always “stirred the pot” in trying to gain influence in the Middle East at the expense of the U.S. and, of course, the Iranians who have continued to “stir the pot” for exactly the same reason since the demise of the old Soviet Union.

I would propose that we read “A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel” by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh - available from your local library or from Amazon.com ($18.47 new or $15.11 new – plus shipping, or $9.99 electronically).

The NY Times Book Review of “A Safe Haven” follows below the NY Times Lead Editorial on 31 July 2009 on “The Settlements Issue.”

Immediately following the NY Times Book Review of “A Safe Haven” is another NY Times Book Review of “Israel is Real” which, as seems to be suggested by the reviewer, takes the provocative view that Jews should not be fixated on having a homeland despite the fact that Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler were denied admission by the rest of the world and sent back to Germany. I would suggest this book for extra credit.

The final item that follows at the end of this proposal is a news account of the 160-page Official Report of the Israeli Government defending its invasion of Gaza at the end of 2008 on the basis that 12,000 rockets and mortar shells had rained on Israel from Gaza, 3,000 in 2008 alone.

It is worthwhile focusing on the fact that Israel for P.R. purposes, claims that its invasion of Gaza at the end of 2008 and its invasion of Southern Lebanon in 2006 (accompanied by air attacks throughout Lebanon) -- both to halt rocket and mortar attacks -- were NOT successful.

But both invasions were in fact wildly successful in “teaching the lesson” that rocket and mortar attacks on Israel will provoke an invasion that wreaks unimaginable devastation!!! Despite bravado threats from Hezbollah following the 2006 invasion of Southern Lebanon and bravado threats from Hamas following the 2008 invasion of Gaza, there have been virtually no attacks from either group!!!

It is also worthwhile focusing on the fact that not that many years ago, the world headlines were dominated for several years by stories about Arab suicide bombers blowing up Israeli restaurants, buses, etc. Israel finally countered with a massive wall that evokes memories of Berlin and even the Great Wall of China – to universal criticism from the governments of the world. But the outcry has long since been forgotten, and there have been no more suicide bombers!!!

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NY Times Editorial - "The Settlements Issue"

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The New York Times – Lead Editorial – 31 July 2009

The Settlements Issue

The last American president to openly challenge Israel on settlements was George H.W. Bush and we commend President Obama for demanding that Israel halt all new construction. The controversy must not obscure Mr. Obama’s real goal: nudging Israel and the Palestinians into serious peace negotiations.

Mr. Obama and his negotiator, George Mitchell, have focused on settlements after prying loose a commitment — highly caveated — from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a two-state solution. The Palestinians insist they won’t return to talks until all construction halts. The Americans have decided that a freeze is needed to show Palestinians and other Arabs that Israel’s conservative government is serious about peace.

Less visibly, but we hope just as assertively, the administration is pressing the Palestinians and other Arab leaders to take concrete steps to demonstrate their commitment to a peace deal. Those must clearly contribute to Israel’s sense of security.

Unless all sides deliver — the Palestinians, Arabs and Israelis — Mr. Obama’s credibility and the credibility of the peace process will be undermined.

The ultimate question of who controls which land will have to be resolved at the peace table with border negotiations and land swaps. Right now, some 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank; 200,000 in East Jerusalem. And the continued expansion of Israeli settlements has led Palestinians to doubt they will ever be allowed to build a viable state. The issue has also given Arab states a far too convenient excuse for inaction.

While Israeli governments have repeatedly promised to halt settlement activity — and no new settlements have been approved in nearly two decades — existing ones have continued to mushroom with government incentives. According to Americans for Peace Now, an activist group, 4,560 new housing units were built when Ehud Olmert was prime minister. Mr. Netanyahu has rejected demands for a freeze and insisted that “natural growth” (to accommodate births) must be allowed.

Under pressure from Washington, Mr. Netanyahu’s government has dangled a possible compromise: a temporary freeze in new construction, as long as 2,500 units now in process can be completed and Arab East Jerusalem is exempt. It is a weak offer.

While they press the Israelis, Mr. Obama and Mr. Mitchell are also asking the Palestinians and Arab states to do more. They are insisting that the Palestinians work harder to prevent incitement against Israel in schools and the media. They have asked Arab states — notably Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria — to signal the beginning of an acceptance by allowing Israel to fly commercial planes through Arab airspace or open government commercial offices in their capitals. They are also pressing Arab states to provide more aid for the fragile government of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

President Obama and Mr. Mitchell claim they are making progress, but so far there is little sign of it. Saudi Arabia, which has pushed Washington hard to revive negotiations, has been especially resistant. Mr. Mitchell would do well to remind them that a prolonged stalemate will only feed extremism across the region.

Israeli leaders do not often risk being at odds with an American president, but polls show broad support for Mr. Netanyahu’s resistance. President Obama, a skilled communicator, has started a constructive dialogue with the Islamic world. Now he needs to explain to Israelis why freezing settlements and reviving peace talks is clearly in their interest.

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NY Times Book Review - "A Safe Haven"

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NY Times Book Review – Sunday 26 July 2009

Book =
A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel
By Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh
428 pages – HarperCollins – available from your local library or from Amazon.com ($18.47 new or $15.11 new – plus shipping, or $9.99 electronically)

Book Review =
Zionist in the White House
By Jonathan Tepperman (Deputy Editor - Newsweek International)

Although Harry Truman left office widely disliked and dismissed more than half a century ago, the effort to resurrect his reputation is now a thriving industry, with politicians and pundits of all stripes trying to tie themselves to the tough, blunt old cold warrior. Contributing to this effort, the husband-and-wife team Allis and Ronald Radosh have written “A Safe Haven,” the story of Truman’s integral role in the birth of Israel.

While some of Truman’s foreign policy accomplishments — the creation of the Marshall Plan, the United Nations and NATO, and his defiance of the Soviets — have gotten the credit they deserve, the Radoshes say, his involvement in the creation of Israel remains overlooked. That may not be quite right. Most modern histories already acknowledge Truman’s early support of the Jewish state; it’s hard to overlook the fact that he recognized newborn Israel just 10 minutes after its delivery. That said, what these histories don’t recognize — and here’s where the Radoshes make their contribution — is just how hard Truman had to work to get there, battling enemies, allies and many in his own administration to make certain that Israel made it to independence with American backing.

It was, as the Radoshes make clear, a long, tough slog. Truman, who fell into the presidency unprepared after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, inherited a mess in the Middle East. The suave and urbane Roosevelt (one of the Radoshes’ villains) had pursued a policy of “obfuscation” on Palestine, assuring both Jews and Arabs that he was sensitive to their concerns. This meant that on taking office, Truman had to deal with a tangle of contradictory commitments. He also had to face down two implacable opponents of Jewish statehood: Great Britain, the colonial power in Palestine, and his own State Department, which bitterly opposed granting the Jews a homeland.

Yet Truman — a biblical literalist and a Christian Zionist — had long been a fierce believer in Jewish statehood for reasons both religious and moral. The Old Testament said that Jews belonged in Israel. And Truman was appalled by the Holocaust (which gave him nightmares), as well as by the scandalously poor treatment of postwar Jewish refugees in European displaced-persons camps. And so this “simple man” waged a long and often bitter diplomatic campaign to help ensure that the Jews got a country of their own.

Truman’s remarkable perseverance is recounted by the Radoshes in readable prose, with good anecdotal color, a general sense of fair-mindedness (except perhaps toward the Arabs) and impressive detail. How much of this will be interesting to the general reader is another question. At times the detail slips from impressive to oppressive. And the authors don’t help matters by failing to adequately signpost their narrative, stopping their recounting of events to explain why various moments were particularly important.

Nor do they do quite enough to substantiate their claims that without Truman’s help, Israel might never have come into being or have survived its first few years. After all, the real work of midwifing the nation wasn’t done in Washington conference rooms but on the rocky soil of Palestine itself, where a ragtag bunch of European immigrants fought to establish a new country. Nor do the Radoshes sufficiently account for the fact that early American support for Israel was actually quite limited — Israel initially got its arms, for example, from the Soviet bloc.

And then there’s Truman himself, who proves a slightly awkward hero. The problem is his philo-Semitism, which was of the creepy sort that relies heavily on Jewish stereotypes and could easily curdle into its opposite when the president was annoyed by the Zionists’ endless badgering, leading to anti-Semitic tirades.

Still, the creation of Israel remains a remarkable, odds-defying story that bears retelling from different angles. And at a time when Washington and Jerusalem find themselves at odds and some are questioning the future of the alliance, it’s worth recalling how the relationship began, and the role of the straight-talking haberdasher from Missouri who worked so hard to make it happen.

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NY Times Book Review - "Israel Is Real"

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NY Times Book Review – Sunday 26 July 2009

Book =
Israel Is Real
By Rich Cohen
383 pages – Farrar, Straus & Giroux – available from your local library or from Amazon.com ($17.82 new or $11.82 used – plus shipping)

Book Review =
A Land and A People
By Tony Horwitz (a former foreign correspondent for the Wall St Journal where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 and a former staff writer for The New Yorker, Tony Horwitz is the author, most recently, of “A Voyage Long and Strange” and, not so recently, of (among other things) the immensely popular “Baghdad Without A Map”)

I read “Israel Is Real” while preparing for my son’s bar mitzvah. By “preparing,” I mean talking to tent people and mailing invites. On the spiritual side, I’ve done my usual shirk: ducking services, doodling during sessions with the rabbi and dodging queries about my own bar mitzvah of wretched memory, celebrated in a gloomy temple filled with old men waiting for me to blunder.

I mention this as preface because Rich Cohen’s book accomplished the miraculous. It made a subject that has vexed me since early childhood into a riveting story. Not by breaking new ground or advancing a bold peace plan, but by narrating the oft-told saga of the Jews in a fresh and engaging fashion.

“David Alroy was the first superhero,” Cohen writes of a 12th-century false messiah known as “King of the Jews”. “He offered a picture of strength to a people lousy with weakness.” Cohen regards Alroy as a model for the figure created in 1938 — “another dark age for the Jews” — by two Jewish teenagers from Cleveland. “Superman is a writer; Superman is brainy in his glasses; Superman is in exile from an ancient nation destroyed by fire; Superman has two names, a fake WASP-y name (Clark Kent) and a secret name in an ancient tongue, Kal-El; . . . Superman, whose cape is a tallis; Superman, whose logo, the “S” emblazoned on his chest, marks him as a freakish stranger as the yellow Star of David marks the ghetto Jew.”

Cohen often riffs like this, swooping across centuries and continents to connect far-flung dots of Jewish history. The results aren’t always convincing (is Superman’s cape really a Jewish prayer shawl?), but they seldom fail to be provocative and entertaining. This breezy irreverence helps centuries of Talmud and exile go down easy. Here, for instance, is Cohen describing the self-transformation of European refugees from pale, cowed shtetl-dwellers into tanned Hebrew warriors:

“When Shmuel Goldfein — it means something like Sam the Moneygrubber (in Europe, Jews were given surnames by their Christian neighbors) — made aliyah from Plotsk, he changed his last name to Barak (Lightning), and named his son Ehud, which means something like ‘popular.’ Sam the Moneygrubber begat Popular Lightning.”

Cohen, whose previous books include “Tough Jews,” brings tough love to Judaism and modern Israel. His hero is a first-century rabbi, Jonathan ben Zakkai, who advised, “If you have a sapling in your hand and they say to you, ‘The Messiah has come,’ finish planting the sapling, then receive him.” Cohen credits ben Zakkai with turning Judaism into a bookish, abstract and portable faith that could survive in exile. Two millenniums later, he argues, Zionism has reversed ben Zakkai’s path, putting Judaism at risk by creating a physical Jewish state that can be attacked and erased.

To illustrate this thesis, Cohen takes a roughly chronological tour of Jewish history that is mostly an album of vivid characters. Many of the best sketches are of lesser-known figures like “Sam the Banana Man,” a fruit magnate from Alabama who donated a banana boat that became the refugee ship Exodus. Cohen also excels at recasting familiar icons. He describes the first Zionists to settle 19th-century Palestine as “hippies,” so drunk on Tolstoy that they craved the peasant toil denied them in Russia, where Jews couldn’t own land. “They built their ideology around a few paragraphs from ‘Anna Karenina.’ ” Of 300 Russian Jews who signed on for the first voyage to Palestine, only 15 made it. “The rest got distracted. Met a girl — gone. Were moved by a line of poetry — gone.”

In Cohen’s hands, even the stone-faced leaders who carried Israel into statehood can seem vulnerable. On the eve of the Six-Day War in 1967, Yitzhak Rabin suffered a nervous collapse, was given a pill and was put to bed. The Yom Kippur War in 1973 so panicked Moshe Dayan that he flipped out in “the Pit,” a military bunker beneath Tel Aviv. Golda Meir also broke down during the 1973 conflict — “Her eyes were weepy and wild, and she spoke of suicide.”

And here’s Cohen’s portrait of Menachem Begin, the hawkish but schlumpy prime minister elected in 1977: “He looked like my Grandma Esther’s second husband, Izzy Greenspun, of Skokie, Ill., who stuttered and repeated and got flustered and died while wiping a dish — ‘I thought Izzy had dropped the dish,’ said Esther, ‘but it turns out what Izzy had dropped was dead.’ ”

Cohen’s eye for the absurd even extends to the crematoria; a digression on the concept of “the six million” leads to a weird news item on a “mouse holocaust” in Maine in the 1940s, which he calls “a last fleeting glimpse of the word used the old way” before it became the sole property of Jews. “It’s not yours. It’s ours. It’s what happened to us.”

Cohen sometimes gets carried away with his own shtick, diluting his humor with material that is overdone or simply inane. And he’s too fond of grand and pithy pronouncements, not all of which bear close scrutiny. “There are no new characters in Jewish history” (tell that to Paul Newman), or the Golan “is beautiful because it’s terrible and old.” Myself, I quite liked the orchards.

In addition, Cohen fails to bring his talent for characters to Israel’s foes. He’s brilliant at humanizing a man like Ariel Sharon, “the fat old kosher butcher, with blood on his apron and a sly grin on his face” who is also a beloved general, grief-stricken father and tragic old man repenting too late of his violent deeds. But there’s no comparable nuance in Cohen’s portrayal of the Arabs who are crucial to the latter half of his book. Most appear as little more than walk-ons, performing familiar roles: the Nazi-loving grand mufti of Jerusalem; the kaffiyeh-draped Arafat; the Hezbollah leader chillingly declaring, “They love life, and we love death.”

Though he fails to evoke Palestinians as individuals, Cohen is clearly sympathetic to their plight as a people. He holds Israel accountable for wartime massacres; he scalds religious settlers of the West Bank, as well as their spiritual forefather, the “perfectly named Rabbi Abraham Kook”; and he sees Zionism as fatally flawed from the start, by “the odd notion that Palestine was without a people.” Cohen animates this familiar point by putting American Jews in Arabs’ shoes. Imagine if an Iroquois tribe “suddenly started building settlements in Westchester, driving families out of Scarsdale and Armonk in an effort to reclaim their ancient nation.”

Cohen offers no road map out of this mess. Instead, he concludes his quest to understand Jewish history on a hilltop in Jerusalem, glumly wondering if modern Israel will be destroyed like the ancient temples. There are many reasons to feel pessimistic about peace in the Middle East. One of them is that Rich Cohen, a writer who can wring dark humor from the Holocaust, finds nothing at all amusing about the future of the Jewish state.

Correction: August 9, 2009
A review on July 26 about “Israel Is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and Its History,” by Rich Cohen, misidentified the region in which David Alroy, a 12th-century false messiah, lived. It was present-day Iraq, not Persia. (Alroy was born in what is now Kurdistan and studied in Baghdad, which was then ruled by the Seljuk Turks.)

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News Article Re Israeli Gov Report Defending Gaza Invasion

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CriEnglish.com – 31 July 2009

Israel Defends Its Gaza Offensive against War Crimes Charges

An Israeli official report published Thursday says its offensive against Gaza half a year ago is a response to Hamas' rocket attacks and with no violations of international laws, but admitting the army is fulfilling some criminal investigations.

The 160-page report, titled "The Operation in Gaza - Legal and Factual Aspects", acknowledges that "despite the precautions taken, the Gaza Operation resulted in many civilian deaths and injuries and significant damage to public and private property in Gaza. Israel makes no attempt to minimize the human costs incurred."

But it insists that Israel does not violate international laws.

It is proportionate for Israel to "take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas' almost incessant rocket attacks," the report says, adding that Israel was bombarded by some 12,000 rockets and mortar shells between 2000 and 2008, including nearly 3,000 in 2008 alone.

Israel launched the Gaza offensive from Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18 2009. The Israeli army put the death toll of Palestinians at 1166 and 295 dead were civilians by estimate, while Palestinian side said 1417 were killed, with 926 civilians.

The Palestinians and human rights groups accuse Israeli army of committing war crimes in the military operation, charges including attacks at United Nations facilities, medical personnel and buildings, uninvolved civilians and civilian infrastructure and of the use of weaponry containing phosphorus.

The report admits that Israel Defense Force (IDF) is currently examining approximately 100 complaints made by various groups, with 13 criminal investigations opened so far.

As the latest in a series of reports critical of Israel's Gaza offensive, activist group Breaking the Silence published 54 testimonies of Israeli combat soldiers this month, accusing commanders of IDF ordered soldiers to use Palestinians as human shields.

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Former U.N.Ambassador Bolton On Israeli Plans to Attack Iran

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Wall Street Journal – 29 July 2009

It’s Crunch Time for Israel on Iran -- After years of failed diplomacy no one will be able to call an attack precipitous.
By John Bolton (Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute after a long career as an American Diplomat culminating in serving as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations” (Simon & Schuster, 2007))

Legions of senior American officials have descended on Jerusalem recently, but the most important of them has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates. His central objective was to dissuade Israel from carrying out military strikes against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. Under the guise of counseling “patience,” Mr. Gates again conveyed President Barack Obama’s emphatic thumbs down on military force.

The public outcome of Mr. Gates’s visit appeared polite but inconclusive. Yet Iran’s progress with nuclear weapons and air defenses means Israel’s military option is declining over time. It will have to make a decision soon, and it will be no surprise if Israel strikes by year’s end. Israel’s choice could determine whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.

Mr. Obama’s approach to Tehran has been his “open hand,” yet his gesture has not only been ignored by Iran but deemed irrelevant as the country looks inward to resolve the aftermath of its fraudulent election. The hardliner “winner” of that election, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was recently forced to fire a deputy who once said something vaguely soothing about Israel. Clearly, negotiations with the White House are not exactly topping the Iranian agenda.

Beyond that, Mr. Obama’s negotiation strategy faces insuperable time pressure. French President Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed that Iran must re-start negotiations with the West by September’s G-20 summit. But this means little when, with each passing day, Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile laboratories, production facilities and military bases are all churning. Israel is focused on these facts, not the illusion of “tough” diplomacy.

Israel rejects another feature of Mr. Obama’s diplomatic stance. The Israelis do not believe that progress with the Palestinians will facilitate a deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Though Mr. Gates and others have pressed this fanciful analysis, Israel will not be moved.

Worse, Mr. Obama has no new strategic thinking on Iran. He vaguely promises to offer the country the carrot of diplomacy—followed by an empty threat of sanctions down the road if Iran does not comply with the U.S.’s requests. This is precisely the European Union’s approach, which has failed for over six years.

There’s no reason Iran would suddenly now bow to Mr. Obama’s diplomatic efforts, especially after its embarrassing election in June. So with diplomacy out the door, how will Iran be tamed?

Mr. Gates’ mission had extraordinary significance. Israel sees the political and military landscape in a very inauspicious light. It also worries that, once ensnared in negotiations, the Obama administration will find it very hard to extricate itself. The Israelis are probably right. To prove the success of his “open hand,” Mr. Obama will declare victory for “diplomacy” even if it means little to no gains on Iran’s nuclear program.

Under the worst-case scenario, Iran will continue improving its nuclear facilities and Mr. Obama will become the first U.S. president to tie the issue of Israel’s nuclear capabilities into negotiations about Iran’s.

Israel understands that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent commitment to extend the U.S. “defense umbrella” to Israel is not a guarantee of nuclear retaliation, and that it is wholly insufficient to deter Iran from obliterating Israel if it so decides. In fact, Mrs. Clinton’s comment tacitly concedes that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, exactly the wrong message. Since Israel, like the U.S., is well aware its missile defense system is imperfect, whatever Mr. Gates said about the “defense umbrella” will be politely ignored.

Relations between the U.S. and Israel are more strained now than at any time since the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. Mr. Gates’s message for Israel not to act on Iran, and the U.S. pressure he brought to bear, highlight the weight of Israel’s lonely burden.

Striking Iran’s nuclear program will not be precipitous or poorly thought out. Israel’s attack, if it happens, will have followed enormously difficult deliberation over terrible imponderables, and years of patiently waiting on innumerable failed diplomatic efforts. Absent Israeli action, prepare for a nuclear Iran.

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WSJ Aug 31 Lead Editorial - Israeli Attack on Iran Imminent

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RL-SLC Editorial Note: The Wall St. Journal is probably Israel's strongest supporter in the U.S. media

Israel, Iran and Obama
Conflict is inevitable unless the West moves quickly to stop a nuclear Tehran.
Wall Street Journal Lead Editorial – 31 August 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on Iran's nuclear programs, though it hasn't released it publicly, only to governments that would also rather not disclose more details of Iran's progress toward becoming a nuclear theocracy. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution, backed by more than 100 members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, that would ban military attacks on nuclear facilities. No actual mention of Israel, of course.

The mullahs understand that the only real challenge to their nuclear ambitions is likely to come from Israel. They've long concluded that the U.N. is no threat, as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has in practice become an apologist for Iran's program. They can also see that the West lacks the will to do anything, as the Obama Administration continues to plead for Tehran to negotiate even as Iran holds show trials of opposition leaders and journalists for saying the recent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent. The irony is that the weaker the West and U.N. appear, the more probable an Israeli attack becomes.

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The reality that Western leaders don't want to admit is that preventing Iran from getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative, not a mere policy choice. That's a view shared across Israel's political spectrum, from traditional hawks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to current Defense Minister and former Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Israelis can see the relentless progress Iran is making toward enriching uranium, building a plutonium-breeding facility and improving on its ballistic missiles—all the while violating U.N. sanctions without consequence. Iran's march to the bomb also alarms its Arab neighbors, but it represents an existential threat to an Israeli nation that Iran has promised to destroy and has waged decades of proxy war against.

This threat has only increased in the wake of Iran's stolen election and crackdown. The nature of the regime seems to be changing from a revolutionary theocracy to a military-theocratic state that is becoming fascist in operation. The Revolutionary Guard Corps is gaining power at the expense of the traditional military and a divided clerical establishment.

On the weekend, Ahmadinejad called for the arrest and punishment of opposition leaders, and last week he nominated Ahmad Vahidi, a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, to become defense minister. Vahidi is wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant for his role in masterminding the 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 200 others. Vahidi's nomination shows that when Ahmadinejad talks of wiping Israel off the map, no Israel leader can afford to dismiss it as a religious allegory.

Israel also looks warily on the Obama Administration's policy of diplomatic pleading with Iran, which comes after six years of failed diplomatic overtures by the European Union and Bush Administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion in July that the U.S. would extend a "defense umbrella" over its allies in the Middle East "once [Iranians] have a nuclear weapon" may have been a slip of the lip. But Israelis can be forgiven for wondering if the U.S. would sooner accept a nuclear Iran as a fait accompli than do whatever is necessary to stop it.

It's no wonder, then, that the Israeli military has been intensively—and very publicly—war-gaming attack scenarios on Iran's nuclear installations. This has included sending warships through the Suez Canal (with Egypt's blessing), testing its Arrow antiballistic missile systems and conducting nation-wide emergency drills. U.S. and Israeli military officials we've spoken to are confident an Israeli strike could deal a significant blow to Iran's programs, even if some elements would survive. The longer Israel waits, however, the more steps Iran can take to protect its installations.

The consequences of an Israeli attack are impossible to predict, but there is no doubt they would implicate U.S. interests throughout the Middle East. Iran would accuse the U.S. of complicity, whether or not the U.S. gave its assent to an attack. Iran could also attack U.S. targets, drawing America into a larger Mideast war.

Short of an Islamist revolution in Pakistan, an Israeli strike on Iran would be the most dangerous foreign policy issue President Obama could face, throwing all his diplomatic ambitions into a cocked hat. Yet in its first seven months, the Administration has spent more diplomatic effort warning Israel not to strike than it has rallying the world to stop Iran.

***

In recent days, the Administration has begun taking a harder line against Tehran, with talk of "crippling" sanctions on Iran's imports of gasoline if the mullahs don't negotiate by the end of September. Rhetorically, that's a step in the right direction. But unless Mr. Obama gets serious, and soon, about stopping Iran from getting a bomb, he'll be forced to deal with the consequences of Israel acting in its own defense.

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Cheney Advocated Bush Adm Attack On Iranian Nuclear Sites

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“Fox News Sunday” – 30 August 2009 – Portion of Transcript of Mike Wallace Interview of Dick Cheney Dealing With Iran’s Nuclear Program

WALLACE: There is a question I have wanted to ask you for some period of time. Why didn't your Administration take out the Iranian nuclear program, given what a threat I know you believe it was, given the fact that you knew that Barack Obama favored, not only diplomatic engagement, but actually sitting down with the Iranians, why would you leave it to him to make this decision?

CHENEY: It was not my decision to make.

WALLACE: Would you have favored military action?

CHENEY: I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues.

WALLACE: Do you think that it was a mistake, while you were in power, while your administration was in power, not to go after the nuclear infrastructure of Iran?

CHENEY: I can't say that yet. We do not know how it is ultimately going to come out.

WALLACE: But you don't get the choice to make it 20/20 hindsight.

CHENEY: Well, I —

WALLACE: In 2007, 2008, was it a mistake not to take out their program?

CHENEY: I think it was very important that the military option be on the table. I thought that negotiations could not possibly succeed unless the Iranians really believed we were prepared to use military force. And to date, of course, they are still proceeding with their nuclear program and the matter has not yet been resolved.
We can speculate about what might have happened if we had followed a different course of action. As I say I was an advocate of a more robust policy than any of my colleagues, but I didn't make the decision.

WALLACE: Including the president?

CHENEY: The president made the decision and, obviously, we pursued the diplomatic avenues.

WALLACE: Do you think it was a mistake to let the opportunity when you guys were in power, go, knowing that here was Barack Obama and he was going to take a much different —

CHENEY: I am going to — if I address that, I will address it in my book, Chris.

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Iran Asks 150 Nations to Condemn Attacks on Any Nuclear Site

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New York Times – 14 August 2009

WORLD BRIEFING | MIDDLE EAST; Iran Seeks Ban On Striking Atomic Sites
By ROBERT F. WORTH

Iran has asked the United Nations to call a meeting to consider banning attacks on nuclear installations, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. Israel has said it will not tolerate a nuclear Iran and has dropped hints about taking military action against Iran's enrichment facilities if diplomatic efforts fail to halt the nuclear program. Iran has said its program is purely civilian in nature and cites its right to nuclear power under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Tehran's request, which asked for a conference of 150 nations to vote on a proposed ban, was made on Wednesday in a letter by Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh, according to Fars. Mr. Soltaniyeh asked that Iran's proposal be considered at the scheduled September meeting of the nuclear agency's general conference.

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