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Sabtu, 21 Jun 2008

International: Israel ready to strike Iran

One of the long-running debates here in Jerusalem is whether or not the US and Israel are preparing the ground for a military strike on IranThere is vast disagreement here on this issue - and there are no easy answers. But wheels are in motion. As McClatchy reported last week, Israel has been laying the psychological foundations for a strike on Iran. Today, The New York Times reports that Israel has also begun training for a military strike on Iran. While this doesn't mean that an Israeli strike on Iran is imminent, it does show that Israel's warnings are not simply Pyhrric saber rattling. "It should not surprise anyone that we are training and preparing operationally for this, and it should not in any way be interpreted as we're going to strike Iran," Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher of Bitterlemons told me this morning. Maybe not. But plans are cleary being fine-tuned. What remains to be seen is what impact these actions will have on the diplomatic moves to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. The Israeli threats and military training may all be part of an effort to compel Europe, the US and the IAEA to treat the Iranian nuclear issue with more urgency. Some see the Israeli actions as an attempt to put pressure on the Bush administration to take more decisive action.
There's little doubt that there are folks in the Bush administration who are open to the idea of hitting Iran. "There is a real possibility that Bush will end his woeful second and final term with a bang, not a whimper," commentator Ari Shavit recently wrote in Haaretz. Vice President Dick Cheney came in March to confer with both Israeli PM Ehud Olmert. Even in leak-loving Israel, no Israeli officials were willing to tell reporters what Cheney came to talk about. At the time, White House officials denied that the vice president was traveling around to discuss a military strike on Iran. heney's talks were followed by Bush's second visit to Israel where the US president suggested that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a modern day Hitler who had to be stopped at all costs. here have been a variety of unverified reports that the Americans and Israelis discussed the possibility of a strike during Bush's visit - an allegation swiftly and firmly rejected by the White House.
But the rumors continue to swirl. One rumor is that Bush told a GOP lawmaker on his Israel trip: "Even if it is my last day in the White House, I will order an attack on Iran." s my colleague Jonathan Landay noted in a recent piece in The Boston Phoenix about media coverage of this issue, the rumbling may be part of an elaborate psy-ops campaign meant to intimidate Iran and force them to submit to international pressure to curtain its nuclear program. If they want to turn up the volume, you end up helping them,” Landay says in the piece. “You have to be really careful. This is exactly what happened with the invasion of Iraq.” o how could it play out? One possibility would be a military strike after the November election so that it doesn't impact the vote. In some ways if the US were to attack, it doesn't matter who the next president is: If Obama wins, Bush could argue during the transition that he needed to act to stop the Iranian threat. It will be controversial, but Bush has shown that public polls don't sway his Middle East policies. If McCain wins, a post-election military strike by the outgoing Bush administration would allow McCain to try and distance himself from the attack. If the US isn't willing to launch a strike on its own, then Israel would almost certainly be willing to take the lead - so long as the US ensures that it will do all it can to protect Israel in the certain counter-strike.
Reported Nissenbaum

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