Saturday, February 24, 2007
It has been said that during the Cold War the principal adversaries would occasionally open the doors of their silos so rival satellites could verify that there were, in fact, missiles inside. The point, presumably, was to disabuse the adversary of any fantasy that there weren't thousands of ICBMs poised to retaliate.
One can't help but wonder whether Israel isn't doing essentially the same thing. Israel does not have ICBM silos and Iran does not have reliable spy satellite coverage, so Israel needs to leak its way to credibility:
Israel is negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq as part of a plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
To conduct surgical air strikes against Iran's nuclear programme, Israeli war planes would need to fly across Iraq. But to do so the Israeli military authorities in Tel Aviv need permission from the Pentagon.
A senior Israeli defence official said negotiations were now underway between the two countries for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an "air corridor" in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Teheran developing nuclear weapons.
"We are planning for every eventuality, and sorting out issues such as these are crucially important," said the official, who asked not to be named.
"The only way to do this is to fly through US-controlled air space. If we don't sort these issues out now we could have a situation where American and Israeli war planes start shooting at each other."
Of course, it is impossible to believe that these discussions, if they are happening at all, were leaked by a rogue in the Israeli government or military. The leak had a purpose, which was to improve the credibility of Israel's threat that it will neutralize Iran's nuclear capability if negotiations fail. Since the United States cannot admit to such discussions, Israel also must deny that they are taking place, and it has done so.
A leak such as this also reinforces the position of the Western countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom (with the United States lurking in the background), which are pressuring Iran to return to the negotiating table. If economic sanctions are not adequate to the task, then what stiffer measures are available? The Europeans are not in a political or military position to threaten Iran with military action, but they are happy to let Israel at least appear to light the fuse, especially since it plays into Iran's dark view of the Jewish state. From this perspective, Israeli sabre-rattling improves the chances of a negotiated settlement, a result that even Israel would much prefer.
There is a small blogocentric angle, and that is the different reactions of lefty and righty bloggers to this news. Righty bloggers view the leaking of this news, if it is news, as improving the chances for a peaceful settlement. The few lefty blogs that have linked the story seem to think that it is evidence, in and of itself, that an attack is in the offing. This seems silly to me -- surely the Israelis have good enough operational security that we would not be hearing about it in the Telegraph if they really were about to put planes in the air. The micro-question is, what is it about the psychology of left and right that they interpret the idiom of confrontation so differently?
UPDATE: The lefty Booman Tribune does, indeed, get it.
what is it about the psychology of left and right that they interpret the idiom of confrontation so differently?
The left is willing to ignore all recorded history and human nature. The right is more pragmatic about such things ;->
"The Europeans are not in a political or military position to threaten Iran with military action, but they are happy to let Israel at least appear to light the fuse"
I don't think "happy" describes the Euro attitude. In no way do the Euros support action by Israel but they are, as you point out, powerless to effect either Iran's ambitions or Israel's thwarting of them. For many reasons Europe does what it can to make a virtue (of its impotence) out of necessity - truly an ugly and unsustainable reality.
You may be thinking of the Open Skies treaty.
It's still in force.
For a previous example, see here -
It's not the fact that the US exported penetrating bombs to Israel, or even that they were trans-shipped through England. It's that the story got out. The cover was that the Israelis wanted the bombs to use against Hizbulla bunkers in Lebanon - but the never ended up using them there. So now they're the perfect weapon to go after the centerfuges.
I think the left doesn't play enough poker, and maybe the Republicans don't either.
Both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have said that when they gave the President the power to use military force, that was in the expectation that Iraq would fold, and that Bush wouldn't actually use military force, except as a "last resort." And this "last resort" condition wasn't met, even after 11 years of Saddam's defying various terms of the Gulf War I cease-fire.
In essence, these Democrats have told Iran, and every nation, "if we threaten to use force against you, we'll only be bluffing." This defies the first rule of bluffing, which in poker is not to let your opponent know you're bluffing. (In the real world, it's not to bluff at all, since backing off from a promise to use force will lead to the increased likelihood that you will need to use it in the future. Iran would have been likely to fold to us in 2003, but isn't now because of our domestic political situation.)
Unfortunately, it looks like Tony Blair and even Bush are now promising that an attack on Iran is inconceivable. An Israeli airstrike is no substitute for US power, and would not set the Iranians back half as much as could even a US airstrike.
DWP - one of GWBush's few accomplisments at Yale was a reputation as a shark at poker.
I don't know if that has implications here, but if it does, it means Blair's statements are a good thing. Remember, if you AREN'T bluffing, you want the other guy to think you are so he'll keep raising.
So if Blair and Bush are saying they won't attack Iran - maybe it means the opposite?
I'd like to believe this is some kind of intentional leak of the type that TH describes. Then, I see this:
Suddenly, I'm a bit less confident in Israel's defense & intelligence apparatus.
The fact that we're not treating the suggestion that Israelis might shoot at us as an insult or diplomatic gaffe suggests to me we're definitely working some kind of coordinated "Good Cop / Bad Cop" strategy with them against Iran.
No Israeli would suggest something as outrageous as hot war in the skies with their most important ally unless they arranged it with us in advance. They wouldn't dare be so indiscrete as to raise the spectre of the USS Liberty incident; their announcement therefore had to have been carefully choreographed with us.
This was a message direct to Iran, something like, "Better deal with the US or there's no telling what we crazy Israelis might do." I'd rather we be threatening Iran with the things WE might do, but whatever works to stop Ahmadinejad.
Hmm ... this whole story might also be a Seymour Hersh-style snow job, a ploy by an antiwar journalist to try to provoke a denial or draw out other information from gullible government officials by publishing a made-up or exaggerated story.
Does anyone know whether the journalist who published this story is credible?
The current difference of opinion between the left and right as to the meaning and real significance of these leaks can be completely accounted for by factoring in their differences of opinion concerning George W. Bush. If the man in the White House were Bill Clinton, the arguments and assumptions would be completely reversed.
The thing is, though, that these leaks originated in *Israel*, not here; and what *Israel* is or could reasonably be hoping to accomplish with them is unclear to me at this time.
In a rational world with rational players, yeah--- open the silos.
But this is Israel, in a Jew hating world. Thrwo logic out the window.
Everyone knows (since Golda'a balcony) what's in Israel's silos.
You open those silos and the whole Middle East says 'YOU SEE YOU SEE! THOSE DECEIVING JEWS HAD THEM ALL ALONG!"
"WE MUST HAVE THEM TOO!WE MUST DEFEND OURSELVES FROM THE ZIONIST NUCLEAR AGGRRESSOR."
The proverbial shit would be hitting those assclowns at the Islamic driven United Nations.
Much of the foreign aid packages and military programs to Israel would come under review in the US (and particularly under the newly minted, antisemetic leftwing driven Congress) as much of it is contingent upon a non nuclear Israel.
What may sound logic and reasonable to the ordinary man is a club for savages to blundgeon the enemy.
None of the people disposed to support Israel here in America give a flying fig about the UN, and we certainly don't care whether or not Israel "officially" goes nuclear. They've been nuclear for years and we all know it.
India went officially nuclear and the sky didn't fall. Israel could do it to.
Jonathan Pollard, on the other hand, did more damage to American-Israeli relations than a thousand UN speeches by Islamic radicals and their Dhimmi apologists ever could.
If the government of Israel wants to maintain American support they need to understand first that that support now comes from conservatives and hawkish libertarians and second what sorts of things we do and don't care about.