Significantly, Barak made no effort to deny the reality that the Israeli Air Force did not have the capability to carry out a successful attack against Iran. Instead he is blaming Ashkenazi for having failed to prepare Israeli forces for a possible attack.
Ashkenazi angrily denied that obviously political charge. "I prepared the option, the army was ready for a strike but I also said that a strike now would be a strategic mistake," he is quoted as saying. Israeli military leaders are still saying publicly that the IDF can carry out a strike.
But while Ashkenazi is quoted as saying the army was "ready for a strike," that is not the same as claiming that Israel had a military option that had any chance of success in derailing Iran's enrichment program. And in February 2011, he told then-Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen that references to such a military option were "empty words," because "Israel has no military option," according to an earlier report by Yedioth Ahronoth.
Despite the public political feud between them, both Barak and Ashkenazi implied that the purpose of the high alert was to achieve a political effect rather than to prepare for an actual attack.
Both Ashkenazi and former Mossad director Dagan were apparently shocked that Netanyahu and Barak would be so irresponsible as to run the obvious risks of feigning preparations for a war with Iran. Dagan concluded that Netanyahu is unfit for leadership of the country -- a point that he had made repeatedly since leaving his Mossad post in 2011.
Netanyahu sought to manipulate the supposed threat of military force against Iran to put pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama to adopt harsh sanctions against Iran and even get him to pledge to use force if Iran did not yield on its nuclear program. The firm rebuff to that ploy by Obama last summer brought that phase of the Netanyahu military option ploy to an end, as indicated by his failure to include any implicit threat in his U.N. address in late August.
Netanyahu continues to insist publicly, however, that he is considering the military option against Iran. In an interview for the Channel 2 program, he said, "We are serious, this is not a show. If there is no other way to stop Iran, Israel is ready to act."
Israeli political observers have suggested that Netanyahu's belligerent posture has now become primarily a theme of his campaign for reelection as prime minister. But as the coverage of the 2010 episode indicates, the news media have not yet abandoned the story of Netanyahu's readiness to go to war against Iran.
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