Where's the great Christopher Walken when we need him? "I've got a fever! And the only prescription is ... Bomb Iran!" That's the story, at least in Israel. Fever pitch will rule at least for the next six months.
This past weekend, the Israel Hayom newspaper -- financed by casino mogul and Mitt Romney groupie Sheldon Adelson -- dedicated a whole supplement to the fever. Lead articles had titles such as "Bomb or Bombing: Poker with the Cards Close to the Vest."
Yet earlier last week, a leak to the Yediot Ahronot daily revealed that the cream of Israel's military leaders are against war on Iran -- known in its aseptic version as "preemptive strike."
It's an impressive cast of characters. Here we have chief of the general staff Benny Gantz; the chief of operations of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Ya'akov Ayash; Tamir Pardo, the head of Mossad; Aviv Kochavi, in charge of Aman, the military intelligence directorate; the department heads of Mossad; the head of the Israeli Air Force Amir Eshel; not to mention at least four ministers of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's eight-man "kitchen cabinet."
There are qualifiers. Some admit they would only support an attack on Iran if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei -- or International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors -- announced a major weaponization game changer. Some others admit they will only support an attack if the US is on board; that's the case of retired Mossad heads Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy and former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
The key player here is of course Gantz. He's always kept the attack option on the table. But he has also leaked that he knows any attack, even successful, won't smash Iran's nuclear program; besides, he also fears the geopolitical repercussions. When Gantz admitted a tiny sliver of all this on an Israeli TV channel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the report to "disappear."
So it boils down essentially to Bibi and Barak against all the above. This poses at least two key questions. How could Bibi possibly order an attack when the best Israeli informed minds know that would inflict a maximum six-month delay on Iran's nuclear program, according to extensive American calculations? And that a strike would definitely lead Tehran to abandon its current, prudent, "latency period" and go for broke on the weaponization front?
Murphy, take my call
Non-denial denials will spring up from all corners, but only people tripping on Alice in Wonderland believe Israel would attack Iran without an absolute green light from Washington. Russia, China, Pakistan, everyone knows about the US-Israel game of rearranging musical chairs preceding a possible attack on Iran.
Hebrew University Political Science professor Ira Sharkansky, blogging at the Jerusalem Post, mentions yet another former Mossad head saying that Israel should not -- and most likely will not -- act without US consent.
This new collective foreign policy blog tried to answer some of the imponderables. But it still boils down to that old Hollywood maxim; no one knows anything.
No one knows whether the Israeli military may have come up with some magic, aerial attack route (without, for instance, overflying Iraq; forget about a ground attack and forget about nuking Iran); whether it has the means to launch a mini-Shock and Awe against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon; whether it has enough last-generation bunker busters to penetrate Iranian installations deep underground; whether it has just-in-time intel, for that matter. Murphy's Law applies here. Even the Pentagon knows that everything that may go wrong may actually go wrong.
And even if it doesn't, the trillion-dollar question still remains; what kind of game is US President Barack Obama actually playing?
All would be excused if this were just sunburn caused by prolonged summer beach exposure. But we're talking about war, preemptive war, bypassing international law -- and based on a concentric set of hypotheticals, not to mention lies.
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