20 March 2012

Iranian nukes, POTUS, expectations and common sense

A day doesn't pass without all kinds of media (local and international) offering another deep insight on the subject of whether it will be wise for Israel to have a go at Iranian nuclear sites. As if it weren't enough, about a thousand of various experts and their mom in law have already offered various detailed scenarios of IDF attack, if and when. So detailed that the officers in IDF general staff responsible for planning of the affair don't have to strain their brains, where simply copying all these plans and combining them into a Godzilla of military planning will suffice. Here, for example, is another one of the mentioned scenarios, from CNN, that appeared as if by miracle a minute ago when I clicked on CNN site to check something unrelated.

And of course, the number of experts that deal with the aftermath of such attack is at least similar in number to that of the attack's "planners", if not exceeding the latter. The variety of ways our house here will be demolished by the downpour of Hamas, Hezbollah, Syrian and Iranian missiles, described in excruciating detail, almost caused me to hang a "For Sale" sign on the fence.

There is one point of agreement between the experts: the Israeli strike will happen, and it will happen soon. This comes from overwhelming majority, save one Philip Weiss who considers it prudent to claim that Israeli strike is coming and that it will never happen at the same time. But I mentioned him only as a (living) joke, albeit one in very poor taste.

The (almost) lonely voice of reason, that of prof. Barry Rubin, who considers that Neither Israel nor the US will attack Iran in 2012 and brings several good arguments in favor of this belief, drowns in the tumult of the above mentioned majority. Aside of his arguments, there is an explanation of seemingly irrational blabbing of Israeli talking heads:

So why are Israelis talking about a potential attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities? Because that’s a good way – indeed, the only way Israel has – to pressure Western countries to work harder on the issue, to increase sanction and diplomatic efforts. If one believes that somehow pushing Tehran into slowing down or stopping its nuclear weapons’ drive is the only alternative to war, that greatly concentrates policymakers’ minds. Personally, I don’t participate–consciously or as an instrument – in disinformation campaigns, even if they are for a good cause.
Indeed, the pressure on Iran is stepped up, the recent disconnect of 30 Iranian banks from SWIFT being an excellent example of the tactics outlined by prof. Rubin working. In addition, the incessant noise of the various experts mentioned above causes no end of heartburn and headache to the Iranian intelligence, defense and other officials in charge of promoting and protecting the nuclear effort. Which is all to the good.

To sweep the question of the table: what do I personally believe in? Not that it matters, but.
  • Does Iran strive to get its hands on nuclear weapons? Check.
  • Do Iranian leaders aim to destroy Israel? Check.
  • Will various sanctions against Iran, applied by the world, force Iran into cessation of its nuclear development? Hardly. 
  • Will application of high explosives to multiple Iranian nuclear facilities make the world a better place? Check.
  • Will IDF, so instructed by our government, carry out the strike on Iran - whether this year or later? I just don't know and, as any other member of the public, will have to wait.
  • Do I spend sleepless nights drawing arrows on the map and/or moving toy airplanes to and fro? Nope, I prefer to leave the matter to experts and have better things to do during the night.
  • Do I pine for war with Iran - or any other people? Nope.
  • Am I bothered by the feverish pitch of histrionics reached by the media on the subject? Yes, I try to switch off any appliance that attempts to bring another talking head babbling about it. Even our fridge that, unfortunately, carries an LCD panel and some buttons on its door, became somewhat of a menace to me lately. But I manage somehow.
And in any case, the main point of this post, as it was planned, is not whether the strike will happen or not. It is about the brouhaha raised in the media, especially the Israeli media, about the attitude of Barack Obama (to remind you - the current President of the United States of America) to the issue of the Iranian nukes. And about our (wrong) expectations of the POTUS.

Some people believe that Obama is a great friend of Israel. Just the other day Brian Goldfarb was quoting Jeffrey Goldberg who is quite unequivocally a believer in Obama's unwavering stand on Iranian nukes:
One of the most useful alliances President Obama has created with a foreign leader is the one with a person he ostensibly doesn't like very much at all. Both Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu want to stop Iran from going nuclear (and yes, I'm among the people who believe Obama, for manifold reasons, some having to do with Israel, and many others not, is determined to keep Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold) and both have played key, and complementary, roles in the campaign.
Some people, on the contrary, suspect Obama of very dark designs related to Iranian nukes, Israel and whatnot, to the tune of saying that Obama Wants a Nuclear Iran.
Obama's true education when it came to Israel is by radicals that hated Israel, and even left-wing Jews whose disdain for Israel's right to exist is their guiding force. He truly believes that the world's problems, and particularly the problems of the Middle East are caused by the existence of Israel. He views the Moslem world as having been put upon by the decision of the west to allow and support the reestablishment of the Jewish state.
I wouldn't argue with the two points of view expressed above. After all, Obama stated quite forcefully that he is not going to abide a situation where US will have to deal with containment of nuclear Iran. On the face of it, this is as clear-cut declaration of intentions as anyone would hope to get from a leader of the superpower. Short of the said leader directing the Chief of Staff to sit down with the reporters and discuss the planning of Iran campaign in minute details.

But, on the other hand, Obama is a politician and, as his brilliant election campaign four years ago has shown, a consummate fantasist. Anyone who believes a politician must have his brain examined, I submit. More so when this anyone believes the word of a foreign politician - and I don't even believe a single word coming from the face of our own Bibi, so why should I take what Obama says as a given?

This is why I had a problem with the headline of Isi Leibler's article Can Obama be trusted?  Because any serious discussion of such a critical issue as Iranian nukes that starts with the question of trust or lack thereof, is inherently flawed. To start with, some of us here in Israel tend to forget that we are talking about the head of another state. It shouldn't be beyond anyone's comprehension that the POTUS has his own list of problems to resolve and his own set of priorities to follow. Whether helping out Israel in its hour of need happens to a) match one or more of these priorities and b) isn't contrary to the American interest is not always that clear, unless we are pushing the discourse into the realm of friendship, tradition (not that old, stemming barely from 1967 or thereabout and not always that firm,  let's not delude ourselves) and moral imperatives. Friendship, tradition and moral imperatives don't happen to belong to the list of criteria that comprise sensible realpolitik, unfortunately (or fortunately, who knows?).

Indeed, we should not forget that the POTUS - any POTUS - is first of all and above all the leader of United States, as such accountable to the Congress and to the people who have elected him to the post. Whether this or another act is matching American interests, is for him and his people to decide, and a POTUS who acts against these interests could, even should be charged with dereliction of duty and punished accordingly.

Isi Leibler, thankfully, does arrive to a right conclusion, in spite of the article as a whole dealing with doubts about Obama's position. After all is said, he states:
We would like to believe that the US would support us if we became engaged in a military conflict with the Iranians. However, notwithstanding the improved atmosphere in Washington, when one observes the indifference of the civilized world, including the Obama Administration, towards the current slaughter in Syria and recollects how, despite firm undertakings, the US and others failed to support Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War, we require little persuasion to be convinced that ultimately we must rely on ourselves.
We must rely on ourselves. And this is the main conclusion we should get out of the media storm. Stop expecting miraculous assistance (from the terrestrial entities, at least). Stop whining. Stop looking around for expressions of moral (or other) support. Just do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, because no one else would - or should - do it for you.

And, if you are religious, do that other thing, too. Cannot hurt.

P.S. As for the detailed scenarios of the IDF action, created by the uncounted armchair generals: keep them coming. I bet IDF general staff is grateful for the assistance.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com


Independent Patriot said...

Whether you agree with my reasoning or not,  thanks for the link to my blog. I always wonder if others read what I write its nice to know that they do.

Independent Patriot said...

P.S. Snoop its not what you say but what you do that counts. POTUS taking back his support of Israel the day after his AIPAC speech says more than any pronouncement against Iranian nukes..just saying ...

SnoopyTheGoon said...

 They do, rest assured. Nothing escapes the Elders' eye ;-)

SnoopyTheGoon said...

But that's exactly my point: verbally promising or verbally taking away the support is exactly what it is: verbosity, which is any politico's trait. So you must agree that we couldn't build on it.

KatieNorcross said...

Israel cannot count on support from Obama.  He is squarely in the Arab camp and will attack Israel if given a second term.

Israel must do what is right for them to do for their own securty.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

No matter what camp Obama belongs to, we shall do what you say.

Stan said...

Here is a link from Goldblog.  It shows a consistency in Obama's thinking.

I am an American Jew.  I freely admit dual loyalties.  I am loyal to the U.S. and to Israel.  I have no conflict.  I expect Obama or any president to act in the interest of the United States.  I believe it is in the interest of the United States that Iran not get nuclear weapons. 
The press is making this out to be an Iranian / Israeli issue.  It is no more an Iranian / Israeli issue than WWII was a German / Jewish issue.


SnoopyTheGoon said...


I am not saying he wouldn't, I am not saying he would.

What I am sayings (to Israelis, chiefly) is: don't rely on any politician. Do not generate  expectations.

Whether the issue is more than Iranian/Israeli is not for Israelis to decide, you have to agree with this.

Brian Goldfrab said...

To go off topic, your comment on the fridge reminds of a Woody Allen routine from he was "just" a stand-up. He goes on about how the electrical appliances in his apartment were ganging up on him, and he had to threaten them with a (non-electircal) wrench. Then, the lift in the building took against him, and bounced up and down, finally spitting him out in the basement car park. As he reeled away from the lift, "I swear it uttered an anti(you have to imagine the long, drawn out, "i")-semitic word". 

Happens to em all the time, Snoopy.

Pisa said...

I agree that an american president must take care, first and foremost, of american interests. The problem is that Obama doesn't seem to know what these interests are. I don't trust Obama not because he's likely to throw Israel under the bus, but because he's likely (and striving, probably) to deprive the US of everything that makes it a great country.

Trying to figure out Obama is an exercise in futility - his frequent u-turns and backward pirouettes prove that even he can't figure himself out. Poor Bibi...

I think you're right - all the talk about Israel attacking Iran was meant to put pressure on US and EU.  It did the trick, too.

David All said...

I believe that Obama and Netanyahu have set up a good cop/bad cop routine concerning Iran's desire to have nuclear weapons. It seems to be working pretty well. Doubt that the European nations and Japan would go along with the sanctions against Iran to the extent that they have without Obama telling them that unless they, the EU nations and Japan, go along with severe sanctions against Iran, Bibi will unleash the IDF against Iran and set the whole Middle East, the source of the majority of their oil, on fire.

Suspect that Obama would like for Israel to hold striking Iran until after the November elections; do not know If Israel can wait that long. Hopefully the new sanctions will hurt Iran enough so it will give up its ambitions for nuclear weapons. Otherwise, ....   

Dick Stanley said...

Obumbles would have to be even more naive than he already has proven to be to hit Iran before election day. If he doesn't know that it wouldn't be clean and simple and quickly over, he must have some advisers who do. Besides, it might spoil Queen Michelle's vacation schedule. He'd never hear the end of that.

If the IDF does hit them, I hope they use their big drone, instead of risking live pilots. But I can't help wondering if it wouldn't be smarter to wait. Having a nuke and having a deliverable nuke are not the same thing. Having a president with more experience than Obozo (hardly difficult) would be a good idea, too.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yes, true - but my fridge is a Zionist, the opposite of that elevator ;-)

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That's not me who is right but prof. Rubin.

And I really didn't want to go in discussion of Obama in this post. This is a separate topic.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

 Yes, this is the most likely version of the events.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Let's hope the drones could do the work. Otherwise - we shall see.

Pisa said...

Well, you're right to say prof. Rubin is right, then.

Yeah, I kinda missed the point of your post, I see it now. Israel must do what Israel does best - keep itself safe no matter  what others might say we should do. And no, can't stop myself discussing Obama, sorry. Took me four years to begin to understand the man. I have to discuss him now, just in case he doesn't get himself re-elected,

SnoopyTheGoon said...

No worries. I suspect we still have four more years to discuss him...

Sara said...

I think we will be lucky is Obama doesn't blow Israeli planes out of the sky. 

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I wouldn't go that far. But we should expect the unexpected too.

Amelia22 said...

If Israel waits until after the election to strike Iran and Obama is re-elected, Israel will have to go it alone - I am sure of that.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Let's wait and see what happens.