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Friday, June 07, 2013

Revealed: Alexander Haig only cabinet member to defend Israel after Osirak bombing

At a ceremony commemorating the life of Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l (May the Memory of the Righteous be a Blessing), whose yahrtzeit (anniversary of the date of his death) is this coming Tuesday, Sherwood "Woody" Goldberg, who was Alexander Haig's Chief of Staff, discloses that Haig was the only Reagan cabinet member to defend Israel after it destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor (32 years ago today on the Gregorian calendar).
In a surprise raid On June 7, 1981 -- 32 years ago today -- Israeli F-16s and F-15s bombed and destroyed a nascent nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

As Goldberg told it, President Reagan and his staff were furious at Israel.  Not only did she attack Iraq without consulting Washington, seek permission nor give any warning about the attack - but Israel used American fighter jets to get the job done.

When the Americans learned of the strike, Reagan called an emergency cabinet meeting the next day to determine how the administration would respond.

Goldberg related that, one-by-one, President Reagan polled Vice President George H.W. Bush and his cabinet.  To a man, the reaction was harsh: "Crush Israel!" was the response from the President's men.

That is, until it was Haig's turn to weigh-in.

"One day you will get down on your knees and thank Israel for doing that," Haig said according to Goldberg, making him the lone dissenter.

Needless to say, America did not "crush" Israel although there were tensions in the immediate aftermath.  Less than 10 years later America was at war with Iraq to defend Kuwait in the Gulf War, a k a "Operation Desert Storm."

While we may never know if President Reagan ever did kneel in gratitude to Israel, a nuclear-armed Iraq may have deterred America from that obligation to our ally or cost a great many  more American lives.

Yes, time proved Haig prescient.
It is well known that in June 1991, after the first Gulf War, George H.W. Bush's Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, presented Israel's Air Force Commander David Ivri with a satellite photo of the Iraqi reactor:
"For General David Ivri," Cheney wrote on the photo, "with thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job he did on the Iraqi Nuclear Program in 1981, which made our job much easier in Desert Storm." Ivri, when he was Israeli ambassador to Washington a few years ago, liked the photo so much he had it hanging in his office.
And yet, ten years earlier, only one US cabinet member defended Israel and saw that it had done the right thing. The difference? In 1981, we had a Prime Minister who was a courageous leader instead of a politician blowing with the winds. 

Read the whole thing.

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At 2:27 PM, Blogger ProfessorPelotard said...

In 1981, we had a Prime Minister who was a courageous leader instead of a politician blowing with the winds.

That's true, but the other thing that ought to be pointed out is that the US had had an anti-Israeli president of the same ilk as the present one.

The reason the Reagan cabinet was so upset was that they had not been properly informed. Carter simply did not tell the incoming administration about Israel's concerns re Iraq.


"June 16 - We have just learned that Israel & the previous admin. did communicate about Iraq & the nuclear threat & the U.S. agreed it was a threat. There was never a mention of this to us by the outgoing admin.
Amb. Lewis cabled word to us after the Israeli attack on Iraq & now we find there was a stack of cables & memos tucked away in St. Dept. files."


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