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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Caspit: At the end of the day, Netanyahu to blame for failure to attack Iran

If I am to believe Ben Caspit, Binyamin Netanyahu was a gutsy soldier and is a yellow-bellied Prime Minister. Caspit looks at Caroline Glick's confrontation with Meir Dagan and Gabi Ashkenazi at the Jerusalem Post conference over the weekend, and argues that the real question is not why Israel did not attack Iran in 2010 (when Dagan was heading the Mossad and Ashkenazi the IDF), but rather why it did not attack in 2012.
This dialogue in New York, about five years after the fact, reveals just the tip of the iceberg of what was taking place behind closed doors during those long, tense months in the conference rooms of Israel’s top defense leadership. All the heads of the various security forces were unanimous in their opinion that an Israeli attack on Iran would be a historic mistake that could result in disaster. At the same time, however, decisions in Israel are made by the political leadership. The defense establishment is then expected to carry them out without hesitation. On the other hand, to follow through with a perilous, strategically historic move such as attacking Iran, any Israeli prime minister would want the support of his defense leadership, or at least the chief of staff.
Netanyahu is an overly cautious prime minister with an aversion to military adventurism, for reasons of personal political survival. He knew that if something went wrong with the attack and it then became public that he gave the order despite the recommendations of all of the professionals in the security services, it would be the end of his political career. At first, he invested enormous energy in trying to convince some of the defense chiefs to adopt his position. The event reported here occurred when he finally gave up.
The question that the Israeli right should ask Netanyahu is why he didn’t attack Iran in the summer of 2012. As far as Netanyahu was concerned, that summer was seemingly the ultimate moment: The heads of the security forces had left the IDF and were replaced with a new crop of generals lacking experience, charisma or influence among the public. At that time, Netanyahu had a weak and anonymous chief of staff in the person of Benny Gantz, a novice director of the Mossad with Tamir Pardo, a new chief of military intelligence and a new director of the Shin Bet on the way. At the same time, the United States was caught up in a bitter presidential election, in which President Barack Obama was fighting for his second term. Netanyahu was seemingly free to act. There was nothing to prevent him from attacking Iran in July, August or September 2012, but he hesitated and eventually put his dream aside. At the time, however, there was no one to interfere in any significant way.
So why didn’t he go through with it? First of all, because Netanyahu was afraid. Second, Barak made a sharp, last minute U-turn and switched to the opponents’ side. And there must be other reasons.
So why did Netanyahu back down? What are those 'other reasons'? Here are a couple that might have played a role:

1. The 'most pro-Israel administration evah' made very clear that it would not have Israel's back if Israel attacked Iran. One of the working assumptions to that point was that if Israel went ahead with the attack and found itself endangered in the aftermath, the United States would step in. In August 2012, we were told clearly that was not the case. 

2. Those who were 'out of power' were not exactly without influence.

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At 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would wager that not only would the US not have stepped in to help Israel in the aftermath of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, the US would have refused even to resupply with bombs and other essential materiel.


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