February 22, 2012
This week’s indications that war with Iran is very close/very far off
Closer than ever:
Yet another attempt at letting diplomacy work has failed. If the IAEA can’t find a way to convince the Iranians to cooperate, if engaging Iran in a “constructive spirit” didn’t do the trick, what else is there short of conflict?
Gen. Burgess: “Iran is not close to agreeing to abandon its nuclear program”. Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. General Ronald Burgess tells the Senate Armed Services committee that the tightening of sanctions isn’t showing signs of working.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak informs visiting NSA Tom Donilon: We’ll do what we need to do - and all other visitations by American dignitaries, supposedly warning Israel against prematurely attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. If the Obama administration is so nervous, how can anyone else be calm?
Senator John McCain saying “there is clearly significant tension that now exists on how to approach this whole issue”. What possible difference can one imagine other than Israel wants to attack and the US says no? History shows that when Israel becomes edgy and insecure – when it doesn’t feel it has the full backing of the US – it tends to act.
Iran threatens to strike preemptively. Up until now the Iranians have been publicly mocking any attempt to claim that an attack is possible or imminent. No country would dare attack, they used to say. Suddenly, something had changed. From mockery the Iranians have moved to threats. If they are nervous, shouldn’t we be?
No more exemptions from military service. Seriously, no one is going to draft all ultra-Orthodox Israeli men and women, but that Israelis are now preoccupied by attempts to draft Haredi men might mean they understand that war is nearing and urgent burden-sharing is due.
Further away than ever:
Israelis are busy with domestic infighting. If they thought war was so close, would the elected municipal officials of Tel Aviv bother themselves with a new battle over Shabbat public transportation? Would Israelis be constantly bothered with social State-Religion debates?
And half the news is really political gossip. If the Prime Minister can find time to deal with scandals, resignations and machinations, he can’t be busy preparing for war. If key aides are leaving the PM’s office, they must be thinking that war is not imminent.
Iron Dome isn’t going to Tel Aviv. The IDF has suspended a plan to deploy Iron Dome missile defense battery in the greater Tel Aviv area.
The Cabinet minister in charge of civil defense has resigned to become ambassador to China. Wait a minute – is this really a sign war is coming? Not when the Minister is former General and war hero Matan Vilnai.
House prices remain high. While some new data reflects a beginning of a (much desired) downturn in house prices, it is clear that Israelis aren’t hysterically selling their homes, not even in the areas most likely to get hit if there is war.
And you already know that Madonna is coming. So surely we must be safe, at least until the end of May.