The views expressed in any article published in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Joseph Foster or Bob Lupoli.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leon Panetta Comments on Israel Bombing Iran: Pressure Tactic or Warning?

Joe: some interesting thoughts regarding Leon Panetta’s comments regarding the possibility of Israel bombing Iran. The comments below are from a democrat, republican, and former state department official. Each response is given from their very biased view point. The democrat finds a way to criticize republicans, the republican suggests the administration is “fearful” and the state dept. official seems to waffle and concludes only Iran can stop Iran from developing the bomb. I think it’s pretty clear that Panetta is clearly pressuring Iran and for what end? Negotiating only? I don’t think so. I don’t see Israel being comfortable with a nuke in the neighborhood. I’d suggest Israel may very well strike and I don’t think the world will blame them for it beyond the usual. If the U.S. is “uncomfortable” with a nuke in Cuba and willing to threaten war why should Israel behave any differently? If only, Iran can stop Iran, doesn't the same logic apply to Israel? Sometimes a warning is a warning. –Bob


Mike Fraioli

President, Fraioli & Associates, Democratic strategist :

Anything is possible but it is hard to imagine Secretary Panetta’s statement to David Ignatius as a gaffe. Republicans want to have it three ways. They attack Obama for not being a strong supporter of Israel. Some publicly recommend an air strike against Iran – Dick Cheney said Obama should have bombed Iran over the captured U.S. drone. And, if Obama is successful as he has been with bn Laden and Qadhafi, they will say it is because of the George W. Bush policies. As with any country, I suspect it is safe to say that Israel is going to do what they believe is in their best interest – the armchair warriors in the Republican Party notwithstanding.

Ron Nehring

Former chairman, California Republican Party :

While everyone knows Israel has long engaged in preparations for such a strike should it be necessary, Panetta’s public statement of when he believes Israel is planning to take such action looks like a pressure tactic. Just whom that pressure is directed against is another issue.
If it was aimed at helping the Europeans to get off the dime and get serious about Iran, then fine. If it’s an attempt to pressure Israel, then that’s a different story. Increasingly the administration is giving people the impression that it fears a strike on Iran more than it fears an Iran with nuclear weapons.

Aaron David Miller

Former State Department official; Wilson Center scholar; author :

An Israeli unilateral strike against nuclear sites in the next several months is certainly possible but not probable. The covert war with Iran – underway now for several years – is designed paradoxically by all sides, including Iran, to avoid an overt one. Part of that campaign is a war of the shadows, complete with clandestine ops, including assassinations and cyber attacks. But part of it is quite open, including crushing sanctions and a variety of messaging and signaling.
Israel’s public threats and Leon Panetta’s seeming validation of them, is part of this campaign. Panetta ‘s comments to David Ignatius is part his own free-wheeling style, part what he’s been told by the Israelis, and part Washington’s own nervousness about an Israeli strike and its desire to keep the Iranians nervous as well.

The fact is Iran is determined to acquire – at least the capacity -- to produce a nuclear weapon. There’s only one country that can stop them - and that’s Iran should the mullahcracy conclude the costs are too high. But we’re not there yet and we may never be there. India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel (the only nuclear powers outside of the UN’s Perm Five) all wanted nukes; and got them. States that feel profoundly insecure and have existential worries, including fear of regime change, want nukes. And unless the motivational character of the Iranian regime can somehow be altered, its quest for a weapon will continue, perhaps delayed and constrained; but vibrant nonetheless.

With little chance for a diplomatic breakthrough, we will drift; the coyote-roadrunner game of gotcha between Iran, Israel and America will continue. Learning to live with an Iranian bomb doesn’t seem like an option the Israelis will entertain. And while American red lines are much less clear, there really is no whistling past the graveyard on this one. At some point the covert war will go overt with the most unpredictable of consequences.

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