Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.
More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — Does the New York Times have a vital role to play in defending Israel from an Iranian nuclear threat? If the answer is ‘yes’, then I can understand why the paper would run a report like this. But if the paper’s primary responsibility is to report, then it has no business turning itself into an adjunct of either the US government or the Israeli government as it is doing so in this case. Performing government service here means disseminating information that no government official is willing to disseminate openly.
A senior Pentagon official who has been briefed on the exercise, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the matter, said the exercise appeared to serve multiple purposes.
One Israeli goal, the Pentagon official said, was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.
A second, the official said, was to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter.
“They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know,” the Pentagon official said. “There’s a lot of signaling going on at different levels.”
But the NYT isn’t just describing the signaling — it’s part of the signaling loop. It thereby in the most insidious way inserts itself into a political process wherein it serves a role in applying pressure on all the parties involved.
Anonymous sourcing is required in a story like this, not because of — as the NYT puts it — “the political delicacy of the matter.” It’s used because journalists willing to prostitute themselves to their sources give those sources complete freedom to pick and choose which questions they want to answer. Indeed, they hand the reporter the story on a plate and then the newspaper happily gets the message out.
How would this story be approached if it was real journalism? It would dig into some of the key political question here: To what degree are the United States and Israel pursuing a coordinated political and military strategy in confronting Iran? Is the Pentagon — with a nod and a wink — helping relay Israel’s signal to Iran, or is it signaling to all concerned that Israel is a free agent whose actions might conflict with American interests?
These are the kinds of questions that don’t get answered when journalists turn themselves into the mouthpieces of anonymous sources.
Pressure is building on Iran. This week Europe agreed to new sanctions and President Bush again suggested something more serious – possible military strikes – if the Islamic Republic doesn’t bend to the will of the international community on its nuclear program.
But increasingly military analysts are warning of severe consequences if the US begins a shooting war with Iran. While Iranian forces are no match for American technology on a conventional battlefield, Iran has shown that it can bite back in unconventional ways.
Iranian networks in Iraq and Afghanistan could imperil US interests there; American forces throughout the Gulf region could be targeted by asymmetric methods and lethal rocket barrages; and Iranian partners across the region – such as Hezbollah in Lebanon – could be mobilized to engage in an anti-US fight. [complete article]