U.S. leak on Israeli attack weakened a warning to Netanyahu

Gareth Porter writes: When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius this week that he believes Israel was likely to attack Iran between April and June, it was ostensibly yet another expression of alarm at the Israeli government’s threats of military action.

But even though the administration is undoubtedly concerned about that Israeli threat, the Panetta leak had a different objective. The White House was taking advantage of the current crisis atmosphere over that Israeli threat and even seeking to make it more urgent in order to put pressure on Iran to make diplomatic concessions to the United States and its allies on its nuclear program in the coming months.

The real aim of the leak brings into sharper focus a contradiction in the Barack Obama administration’s Iran policy between its effort to reduce the likelihood of being drawn into a war with Iran and its desire to exploit the Israeli threat of war to gain diplomatic leverage on Iran.

The Panetta leak makes it less likely that either Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian strategists will take seriously Obama’s effort to keep the United States out of a war initiated by an Israeli attack. It seriously undercut the message carried to the Israelis by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last month that the United States would not come to Israel’s defense if it launched a unilateral attack on Iran, as IPS reported Feb. 1.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “U.S. leak on Israeli attack weakened a warning to Netanyahu

  1. Christopher Hoare

    Quote from the full article: “Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian-American Council, who worked in the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs from 2006 to 2010, doubts the administration can avoid being drawn into an Israeli war with Iran without a very public and unequivocal statement that it will not tolerate a unilateral and unprovoked Israeli attack.

    “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And sometimes the only way to ensure that a friend doesn’t endanger you or themselves is to take the away the car keys,” Marashi said. ”

    It would be welcome if the ongoing cacaphony of conflicting statements coming from Washington would necessitate some specific and sane ultimatum to Netanyahu. However, in light of the fact that US wars and diplomacy always fail because no one is ever convincingly in charge within the US political Panjandrumate, it seems unlikely. I suspect what is lacking is the actual sober friend capable of taking away the car keys.

  2. Norman

    This does pose an interesting question? If by telling the world that Israel might launch an attach upon Iran, that Iran is surrounded with 100,00 or more American troops, along with having a large concentration of American warships in the vicinity, it seems that the U.S. is leaving its flanks open! With all the problems that face the country here at home, one would think that somebody would be concerned that it could get very dicey here, very quickly. Whether by design or “who’s in charge here”, it doesn’t seem like the Military has all its ducks in a row. Mixed messages coming from different directions looks like the ship of state is rudderless. So far, there doesn’t even look like the U.S. has any strong person that’s capable of running the show it the shooting starts. Underestimating Iran is a distinct possibility when one views Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as the Arab Spring too.

Comments are closed.