Did Foreign Policy run a false story — leading to an Israeli diplomat getting kicked out of Washington?

Philip Weiss writes: Here’s some high level intrigue, with the stakes being no less than Our Next War.

You might have seen the bombshell piece by Foreign Policy editor David Rothkopf, “A Truly Credible Military Threat To Iran,” saying that Obama and the Israelis are at last getting on the same page for a surgical strike on Iran that would only last a couple of hours and bring regional benefits to everyone.

The article was a bombshell because it seemed the first real evidence of joint military planning. But it has apparently mislanded, and led to a clash inside the Israeli embassy between Michael Oren and his former deputy, Baruch Bina, and in turn led Israeli P.M. Netanyahu to dismiss Bina.

Here’s the story as I understand it.

Rothkopf’s piece electrified D.C. because it had the kind of detailed, nuanced language that usually accompanies a well-sourced and authoritative account. And indeed, Rothkopf is a Washington insider. He is the former roommate of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.

The money graf:

Indeed, according to a source close to the discussions, the action that participants currently see as most likely is a joint U.S.-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities. The strike might take only “a couple of hours” in the best case and only would involve a “day or two” overall, the source said, and would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone support. Advocates for this approach argue that not only is it likely to be more politically palatable in the United States but, were it to be successful — meaning knocking out enrichment facilities, setting the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and doing so without civilian casualties — it would have regionwide benefits.

Of course we Americans would be doing the heavy lifting:

While this approach would limit the negative costs associated with more protracted interventions, it could not be conducted by the Israelis acting alone.

And here’s the rosy neocon vision. A joint strike, Rothkopf wrote, would have a

“transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.”

Rothkopf’s article first made headlines in Israel as a piece of investigative journalism, but doubts ensued. “A Truly Credible Threat” was soon being retailed as an opinion piece. It slid off the front page of the Times of Israel; and even Foreign Policy seemed eager to let the scoop disappear. Comments on the piece were turned off.

What happened? [Continue reading…]

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