As Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak was determined to carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. His book provides the tools to examine the limitations of the U.S.-Israeli relationship and the considerations Israeli leaders put into the decision to go to war.
By Shemuel Meir
“My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace”, Ehud Barak, St. Martin’s Press, 2018.
The title of Ehud Barak’s recently published autobiography My Country, My Life declares that it is a book not just about Barak’s life, but also a first person account of some the most important moments in Israeli history, told by a politician and senior military official who was in the room. The book recounts not only achievements, but also mistakes and missed opportunities, and by presenting lessons to be learned, the book challenges the reader to take an analytical approach.
Barak discusses at length Israel’s wars, the withdrawal from Lebanon, and the opportunities missed in the peace process with Syria and with the Palestinians. Of particular interest, however, is the Iranian nuclear issue. In the book, Barak provides an important and dual point of view: firstly, the perspective of the security cabinet and its interaction with senior military officials; and secondly, that of Israel’s primary negotiator with the Americans — from the military and political echelons all the way up to Presidents Bush and Obama.
Although he at time seems to speak in riddles, through his book, Barak gives us an opportunity to examine a number of unanswered questions. What was his assessment of the Iranian nuclear program? Is he giving us the complete picture or has he left out important stages in the Iranian nuclear crisis, and if so, why? And the biggest question: did Ehud Barak earnestly promote an Israeli attack on Iran? And if so, why did it not happen?
According to his autobiography, the Iranian nuclear issue was the reason Barak decided to serve as defense minister in the Olmert and Netanyahu governments from 2007 to 2013. From the moment he entered Ehud Olmert’s government, Barak writes that he ordered Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to prepare a plan for a “surgical strike” to destroy most of Iran’s nuclear facilities. When Barak understood that Israel did not have the capability for such an attack (it lacked of midair refueling aircraft and the necessary bunker busting bombs), he writes, “I was determined to...Read More