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Lovely summer for a war

One of these lazy, sunny days, we’re likely to hear on the news that Israel has just bombed Iran.

The question of whether Israel will soon attack Iran is one of those things where your senses completely deceive you. The more Israeli politicians and generals talk about it, the closer it seems, and the more fearful you become – but the bombast is a good sign that it’s not about to happen because if it was, they wouldn’t be talking about it so loud for Iran to hear. No, it’s when the rhetoric has quieted down, when things seem too peaceful for a war to just suddenly break out – when you don’t sense danger, when you’re not afraid – that Netanyahu would have the maximum (though still miniscule) element of surprise against Iran and be most likely to pull the trigger.

Actually, now that I write this, I think Netanyahu figures this is exactly what the Iranians are thinking, so at some point he’s going to start beating the war drums really loud, and when they’re at their peak, when the Iranians are thinking that this isn’t the time, that’s when he’ll give the order.

Well, who really knows if Bibi is second-guessing or third-guessing Iran on how to catch them unawares, or as unawares as is still possible. What I am pretty well convinced of, though, is that barring the virtual impossibility of Iran’s agreeing very soon to shut down its entire nuclear project and let Israel verify that it has, then if Obama will not attack Iran – and it seems he won’t – Bibi will. Within the coming months. Sometime before the November 2 presidential election – a one-time window of opportunity when Israel can do whatever it wants and get the White House’s support – but long enough before the vote so it doesn’t look like Bibi is timing the war to influence its outcome. Before October, I’d say.

I don’t understand people who think Netanyahu is bluffing. Sure, he’s threatening war partially for effect – he wants to scare America and Europe into pressuring Iran in the hope that this will convince Khameini to halt the nuclear project; naturally, Bibi would prefer to neutralize Iran without having to fire a shot. But what if Iran doesn’t agree and goes on enriching uranium and acting suspiciously, as it’s doing? Is Bibi then going to trust Obama or Romney to save Israel from what he envisions as a second Holocaust,  knowing that he will bear eternal responsibility if they don’t? I don’t believe he considers that an option. And I think that in Netanyahu’s position, most of the prime ministers before him would probably size things up the same way. Israeli-style fear and aggression didn’t start with Bibi, I’m afraid.

Three months ago, he told Channel 2 that stopping Iran’s nuclear program was “not a matter of days or weeks. It is also not a matter of years.” That would seem to leave “months” as the time frame he had in mind.

And today, Moshe “Bugi” Ya’alon, the vice premier and former IDF chief of staff, told Haaretz’s Ari Shavit in a long interview that everything we’re seeing and hearing is absolutely for real.

Q. Israel is not believed either internationally or domestically. The feeling is that Israel is crying wolf and playing a sophisticated game of ‘Hold me back.’

Ya’alon: Let me say one thing to you in English, because it is very important for English speakers to understand it: We are not bluffing. If the political-economic pressure is played out and the other alternatives are played out, and Iran continues to hurtle toward a bomb, decisions will have to be made.

Q. Is there a danger that the Iranian crisis will reach its peak already in the year ahead?

Ya’alon: There was a time when we talked about a decade. Afterward we talked about years. Now we are talking about months. It is possible that the sanctions will suddenly work. But presently we are in a situation that necessitates a daily check. I am not exaggerating: daily. From our point of view, Iranian ability to manufacture nuclear weapons is a sword held over our throat. The sword is getting closer and closer. Under no circumstances will Israel agree to let the sword touch its throat.

There’s one other thing that convinces me Bibi’s going to do it:  He has this Roman air about him now. He has this flat stare, he talks quietly, with little expression – as if it’s beneath his station to exert himself, as if all he has to do is be there for everyone and everything to arrange itself according to his will, which is unerring. He’s always been a hugely arrogant, vain person, the power and prestige have always gone straight to his head – but he’s never had such power and prestige as he has now, and his head is the size of the sun. Obama is nothing to him, America is nothing to him, other people’s opinions are nothing to him. He’s invincible. He will do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.

I know this is hard to imagine. The sun’s shining, people are looking forward to going on vacation; the idea that Israel is about to start a war with Iran that could bring in (as Ya’alon expects it will) Lebanon, Gaza and maybe Syria, too, seems ridiculous. It contradicts the evidence of our senses. But the senses are one thing, and reason is another, and my reason, at least, says that one of these lazy, sunny days, the war Bibi’s been promising us for so long will be here. On schedule.

Related: Today’s Haaretz interview with Moshe Ya’alon 


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    1. Danny

      Personally, I hope Bibi pulls the trigger and bombs Iran. I am 100% certain this bombing will not significantly harm Iran’s nuclear program. The main consequence of this move will be the complete isolation of Israel in most of the world (with the exception for the U.S. of course), the possible military involvement by Egypt and Turkey (both of whose armies can inflict great damage to the IDF), and a possible cancellation of peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan. Of course, there will be war on several fronts (Iran, Gaza and Lebanon cited as most probable), which Israel will find difficult to win using conventional means. Add to that a potential intifada in the West Bank and terror attacks against Jewish institutions the world over, and Israel will find itself in HUGE trouble indeed. It will a shitstorm unlike anything Israel has ever experienced, and would possibly necessitate a NATO-led Middle East wide mission (including in Israel) to take control of the situation with a possible region-wide mandate. And that’s why I am certain Israel will NEVER attack Iran.

      Reply to Comment
    2. If ever “regime change” seems needed, it’s in Israel, today. But, of course, RC seems desirable or not depending on the political situation of the “seemer”.

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    3. caden

      Thanks for the kind words Danny. And Pabelmont. Evidently they love you over at mondoweiss, Larry. But I digress. How many columns are you going to write about this. If it doesn’t happen. And at this point it would be the most telegraphed move in military history. Are you going to admit that your wrong, ever.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mark


      I agree. Bibi has 200 nuclear warheads, America’s Born Agin (sic) Christians, Shelly Adelson’s money, and the ability to scream “eternal victim” on his side.

      Bibi, to keep Lieberman from going all Yitzhak Rabin on him, bombs Iran in August, just in time for the Republican National Convention in the U.S. Romney and his Tea Party pals get the boost, and we extend the Cheney-Bush era.

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    5. Piotr Berman

      I have a different theory about consequences of a putative attack on Iran. I think that contrary to what Israeli think, the consequences will be elsewhere, UNLESS IDF will attack Hezbollah “preemptively” etc. If Iran plays its cards right, nothing better could happen to the Islamic Republic but an attack by Israel — barring an attack by USA.

      For starters, Iran does not need the nuclear program, they need to stand tall to the Western aggression. The program is a gigantic decoy. An attack on Iran will not dent any economic or military interests of the regime, and probably it will (a) destroy cooperation of major and medium Asian oil importers with sanctions on Iran (b) destroy ALL transit routes for military supplies to Afghanistan. It will be a very humiliating and possibly bloody debacle for USA, with Israel to collect the gratitude.

      An escalation close to Israel can of course lead to an even faster disaster, but I think IDF can avoid that.

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    6. Iam Solo

      Say Larry, is this quote from direct experience or are you translating “Bugi” impression of Bibi: “There’s one other thing that convinces me Bibi’s going to do it: He has this Roman air about him now. He has this flat stare, he talks quietly, with little expression – as if it’s beneath his station to exert himself, as if all he has to do is be there for everyone and everything to arrange itself according to his will, which is unerring. He’s always been a hugely arrogant, vain person, the power and prestige have always gone straight to his head – but he’s never had such power and prestige as he has now, and his head is the size of the sun. Obama is nothing to him, America is nothing to him, other people’s opinions are nothing to him. He’s invincible. He will do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.”

      Reply to Comment
    7. Bombing the country of Cyrus the Great will be cutting the last thread that connects the Zionist enterprise with reality. There will be no war, since Israel can’t afford a war; there will be a one way slaughter, sold to the world as a necessary defense with millions of US taxpayer’s dollars.
      If Israelis still think they have a right to get nuclear subs from the German people, because they didn’t oppose their dictator, so the world should not limit its critique to the Israeli government, but blame the people for supporting it. Any attack of Israel is an attack on humanity. It should be stopped.

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    8. caden

      I love the way the psychos slither out from under rocks on this one.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Rehmat

      Israel’s 1967 war hero, Gen. Matti Peled’s daughter, Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan (Hebrew University) and his son Miko Peled, a former IOF soldier and author of book, The General’s Son – told some truths to the leaders of the Zionist entity – before they bomb Iran and begin the demise of Israel.


      Reply to Comment
    10. Mark


      Please relax. You’re not in South Tel Aviv. And no one here is Ethiopian.

      It’s just a discussion. You can agree or disagree. But remember what your father let your mother teach you and be respectful of others – even if they don’t happen to type the words you demand.

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    11. Iman

      I’m not sure. I sense that Netanyahu, though an ideological hardliner, is too smart to start a war with such high costs for Israel. Even if he’s worried about Iran, he’s probably more focused on the Greater Israel agenda.

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    12. caden

      I know that facts aren’t really relevant to most people here but I’ll take this slow. ISRAEL DOESN”T HAVE A BIG ENOUGH AIR FORCE TO PULL THIS OFF.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Rehmat

      “Israel cannot do to Iran what Bibi wants done to Iran. Only Obama can. If there is no US attack on Iran by November, and Obama wins, there may never be a US ataack on Iran. No wonder Bibi is frustrated,” Patrick J. Buchanan, Anti-War, April 17, 2012.


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    14. Richard Witty

      Is there a path by which Iran would establish respectful diplomatic relations with Israel?

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    15. RichardL

      @Caden and Rehmat

      Have just read the Pat Buchanan article which rationalizes that if Israel does attack then the US will finish the job off. An example quote “Should Iran retaliate against Israel, the Israeli lobby and the neocons would demand that America come to Israel’s defense. Mitt Romney, the GOP hawks, evangelical Christians, conservative commentators and many Democrats would echo the demand, no matter who started the shooting.”
      My allegiances are entirely with Larry here. I don’t want to see a war with Iran or any other war. But Bibi wants a war, and what Buchanan says to me is that if Bibi wants to destroy Iran it’s his for the taking. Like it or not, Israel has the joker firmly in its hand.

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    16. Rehmat

      RICHARDL – Which war the ‘mighty US’ has won in the Muslim world recently? It invaded and occupied for many years both Afghanistan and Iraq. And what happened – according to many western military analysts – Washington has already lost Iraq and Lebanon to Iran – and in the very near future, it’s also about to lose Afghanistan to Iran too.

      Last December, in an Op-Ed former British foreign minister Lord David Owen (no he is not Jewish) wrote that these two US occupations have made Iran “the most powerful country in the region”.

      FYI – Israel, too, is part of the same region.


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    17. caden

      So, Larry, if we get to labor day without an IAF bombing run will you post a column saying that your brilliant incites were you know, WRONG.

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    18. RichardL

      @ Rehmat – You miss my point. It matters not whether the US wins or loses a war in Iran. Pat Buchanan is confidently saying they will start one. That will result in considerable devastation and death in Iran and very likely involve the use of depleted uranium and other evil concoctions that will result in wholesale pollution for millenia and beyond.
      However I am not so naive as to believe there will not be other losers in such a war, including the US, when oil supplies from the Persian Gulf will become disrupted or blocked. I also know where Israel is (thank you for your condescension). I know that the war is almost certain to bring in Hezbollah which has, what, 30,000 missiles pointed at Israel. (And I am not sure where the scuds are at present, which its fighters have been trained to use.) The Israeli overreaction to this of course will be scorched earth throughout Lebanon and probably chunks of Syria too.
      I am not going to read your link to Doctor Death. The man is a failed politician and a warmonger. For once however I would like to share Caden’s opinion, i.e. that Israel will not attack. I fear he is wrong, but I very much hope that is not the case.

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    19. Richard Witty

      Any chance that Iran will seek to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, so as to have a path to resolve conflicts of genuine interest?

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    20. Caden, you just Nazi-baited one commenter too many. I warned you before, and now you’re banned from commenting on my channel.

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    21. Richard, in answer to your question – no way, Jose.

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    22. caden

      Are you telling me that Pat Buchanan didn’t have a prediliction for Nazi war criminals. And that Rehmat doesn’t constantly provide links to holocaust denial sites.

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    23. Richard Witty

      If there is no prospect of normalization of relations, even to the extent of US/USSR diplomatic relations during the cold war (ENEMIES!!!), then conflict is inevitable.

      It is a good effort to make sure that that conflict is minimally violent.

      Its unclear to me what is that math.

      With the secondary Iranian enrichment plant deeply underground and considered impenetrable, then two things come out of that from my perspective.

      1. It is vain for Israel to undertake a military effort to accomplish stopping the nuclear program, but might be a message of another sort. “If you aggress, we will aggress, whether in response or anticipatory”.

      2. That a limited strike might not invoke the grand retaliatory response, but might just continue to ratchet up tensions, to the point of grand confrontation.

      I personally consider the Hezbollah mass violence to civilians through its rocket arsenal to be literally more immoral than a single limited military attack on a specific small set of sites, remote from civilian areas.

      I’m horribly disappointed that “peace activists” don’t invest literally any effort into seeking to reduce that unilateral threat on civilians.

      If your argument is to not provoke the evil monster that would be willing to expose Jewish and other Israelis to mass death, then that seems to conform with the right-wing description that Iran and Hezbollah are inhuman fanatic beasts, more ethno-nationalistically oriented than Israel even.

      How do tensions get lessoned, in an environment in which Iran is demonstrably ratcheting up tensions.

      Its not necessary for it to have a weapons grade enrichment program. The rationalization that they do not have a weapons program currently is mute, given that they do have the sharia out that defense renders what would otherwise be immoral to be justifiable, similar to halacha and right-wing Zionist credo.

      In the war with Iraq, once Iraq attacked (horridly), Iran responded very very harshly. They were not pansies, or else the war would not have ended in a stalemate. They were agressive, harsh.

      And, in war, it is ALWAYS civilians that get the brunt, especially from innaccurate weapons, and they were willing to harm civilians in their effort to defend.

      In the case of Hezbollah, attacking civlians is emphasized.

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    24. My apologies to CADEN for banning his comments. Instead, I am banning REHMAT. On his blogs, he throws the word “Jew” around as a pejorative, he notes the Jewish parentage of people he criticizes, he called the IMF and World Bank “Zionist-controlled,” he gave credence to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, he put quotation marks around the word “gassing” when writing about what the Nazis did to the Jews, he wrote that the terrorist massacre in Mumbai was an Israeli “false flag” op… I’d say he counts as an anti-Semite.

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    25. caden

      Thank you Larry, I know sometimes I’m out there but I really am sensitive about Nazi analogies.

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    26. caden

      I don’t like it from anybody, right or left.

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    27. LOL, Larry, you almost make Caden look like a nice person now. I guess it’s all relative.

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    28. caden

      Hey, my dog loves me. BTW, is that your real name. Engelbert

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    29. Alan

      If Bibi doesn’t bomb Iran, I believe Obama would deserve a lot of credit for doing everything in his power to prevent it– though I doubt this would cause many on the far left to change their view that AIPAC calls the shots no matter who is president.

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    30. klang

      I agree with you that war clouds may be on the horizon. Might be a good time for you and your family to exercise your right of return to Boyle Heights

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    31. Richard Witty

      The talks with Iran have crashed. I’m sure it will be spun as they are a victim, just abiding by their right as a signatory under the Non-proliferation treaty.

      5% enrichment offered, reported 20% enriched materials offered but supervised, rejected.

      Because they didn’t allow for 20% enriched uranium to be delivered. Iran reportedly wanted the embargo lifted first.

      Huh? Did I miss something? Maybe the summary was innaccurate.

      Reply to Comment
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