Your Summer Schedule: Vacation, Beach, Iran War

Man, if Leon Panetta doesn’t get into trouble for revealing details of Anwar al-Awlaki’s targeting or confirming that Pakistani doctor Shikal Afridi was working for the CIA when he collected DNA from Osama bin Laden’s compound, I wonder if he’ll get in trouble for (apparently) telling David Ignatius when Israel will attack Iran?

Panetta believes there is strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb.

Now perhaps this is another sanctioned leak meant to ruin Bibi Netanyahu’s surprise (though I’m not sure how Iran would prepare to defend against an Israeli attack).

If so, Ignatius’ article sure sends a divided message. On one hand, it suggests the US would not participate.

The administration appears to favor a policy of staying out of the conflict, unless Iran hits U.S. assets, which would trigger a strong U.S. response.

This U.S. policy — signaling that Israel is acting on its own — might open a breach like the one in 1956, when President Eisenhower condemned an Israeli-European attack on the Suez Canal.

Yet at the same time it lays out the circumstances under which the US would get involved.

Administration officials caution that Tehran shouldn’t misunderstand: The United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israel’s population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defense.

I’m sure the Israelis would never be able to cock up a Scary Iran Plot targeted at Tel Aviv.

What Ignatius doesn’t emphasize–though he does hint at it–is the real reason for this schedule.

Complicating matters is the 2012 presidential campaign, which has Republicans candidates clamoring for stronger U.S. support of Israel.

Bibi’s biggest political donor, Sheldon Adelson, has already dumped $10 million into the GOP primary. To imagine that Bibi is not, at the same time, gaming out how the electoral schedule might play into the optimal time to pick a war with Iran is naive.

Which, I guess, may be why Panetta is blabbing this particular detail.

34 replies
  1. John B. says:

    Damn, that is so messed up on so many levels…hey we would like to get a little war on here and we would like to fit it in around your schedules…so when would be a good time for us to bomb some Iranian cities and wreak some mayhem on the population centers in the mid east? Can you work in a June war? No, well how’s July look to you?

  2. orionATL says:

    adelson provides big money to gingrich AND to netanyahu?

    what a perfect example of the way a single, hyper-rich person can meddle in politics, set and control a political agenda, and cause grief for nations and their non-wealthy citizens.

  3. nomolos says:

    It matters not whether Israel starts a bloody war or the USACorp starts it. It is USACorp that wants unfettered access to the Iranian oil and they will try to get it through any means possible other than peacefully.

    If USACorp thinks for one bloody minute that letting the Israelis drop the first bomb will insulate America from retaliation then they are, sadly, delusional. USACorp really has to get out of la la land and into the real world.

    America has no longer any standing in the world when it comes to democracy, human rights, freedom of thought, freedom of movement…hell any freedoms at all. America is a bought and paid for corporate state, a fascist state, hated, reviled and derided by the rest of the world, it’s population controlled by propaganda and “homeland security” forces. It is a country that lives by the sword and will, with absoute certainty, die by the sword.

  4. Peterr says:

    @John B.:

    Scheduling wars for the most opportune time has a long and storied history. A relatively recent example in the region in question comes to mind:

    The war began when the [Arab] coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, which coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

    First rule of invaders: catch the opposition while they’re praying/eating/sleeping/doing anything but keeping their eyes out for invaders.

  5. What Constitution? says:

    So has the US delivered yet on any of the stealth F-35’s we agreed to sell to Israel, so that the attack can be carried out without regard for air defenses in Iran? That was SUCH a “stability inducing” sale, sure hope it’s in position to pan out….

  6. MadDog says:

    For those pilots desirous of a dark night, the following are the new moon phases in the next few months:

    February 21, 2012
    March 22, 2012
    April 21, 2012
    May 20, 2012
    June 19, 2012

  7. MadDog says:

    The CBS Evening News lead with this story tonight and added these little tidbits:

    – David Ignatius posted this story only following the completion of a transatlantic flight with Leon Panetta.

    – Leon Panetta has not backed off from this story even after Ignatius had it published.

    I don’t know whether Panetta’s purpose was “meant to ruin Bibi Netanyahu’s surprise”, ratchet up the pressure on Iran, or provide a go “wink and nod” to Israel, but as a Scary Iran Plot, the emphasis is really getting scary on the Scary.

  8. MadDog says:

    A bit of an update on Panetta’s thoughts via the NYT:

    “…Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, speaking at a NATO meeting in Brussels, declined to comment on a column by David Ignatius in The Washington Post that reported that Mr. Panetta believed there was a “strong likelihood” that Israel would strike Iran in April, May or June.

    Mr. Panetta would say only that “Israel has indicated that they’re considering this, and we have indicated our concerns.”

    Israel has considered this? It sounds to me like Panetta has just explicitly confirmed the Ignatius story.

  9. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And even more from the AP:

    “West making case to Israel: Don’t attack Iran

    Israel’s major allies in the West are working hard to talk it out of a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, arguing forcefully that an attack ultimately would strengthen, not weaken, the regime in Tehran.

    The United States is leading the persuasion initiative, even though Washington largely has concluded that outside argument will have little effect on Israeli decision-making…”

    I’m of the opinion that the AP’s headline doesn’t match the contents of their story. For example, there’s this part:

    “…A senior Obama administration official said the U.S. and Israel have similar views of the risk of an Iranian bomb and the timeframe in which the world could act. The U.S., however, sees a clear “breakout” to nuclear capability by Iran as necessary before military action could be justified, the official said.

    The official said the U.S. is making its case publicly and privately but that the ultimate decision will be Israel’s…”

    That sounds like a US “wink and nod” to Israel to do whatever it likes rather than some US attempt to convince Israel not to strike Iran.

  10. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Panetta, like Gen Dempsey a couple of weeks ago and with the cancelation of the mutual exercises a while back, is putting the Israelis on notice they are on their own.

  11. PeasantParty says:

    There goes the lecture/message again. What Panetta is saying is that Isreal is going to have to make the first strike. The US can’t because it will ruin the small standing they have left with other countries and cause Russia and China to have serious heartburn. Everyone knows the US will be right in the midst of the smoke with Isreal. As far as to when, well, he is saying it is not a good time for Isreal to do that. Otherwise, his lips would have been sealed tight.

  12. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And from the Telegraph, there’s this:

    “…Israeli television said Mossad chief Tamir Pardo raised the possibility of a unilateral strike on Iran during a visit last week to Washington.”

    This would be the same Pardo I noted yesterday that met with both Senator Diane Feinstein and CIA Director Petraeus:

    “…Feinstein then indicated that she had met Mossad chief Pardo earlier in the week in Washington, with Petraeus adding that he too met Pardo and cited what he called Israel’s growing concern over Iran’s nuclear ambitions…”

  13. EH says:

    I don’t think he’s revealing military plans, I think he’s telegraphing Obama’s campaign strategy to make war his summer issue, just in time to wrap everything up for the fall.

  14. PeasantParty says:

    Has anyone done the research and background on Adelson? Where does he get his money and power from? He appears dangerous to society, especially backing Newt who is America’s version of King Jong Il.

  15. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: Yeah, I noted it when live tweeting the hearing. It was interpreted as a mistake on DiFi’s part.

    Say what you will abt DiFi, but she’s VERY careful (and deliberate) about what she says in hearings.

  16. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And from MSNBC, there’s this:

    “…Panetta’s reported view has been echoed in recent interviews by NBC News with current and former U.S. and Israeli officials who have access to their countries’ intelligence…


    Q: What are the chances Israel attacks Iran?
    A: Officials agree the chances for an Israeli attack on Iran are at least 50-50, maybe higher. More than one former official has suggested the possibility is as high as 70 percent, but events can move that higher or lower. One said he is “worried sick” about it.
    Q: When might Israel attack?
    A: Most of those questioned said the prospects of an Israeli attack will increase as the calendar moves into spring and summer…”

  17. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: Speaking of your tweeting, any plans to bring back the EW tweets as a realtime updated section here like it was back at the Lake? I really miss it.

  18. PeasantParty says:

    @MadDog: I’m thinking March or April. I’m probably wrong, but earlier would make more sense in the area due to the climate.

  19. MadDog says:

    Sort of on topic, via the AP – In case you missed it, we are also at war in the Philippines:

    “Philippines: 3 most-wanted terror leaders killed

    The Philippine military said it killed three of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorist leaders in a U.S.-backed airstrike that significantly weakens an al-Qaida-linked network that had used islands in the southern Philippines as a hideout and training base…


    …A U.S. official in Washington confirmed the strike on Jolo Island, an impoverished region 600 miles (950 kilometers) south of Manila, and said the Pentagon provided assistance in one of the region’s most successful anti-terror operations in years…


    …In Washington, a U.S. official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the operation, confirmed the Pentagon had aided the strike. He was not specific about the contribution and did not know how many people had been killed in the operation…”

  20. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @emptywheel: So they said. When was the last time they said anything anyone could believe?

    The only thing that could cost Obama this election given the mediocrity of the Republican field is getting into another war. I may be wrong but I think they’re signaling to the Israelis not to count on our support. It will send all the Israeli-firsters into spasms but I think Obama knows full well how Bibi is playing this and I don’t think he is going to play along.

  21. GulfCoastPirate says:

    I know you follow SST some and the colonel has had a few posts on the topic. Here is the latest.

    As the colonel indicates the most virulent of the Israeli firsters are never going to vote for Obama nor are the southern evangelicals. WE had an article today on the Wall Streeters bailing on Obama after everything he’s done for them in favor of Romney. Now, we can all say whatever we want and think what we think about Obama but a poor black guy doesn’t get elected president of the US without being able to count votes and his votes aren’t with those who want an attack on Iran. Particularly given that Iran has doen nothing wrong. Going against the Israelis is the correct strategy given the economy and who wants him to go in the opposite direction.

  22. emptywheel says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: I agree with everything you say, but I still trust the sources that say the Israelis canceled it. They may have canceled it bc the Admin said they wouldn’t fight Israel’s war, though.

  23. Petrocelli says:

    @emptywheel: Methinks this is due in no small part, to the lessened influence of Graham/McCain/HoJo in foreign matters. And just speculating that this is largely due to Hillary being SecState …

  24. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @emptywheel: Yea, I think that’s part of it. If we told them we weren’t going to back them up and they used up a lot of ordinance in an exercise they may have figured why have the exercise.

    I know you’re a sports lady. For all of his faults Obama does have a sporting streak and he’s a cocky booger. You have to think his treatment from Bibi is irritiating his ass and it must kill him to hold his tongue. We did have the one incident a couple years ago when he left Bibi waiting and from reports acted fairly rude to him. In your opinion what’s the chances he gets a second term, doesn’t have to worry about reelection again, and decides he’s going to come down on Bibi’s ass like the Israelis have never seen before? Frak, the Iranians aren’t doing anything any sane person who lived near the Israelis wouldn’t also be doing – getting ready just in case. They aren’t doing anything the NNPT doesn’t allow them to do and the US intelligence community knows it. There seems to be an increasing number of people who are tired of the Israelis crap. I’m not so sure he wouldn’t have a lot of people backing him if he decided to let them go it alone.

  25. Kangaru says:

    I’d like to hear y’alls take, it seems to me that Israel’s support in the US is an inch wide and a mile deep, composed of zealots, dingbats and the ladder-climbers clambering to stay in office, which unfortunately happens to be all of congress, with the rare exception.. Most, perhaps as many as 80% of us don’t support Israel’s nonsense and won’t support another war in Asia.

    Bibi, Lieberman and Barak can’t stand the prospect of Iran and the US reaching some kind of deal, thus leaving them something less than the “special” and “ironclad” relationship. I think they are more afraid of losing this privileged status and the room for maneuver it provides than some fantasy of crazy Persians with a bomb. BTW I think Israel is all bluff and bluster, and buffoonery when faced with a real adversary, which Iran is. Israel will not hit Iran. Book it. The US Navy has a long memory.

  26. orionATL says:

    where is the strong leadership on the american side.

    not the leadership that says, “we won’t fight your war,”

    but the leadership that says “if you do something this unwarranted and foolish, we will see that you suffer severe consequences.”

    other than panetta’s comments, which are quite remarkable for a cabinet member,

    there is no sense/message from the obama aministration of what one would call, at the family level, a parent in charge of those little israeli brats.

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