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Gelb writes: "Bibi, Israel, curb your over-the-top war rhetoric toward Iran. I urge this as one who cherishes Israel and values military power. But you've got to understand that your constant threats to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program aren't working."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House with US President Barack Obama, 05/20/11. (photo: Jim Young)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House with US President Barack Obama, 05/20/11. (photo: Jim Young)



Israel, Pipe Down

By Leslie H. Gelb, The Daily Beast

06 February 12

 

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's constant threats to Iran only make a difficult settlement more unreachable. Tone down the threats and give economic sanctions time to work, writes Leslie H. Gelb.

ibi, Israel, curb your over-the-top war rhetoric toward Iran. I urge this as one who cherishes Israel and values military power. But you've got to understand that your constant threats to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program aren't working. Unending military threats unite Iranians and fire up their resistance. Economic sanctions weaken and divide them-and often produce constituencies for compromise. Give sanctions time to play out.

You cannot actually believe Iran will prostrate itself in the face of your threats. Your warnings will ignite war, and will not foster Iran's abandoning its nuclear program. Did Saddam Hussein kneel before George W. Bush's threats? Did the Taliban handcuff itself when faced with America's military might? Has Kim Jong-un bowed before his Western master? None capitulated even to the American superpower. Thus, it's hard to believe that you truly calculate that Ayatollah Khamenei will cry "uncle."

And if it is to be war, it won't be only Israel's war. Yes, Israel will bear the greatest risks in a war now or a war if Iran has nukes. But even if Israel attacks by itself, Tehran also can be expected to strike at America, Europe, and elsewhere. And Tehran likely will unleash terrorists worldwide, possibly with chemical and biological weapons, plus hits on oil pipelines. So the decision to go to war cannot be Israel's alone. Both U.S. and Israeli officials tell me that the Obama administration is urging you to be cautious. But you know, Bibi, that most times this White House is too nice about saying hard things to you. And maybe you won't get the message.

Let me spell out what I think President Obama is saying to you: the unprecedented economic sanctions against Iran are already hurting and will hurt a lot more over the next year. Let them bite more. Meantime, the U.S. and Israel are both underlining to Tehran that all options are on the table. (That's not a trivial phrase from a great power.) Israeli threats won't reinforce the pressure from the sanctions; they'll harden Iran's heart. And we'll all be heading for an incredibly dangerous war.

Now look at both American and Israeli intelligence judgments:

First, we both estimate that Iran's leaders won't surrender to Israel's threats.

Second, we both reckon that either you reverse your rhetoric or you go to war.

Third, your attacks probably will destroy most of Iran's nuclear facilities, but these can readily be reconstructed in one to two years-deeper and less vulnerable to future attacks. (Startling, last week, your Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the chief of Israeli military intelligence, stated publicly that Iran already had enough fissile material to build four nuclear bombs in one year. If true, that's already enough to destroy Israel. So what's to be gained by your attack?)

U.S. officials are not blind to your tactics to circumvent these joint judgments of reality. One tactic is to convince us the costs of war won't be so great. Just the other day your defense minister, Ehud Barak, tried to minimize the aftershocks: "There will not be 100,000 dead or 10,000 dead or 1,000 dead. The state of Israel will not be destroyed." He should not be so certain or so cavalier.

Another is that you're trying to scare us about Iran's future capabilities against America. According to Moshe Yaalon, your deputy prime minister, Iran is "getting ready to produce a missile with a range of 10,000 kilometers." I think that's news to us. Indeed, maybe someday they will, but they're not close now.

Your final gambit has been the Groucho Marx line-"Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?" You're trying to convince us that your threats aren't working because the White House isn't backing you up fully. Thus, Yaalon also argued: "The Iranians understand the West has capabilities, but as long as the Iranians don't think that the West has the political stomach and determination to use it, they will not stop. Currently they don't think the world is determined."

What in heaven's name do you propose that "the West" (read: the White House) do to prove its "stomach" to use military force? Shall we shake our fists as you have? That hasn't proved successful for you. If the United States does it and Iran still resists, the loss of American credibility truly would damage world security. The U.S. position is that "all options are on the table." That's the right stance for us-and for you.

Israelis are quite right to look on the dark side of things and to worry that it's getting "too late." Last week, International Atomic Energy inspectors visited Iran only to be denied access to key Iranian nuclear facilities. The inspectors will return shortly, but can't be expected to fare much better.

But it is not now or soon "too late." And we should not permit ourselves to think we've run out of time and choices. There can be no doubt that the sanctions are causing ever deeper pain, and no doubt that background military threats reinforce the message. But what's really needed to round out a plausible policy is a comprehensive U.S. and Israeli proposal that gives Tehran some incentive to compromise and protects Israel's and America's vital interests.

 

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+35 # Dion Giles 2012-02-06 08:32
But why the assumption that pressuring Iran to forego nuclear weapons while Israel builds them is a desirable goal? It seems steeped in the arrogant assumption that the ethnic group that owns Israel is "the one" and "lesser breeds" (which means the rest of the world) are merely "the other". What ethnic group is so special that it can expect the rest of the world to consider war to protect its conquests?
 
 
+32 # opieee 2012-02-06 08:36
Bibi and his ilk are rapacious liars. I well remember when Israel invaded and subdued Lebanon while Bibi tried to tell us it was merely "creating a buffer zone". What followed was the the slaughter in the two refugee camps.

They are criminals-pure and simple. A few years later Rabin was sacrificed to their rapaciousness- probably by a Likud "hit" man. Never believe 'em. Never trust 'em!
 
 
-29 # bobt 2012-02-06 09:31
hello...israel has not pronounced to the world it's going to wipe iran off the map. iran's constantly saying this... big effin difference, eh?
 
 
+24 # Richard Raznikov 2012-02-06 10:09
This is a misstatement. Iran has not made that threat at all. Try looking at direct sources rather than the 'translated' western version. The big difference is between saying that Israel will fail as a nation and that one expects to 'wipe it off the map.' Not to mention the underlying fact that Israel's got 200 nuclear missiles. What makes that okay while others don't have the right to build them? Because they're the 'good guys'?
 
 
+15 # reiverpacific 2012-02-06 11:08
Quoting bobt:
hello...israel has not pronounced to the world it's going to wipe iran off the map. iran's constantly saying this... big effin difference, eh?

So where exactly is this "constantly" being said? Sources, quotes if you please.
 
 
+7 # pvanderv 2012-02-06 19:36
Israel actually DID wipe Palestine off the map. Why are words more important than deeds?
 
 
+25 # bluepilgrim 2012-02-06 09:41
Gelb is just another imperialist who wants the US (and it's Israel) to control the world -- this is just a difference in opinion in how to do that, like the trolls in Tolkien's "The Hobbit" arguing about whther to roast the dwarves or boil them. The sanctions are acts of war -- aggressive war, and illegal.

At this point I don't value military power -- I see where it has always led. I don't value Israel either: it's a rogue terrorist state engaged in ethnic cleansing and slow genocide. The only solution is one-state, a real democracy. The area was much better off for everyone before the Brits and Zionists stole the land and inflicted the Nakba on the people -- another result of imperialism (and capitalism). Whatever potential Israel ever might have had for being a respectable nation is long gone.

It has niothing to do with nuclear weapons of course; it's about military conquest and footprint, and installing a puppet government (regime change), and controlling the oil and the keeping petrodollar -- same old gangster imperialism as everywhere and always. The only people begin fooled by this are, for the most part, propagandized Americans -- although those with hopes for some profit or power mouth support for the vampires.

This is the gang of monsters which the occupy movements around the world have to break.
 
 
+4 # CandH 2012-02-06 12:31
I'm afraid you are correct, and it is rather disturbing to read this on a "left of center" website, as well as the supposedly "left" DB. Neoliberalism trots out as the "left"--the same sickening warmongering as the neocons on the supposed "right." Like you said, "Gelb is just another imperialist who wants the US (and it's Israel) to control the world -- this is just a difference in opinion in how to do that, like the trolls in Tolkien's "The Hobbit" arguing about whther to roast the dwarves or boil them. The sanctions are acts of war -- aggressive war, and illegal." The elite cultural and political society is just plain SICK, reflecting little of the 99%.
 
 
+15 # Richard Raznikov 2012-02-06 10:06
Maybe the threats aren't designed to work. Maybe Israel's looking to hit Iran anyhow. And as to the 'sanctions', these are universally recognized to be acts of war. The policies of both the U.S. and Israel toward Iran are bellicose and dangerous, and not justified by either the facts or common humanity.
 
 
+2 # susienoodle 2012-02-06 10:20
All this saber rattling means we must defeat Romney in Nov.
He, like W before him, wants war, deficit or no deficit. Where is tea party on this? Are they war mongers too? Or is race all they care about and the changing demographic?
I don't buy any deficit rhetoric from their side since all we have to do is tax the rich and corporations, then spending would not need to be cut nearly as drastically. So much misinformation constantly being reported everywhere other than Current TV. Bibi, Romney, Newt, and all the neocons were discredited long ago. Why does anyone still pay the slightest attention to them?!!! Great article btw
 
 
+20 # seeuingoa 2012-02-06 10:30
and don´t forget that
the soldiers dying on the battlefield,
and the civilians dying in their beds,

ARE NEVER THE SONS, DAUGHTERS AND FAMILIES OF THE PEOPLE IN POWER WHO
STARTED THE WAR.
 
 
+1 # pyrocat 2012-02-07 11:25
Quoting seeuingoa:
...ARE NEVER THE SONS, DAUGHTERS AND FAMILIES OF THE PEOPLE IN POWER WHO
STARTED THE WAR.


Not hardly. Beau Biden spent a year of military service in Iraq. As the son of the Vice President, he could have avoided service, but he went anyway.

There's a big difference between hyperbole and facts.
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2012-02-07 17:51
Quoting pyrocat:
Quoting seeuingoa:
...ARE NEVER THE SONS, DAUGHTERS AND FAMILIES OF THE PEOPLE IN POWER WHO
STARTED THE WAR.


Not hardly. Beau Biden spent a year of military service in Iraq. As the son of the Vice President, he could have avoided service, but he went anyway.

There's a big difference between hyperbole and facts.

Really? So what about 90% of the Bush administration who never put a boot on the ground but sent thousands of young Americans out to die for a lie, not to mention their victims in the invaded countries.
That's not hyperbole, just fact.
 
 
+1 # bluepilgrim 2012-02-07 19:20
Not exactly dying on the battle field:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2008/11/beau-biden-head/
"His chief responsibility is helping commanders as a prosecutor, enforcing the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
 
 
-1 # CandH 2012-02-06 12:18
"Israelis are quite right to look on the dark side of things and to worry that it's getting "too late." Last week, IAEA inspectors visited Iran only to be denied access to key Iranian nuclear facilities. The inspectors will return shortly, but can't be expected to fare much better." [from article]

"Indeed, NYT reported Sunday that "American and European officials said Fri that a mission by int'l nuclear inspectors to Tehran this week had failed to address their key concerns, indicating that Iran's leaders believe they can resist pressure to open up the nation's nuclear program."

NYT stenographers Worth and Sanger averred that an unnamed "senior American official described the session between the agency and Iranian nuclear officials as 'foot-dragging at best and a disaster at worst'."

Why is the onus solely placed on Iranian negotiators? [cont...]
 
 
0 # CandH 2012-02-06 12:19
"Because "members of the IAEA delegation were told that they could not have access to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an academic who is widely believed to be in charge of important elements of the suspected weaponization program, and that they could not visit a military site where the agency's report suggested key experiments on weapons technology might have been carried out."

What Worth and Sanger fail to mention in their report is that Iranian officials asserted that before Roshan's murder he "had talked to IAEA inspectors, a fact which 'indicates that these UN agencies may have played a role in leaking information on Iran's nuclear facilities and scientists'," RT reported at the time.

Protesting the killing before the UN Sec Council last month, Iranian deputy UN ambassador Eshagh Al Habib said there was "'high suspicion' that, in order to prepare the murder, terrorist circles used intelligence obtained from UN bodies."

According to the deputy ambassador's charge, "this included interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists carried out by the IAEA and the sanction list of the Sec Council," RT disclosed. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29091)
 
 
+5 # X Dane 2012-02-06 13:26
Susienoodle is right, if Romney wins in November, he very well might start a war.
Republicans DON'T know how to govern, all they know is starting wars, UNPAID for.
And then they leave the mess for the democrats to clean up. They almost make sure that NO PROGRESS will be possible in OUR country.

Remember McCain in 08, like a fool, he is,...ON CNN,... for the world to see, standing and singing BOMB, BOMB. BOMB. BOMB, BOMB IRAN.
Now, seeing how we treated Iraq, Iran certainly feels threatened. Bush called them the Axel of evil. They feel their number is up. I sure do NOT blame them.
 
 
+6 # RMDC 2012-02-06 16:09
"You cannot actually believe Iran will prostrate itself in the face of your threats. "

Gelb is like Goldilocks in the wolf's den. In fact, Netanyahoo and the Likud party have always believed they can beat their enemies into submission. This is why they will not make peace with Palestininan. They believe that Palestinians can be militarily defeated and in the total surrender Israel can dictate the terms of their lives forever.

Netanyahoo is not rational. Gelb makes an appeal to reason. Netanyahoo is a sociopath. He cannot be reasoned with. He's also a megalomaniac who think that he personally sets US policy in the middle east. He will decide if and when the US begins its "shock and awe" blitz of Iran.

By the way Gelb, Iran has no weapons that could reach the US. It can reach Israel.

There's another article on RSN with a good summary of Netanyahoo's "Clean Break" doctrine. It is important to know this in order to understand Netanyahoo. He says that Israel must make a clean break with its past policy of trying to reach a peace agreement with its neighbors. In the future Israel must militarily dominate its neighbors and determine what sort of government they will have. The "Arab Spring" is ultimately Netanyahoo's plan. The regime changes underway in Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and so on are called for in the Clean Break. I doubt that even Hitler has such grand ambitions as Netanyahoo.
 
 
+2 # rosross 2012-02-07 00:45
Well said. And Israelis need to know that the only reason they are under threat is that they are a rogue state in the region which uses terrorism to occupy and colonise Palestine and to seek to disempower its neighbours. Israel is hated for what it has done, for what it does and for what it threatens to do - it has created its enemies while screaming victim. No-one but Israelis believe this fantasy and increasingly, followers of Judaism around the world who are safely citizens of other and saner countries want to distance themselves from Israel.
 
 
+5 # pyrocat 2012-02-07 11:34
Jews are not the problem. Colonial imperialists in Israel are. There are plenty of Jews who remained in the middle east over the past few thousand years--in Lebanon, Iraq, Persia, Palestine, Anatolia, etc.--and got along with their neighbors. It wasn't until the Zionists wanted to steal the land belonging to non-Jews, claiming it for themselves, that even the Jews who had been there for thousands of years were pushed aside so that the newcomers could 'reclaim' the land that they never owned in the first place. Homes, farms, orchards have been destroyed, and Israelis are still surprised that they're surrounded by so much hostility.

When Israel learns to be a good neighbor to other countries, and to the people who lived there before the colonists arrived, then there can be peace. After all, the Jews and Palestinians who were there first are the same people, separated by religion and ethnic differences--th ey're all Semitic.
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2012-02-07 18:11
good comment pyrocat. From what I can learn, about 40% of Israelis feel the way you descirbe -- they want to be good neighbors with Arabs. they want an end to the settlements and war against Palestine.

But, sadly, the extreme right wing in Israel has control of the government. It has the same military industrial complex that we do. Our extremist leaders will lead us into more wars until both nations collapse in bankruptcy.
 
 
-4 # susienoodle 2012-02-07 12:08
some of you Israel bashers forget had there been an Israel when Hitler came to power, he would have deported the Jews instead of murdering them. No country would take them, not the US, Canada, France UK.....And Hamas refuses to accept Israel's right to exist. Kind of hard to negotiate with someone who promises "to drive you into the sea." The problem with Israel as I see it is Bibi Netanyahu. Get rid of him and maybe there will be a chance for peace, but I'm not holding my breath. Diff issue but same neighborhood, Iran sending aid to Syria, natch, this is what they do. They are a threat, maybe not imminent, but definitely a problem. As is Pakistan, who doesn't seem to focus on Israel gratefully, India is their target.
 
 
+3 # RMDC 2012-02-07 18:19
susienoodle -- I don't know what history you've been reading but it is all wrong. Some Nazis were all for exporting Jews to Israel. The migration of Jews from Europe to Israel began in the 1890s. But Zionists were very particular about which Jews they would allow to go to Israel. They wanted young, healthy, physically strong people. In the words of one leader of the Jewish Agency whose name I can't remember now, the Zionists wanted "fighting Jews." This was to fight against Palestinians.

Most Jews in Germany and Eastern Europe wanted to go to the US or UK -- neither of which wanted them.

I agree with you that Netanyahoo is a bad leader. He may end up doing great damage to Israel and its people. Israel just might suffer very heavy losses of life in a war against Iran. Think about it. Israel has about 7 million people (1.6 million are Arabs). Iran has about 75 million people. the last time David beat Goliath. This time Israelis may not be so lucky.

Saying NO to a war against Iran is helping and supporting Israel. Netanyahoo is a nihilist and a sociopath. He does not care.
 
 
+2 # pyrocat 2012-02-09 10:30
Zionism is a colonial movement, which hurts native Jews whose families never left the middle east [protected by Saladin after the Crusades]--the few who are left in Israel--as well as the Christians, Muslims, Druse, etc. living there. Zionists invaded--they did not "return" to a homeland that was never theirs.

It's evil to consider a war with Iran, considering all the abuses they've suffered from westerners. overthrowing Iran's popularly elected governments. The Brits have been coveting Iran's oil for over 80 years. The United States aided in the overthrow of the Mosaddegh government in the early 1950s because Iran nationalized the oil industry, then instilled the Shah with his hated and violent Savak. Voilá--cheap oil for U.S. and Brits!

Israel would have nothing to fear from Iran if they'd stop abusing people within israel and their neighbors. The U.S. should embargo Israel until the Netanyahu and his corrupt disreputable party leave.

Israeli people by far are good people. Their government is filled with imperialist warmongers--the ultimate bad neighbors who make the entire neighborhood so dangerous.
 

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