This is disturbing news:
Israeli officials say they won't warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.
What it amounts to is a formal declaration that, if the US attempts at any point to differ seriously with Israel's far right, the alliance is over. That's after the most serious sanctions ever imposed on Iran, a covert war, and greater isolation for the Tehran regime both at home and abroad than at any point since 1979. Meanwhile, we get news analysis from the NYT that minimizes the potentially catastrophic global consequences of an Israeli-initiated war against another Muslim nation. But even the minimum is alarming:
Administration, military and intelligence officials say Iran would most likely choose anonymous, indirect attacks against nations it views as supporting Israeli policy, in the hope of offering Tehran at least public deniability. Iran also might try to block, even temporarily, the Strait of Hormuz to further unsettle oil markets. An increase in car bombs set off against civilian targets in world capitals would also be possible. And Iran would almost certainly smuggle high-powered explosives across its border into Afghanistan, where they could be planted along roadways and set off by surrogate forces to kill and maim American and NATO troops — much as it did in Iraq during the peak of violence there.
So Israel would, without warning, put US troops and Western civilians at direct risk of terrorist assaults, would likely tip Pakistan into even more outright hostility to any cooperation with the West, and rally the Iranian opposition to its foul regime. It would destroy the global coalition against Iran, increase even further its own global isolation, and only set back Iranian nuclear development for a few years – and make it, or a Third World War based on religion, inevitable. My own fear is that global recruitment for Jihad would boom as well – reversing all the gains of the last three years. The war would also galvanize Islamist parties in the new Arab democracies, giving Israel more ammunition in blocking any rapprochement between the US and the Muslim world. And following this essential blackmail, the Israeli government would doubtless rally much of the US Congress, the entire GOP, its media outlets (like Fox, and the Washington Post), and a key part of the Democratic fundraising machinery to side entirely with Israel against the US president.
I don't think you can understand the Republican strategy for this election without factoring in a key GOP player, Benjamin Netanyahu. He already has core members of the US Congress siding openly with him against the US president and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman – like McCain, Lieberman and Butters. Netanyahu's war would be designed to rile up not only his own neo-fascist base, but also encourage American evangelical voters to turn out against Obama, the "anti-Christ", while other Greater Israel fanatics, like Sheldon Adelson, keep bankrolling as many Greater Israel GOP nominees as they can. A global war which polarizes America and the world is exactly what Netanyahu wants. And it is exactly what the GOP needs to cut through Obama's foreign policy advantage in this election. Because it is only through war, crisis and polarization that extremists can mobilize the emotions that keep them in power. They need war to win.
Here's a prediction. Netanyahu, in league and concert with Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, will make his move to get rid of Obama soon. And he will be more lethal to this president than any of his domestic foes.