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Will Netanyahu's Provocations Backfire?

NetanyahuNetanyahu’s combined efforts to push the U.S. into a war on Iran as a smokescreen for his plan to absorb the West Bank and to manipulate the U.S. presidential election may open the door to an alliance of U.S. and Israeli national security officials who believe in security through peace and justice.

Netanyahu is interfering in the current U.S. Presidential campaign to put into office a president who will kowtow to his faction’s agenda, namely to get the U.S. to attack Iran to facilitate Israeli consolidation of control over the West Bank. While U.S. politicians remain mostly in denial about Netanyahu’s interference in the U.S. political system and threat to U.S. national security, former Israeli foreign minister Livni openly criticized Netanyahu for endangering the U.S.-Israeli alliance by his anti-Obama attitude.

Although it is impossible to distinguish with certainty the responsibility of Washington from that of Tel Aviv for recent acts of anti-Iranian aggression, even the militantly right-wing website DEBKA seemed recently to be hinting that the recently murdered Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by Israel to provoke a U.S.-Iranian war:

By denying "absolutely" any US involvement in the killing, the administration implicitly pointed the finger at Israel, [emphasis in original] an unusual act in relations between two friendly governments, especially when both face a common issue as sensitive as a nuclear-armed Iran. Obama seemed to suspect that Israel staged the killing to torpedo yet another US secret effort to avoid a military confrontation with Iran through back channel contacts with Tehran, while the administration's extreme condemnation is seen as tying in with its all-out campaign to hold Israel back from a unilateral strike. [DEBKA 1/14/12.]

Netanyahu seems simultaneously to be interfering in U.S. internal affairs and attempting to undermine U.S. foreign policy in a way that directly harms U.S. national security. While neither represents anything unique in the long, troubled U.S.-Israeli relationship, Netanyahu may well be carrying such anti-U.S. behavior to an extreme that will finally awaken the American public to the harm of allowing Israel to manipulate the U.S.

Ironically, Obama has numerous natural allies in Israel for any effort to avoid the dangers of a war with Iran, which would put Israel in a highly exposed position. The most obvious ally for Obama is ex-Mossad chief Dagan, who has, since his recent retirement, been on a public campaign to warn against the belligerence of the Netanyahu faction. Perhaps no foreign policy mistake by Obama is more difficult to comprehend than his failure publicly to associate himself with such Israeli national security officials as Dagan who fear that the poor judgment of Israeli political leaders will endanger Israeli national security.

Despite having the reputation of having been an extreme hardline defender of Israel quite willing to fight dirty covert war, Dagan has over the last six months made his distrust of Netanyahu’s war-mongering crystal clear. In December, he reiterated his concern, noting, on the subject of a possible U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran:

The commotion surrounding the immediate alternative of an attack may lead the Iranians into a reality in which they are (pushed over the edge) and try to obtain nuclear capabilities as quickly as possible instead of treading rather carefully while taking the international community's demands into consideration….this situation could prove to be problematic because it may (affect the entire Middle East) in such a way that it would have security and economic-related repercussions for Israel…[Ynet News 12/19/11.]

Dagan spoke publicly again in early January, implying that Israeli political leaders do not pay attention to Israeli national security, specifically accusing both Israeli defense ministers and prime ministers of ignoring IDF exercises designed to study Israeli national security issues [Israel National News 1/4/12].

Dagan’s calls for caution regarding Iran echo similar concerns voiced by leading U.S. national security figures, and, while falling far short of advocating that Iran’s interests be taken into consideration, nevertheless open the logical door to a new approach along those lines.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently made clear the threat to Israeli national security, even to its continued existence, posed by Netanyahu’s belligerent policy of provoking tensions simultaneously with Iran and Palestinians, observing:

At this dramatic time in the Middle East, when there have been so many changes, it's not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that is what's happening. [The Corner Report 10/9/11.]

Former defense secretary Robert Gates also reportedly accused Netanyahu of “endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel's growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank” [Haaretz  9/7/11.]

Rather than listening, Netanyahu has evidently decided not only to dig in his heels but to attempt “regime change” in Washington. Netanyahu has long been confident of his ability to manipulate Washington and with good reason, but this time he may be biting off more than he can chew.

The more openly Netanyahu allies himself with the dishonored neo-con wing of the Republican Party that is struggling to reinvigorate the Bush-Cheney policy of U.S.-provoked imperial wars at a time when the U.S. is retreating from the Islamic world and struggling to recover from its decade of foreign adventures and financial excess, the more he opens political space for American officials who believe in a more cautious route to U.S. national security to ally themselves with like-minded Israeli officials.


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