Quotes of the day

posted at 10:37 pm on September 6, 2012 by Allahpundit

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, says that his much-discussed meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem late last month did, in fact, devolve into an sharp confrontation between Netanyahu and the American ambassador to Israel, the former National Security Council official (and former Obama campaign Jewish liaison), Dan Shapiro…

When Beckmann asked Rogers to describe the tenor of the meeting, he said: “Very tense. Some very sharp… exchanges and it was very, very clear the Israelis had lost their patience with the (Obama) Administration.” He went on, “There was no doubt. You could not walk out of that meeting and think that they had not lost their patience with this Administration.”…

“You know, it’s a very interesting argument when you’re in the room and talking about options.The meeting was designed, it was supposed to be between Netanyahu and myself on some intelligence cooperation matters and other matters, when it came to Iran and Syria and other things, and kind of devolved into this meeting where the ambassador was confronted directly… what was very apparent to me was a lot of frustration with the lack of clarity and the uncertainty about what their position is on the Iranian nuclear program. And that’s what I think I saw across the Middle East. The uncertainty about where the United States’ position is on those questions has created lots of problems and anxiety that I think doesn’t serve the world well and doesn’t serve peace well.”

***

With Israel openly debating whether to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities in the coming months, the Obama administration is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated…

The question of how explicit Mr. Obama’s warnings to Iran should be is still a subject of internal debate, closely tied to election-year politics. Some of Mr. Obama’s advisers have argued that Israel needs a stronger public assurance that he is willing to take military action, well before Iran actually acquired a weapon. But other senior officials have argued that Israel is trying to corner Mr. Obama into a military commitment that he does not yet need to make…

Inside the Obama White House, there has also been debate about whether Mr. Obama needs to reshape his negotiating strategy around clear “red lines” for Iran — steps beyond which the United States would not allow the country to go. Earlier this year Mr. Obama said he believed that the United States and its allies could not simply accept a nuclear Iran, largely because of the high risk that other Arab states would seek weapons.

Even if Mr. Obama set a clear “red line” now, its credibility may be questionable.

***

The United States has indirectly informed Iran, via two European nations, that it would not back an Israeli strike against the country’s nuclear facilities, as long as Tehran refrains from attacking American interests in the Persian Gulf, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

According to the report, Washington used covert back-channels in Europe to clarify that the US does not intend to back Israel in a strike that may spark a regional conflict.

In return, Washington reportedly expects Iran to steer clear of strategic American assets in the Persian Gulf, such as military bases and aircraft carriers.

***

Iran makes no distinction between U.S. and Israeli interests and will retaliate against both countries if attacked, an Iranian military commander said on Wednesday…

“The Zionist regime separated from America has no meaning, and we must not recognize Israel as separate from America,” Ali Fadavi, naval commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

“On this basis, today only the Americans have taken a threatening stance towards the Islamic Republic,” Fadavi said. “If the Americans commit the smallest folly they will not leave the region safely.”

***

Iran could strike US bases in the Middle East in response to any Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities, the leader of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah said on Monday…

“The response will not be just inside the Israeli entity – American bases in the whole region could be Iranian targets,” he said, citing information he said was from Iranian officials. “If Israel targets Iran, America bears responsibility.”

***

After a summer of stoking media speculation that Israel would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before Americans go to the polls in November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appear to be dialing things down. Netanyahu on Monday repeated his new message that war can be avoided, at least for now, if the U.S. is willing to publicly declare a clear “red line” that, if crossed by Iran, would trigger a U.S. military response. Since President Barack Obama last spring clearly stated that he would order military action if Iran moved to build a nuclear weapon, there would be nothing new in reiterating such a position — except, perhaps, that it could be spun, together with a series of largely symbolic gestures reportedly being weighed by the Obama Administration to placate the Israelis, as a enough of a concession to allow Netanyahu and Barak to clamber down from the limb on which their war talk has left them. It has been nothing short of astonishing, in fact, how isolated on the Iran issue Israel’s saber-rattlers-in-chief have become over the summer, not least among Israel’s own defense and security establishment…

The Israeli prime minister’s supporters will paint whatever statements and gestures emerge from the White House as a victory for his strategy of relentless saber-rattling. Netanyahu’s problem, though, is that Obama’s red line — preventing the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon — is not the same as the Israeli red line, which insists that Iran can’t be allowed to maintain the nuclear infrastructure that it already has, even though that infrastructure falls within the limits of what is permissible for NPT signatories, because it can be repurposed to create weapons-grade materiel. And as last week’s IAEA report confirmed, Iran is gliding past Israeli red lines while carefully avoiding approaching U.S. limits.

***

Stunned by a rebuke from the United States’ top general, Israel is preparing a climbdown strategy in its war of words over Iran’s nuclear program, aware that its room for maneuver is shrinking rapidly.

Anxious to prevent any flare-up in the Middle East ahead of November elections, there is also a good chance that U.S. President Barack Obama will provide Israel with enough cover to avoid a loss of face, analysts say…

“Israeli leaders cannot do anything in the face of a very explicit ‘no’ from the U.S. president. So they are exploring what space they have left to operate,” said Giora Eiland, who served as national security adviser from 2003 to 2006.

***


***

Via Mediaite.


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