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Slender geopolitical threads on Israel, Iran (WASHINGTON TIMES ANALYSIS/OPINION) By Arnaud de Borchgrave 05/03/12)Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/2/de-borchgrave-slender-geopolitical-threads-on-isra/ WASHINGTON TIMES WASHINGTON TIMES Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
A sense of inevitable war with Iran has seized Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have concluded 1) Iran is about to produce a nuclear bomb; 2) Iran plans to use it to wipe out Israel; and 3) the time for Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear production sites is now (i.e., at the height of the U.S. presidential campaign, when neither candidate would risk losing by criticizing Israel).

But Israel’s three principal former intelligence directors - of the Shin Bet, Mossad and Army - retired last year and came out strongly against a pre-emptive attack.

Israel’s top general, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, also disagreed with his boss, Mr. Barak, saying in the Israeli daily Ha´aretz that diplomatic pressures and economic sanctions against Iran’s mullahs are beginning to work. Gen. Gantz was also quoted as saying he thinks Iran’s decision-makers are “very rational.”

Mr. Barak replied he was skeptical the pressures thus far had persuaded Tehran to change intentions about nuclear weapons, a secret drive that started shortly after the 1979 revolution.

Gen. Gantz then said he had been misquoted and got back on his boss’ message: “The military force is ready. Not only our forces, but other forces as well.”

The difference between the two camps was one of timing. Gen. Gantz this there is no hurry this year; Mr. Netanyahu thinks the U.S. presidential campaign is critical. Not only would Republican challenger Mitt Romney and President Obama refrain from chastening, they might even compete in praising.

A common thread in the thinking of Israel’s former intelligence chiefs is Iran’s capacity and capability for the kind of retaliatory actions that would mine and momentarily close the Strait of Hormuz and drive oil prices skyward.

The U.S. recently deployed a second aircraft-carrier task force in the Arabian Sea close to the Straits and doubled the number of minesweepers based inside the Persian Gulf at Bahrain from four to eight. The U.S. also fielded an undisclosed number of F-22 Raptor stealth fighter-bombers to a base in the same general area.

But “the Tehran Triangle,” a new page-turner by former Air Force Secretary Thomas C. Reed with Sandy Baker, says we are looking at the wrong continent for Iran’s nuclear eruption. In the mid-‘70s, Mr. Reed was the youngest-ever director of the National Reconnaissance Office, the very existence of which was held secret until the end of the Cold War. In the 1980s, he was a special assistant to President Reagan for national security policy.

In “Triangle,” a young, radicalized, second-generation American- Iranian couple is recruited to build a bomb outside El Paso. The other corners of the triangle are Juarez and Tehran. A fast-moving CIA agent unravels the plot, which blends the ease of crossing America’s southern border and Iran’s hostility toward the U.S. circa 2012. Some 1,300 pounds of gold buy 1,300 pounds of refined uranium, for building and detonating Iran’s nuclear surprise in what the mullahs regard as the evil empire.

Meanwhile, in the real world, President Obama’s quick round trip (26 hours of flying, seven hours on the ground at Bagram Air Base near Kabul) was designed to wind down the longest war in U.S. history while at the same time pledging a close military alliance with Afghanistan for 10 additional years after the 2014 exit of all combat forces.

In Mr. Obama’s mind, Al Qaeda is still the principal enemy in Afghanistan. But this is a make-believe scenario. Al Qaeda was chased out of Afghanistan into Pakistan in the battle of Tora Bora in early December 2001 - more than 10 years ago. Taliban chief Mullah Omar and his terrorist guerrillas were crushed and Kabul liberated Nov. 14, 2001. That would have been a good time to declare victory - and avoid a decade of warfare.

The first anniversary of the SEAL raid that killed Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011, reminds us that was another wasted opportunity. Like it or not, the Taliban will have to be part of whatever deal can be negotiated. (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 05/03/12)


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