By Pepe Escobar
Where's the great Christopher Walken when we need him? "I've got
a fever!  And the only prescription is … Bomb Iran!" That's
the story, at least in Israel. Fever pitch will rule at least
for the next six months.
This past weekend, the Israel Hayom newspaper - financed by
casino mogul and Mitt Romney groupie Sheldon Adelson - dedicated
a whole supplement to the fever. Lead articles had titles such
as "Bomb or Bombing: Poker with the Cards Close to the Vest."
Yet earlier last week, a leak to the Yediot Ahronot daily 
revealed that the cream of Israel's military leaders are against
war on Iran - known in its aseptic version as "preemptive
It's an impressive cast of characters. Here we have chief of the
general staff Benny Gantz; the chief of operations of the
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Ya'akov Ayash; Tamir Pardo, the
head of Mossad; Aviv Kochavi, in charge of Aman, the military
intelligence directorate; the department heads of Mossad; the
head of the Israeli Air Force Amir Eshel; not to mention at
least four ministers of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's
eight-man "kitchen cabinet".
There are qualifiers. Some admit they would only support an
attack on Iran if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei - or
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors - announced
a major weaponization game changer. Some others admit they will
only support an attack if the US is on board; that's the case of
retired Mossad heads Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy and former
chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
The key player here is of course Gantz. He's always kept the
attack option on the table. But he has also leaked that he knows
any attack, even successful, won't smash Iran's nuclear program;
besides, he also fears the geopolitical repercussions. When
Gantz admitted a tiny sliver of all this on an Israeli TV
channel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the report to
So it boils down essentially to Bibi and Barak against all the
above. This poses at least two key questions. How could Bibi
possibly order an attack when the best Israeli informed minds
know that would inflict a maximum six-month delay on Iran's
nuclear program, according to extensive American calculations?
And that a strike would definitely lead Tehran to abandon its
current, prudent, "latency period" and go for broke on the
Murphy, take my call
Non-denial denials will spring up from all corners, but only
people tripping on Alice in Wonderland believe Israel would
attack Iran without an absolute green light from Washington.
Russia, China, Pakistan, everyone knows about the US-Israel game
of rearranging musical chairs preceding a possible attack on
Hebrew University Political Science professor Ira Sharkansky,
blogging at the Jerusalem Post, mentions yet another former
Mossad head saying that Israel should not - and most likely will
not - act without US consent.
new collective foreign policy blog tried to answer some of
the imponderables. But it still boils down to that old Hollywood
maxim; no one knows anything.
No one knows whether the Israeli military may have come up with
some magic, aerial attack route (without, for instance,
overflying Iraq; forget about a ground attack and forget about
nuking Iran); whether it has the means to launch a mini-Shock
and Awe against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon; whether it has
enough last-generation bunker busters to penetrate Iranian
installations deep underground; whether it has just-in-time
intel, for that matter.
Murphy's Law applies here. Even the Pentagon knows that
everything that may go wrong may actually go wrong. 
And even if it doesn't, the trillion-dollar question still
remains; what kind of game is US President Barack Obama actually
All would be excused if this were just sunburn caused by
prolonged summer beach exposure. But we're talking about war,
preemptive war, bypassing international law - and based on a
concentric set of hypotheticals, not to mention lies.
The IAEA, US National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), and even
Israeli intelligence know there is no Iran nuclear weapons
program. Russia - which has thousands of technicians in Iran -
also knows it.
The notion that Iran is a threat to Israel springs up from a
Dadaist manifesto. Israel is an actual - undeclared - nuclear
power (it never subscribed to the NPT); Iran (which subscribes
to the NPT) is not.
As John Glaser at Antiwar.com succinctly summarized, "the US has
Iran militarily surrounded, has conducted covert ops along with
Israel, constantly threatens Iran with preemptive military
strike, and is heaping harsh economic sanctions."  Threat?
Who's threatening who here?
Yet what is extraordinary is how Tel Aviv manages to strike one
fabulous PR coup after another - at least in terms of
brainwashing American public opinion - by just changing the red
Just read carefully this Barak
interview with CNN. 
It's all here. There is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. Iran
is not a threat - immediate or otherwise. What we have here is
the defense minister of a country saying that another country
should not be allowed to enter a "zone of immunity" beyond which
it cannot be harassed, attacked, bombed, invaded.
Imagine if this was a Chinese or Russian defense minister
nonchalantly proclaiming it out loud on American TV.
Back to the Great Game
The whole convoluted premise for an Israeli attack on Iran turns
out to be bogus.
A number of countries - such as Japan, South Korea and Brazil -
have the breakout capability in terms of assembling a nuclear
weapon; the technology is decades old. This does not mean that
they will do it.
The fact that Tehran allows immensely intrusive IAEA inspections
and has offered concessions over the years that go way beyond
its obligations under the NPT proves it does not want to build a
bomb tomorrow (or yesterday, according to Israel). And even if
it did, that would be detected just-in-time.
As it stands, Obama seems to bet that poker player Bibi won't
have the guts to order an attack on Iran while he's in the Oval
This is a plausible enough argument for why Obama might be
tempted to launch an October surprise; but ultra-cautious,
pragmatist Obama might only go for it in absolute desperation.
As for Bibi, he would love Washington to do the dirty work for
him (Israel, technically, can't do it, and Benny Gantz knows
it). So Bibi is already on "Waiting for Mitt" mode.
In terms of the Big Picture - the New Great Game in Eurasia -
the Iranian nuclear program is just an excuse; the only one in
the market, actually. This goes way beyond Israel and its own
Cutting through the fog enveloping the 33-year-long wall of
mistrust between Washington and Tehran, Washington's fever
remains the same, from Clinton I and II to Bush I and II to
Obama and beyond; we need regime change, we need a Persian
satrapy like we had before, we need all that oil and gas in the
Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea for the West, and not for the
East, we need to control this vital strategic node in Eurasia.
For this fever, there seems to be no cure.
Notes: 1. See
'Bibi Can't OK Iran Strike As Defense Chiefs Demur', Jewish
Daily Forward, July 31, 2012
US, Israel arranging roles in Iran war theater?, Russia
Today, August 6, 2012
U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran,
New York Times, March 16, 2012
Ehud Barak Admits Iran Has Defensive Posture, No Weapons Program,
Antiwar.blog, August 03, 2012
Can We Still Tell if Iran Decides to Build a Nuclear Bomb?,
The Atlantic, Aug 6
CNN THE SITUATION ROOM, July 30, 2012
Pepe Escobar is the author of
Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid
War (Nimble Books, 2007) and
Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His
most recent book is
Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at email@example.com
(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd
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