Things are one again at the point of ignition in the face-off between America’s staunchest ally, and the barbarians in Iran.
Reuters.com has the story:
Israel has asked the United States for advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites, an Israeli official said on Thursday.
“Such a request was made” around the time of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week, the official said, confirming media reports.
But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, played down as “unrealistic” Israeli reports that the United States would condition supplying the hardware on Israel promising not to attack Iran this year.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, asked whether the Israelis had made such a request to U.S. officials during the visit, said “there was no such agreement proposed or reached” in President Barack Obama’s meetings with Netanyahu or his aides.
But when asked if the matter was raised with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or other U.S. officials, Carney told reporters he had no information on that. “I would refer you to other officials,” he said.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that military capabilities came up in discussions between Netanyahu and Panetta but did not elaborate. No deals were struck during those talks, the official added.
Netanyahu made clear to Obama at a White House meeting on Monday that Israel had not yet decided on military action against Iran, the White House has said.
Netanyahu has hinted that Israel could resort to force should Tehran – which denies suspicions that it is covertly trying to develop atomic bombs – continue to defy big powers’ diplomatic pressure to curb its nuclear program.
The risk of an Israeli-Iranian war troubles Obama, who is up for re-election in November and has cautioned against sparking greater Mideast turmoil, though he has also asserted that military action remains an option if sanctions fail. A Gulf conflict could send oil prices soaring.
A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances there would be no attack on Iran in 2012.
Of course, the United Nations is urging Israel not to attack, Associated Press reports:
Three days of protracted negotiations held under the specter of war highlighted the diplomatic difficulties ahead for nations intent on ensuring that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.
In a statement Thursday that was less than dramatic, six world powers avoided any bitter criticism of Iran and said diplomacy – not war – is the best way forward.
The cautious wording that emerged from a weeklong meeting of the U.N. nuclear agency reflected more than a decision to tamp down the rhetoric after a steady drumbeat of warnings from Israel that the time was approaching for possible attacks on Iran to disrupt its nuclear program.
Indeed, the language was substantially milder than the tough approach sought by Washington and allies Britain, France and Germany at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board meeting. Agreement came only after tough negotiations with Russia and China.
That could spell trouble on any diplomatic path ahead.
Gee. Ya think, DiNozzo?
According to the Washington Post, the majority of Israeli citizens do not want to attack Iran without our support:
Amid an escalating din among Israeli leaders about the threat of a potentially nuclear Iran, the Israeli public has displayed little enthusiasm for a solo preemptive military strike. A handful of recent polls have shown that ordinary Israelis are firmly against the idea of going it alone.
“Israelis are much more careful, much more cautious than their government,” said Ephraim Yaar, a Tel Aviv University professor who co-directs a monthly public opinion survey. This week, more than 60 percent of Israelis polled said they opposed an attack on Iran without U.S. cooperation.
In the will-they-or-won’t-they guessing game that discussion about a military strike has become here, few view public opinion as a predictor of outcome. Netanyahu is sharply attuned to public sentiment, analysts say, but he has repeatedly emphasized — most recently in Washington — that he is driven by an obligation to protect Israel even without U.S. blessing, though he clearly wants it.
So, too, do Israelis, though that is not out of deference to the United States, said Yaar, whose survey was conducted just before Netanyahu’s trip. Commentators and retired security officials have questioned whether the Israeli military has the capacity to carry off a solo assault. The Israeli public shares that doubt, the survey found — and believes that Iranian retaliation could kill more than 500 civilians, the figure estimated by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in November.
That may be a long time coming.
On June 4, 2009, President Barack Hussein Obama gave a speech at the University of Cairo to the Muslim world. Here is an excerpt from whitehouse.gov:
As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities — (applause) — it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
Last year, pajamasmedia.com’s Andrew Klaven presented the following solution to the problem of Israel, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
As he himself says:
Now, why didn’t somebody think of this before?