Michael Gerson a) was recruited by Karl Rove for the Bush campaign as a speechwriter; b) was named by Time (7/2/05) as one of 'The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America'; c) created the 'smoking gun/mushroom cloud' metaphor and the phrase 'Axis of Evil'; and d) claimed that Saddam Hussein was "the equivalent of Pol Pot." Yet the only information provided to us at the foot of this loon's war propaganda in today's Australian is this: "Washington Post Writers Group."
Should that be Creative Writers Group? Here's Gerson's introduction: "On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s took off for the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, after the pilots were emotionally briefed that 'the alternative is our destruction'. In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had no idea if the raid would stop the Iraqi nuclear program or merely slow it. But slowing it was reason enough. Since the George W Bush administration, the American military has assessed that an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities would only delay the development of its program... But for several months, high-ranking Israeli officials have been telling American visitors that buying time may be worth it. The Osirak raid, after all, turned out to be an unexpectedly decisive blow." (Delay as good as action on nukes: America's lack of credibility puts Israel on path to military confrontation with Iran)
Really? Here's the dirt on that little adventure: "The astonishing thing about the official Israeli Government statement after the attack and about Begin's subsequent elaborations on the same theme, is that hardly a single statement made was true, and several were publicly disavowed by the Israeli Government in the following weeks. At the very least, Israel had undertaken a blatant act of war on the basis of poor information. 'Sources of unquestioned reliability', said [Begin at a Jerusalem news conference on the 8th June] 'told us that [the reactor] was intended for the production of atomic bombs'. Indeed, testimony which was subsequently presented in hearing before the US Congress did reveal considerable circumstantial evidence that Iraq was stockpiling more uranium or 'yellowcake' than was necessary for the operation of a research reactor. Those same hearings, however, also provided strong testimony and evidence that Iraq could not have produced nuclear weapons, or even have taken the preliminary steps toward doing so, without detection by both French technicians (who had total, unlimited access to the facility) and by IAEA inspectors. Moreover, the great preponderence of expert testimony indicated that Iraq could not, on its own and without direct French and Italian assistance, have developed the bomb." (Living By the Sword: America & Israel in the Middle East 1968-1987, Stephen Green, 1988, p 139)
In summary, Israel had no valid case for its strike on a nukeless Iraq in 1981 and it has no valid case for a strike on a nukeless Iran now. The same US intelligence agencies that found, in 2007, that Tehran had halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003 have just reaffirmed that assessment. (See Intelligence agencies say no new nukes in Iran, Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, 16/9/09) Moreover, Israeli Offence Minister Ehud Barak has declared that Iran poses no existential threat to Israel (See my 20/9/09 post From the Horse's Mouth).
However, neither the US intelligence community's findings nor Ehud Barak's frank admission are allowed to cramp Gerson's (or any other Bomb Iran Now! fanatic's) style: "Not many Israelis would need to be convinced* by this [buying time] argument - a recommendation would go from the chief of staff of the Israeli defence [sic] forces, to Defence [sic] Minister Ehud Barak, to the security cabinet and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Perhaps a dozen people could shake the world." Shake the world? What, like Bush/Cheney and the neocon cabal did in Iraq in 2003? [*Except Ehud Barak perhaps.]
"Clues of Israeli desperation are so obvious that many have missed them," he continues. "Netanyahu's impassioned warning against the world's first Holocaust-denying nuclear state should be taken at face value." And why, you ask, is the world's first Holocaust-exploiting, genuinely nuclear state so desperate? Because its American attack-dog, so obedient in 2003, isn't exactly straining at the leash now.
Gerson ticks off the many reasons why Fido might be a tad reluctant this time around before finally hitting on the real reason why Israel might just have to do the job itself: Barack Obama! You see, Obama "has injected considerable suspicion into the American/Israeli relationship, picking public fights on issues such as settlements and adopting a tone of neutrality in other controversies. If Israel thinks America is an increasingly unreliable partner, Israel will be more likely to depend on itself alone - and let the bombers fly. 'When someone is trigger happy', says [Dov] Zakheim [former US undersecretary of defence], 'the last thing you want to do is make them paranoid'... If the Israelis were confident that America would act decisively against the Iranian nuclear threat in the greatest extremity, they would be far less likely to act themselves. Lacking that confidence, they may conclude once again, that delay is good enough."
Just look at the language and the logic here: whenever Israel is trigger happy (and when is it ever not trigger happy?), America should be indulging it (and when has America ever not indulged it) lest it get paranoid (and when is it ever not paranoid?). When Likudnik warmongers like Gerson accuse the US of being an unreliable partner, you should know that they expect it to be nothing less than Israel's bitch.