There was big drama in Israel today.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated today that time has run out to stop Iran’s progress in developing nuclear weapons.
He didn’t just say time has run out to stop Iran, but said that we have to deal with it now, and not later. The dealing with it later is in response to U.S. officials who have said to be patient because the European oil embargo is working and hurting Iran’s economy enough that they will become more compliant and cooperative (by default, not being able to afford the nuclear program). Israel’s response, as of today, is that something has to be done now, and that “later is too late” – a phrase he used in his speech, a phrase he said for emphasis in English (the rest of the speech was in Hebrew).
The Washington Post was the first to release the quote:
“Whoever says ‘later’ may find that later is too late,” Barak said. He switched from Hebrew to English for the last phrase: “later is too late.”
This is not new-news to anyone. The drama today was that Israel was officially saying they would no longer wait for others to help them or delay confrontation for the issue. Israel was saying, as of today, they are willing to attack unilaterally (on their own, even without the support of or help from other countries).
This was the big news, that lines were drawn in the sand (again), and Israel basically announced that they are planning a surprise attack against Iran, regardless of whether or not the US supports them, helps, or gives approval.
According to the WP article, Defense Secretary Panetta has been quoted as saying Israel could launch an air strike attack against Iran within the next nine months, but probably before April (as in sometime during February or March).
CNN was the next to report, citing anonymous sources in the Obama administration. They confirmed the news that Panetta thinks Israel is preparing to attack Iran. This also explains the unmanned drone that crashed four days ago.
The CNN report also reminded us all that Israel, since the beginning of time, can often throw temper tantrums where it gets all aggressive and threatening in attempt to bolster support for its policies or recruit help in fighting for its causes. What is different this time, they say, is that Iran’s nuclear program has advanced far enough that soon no one will be able to take action against it… making the complaint fairly legit in that context.
Specifically, the Iranian facilities for the nuclear program are currently being moved to underground bunkers that will make them much more difficult to monitor, track, or attack. The move to the underground bunkers started about three weeks ago, and then more recently announcement in the New York Times that Iran has begun enriching uranium at a second location that is completely underground.
The IAEA arrived this last Sunday to investigate.
These are the developments that change everything, Israel says.
This is why “later will be too late”.
There have been no “official” confirmations of this statement or any official policy or official opinion regarding the statement – not from Panetta himself, nor from the Pentagon.
But they are also not denying the statements; they are simply not commenting.
However, they did confirm that the Iranian government have released several al Qaeda members from house arrest. That will make the Pentagon cranky, even being a catalyst for all three theories (below).
The other related issue is, of all things, gas prices. The Guardian states that the US has been slow to enforce sanctions because of concerns about causing the oil prices to go up when the global economy is already in a critical state. Note: 35% of the world’s oil comes from Iran. However, Iran has enough support from other countries (like China), that our embargo on their oil may not make a dent in their profits. Something bigger, like the 1962 quarantine of Cuba, would be needed if that is the tactic they think will work; however, this will not happen because that counts as an act of war, and no way will this administration declare it so directly – especially in election year (if we declare war on Iran, then Iran responds by shutting down the Straight of Hormuz, through which Iran’s oil comes).
The drama is really that we have been dancing around the Iranian nuclear issue for ages, but if Israel attacks on their own, it is game-changing. We are, thus far, still considered an ally of Israel (and would be foolish not to be), and along with Israel’s other allies, are working hard to talk Israel out of attacking Iran. This means that if we support Israel against Iran, we will also be fighting Iran’s supporters: China and Russia.
For all of these reasons, as well as issues in Afghanistan, the US does not want to attack Iran.
And for all of these same reasons, it is a big-big-big deal for Israel to threaten to just do it on their own.
And if it happened, it would affect everyone.
Really, none of this should be new-news. Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey told us all this a month ago.
But is it really news? What’s really going on? There are several options:
1. Preparing the Public – It may not be so much that Israel drew lines in the sand today, as much as they are just now today releasing the official plan decided weeks or months ago. It is also highly likely that part of the deal is that Israel has to take the fall for initiating it – the US is not in a position to initiate the war, but would be “required” to back up an ally that initiated it. This is especially interesting in the timing of pulling out of neighboring Afghanistan, so that resources are available for a “new” war.
2. Threat to Iran – It could be that these statements were not so much about the reality of an actual war (more a “rumor of war”), so much as a direct threat to Iran to formally rebuke them and let them know they are busted for being naughty. It may not be so much an actual threat as it is bully bravado trying to make a political point using the now-effective technology of social networking following its success in all the political movements in the Middle East last year.
3. It could also be that Israel is taking advantage of US election year to get us to commit to backing an attack on Iran. If this is what is happening, then the threats will escalate until they are personal enough or local enough or direct-to-US enough that we as a “people” are motivated (or at least consenting) enough to officially join (or declare) war on Iran. However, the last war we jumped into (the one that has just been declared over) was technically
illegal fishy, never not waiting for permission from Congress or the American people. If this is the new trend, the administration may not need to get us motivated so much as they will be busy “explaining” what is happening so that we think we know (which takes us back to theory one about preparing the public for what has already been designed). They think now, post 9/11, that if they can get our emotional response, then they can get our consent (if they bother asking for it).
Who would have dared deal with Gadaffi or Saddam Hussein if they had a nuclear capability? No way… When the other side has a nuclear capability and is prepared to use it, you think twice…
So what do the locals think?
The Jerusalem Post has already escalated everything (see theory three, above) first thing today (tomorrow there already), stating now that the Iranian nuclear missiles are able to reach the US – and so therefore, it is not only Israel in danger (so therefore, we should back them and help them go to war against Iran). This article also has the best news clips of all these quotes out of any of the online articles, so definitely check out the link if you are interested in viewing any of the video footage.
Al Jazeera and Palestine News are both silent on the issue so far, worried enough about their own plights and starvation that they don’t yet have comment on what they think about who Israel wants to attack next.
All of us are weary of aggressor nations.
It is an ancient cousins’ war, with bickering grandchildren of a covenant-keeping grandfather.
But this is the reason the cousins’ war has continued since the beginning of time: the cousins will not give up. Success is the same symbol on both sides of the family, and winning has existential meaning far deeper than geographical boundaries.
The problem that makes this moment different than any other time in history is that the weapons are now nuclear.
What do I think?
I think a good orchestra concert is way better than nuclear weapons, government oppression, bullying other cultures, or ghettos-by-force-despite-our-own-ghetto-history.
And I think we should learn now to make music together in peace, because later will be too late.
I think if we can make music, we can make peace.
Now, because later will be too late.
And while that peaceful music plays, I will sit and wonder what in my tiny world needs to be addressed now, because later will be too late?