“Decision by Netanyahu, Barak to strike Iran is almost final-Israel TV”(Times of Israel , August 11 )
“Israeli speculation over Iran strike reaches fever pitch”(Guardian, August 14)
Over the past several weeks there has been an eruption of alarming reports, high-level meetings, and public debate over whether Israel is close to deciding–or has already decided–to launch a military assault on Iran before the November U.S. presidential election.
On August 10, Channel 2 News, Israel’s leading news program, stated that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak were on the verge of making a decision to go to war. “Insofar as it depends on [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak,” the Guardian UK, citing Israel’s largest daily Yedioth Ahronoth, reported, “an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November.”
The week before, The New York Times reported, “In Israel, there remains feverish speculation that Mr. Netanyahu will act in September or early October.” A former head of Israeli intelligence commented, “If I was an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”
In the midst of these threats, the BBC reported that a document purporting to be an Israeli plan was leaked describing a “shock and awe, Israel-style” assault including a massive cyber-attack, barrages of ballistic and cruise missiles, and follow-on attacks by Israeli war planes.
The Outrage of War–and Threatening War
There is widespread debate and speculation over what’s really going on here. Is Israel actually preparing to attack in the coming weeks, calculating that on the eve of the Presidential elections it would be difficult if not impossible for the Obama administration to refuse to support or join such an assault? Are the threats by Israel’s leaders part of a high-stakes ploy aimed at forcing the U.S. imperialists to take an even more aggressive stance toward Iran, with an even more clear cut and near-term commitment to take military action against Iran in order to head off a unilateral Israeli attack as The New York Times and others are suggesting? Is it some combination of both, or another scenario entirely? In any case, there is doubtless more going on behind closed doors than is being aired in public, and in all likelihood no one outside the highest levels of the Israeli and/or U.S. governments can answer these questions with certainty at this moment (and there may be uncertainty at these levels as well).
But three things can be said.
First, whether bluff, actual attack preparations, or some other machination, this flurry of threats represents a further escalation of a very dangerous overall trajectory toward confrontation and possible war against Iran by the world’s main capitalist-imperialist powers and their creation and Middle East garrison state–Israel.
This dynamic has ratcheted up sharply in the past year and in certain ways the U.S., Israel and the European powers are already waging forms of war on Iran (sanctions, covert cyber-attacks, assassinations and the like). The stated and public focus of this clash has been Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, but this is part of a bigger battle by the U.S. and Israel to maintain their domination and control over the entire Middle East-Central Asian region, including their military hegemony.
At present, this battle for dominance is concentrated in their clash with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is posing an obstacle and challenge to the U.S. on many fronts. This is a clash between two reactionary, outmoded forces, with the U.S. and Israel posing the far greater danger to the planet. Stepped-up U.S. intervention in Syria, including possible military intervention, is linked to these efforts to weaken, isolate, and ultimately topple Iran’s Islamist theocracy. (See my analyses of the recent P5+1 negotiations with Iran, the accelerating U.S.-EU-Israeli campaign against Iran, and the role of Israel.)
Second, whatever Israel’s motives, the moves against Iran are still outrageous and must be condemned. Threatening preemptive war is itself a form of aggression. Let’s call it what it is: terrorism, aimed at terrorizing the people of Iran and the region. And it must be noted here that whatever differences do or don’t exist between Israel and the U.S.–the Obama administration has neither condemned these threats, nor stated categorically that it opposes an Israeli strike and would not support such an action. Instead, Obama officials have talked of Israel’s sovereign “right” to make its own decisions concerning its “defense.”