Will Netanyahu Defy Obama on Iran?

Exclusive: President Obama sent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu home with a warning that Israel cannot count on U.S. support if it unilaterally bombs Iran. Top neocons are fuming and Netanyahu must weigh the risk of defying Obama on Iran and trying to deny him reelection, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer wants war with Iran – and he’s furious at President Barack Obama for making it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if Israel attacks now, it will do so on its own.

On Friday, Krauthammer, who represents the super-hawk wing of the Post’s neocon-dominated editorial section, took special umbrage with a background quote from one of Obama’s advisers who said, “We’re trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel.” Krauthammer deemed that remark “revealing and shocking.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

For Krauthammer, Obama’s only right answer to Netanyahu’s belligerent demands would have been a blank check to be paid by the American military and U.S. taxpayers. However, Krauthammer’s furious lament does reflect an important reality regarding Israel and Iran: Obama stands as the chief obstacle to another war.

With the exception of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the remaining Republican candidates for president – Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – have all indicated they are ready to hand that blank check to Netanyahu and, in exchange, would surely appreciate any help that he can give in pushing Obama out of the way.

Indeed, Netanyahu must now be pondering whether he can take out two troublesome birds with one stone, with an Israeli bombing attack devastating Iran’s nuclear program and simultaneously creating enough international chaos – especially soaring oil prices – to ensure that Obama doesn’t get a second term.

I’ve been told that Netanyahu is as frightened over what Obama might do in a second term – when he won’t have to worry so much about the Israel Lobby – as Prime Minister Menachem Begin was in 1980 over the prospect of Jimmy Carter getting reelected. At the time, Begin foresaw pressure from Carter for a Palestinian state, and thus Begin threw in his lot with Ronald Reagan and the Republicans.

In the 1991 book, The Last Option, former Mossad and Foreign Ministry official David Kimche described Begin’s attitude in noting that Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Kimche continued, “This plan – prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge – must rank as a unique attempt in United States’s diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”

However, Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”

In a 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt and wanted him out of office.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” relinquishing the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for a peace treaty, Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

Carter also recognized how much Israel’s Likud leadership wanted to deny him a second term. Questioned by congressional investigators in 1992, Carter said he realized by April 1980 that “Israel cast their lot with Reagan,” according to notes I found among the unpublished documents in the files of a House task force on the so-called October Surprise controversy.

Carter traced the Israeli opposition to his reelection to a “lingering concern [among] Jewish leaders that I was too friendly with Arabs.”

In order to prevent a Palestinian state and buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. The Likud also believed that Ronald Reagan would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

The Likud-Republican collaboration reportedly led to Israel becoming a go-between for the Reagan campaign’s secret contacts with Iran, preventing Carter from resolving the U.S.-Iranian hostage crisis and dooming his reelection hopes. [For more on this history, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege or Consortiumnews.com’s “New October Surprise Series.”]

Netanyahu’s Dilemma

Today, Netanyahu faces a similar dilemma. A reelected Obama would likely renew pressure for serious talks with the Palestinians over their own state, which would mean removal of some Israeli West Bank settlements and other painful concessions.

Not that Obama would be free to do whatever he wished. The Israel Lobby would remain a powerful force in keeping Congress in line behind Israeli interests. But the president has broad authority over the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.

I’ve also been told that Obama has informed Netanyahu that if Israel does attack Iran, the United States would provide no help, with a parallel message to the Iranians that the Americans would stay out of the conflict unless Iran attacked U.S. targets or blocked the Strait of Hormuz, through which about one-fifth of the world’s oil transits.

In other words, Obama is raising the risks for an Israeli air assault, which would be more difficult without U.S. technological assistance. Yet, by not directly forbidding Israel to strike, he keeps up pressure on Iran to make significant concessions on its nuclear program in a new round of negotiations expected to begin soon.

The calculation for Netanyahu also becomes more complex. If he dispatches his war planes on a tricky mission against targets scattered around Iran, he could suffer a military failure. Though Iran’s air defenses are not highly sophisticated, they still could present a danger to Israeli aircraft, especially planes pushed to the limit of their effective range.

Iran is also considered likely to strike back, firing medium-range missiles at Israeli targets, while Iranian ally Hezbollah could fire short-range missiles from southern Lebanon. Israel might find itself in a replay of the bloody but inconclusive war with Hezbollah in 2006.

Indeed, some analysts see the conflict as playing out as a longer-range version of the 2006 war, as Israel’s potent air force would inflict thousands of civilian and military casualties in Iran and Lebanon, while Israel would suffer a smaller but not insignificant number of dead and wounded.

Netanyahu also must weigh another risk: what happens if he, like Menachem Begin, throws in his lot with the Republicans but unlike 1980 the Republican doesn’t win? What if Obama absorbs the economic and political impact of higher energy prices and wins reelection anyway? Then, Netanyahu would have offended, but not removed, the President of the United States.

Thus, Netanyahu’s calculation will have to take into account how vulnerable Obama appears later this year. If Obama enjoys a big lead, Netanyahu may conclude that the risk of angering Obama is too high. Conversely, if the race is close, then Netanyahu might decide that the risk is worth it.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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46 comments on “Will Netanyahu Defy Obama on Iran?

  1. Pingback: Should the US Guarantee Israel’s Security Against Iran? – Huffington Post | News Blog

  2. StrokerMcgurk on said:

    I certainly hope so. Osamabama doesn’t care about Israel. Why should he, he’s a muzzluum! Israel needs to do what it has to do to preserve her security and safety and trust me there are many, many Americans that are with the Israelis.

    • Most American Soliders dont want to fight and die for a foreign country . I dont care if Obama is muslim, a mormon or a Jew . Its not in Americas intrests to spill blood for isreali intrests.
      israel manipulates american media and the isreal lobby runs congress.
      israel already has nuclear weapons

    • Jews have historically been better off under ‘muzzluum’ rule than under Europeans’. So Obama might not be as bad as some of Jews think he is as he might honestly be trying to save Jews going into history with Muslim blood on their hands.

  3. kathleen on said:

    StrokerMcgurk? You must be a citizen of Israel. No citizen of the United States would put the wishes of this FOREIGN COUNTRY against the best interests of the United States.

    • hidflect on said:

      Agreed. Settlers are often hired by the hour to get online and bash away.
      “Mcgurk” hehehe.. indeedy.

    • AllSaid on said:

      You must be a citizen of Israel. . . most likely. . . but definitely some
      > certified DipstickIdiot-Zionist < showing his obsessed hate for Muslims.

  4. John Puma on said:

    Quotes: “Exclusive: President Obama sent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu home with a warning that Israel cannot count on U.S. support if it unilaterally bombs Iran.”

    Are we to assume that Obama’s warnings are MUCH more credible than his promises, which, he knows, get a MUCH wider audience certainly than this warning?

    The map at the link below shows that we have dozens of military bases literally surrounding Iran. This includes the entire 5th naval fleet based in Bahrain, just over 100 miles across the Persian Gulf from Iran.
    http://tinyurl.com/88btskx

    How could any sane observer believe claims of our non-involvement in the event of an unilateral Israeli attack, even if true?

  5. Coleen Rowley on said:

    But has Mr. Parry read today’s breaking news of how Obama has made a deal with Netanyahu? That he will sell Israel bunker busters and refueling planes in exchange for Netanyahu’s promise to delay the attack on Iran until after Obama’s election?

    “When President George W. Bush was pretending to want to avoid a war on Iraq while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going, we had a feeling he was lying. After all, he was a Republican. But it was after the war was raging away that we came upon things like the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Memo.

    “Now President Barack Obama is pretending to want to avoid a war on Iran and to want Israel not to start one, while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going. We might suspect a lack of sincerity, given the insistence that Iran put an end to a program that the U.S. government simultaneously says there is no evidence exists, given the increase in free weapons for Israel to $3.1 billion next year, given the ongoing protection of Israel at the U.N. from any accountability for crimes, given the embrace of sanctions highly unlikely to lead to anything other than greater prospects of war, and given Obama’s refusal to take openly illegal war “off the table.” We might suspect that peace was not the ultimate goal, except of course that Obama is a Democrat.”

    —David Swanson (at http://warisacrime.org/content/evidence-war-lies-public-pre-war-time)

    • rosemerry on said:

      Thanks Coleen. I am overwhelmed that Robert Parry seems so cavalier about the possible (probable) terrible effects of an Israeli attack on Iran, which has made it quite clear it will retaliate, and has plenty of Russian defensive weapons to do so. Obama’s disgraceful bargain makes things much worse, and the breathtaking hypocrisy of Zionist supporters among so-called US citizens must be obvious to anyone else in the world.
      Human rights,freedom,PEACE and fairness are anathema to the USI.

      • Coleen Rowley on said:

        Looking at the various news articles again, the way it’s phrased (and how the “top US official” source got access to so many papers) makes it more likely that he or she is not an “unauthorized leaker” at all but an authorized one. Obama is probably “leaking” this detail about his deal to sell bombs-refueling planes for AIPAC’s and Israel’s ears. So I think there’s little doubt about the report being true.

        It’s sad but so much of Americans’ going-along-with-war can be attributed to the corrupted system of two-party political partisanship. We all saw this clearly when it was Bush-Cheney’s bad wars but now the logs get in the Democratic partisans’ eyes when it’s Obama pushing more wars.

        This AVAAZ NGO story about “progressives” using the “humanitarian intervention” rationale to push for war on Syria is telling: http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/03/07/the-grotesque-and-disturbing-ideology-at-the-helm-of-avaaz/ Especially since the “humanitarian” war on Libya was such a success: http://www.skepticallibertarian.com/2012/03/population-horror-show_06.html

  6. Hillary on said:

    “Little Israel” the Middle East bully has the 4th most powerful Military in the world enabling it to dictate US policy and defy the rest of the world.

    The world calls for a nuclear free Middle East and the nuclear disarming of that aggressive and ruthless Zionist State should be a top priority .

    Israel has in the past blackmailed the the US by threatening to use its nuclear missiles on Islamic capitals as in 1973.
    http://www.consortiumnews.com/2010/053110.html

    This Israeli (Samson Option) threat of blackmail continues to control the US –Israeli relationship.

    US and Israeli interests are not the same and neither should they ever be.

    Zionists created so many enemies for themselves in the region through their barbaric invasion, colonisation and brutal occupation and are paranoid as their foundation is based on false premises.

    Support for the Zionists is a major factor in the rise in Muslim fundamentalism and unrest throughout the World.

    As Mrs Pollard the wife of the Jewish American Spy for Israel said —

    “Every Jewish American’s first Loyalty is & should always be to Israel.”

    Jewish Americans have chosen their loyalty and some have chosen Israel.

  7. incontinent reader on said:

    People should be flooding the White House with emails expressing their opposition to this madness.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

  8. canary #8 on said:

    If Krauthammer wants us to go to war with Israel, let him be the first to sign up for military duty—along with his adult relatives.

    • altekaker on said:

      to: Canary #8
      Well said!! I’d want to add Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, et al, to the list.
      No, I’m not in favor of any more nukes, be they from Iran, Israel or the USA.Fer Chrissake, all you Neanderthals. Hasn’t the WMD scare that gave rise to Iraq war taught you anything? Noting the nutty Ayatollahs’ and Ahmadenijad’s hyperbolic outright hatred of Israel, I cannot convince myself that those 2 figures are really intent on self-destruction, other mid-east regime current and former tyrants notwithstanding. If those of you in favor of tasking us with the responsibility of supporting an attack on Iran believed our government’s propaganda re: Iraq and Saddam, why aren’t you willing to believe what the current admin’s statements and those of the IAEA are in essence saying: “Iran has no nuclear bomb capabilities at this time.”

  9. bobzz on said:

    Republicans out of the right side of their mouth: balance the budget!
    Republicans out of the left side of their mouth: another $trillion war on credit; go for it!

  10. If Israel will strike Iran NOW they will ensure a victory over Iran and the defeat of Obama bin Biden. A WIN-WIN both ways for Israel.

    • For your information: people die in wars. People die prematurely in wars. Many a times we work through the night to try to save the life of one person whose chances are bleak but we still try. Wars kill thousands, hundreds of thousand. Knowing this prety well how could you even pronounce the word ‘war’. Just think about it.

    • TheAZCowBoy on said:

      I believe that those Russian supersonic X-55h cruise missiles with nuclear warheads that Iran obtained for Bellaruss in 2010 will be a game changer. Also, the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft-cruise missle batteries will do a lot to take out Israel’s F-16I’s after their long (low on fuel) flight to Iran no matter how many US tankers are made available. Hezbollah’s 150,000+ missiles amd rockets (including a couple dozen Scud-C’s with sarin, Nerve gass and White Phosphoru warheads) will raise havoc on Dimona, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Don’t forget: “It’s not the size of the dog in a fight – It’s the size of the fight in the dog.’ (The Taliban have shown the US/NATO ‘baby kilers’ this with great success).

  11. Netanyahu has the upper hand over Obama in this one and I hope he knows it.

  12. And a WIN for the USA too!

  13. Kenny Fowler on said:

    Not gonna’ do it, wouldn’t be prudent. Know what I mean, I think ya do.

  14. Roger Thomas on said:

    The Zionists care little about any opposition to their evil intentions. They are contemptuous of a government and President which is under their control and which, regardless of any stated objections, panders shamelessly to their every whim.

    The power in the USA lies with the Zionist Jewish/Americans through their political sponsorship/patronage, and their ownership of most of the media. They constitute a fifth column serving the interests of the Zionist State first and foremost. Indoctrination begins at an early age as the following quote shows:

    “A perfect example is Stephen Steinlight. He served for five years as the Director of National Affairs for the largest and most powerful Jewish organization in the United States, the American Jewish Committee. He made the following remarks in an article on immigration in a national Jewish magazine in October of 2001:
    I’ll confess it, at least, like thousands of other typical Jewish kids of my generation, I was reared as a Jewish nationalist, even a quasi-separatist. Every summer for two months for 10 formative years during my childhood and adolescence I attended Jewish summer camp. There, each morning, I saluted a foreign flag, dressed in a uniform reflecting its colors, sang a foreign national anthem, learned a foreign language, learned foreign folk songs and dances, and was taught that Israel was the true homeland. Emigration to Israel was considered the highest virtue, and, like many other Jewish teens of my generation, I spent two summers working in Israel on a collective farm while I contemplated that possibility. More tacitly and subconsciously, I was taught the superiority of my people to the gentiles who had oppressed us. We were taught to view non-Jews as untrustworthy outsiders, people from whom sudden gusts of hatred might be anticipated, people less sensitive, intelligent, and moral than ourselves. We were also taught that the lesson of our dark history is that we could rely on no one”.

    The White House, the Senate and Congress are occupied by bought politicians who are traitors to the USA and the American people.

    Look at the current bunch of Republican hopefuls, with the exception of Ron Paul, they are all canoodling up to the Zionists, knowing that they, through their plants in the USA, will provide huge sums in sponsorship in the Presidential election.

    Zionist/American suggestions of assassinating Obama indicate that funding for his reelection campaign will be withdrawn with the media denigrating him non-stop ie the Zionists will be appointing the next President.

    It is a pathetic sight to see: the most powerful country in the World being the poodle of a brutal, nazi-style regime, with its sons and daughters sacrificed in proxy wars.

    Iran’s best option is in finding a way to fund Obama’s reelection.

    • Judah the Lion on said:

      Achtung Herr Thomas!

      • photon's feather on said:

        Dated, insipid hate speech.

        I see a lot of that: if you don’t just love Israel and all it stands for, you are anti-Semitic / a Nazi / a self-hating Jew.

        Well, the Nazis are long gone, and the ‘anti-Semitic’ rhetoric is as damnably old and worn as it is inaccurate.

        Any ‘American’ who puts the interests of Israel (or any nation) above those of the US needs to emigrate.

        • TheAZCowBoy on said:

          People seem to forget that the Palestinians are, in most case (Example, Ashkanazi’s) more semtic than the Zionist scoundrals of that 1/2 cre of Zionist hell.

    • Karen Romero on said:

      Thank you so much for putting in that quote from Stephen Steinlight. You know what is a God given blessing to him is…that he in fact could recognize the brainwashing.

    • TheAZCowBoy on said:

      God bless Ron Paul. Too bad decency ‘never’ makes it to high office.
      These GOP jerks that condemn abortion ‘Because it takes a life,’ and have no problem with the murder of 1.4m Iraqi’s are sick, sick, sick!’

    • TheAZCowBoy on said:

      Great post – Now, let’s hope you don’t get kicked off this site. The US/Jewish owned and operated media, besides deceiving the American ‘sheeple’ in industrial quanties do so much to censore this kind of thought/talk, GULP!

  15. F. G. Sanford on said:

    If you stuck two pegs in Krauthammer’s neck, he’d look just like the Frankenstein monster. No offense to Mary Shelley’s pitiable agonist. He must be drooling mad over the prospect of all that fresh blood, and no chance to drink any. But all that aside, didn’t we already sell…excuse me, give Israel the bunker-busters? What, we were expecting them to play tiddlywinks? Iran is no threat to Israel. So, what’s the REAL agenda? Our “alliance” with Israel reminds me of that old joke about the man who takes his seat on an airliner, and notices an enormous diamond ring on the finger of the middle-aged woman seated next to him. He, says, “I can’t help but admire that spectacular diamond you’re wearing”. She says, “Yes, but it comes with the notorious Plotnik curse”. He says, “Oh really, what’s that? She replies, “Mr. Plotnik”. Just like poor old Mrs. Plotnik, we’re going to forgive any infidelity. The AIPAC curse is upon us. It comes with the campaign contributions. Let’s just hope Russia and China don’t get involved.

  16. ProgressiveObserver on said:

    This idea that the United States owes Israel something amazes me. Didn’t the United States have just a little something to do with ending the second World War? Doesn’t Isreal owe the United States anything? Like say, I don’t know, a little respect, not dragging the country into every 3000 year old pissing conetset, not taking aid it doesn’t need anymore, not continuing to make settlements on contested land knowing full well everyone in the Middle East will read “Made in America” on the sides of those homes?

    • TheAZCowBoy on said:

      The unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty and the massacre of thousands of hog-tied Egyptian soldier POW’s during the 1967 war, the horrendous Cast Lead massacres in impoverished Gaza and failing to notify the US military of the coming US Marine barraks attack in Beirut Lebanon 1982 because they were angry that the US had stopped the carnage in lebanon by Israel in their 1982 invasion is enough to ‘nuke’ that 1/2 acre of Zionist hell.

  17. The US needs to get out of the Middle East for good. Let them take care of themselves, blasting each other apart if they want since no one there seems to want to get along with each other. If Israel is first and foremost with American Jews, they should relocate there. The United States is first and foremost with me, not the European countries my ancestors were from before they emigrated to America.

  18. Karen Romero on said:

    Thank you again Bob Parry for posting the pictures with the articles. I know you don’t even have to guess what I did with Benjamin Netanyahu’s photo.
    Well this time I did something a little different. I copied and pasted his ugly mug shot into word, then printed off a copy of his photo. Then guess what? I wadded it up and threw him in the proper recepticle!

    I DON’T LIKE CHILD ABUSERS!

    • Judah the Lion on said:

      What about the arab terrorists who murdered a family of four (2 were children) arabs have continuously used children as human shields and homicide bombers. That’s child abuse!

  19. TheAZCowBoy on said:

    Great time for a targeted assassination of this kosher pig thug Natanyahu by his nemesis Obama (CIA). A failure in his last administratin (Single handedly destroying Oslo I & II and later bragging about it) and headed for more failure at warp speed in the new millennium. What is there to gain from allowing this low life LIKUDNIK hoodlum to continue stealing the oxygen from out of the air in Palestine?

    • Judah The Lion on said:

      Delusional western wacko neo nazi garbage

      • Watcher465 on said:

        As usual the first and last comment are written by hasbarats. Stroker McGurk & Judah the Sheepish Lion are even dumber than your average hasbarat. Wait I take back my outlandish comment!
        One hasbarat is as dumb as any other hasbarat.

        • Judah the Lion on said:

          What the hell is a hasbarat? You’ve been in the medieval sun for too long…

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