UPDATE 10 am Israel time Saturday:
Four more Palestinian Qassam rockets have terrorized southern Israel in the last 24 hours––the most recent exploding at 2:34 am this morning in the Chof Ashkelon region that runs just north and south of Ashkelon.
On Thursday night in accepting his party’s nomination for President of the United States, Mitt Romney declared that “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.”
Whereas this statement is indisputably true in regard to former allies such as Hosni Mubarak who was not only thrown under the bus but run over as well, White House spokesman Jay Carney went to some pains yesterday to say that the statement was not true in regard to Israel: “I can simply say that, under President Obama, cooperation with Israel between our military and intelligence communities has never been closer. We have an extremely close relationship with Israel, which is appropriate given our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
The events of the last 48 hours belie Carney’s comment.
This is what has happened following the extraordinary IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report on Thursday that Iran has doubled its centrifuges to 2140 and has now produced 190 km (418 pounds) of high-grade enriched uranium:
1. The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported that on Thursday there was a “heated exchange” between Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro in which Netanyahu told Shapiro that “Instead of pressuring Iran in an effective way, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities. Time has run out.”
2. Carney himself was flabbergastingly lackadaisical about the IAEA information: “We are closely studying the details of the report, but broadly speaking it is not surprising that Iran is continuing to violate its obligations.”
“Not surprising that Iran is continuing to violate its obligations”? If this is not an outright admission that the sanctions against Iran are not working, your humble servant is not sure what one would be (yet if Netanyahu says this, he is dismissed for “not giving sanctions enough time to work”).
3. Several hours later while on a visit in London, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, made the remarkable public statement that “I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it [attack Iran].”
“Complicit”? Lest we forget, complicit means “associated with or participating in a wrongful act or a crime.” Here we have the highest ranking military official in the United States, a man who supposedly does not make policy but instead follows the policy of his President, accusing Israel of contemplating “a wrongful act or a crime.”
4. Finally, readers of this blog know that at the beginning of this year, the United States and Israel were to have conducted joint military preparedness drills “to simulate Israel’s ballistic missile system.” In fact, in November of 2011, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Andrew Shapira noted that 5000 U.S. troops would soon come to Israel making this exercise “by far the largest and the most significant exercise in US-Israeli history.”
Operation “Austere Challenge-12” was supposed to have taken place in the Spring of 2012.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the drill.
First, back in January, the exercises were postponed until “the second half” of 2012 so that, according to U.S. officials, “tensions with Iran would not be heightened.”
Then, in May, the U.S. decided to hold the massive “Eager Lion” exercises with 12,000 primarily U.S., Jordanian, and Saudi Arabian soldiers in Jordan to demonstrate the “formidable” U.S. commitment to the region–and “to send a signal to Iran.” Israel, by the way, was not invited.
Yesterday came the news that the “massive” U.S.-Israel joint exercises now scheduled for the end of October have been massively scaled back by the United States. Instead of 5000 U.S. troops, there will now be between 1200 and 1500. According to Time magazine: “Patriot anti-missile systems will arrive in Israel as planned, but the crews to operate them will not. Instead of two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships being dispatched to Israeli waters, the new plan is to send one, though even the remaining vessel is listed as a ‘maybe’, according to officials in both militaries.”
The Patriot anti-missile systems are critical because Israel does not have nearly enough of them to protect the entire country in the event of an Iranian missile attack. By not supplying the operators of the Patriot systems, the U.S. is significantly undermining Israel’s potential defense.
Israel’s defense is also extremely dependent on the U.S. operated X-band radar installation in the Negev which is specifically focused on Iran–and is linked to Israel’s own Arrow anti-missile system. The obvious inference is that Israel can no longer count on the U.S. to operate the X-band system either.
In sum, U.S. ties with Israel seem to be deteriorating instead of strengthening–at least that is the view from Israel this morning. If the U.S. is not “throwing Israel under the bus”, it is certainly hanging it out to dry.
One last point. Remember part Jay Carney’s original statement given at the beginning of this blog:
“We have an extremely close relationship with Israel, which is appropriate given our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
Your humble servant does not want to overly parse this, but the mere fact that Obama’s spokesman is openly discussing whether the U.S. relationship to Israel is “appropriate” (or not) should give all us pause for thought.
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