Monday, September 03, 2012

Bits and Pieces - Too Much Iran Edition

Israel has been managing to keep Iran in the news, with continuing threats of bombing, mostly from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. I don't respond to every hiccup and alarum because things keep going back and forth so rapidly and because each statement, leak, or rumor is likely to have been released for a purpose. Barak's comments a week or two ago about US intelligence were striking enough to take notice of because they so flouted international norms of keeping another nation's secrets secret.

Netanyahu and Barak seem to have been a bit chastened by the reaction to that escapade, both within Israel and from the United States. The US is downsizing its involvement in a joint military maneuver with Israel this fall, but both sides say it has nothing to do with Israel's recent hysterics, which is what they would say in any case. Barak seems to be walking his statements back, but it's hard to tell what that may mean. Or is there any walking-back at all?

The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said "I don't want to be complicit if they (Israel) choose to do it [attack Iran]," which could be taken to mean that if Israel attacks, they will have to do it alone. And a report is now surfacing that such a message has been conveyed to Iran. I've said that I find it likely that President Barack Obama's message to Prime Minister Netanyahu last spring was just that.

The reasons Israel shouldn't attack are the ones that have been discussed all along: it would destroy any hope of negotiating peaceful limits on Iran's nuclear program; it would be very damaging to Israel; it would provoke a war involving much of the Middle East and likely the United States; it would set back Iran's nuclear program two or three years, if that much.

Update: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells Israel to cool it. One more in the long parade.

If you're as tired of hearing it all as I am, you probably haven't clicked any of the links. But do click this one and read a long interview with a former head of Mossad (Israel's equivalent to the CIA), Efraim Halevy. He says some different things in his argument against Netanyahu's finger on the trigger.

The Washington Post ombudsman considers the silence about Israel's nuclear weapons.

Frank Munger, of the Knoxville News, has been covering the break-in at Oak Ridge's Y-12 enriched uranium facility by three peace activists, one of whom is an 82-year-old nun. The latest on how it was done and the continuing fallout is here, but you can find much more by scrolling through the blog.

And now, a reward for getting through all that nuclear stuff: Beautiful tattoos on a princess and her guards from one of my favorite places in the world, the Altai Mountains.

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