A Worried Israel Prepares for War

Benjamin NetanyahuSix months ago, as rocket fire was falling on Tel Aviv, my six-year-old daughter had to pay her first visit to a bomb shelter. On Monday, she had to pay her second and third visits. On Sunday night, before she went to bed, we had reminded her that sirens would be going off the next day, that she shouldn’t be afraid of them. Yes, yes, she said, impatiently brushing us off; she knows it’s a drill. Along with all Israeli children, and the small part of the adult population willing to play a role, at 12:30 p.m. Monday she was duly marched by a teacher to the shelter. At 7:05 p.m. it was our turn as parents to run through the drill at home. Such drills are not a novelty to Israelis, but the more a potential war seems imminent, the more sober they become. All day, radio announcers remind us: “In case of real emergency, another siren will be heard.” In recent weeks there was hardly a day without someone discussing the possibility of real war. Israel, as New York Times reported less than a week ago, is reluctantly being dragged into the Syria’s turmoil. Israel’s imperative is clear: to prevent transfer of game-changing weaponry from getting into the wrong hands. It can’t permit Syria to send chemical weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, nor can it allow Syria to receive missiles or other weapons systems that will make it harder for Israel to defend itself against future aggression. Earlier this month, Israeli warplanes attacked targets in Syria to prevent a delivery of Iranian missiles to Hezbollah. There were two Israeli airstrikes in Syria within two days, the second being the third this year, after more than five years without Israeli attacks in Syria. Given these recent Israeli strikes and Israel’s vows to act “with determination” to achieve its goals, escalation of rhetorical threats against Israel was probably unavoidable. There are Syrian threats to use missiles against Israel, and Hezbollah has warned that it may launch a “popular-resistance campaign’’ in the Golan Heights. In turn, Israel has been making more of its own threats. While Israeli leaders keep saying that they don’t want any part in Syria’s war, and there’s no reason to doubt their sincerity, their message can be contradictory at times. “Israel wants to both eat a cake and keep it untouched,” said Professor Eyal Zisser of the Tel Aviv University, Israel’s leading expert on Syria. Israeli government, he added, wants to attack Syrian installations and convoys when it deems necessary, yet it also wants to prevent a war from breaking out. As it tries to hold together a fragile peace, Israel has its citizens conduct drills and prepare for the worst. “These days a number of scenarios can lead to a surprise war,” chief of Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, declared a week ago. A “Somalization” of Syria, a scenario that both Israeli and Arab diplomats see as a real possibility, would present Israel with a whole new set of security challenges. Israeli leaders should be telling the public the truth. Choosing to attack Syria is not opting for a good option over a bad one but rather picking a bad option, risk of war, over another bad one, risk of letting Israel’s enemies get new weaponry. “A severe case of brinkmanship is being played at moment,” said a former U.N. peacekeeper in Lebanon. When such game is going on, a sudden state of a war can hardly be considered a “surprise.” (source: Shmuel Rosner – NYTimes – 28/05/2013)

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8 Responses to A Worried Israel Prepares for War

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Netanyahu is doing his best to get the Obama administration involved in the Syrian civil war. So far, he has failed. US public opinion is tired of costly wars, unemployment and economic decline. If Netanyahu wants another war, Israeli soldiers will be doing the fighting.

    http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/a-worried-israel-prepares-for-war/

  2. (…..) With these iron-fisted leaders being toppled — and true, multisectarian democracies with effective governments yet to emerge in their place — Israel is potentially facing decades of unstable or no governments surrounding it. Only Jordan offers Israel a normal border. In the hinterlands beyond, Israel is looking at dysfunctional states that are either imploding (like Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Libya) or exploding (like Syria). But here’s what’s worse: These iron-fisted leaders not only suppressed various political forces in their societies but also badly ignored their schools, environments, women’s empowerment and population explosions. Today, all these bills are coming due just when their governments are least able to handle them. Therefore, the overarching theme for Israeli strategy in the coming years must be “resiliency” — how to maintain a relatively secure environment and thriving economy in a collapsing region. In my view, that makes resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more important than ever for three reasons: 1) to reverse the trend of international delegitimization closing in on Israel; 2) to disconnect Israel as much as possible from the regional conflicts around it; and 3) to offer a model. There is no successful model of democratic governance in the Arab world at present — the Islamists are all failing. But Israel, if it partnered with the current moderate Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, has a chance to create a modern, economically thriving, democratic, secular state where Christians and Muslims would live side by side — next to Jews. That would be a hugely valuable example, especially at a time when the Arab world lacks anything like it. And the world for the most part would not begrudge Israel keeping its forces on the Jordan River — as will be necessary given the instability beyond — if it ceded most of the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Together, Israelis and Palestinians actually have the power to model what a decent, postauthoritarian, multireligious Arab state could look like. Nothing would address both people’s long-term strategic needs better. Too bad their leaders today are not as farsighted as Joseph.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/opinion/friedman-israel-lives-the-joseph-story.html

  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: A persuasive piece by Mr. Friedman on why peace is the best option to be followed by Israel. However, I am afraid his reasonable arguments will fall on deaf ears. The Israeli leadership — Netanyahu and right wing parties — has thrived on making war not peace. Thus, why to seek peace thinking about a far away future?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/opinion/friedman-israel-lives-the-joseph-story.html

  4. Americans are increasingly skeptical about whether the United States should thrust itself into conflicts overseas, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, but that reluctance does not extend to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. After 12 years of war and amid signs of a sustainable economic recovery, nearly six in 10 people said the United States should not take a leading role among all other countries in trying to solve conflicts, the poll found, while only about a third said it should remain at the forefront. On Iran, however, the same proportion of people — 58 percent — favored the United States taking military action to stop Iran from manufacturing a bomb, an action that President Obama has repeatedly warned the Iranian government is a “red line” for the United States. The support for a more restrained American role has grown markedly since the question was last asked, in April 2003, a month after the invasion of Iraq.


    And it suggests Mr. Obama is in tune with the public mood in his refusal to be drawn into the bloody civil war in Syria.

    “We don’t have the finances for it, we have problems of our own, and we have to solve our own issues before we take on everyone else’s problems,” Michael Burt, 54, of Creedmoor, N.C., who worked in hotel security but is now on disability leave, said in a follow-up interview. Even as Americans signal a desire to draw inward, however, they appear sensitive to the nation’s growing vulnerability to attacks on its computer systems. An overwhelming majority said cyberattacks were a very serious or somewhat serious threat, with nearly six in 10 saying the United States is not adequately prepared for them (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/world/americans-skeptical-of-involvement-in-foreign-conflicts-poll-finds.html

  5. The Obama administration, concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country’s civil war, has decided to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition, according to American officials. The officials held out the possibility that the assistance, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, could include antitank weapons, but they said that for now supplying the antiaircraft weapons that rebel commanders have said they sorely need is not under consideration. Supplying weapons to the rebels has been a long-sought goal of advocates of a more aggressive American response to the Syrian civil war. A proposal made last year by David H. Petraeus, then the director of the C.I.A., and backed by the State Department and the Pentagon to supply weapons was rejected by the White House because of President Obama’s deep reluctance to be drawn into another war in the Middle East. But even with the decision to supply lethal aid, the Obama administration remains deeply divided about whether to take more forceful action to try to quell the fighting, which has killed more than 90,000 people over more than two years. Many in the American government believe that the military balance has tilted so far against the rebels in recent months that American shipments of arms to select groups may be too little, too late. Some senior State Department officials have been pushing for a more aggressive military response, including airstrikes to hit the primary landing strips in Syria that the Assad government uses to launch the chemical weapons attacks, ferry troops around the country and receive shipments of arms from Iran. But White House officials remain wary, and on Thursday Benjamin J. Rhodes, one of Mr. Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, all but ruled out the imposition of a no-fly zone and indicated that no decision had been made on other military actions. Mr. Obama declared last August that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line” that would prompt a more resolute American response. In an April letter to Congress, the White House said that intelligence agencies had “varying degrees of confidence” that Syrian government troops had used chemical weapons. But the conclusion of the latest intelligence review, according to officials, is more definitive. The White House said on Thursday that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons “on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.” The assessment came after American and European government analysts examined physiological evidence and other intelligence indicating that Syrian troops had used sarin gas against the opposition. The announcement said that American intelligence officials now believed that 100 to 150 people had died from the attacks, but officials cautioned that the number could be higher. That conclusion is based on evidence that includes intelligence on the Assad government’s plans for the use of chemical weapons, accounts of specific attacks, and descriptions of symptoms experienced by victims of the attacks. Mr. Rhodes said the new assessment had changed the president’s calculus (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-weapons.html

  6. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: US foreign policy used to be an area only understood by experts like Dr. Henry Kissinger and top diplomats. Not anymore, after 9/11. The intention and actions of US Presidents are becoming predictable and easy to anticipate. The decision of the Obama administration to intervene in the Syrian civil war is a good case study. Here is the timeline. First, 2012 Obama announces use of chemical weapons by Assad as a ‘red line’ for US direct involvement, no reason is given why chemical weapons. Obama wants to avoid the Bush PR fiasco and weapons of mass destruction reason to invade Iraq. Second, In May 2013 mustard gas is used in the city of Aleppo. Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff indicated that the nerve agent sarin was used by rebel fighters.

    (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/uns-carla-del-ponte-

    White House asks for further investigation and ‘ conclusive’ proof to determine which side used chemical weapons. Third, June 2013 a major NSA international/national cyber espionage case is revealed. In turn, the Syrian civil war begins to turn in favor of Assad. Fourth, June 14th, 2013 the White House announces conclusive “proof” of chemical weapons use by Assad army. The red line is crossed. What is going to happen next is not too difficult to anticipate.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-weapons.html

  7. The Obama administration, which had long resisted sending weapons to antigovernment forces in Syria’s civil war, has decided to supply them with small arms after concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad have used chemical weapons against them, according to American officials. The shift in administration policy on Syria seems reflective of public opinion. Polls have consistently shown Americans are deeply wary of the United States becoming involved in the fighting in Syria. But they also show that public support for intervention increases sharply under circumstances where it is confirmed that the Assad regime used chemical weapons (…..)

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/polls-show-chemical-weapons-affect-publics-view-on-syria/

  8. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: W.’s political strategists were the first ones to use WMD ‘s to gain public support to invade Iraq. Now, Obama is doing exactly the same in relation to Syria’s civil war. If the results of polls mentioned in this piece are correct (they could have been manipulated), W.’s playbook is working fine in preparing public opinion for the forthcoming military intervention in Syria.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/polls-show-chemical-weapons-affect-publics-view-on-syria/

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