Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on May 21 that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has proposed to speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi that “a naval blockade be imposed on Iran as one of several ways to pressure Iran into stopping its uranium enrichment program.”

Hmm.  By whom did Olmert propose this naval blockade be imposed, I wonder?  Israel’s navy could no sooner get to the Persian Gulf than Iran’s navy could charge up the Red Sea to assault the Israeli naval base at Haifa.  Both maritime forces would sink of natural causes before they got anywhere close to each other.  

The concept of this story is laughable enough, but the way the once respectable Haaretz told it is enough to make you spit your martini across the room.  
Bad Examples

Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times set the brave new world standard for government toadying journalism when they wrote the infamous Nigergate article in September 2002.  The piece supported the claims of Dick Cheney’s cabal that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking nuclear weapons by citing anonymous “officials” an astounding 30 times.  In some passages, they went so far as to indirectly quote what unreliable anonymous third parties told unnamed officials (Iraqi defectors who once worked for the nuclear weapons establishment have told American officials that…), which amounts to triple secret hearsay.

Haaretz managed to outdo Miller and Gordon in their “Let’s you and them fight” piece.

Right after it implied that Olmert and Pelosi had agreed between the two of them on the best way to start World War III, the piece said that the White House “denied a published report that U.S. President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term in January.”  It quickly added, though, that the Bush administration “is said not to have ruled out entirely the possibility of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

The “published report” was “A story in the Jerusalem Post,” and the possibly of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was said by “an unidentified official as claiming that a `senior member’ of Bush’s entourage to Israel last week made the statement about attacking Iran in a closed meeting.”

So we’ve got the so-called moderate Israeli paper quoting the Israeli neocon/likudnik rag (the 2003 Jerusalem Post Man of the Year was Paul Wolfowitz) paraphrasing what faceless Thing A claimed faceless Thing B said about attacking Iran in a meeting that, for all we know, was so closed that no one was at it except Thing A and Thing B.  You have to wonder why Thing B didn’t allow himself to be anonymously paraphrased directly.  Maybe he’s just shy, huh?

It gets better.  The person at the White House who said the neocon/likudnik rag article about what Thing A said that Thing B said was “not worth the paper it’s written on” was White House press secretary Dana Perino.  (Dana Perino said the administration prefers to deal with Iran through diplomatic means, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more!)

AND… “Israelis who spoke to Bush and his entourage while they were in Israel last week said they had the impression that the military option `is on the table,’ and that the president felt a sense of deep obligation to overcome the Iranian threat.”

What Israelis who spoke to Bush?  Jerusalem school kids?  Hookers from Haifa? What did Bush do or say that gave them the impression that the military option is on the table and made them feel a deep sense of the deep sense of obligation Bush feels?

Bad Company

The schwerpunkt of the Haaretz piece, though, is its characterization of the meeting between Olmert and Pelosi in Israel. “The present economic sanctions on Iran have exhausted themselves,” Haaretz said Olmert told Pelosi.  I guess we can take Olmert’s word for that.  He’s been right about everything so far, especially that woebegone war he got his army in with Hezbollah that Dick Cheney goaded him into.  

Haaretz also said that Olmert told Pelosi “there was a great deal of space between the present sanctions and military action” and that, as Haaretz paraphrased, “Aggressive action could be taken that was not violent.”  I’d guess that aggressive action that isn’t violent would fall under young Mr. Bush’s notion of “appeasement.”  Maybe that’s why Olmert told Pelosi about it instead of Bush.  

Olmert proposed two kinds of non-violent aggressive action to “isolate the Iranian regime.”  First is the naval blockade, which Olmert admitted would have to be performed by the U.S. fleet.  For the record, a naval blockade is not a non-violent measure.  It is an act of war that denies the target nation its inalienable right to access international waters.  A blockade only works if when it comes time to shoot, you shoot.  If the time to shoot comes and you don’t shoot, you’ll spend years and maybe decades squeezing the egg out of your nose pores.  

The other non-violent measure Olmert wants according to Haaretz is “limitations on Iranian aircraft.” “Iranian businesspeople who would not be able to land anywhere in the world would pressure the regime,” Olmert said.

There are only two sure ways to keep business air travelers from reaching their destinations: shoot them down or bomb them before they get on the airplane.

The real objective of the article, though, was to frame Olmert’s crack talk as something he “told Pelosi,” as if they were carrying on an intimate conversation even though, if you read the story closely enough, there were at least a dozen if not scores of other people in the room at the time.  The bottom line message is that if the U.S. goes along with Olmert’s bull goose Iran strategy, it was Nancy Pelosi who agreed to it, not Dick Cheney.  And if America ignores Olmert’s wishes and something bad happens to Israel, it’s Pelosi’s fault, not Olmert’s.

Either way, now that Olmert has touched Pelosi in a public forum, it’s just a matter of time before her nose and fingers fall off.  


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword .  Jeff’s novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) is on sale now.

“Populated by outrageous characters and fueled with pompous outrage, Huber’s irreverent broadside will pummel the funny bone of anyone who’s served.” — Publishers Weekly

“A remarkably accomplished book, striking just the right balance between ridicule and insight.” — Booklist

View the trailer here.

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