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U.S., Israel Discuss Triggers for Bombing Iran’s Nuclear Infrastructure

(Daily Beast/Jerusalem Post) – The Daily Beast reported that Panetta’s statements infuriated the Israeli government, which ordered ambassador Oren to file the complaint. The White House then relayed a message to Israel saying the administration has its own “red lines” concerning a strike on Iran, and that Israel does not need to act unilaterally. Israel’s protest also resulted in Panetta reversing his stand in an interview with CBS, saying the U.S. will use any means necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opined earlier this month that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could “consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret,” the Israelis went ballistic behind the scenes. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, lodged a formal diplomatic protest known as a demarche. And the White House was thrust into action, reassuring the Israelis that the administration had its own “red lines” that would trigger military action against Iran, and that there is no need for Jerusalem to act unilaterally.

    December 21: Dennis Ross tells Israel’s Channel 10 television that President Obama would be prepared to “take a certain step” if that is what is required and “this means that when all options are on the table and if you’ve exhausted all other means, you do what is necessary”.  

Panetta’s seemingly innocent remarks on Dec. 2 triggered the latest drama in the tinder-box relationship that the Obama administration is trying to navigate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. With Republicans lining up to court Jewish donors and voters in America in 2012, Obama faces a tricky election-year task of ensuring Iran doesn’t acquire a nuclear bomb on his watch while keeping the Israelis from launching a preemptive strike that could inflame an already teetering Middle East.

    One of America’s “red-lines” became clearer, when the US responded sternly to Iranian threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow opening of the Persian Gulf through which much of the world’s oil supplies pass. The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet circulated an e-mail saying, “Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated.”

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Will a U.S. attack on Iran become Obama’s ‘October Surprise’?

Unprecedented defense cooperation with regional allies

(AEI) – The Obama administration has made substantial investments in working closely with regional allies including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to respond to Iran’s nuclear program and Iranian support for terrorist groups. The United States has provided unprecedented military aid to Israel since President Obama came into office, including investments in missile-defense systems. In addition, the United States has offered Saudi Arabia modern and upgraded capabilities, as well as enhanced defense cooperation with a range of partners in the region including the United Arab Emirates.

Furthermore, the Obama administration realigned regional missile-defense capabilities to better address the threat from Iranian missiles, securing Turkey’s consent to host an early-warning radar on its soil–a radar that will monitor Iran for any missile launches. The administration has also accelerated the deployment of missile-defense systems to Europe that can protect our allies from Iranian missiles.

AEI War Hawks Warn That Iran Poses ‘Existential Worry’

Red Lines and Ticking Clocks: U.S. War Plans Against Iran

(Dissident Voice) – Wars don’t just happen. Before the first bomb falls disinformation specialists prepare the ground.

Leading media outlets, foreign policy journals and a plethora of think tanks funded by elite foundations, energy and weapons’ conglomerates, “right,” “left” or “center” take your pick, churn out war propaganda disguised as “analysis.”

From the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) to the neoliberal Center for American Progress (CAP), rhetorical skirmishes aside, the line is remarkably similar.

Indeed, for “conservative” and “liberal” elite bloviators alike, Iran poses an “existential threat” to Israel and America’s regional “allies,” a disparate crew of land-grabbing colonizers, murderous princes and profligate potentates.

Only U.S. intervention, in the form of an overt military attack now or crippling economic sanctions followed by military action later, can save the day and bring “democracy” to the benighted Iranian people.

If we’re to believe neocon acolyte Thomas Donnelly, “The rapid ticking of the Iran nuclear clock also marks an increasingly dark hour for the United States and its closest allies and partners, because it coincides with a third clock … the timetable of retreat set in motion by Barack Obama.”

Meanwhile, liberal interventionists Rudy deLeon and Brian Katulis over at CAP tell us that “President Barack Obama and his administration are ratcheting up the pressure on the Iranian regime, building an international coalition that is increasingly isolating and weakening Iran-making it pay a price for not living up to its international responsibilities.”

At odds with the Persians since the battle of Thermopylae

(AEI) March/April 2007 – Iran’s location explains much of this violent history. It is not only a bridge from the Orient to the West, but also a north-south clearinghouse between Russia and the Arab world. The Strait of Hormuz currently forms the bottleneck for global petroleum commerce, but even in the age of sail, the narrow sea passage always served as a means for Iranians to shut off all entry into the nearby Persian Gulf.

Much of Ahmadinejad’s apparent domestic appeal stems not from his posture as an Islamist who takes on Israel on behalf of the Palestinians but as a leader who seeks to restore a Persian and Shiite claim to Muslim greatness. The efforts of Iran to undermine the Iraqi government, overturn Lebanese democracy, finance Hezbollah, and use Syria to balance the Gulf sheikdoms are not so different from the management of shifting alliances and intrigue that enabled Cyrus the Great to cobble together the first Persian Empire.

So throughout the checkered history of Iran and the West there have been constant themes that suggest that our current rivalry with Tehran is neither new nor surprising. Fairly or not, Westerners have always viewed their relations with Persia in terms of freedom versus despotism, of individual citizens at Thermopylae fighting the coerced hordes of Xerxes’ subjects. Roman poets likewise depicted Romans fighting Parthians as free-minded Western infantry battling treacherous nomadic horsemen who shot arrows even as they seemed to ride away.

Iranians have some reason to be paranoid about foreign interventionists and intriguers. We hear much from them today about the “den of spies” in the American Embassy 30 years ago, about the 1953 Anglo-American overthrow of the democratically elected Mohammed Mosaddeq, and about the joint Russian-American virtual takeover of Iran in 1941. So is Western conflict with Ahmadinejad’s restive Iran inevitable?  

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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