From Carl in Jerusalem:
CBS News reported Tuesday night from the Pentagon on the eve of Admiral Michael Mullen's trip to Israel that the Bush administration has made a commitment to Israel that it will deal with Iran before leaving office.
According to CBS News correspondent David Martin, Israel is getting nervous that the administration won't fulfill the commitment, which would explain the drill over the Mediterranean earlier this month. Israel was telling the United States, "if you don't do it, we will."But historian and CBS analyst Michael Oren says that Israel does not have the capability of removing the Iranian threat entirely, while the United States does. Therefore, Israel is putting on a full-court press to get the administration to act.
Let's go to the videotape.
I would look for someone to do something about Iran during the period between the Presidential election and the inauguration of the next President. What's clear now is that if the US doesn't act, Israel will. While there is some chance of this being left to John McCain if he wins the election, I would rate the chances of a strike against Iran during the November to January period as still being higher than 50% even if McCain wins. If Obama wins, I would rate the chances of a strike as much higher.
And, of course, ealier this week, John Bolton predicted that Israel will be the one attacking Iran before the inauguration of a new President:
John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, has predicted that Israel could attack Iran after the November presidential election but before George W Bush's successor is sworn in.
The Arab world would be "pleased" by Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
"It [the reaction] will be positive privately. I think there'll be public denunciations but no action," he said.
Mr Bolton, an unflinching hawk who proposes military action to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons, bemoaned what he sees as a lack of will by the Bush administration to itself contemplate military strikes.
"It's clear that the administration has essentially given up that possibility," he said. "I don't think it's serious any more. If you had asked me a year ago I would have said I thought it was a real possibility. I just don't think it's in the cards."
Israel, however, still had a determination to prevent a nuclear Iran, he argued. The "optimal window" for strikes would be between the November 4 election and the inauguration on January 20, 2009.
"The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defences by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations .
"They're also obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgement is they would not want to do anything before our election because there's no telling what impact it could have on the election."
But waiting for either Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, or his Republican opponent John McCain to be installed in the White House could preclude military action happening for the next four years or at least delay it.
"An Obama victory would rule out military action by the Israelis because they would fear the consequences given the approach Obama has taken to foreign policy," said Mr Bolton, who was Mr Bush's ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006.
"With McCain they might still be looking at a delay. Given that time is on Iran's side, I think the argument for military action is sooner rather than later absent some other development."
The Iran policy of Mr McCain, whom Mr Bolton supports, was "much more realistic than the Bush administration's stance".
Mr Obama has said he will open high-level talks with Iran "without preconditions" while Mr McCain views attacking Iran as a lesser evil than allowing Iran to become a nuclear power.
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