There is a scary article in Spiegel Online. In it a different Israeli cabinet minister is heard to say that diplomacy with Iran is dead and that a military solution is going to happen whether we like it or not.
Yatom, 63, has spent most of his life in the military. He was a military adviser to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and, in the mid-1990s, was named head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Nevertheless, Yatom, a member of the Labor Party, is not some reckless hawk. Unlike most Knesset members, he flatly rejects, for example, a major Israeli offensive against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
But Yatom’s willingness to strike a compromise ends when he is asked what he considers to be the best response to the Iranian nuclear program. “We no longer believe in the effectiveness of sanctions,” says Yatom. “A military operation is needed if the world wants to stop Iran.”
The article goes on to discuss the recent Mofaz statement that says that military action against Iran is inevitable and introduces a statement from another minister who paints a pretty bleak picture:
In truth, however, there is now a consensus within the Israeli government that an air strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities has become unavoidable. “Most members of the Israeli cabinet no longer believe that sanctions will convince President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to change course,” says Minister of Immigrant Absorption Yaakov Edri.
The one question over which Israel’s various political groups disagree is the timing of an attack. The doves argue that diplomatic efforts by the United Nations should be allowed to continue until Iran is on the verge of completing the bomb. That way, Israel could at least argue convincingly that all non-military options had been exhausted.
The hawks, on the other hand, believe time is running out. They stress that there is now a “favorable window of opportunity” that will close with the US presidential election in November, and that Israel can only depend on American support for as long as current US President George W. Bush is still in charge in Washington. They are convinced that the country cannot truly depend on any of the candidates to succeed Bush in office. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate, has already said that he favors direct negotiations with Tehran. And even if Republican John McCain wins the race, politicians in Jerusalem do not expect him to be ordering an attack as his first official act — despite his performance, at a campaign appearance last year, of the Beach Boys’ song “Barbara Ann” with the lyrics: “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.”
Bruce Riedel, a Middle East expert who spent many years working for the CIA, says:
“An Israeli attack will be seen as a US attack. Iran will retaliate against both Israel and the US.” The consequences, says Riedel, would be fatal. “We will see a Middle East in flames.”