There are few things Israel and its war-mongering supporters here in the United States hate more than not being taken seriously as a fearless and invincible military powerhouse, able to threaten and destroy its perceived adversaries at will and with totally impunity and unaccountability.
One of those things is being considered weak, tentative, and incapable. Another is not being considered at all.
It is no wonder, then, that recent comments by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan about Israel's inability to attack Iran have been met with frustration and consternation by those hoping for a military strike, or at very least, the credible threat of one.
In the wake of Israeli cabinet minister Moshe Ya'alon's call this week for the "civilized world" to collectively launch an illegal assault against Iran on Israel's behalf, Dagan - who has recently been playing the role of Hasbara Spoiler Extraordinaire by referring to the advocacy for such an attack as "the stupidest thing I have ever heard" - again spoke up, saying that Israel would be unable to withstand the potential blowback from such an action.
Speaking during a conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Dagan continued his public rejection of a military move against Iran, saying that Israel didn't "have the capability to stop the Iranian nuclear program, only to delay it."Dagan's comments, and willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom, bellicose posturing, and aggressive overconfidence of the Israeli establishment, is reminiscent of statements made by then-outgoing Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert during a much-lambasted "legacy interview" with Yediot Ahronot in September 2008.
"If anyone seriously considers [a strike] he needs to understand that he's dragging Israel into a regional war that it would not know how to get out of. The security challenge would become unbearable," Dagan said.
The former Mossad chief reiterated his position, saying that the "military option is the last alternative, not preferred or possible, nut a last resort. Every other alternative must be weighed before the use of force."
Referring to those who criticized him for speaking out on these matters soon after his retirement, Dagan said: "I feel obligated to express my opinion on certain matters. The prime minister and defense minister are the ones in charge, but sometimes good sense and a good decision don't have anything to do with being elected."
With reference to the constant Israeli threats and rumors of a unilateral and unprovoked assault on Iran (often issued by the Prime Minister himself), Olmert revealed the hollowness of such rhetoric by admitting, "Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here [in Israel] about Iran. We are a country that has lost a sense of proportion about itself."
Towards the end of the interview, Olmert said, "What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me." He concluded, "The time has come to say these things."
It appears that, in his retirement, the time had finally come for Dagan as well.
"An attack on Iran would mean regional war, and in that case you would have given [Iran] the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program because the Iranians would then claim, 'We have been attacked by a foreign country that is reported to have a military nuclear capability. Now we have no choice but to defend...against a country with strategic capabilities - a compelling and principled argument for them to move to a large nuclear program," Dagan remarked at the Tel Aviv seminar. He elaborated, "It is important to know that that war would not just be against Iran. It would be a regional war that would include Syria - if we needed to attack Hezbollah targets in Syrian territory."
The increased Bomb Iran hysteria over a newly-released IAEA report which, in truth, says nothing new, enlightening or damning about the Iranian nuclear program has been countered this week with the publication of Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker article debunking claims about the Iranian nuclear threat and, now, Dagan's new comments.
As the likelihood of either a U.S. or Israel attack on Iran becomes more and more absurd (despite what career war-mongers would have you believe), it is instructive to recall what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had to say about this matter during an interview with Charlie Rose in May 2010:
Charlie Rose: Do you fear that war may come?During an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos the next day, a similar exchange occurred, after Stephanopoulos claimed that "it's also been pretty clear to most observers that if Iran continues on this path [of continuing to enrich uranium] that the state of Israel will take matters into its own hands. And take out Iran's nuclear programs through military means." The President replied, "Iran will definitely continue its path. You should not even doubt that we will continue our path. We'll definitely continue our path."
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Who would attack Iran?
CR: No one, I assume.
MA: I mean, you can't just assume. Assumptions aren't made in the heavens. They're made on earth. Who's going to -- on this earth, who's going to attack Iran on this planet?
CR: Do you believe Israel --
CR: No. The United States, no.
MA: Then who?
CR: Would Israel attack Iran?
MA: Israel isn't even counted. It doesn't even factor into our equation. It's not even counted.
So who's going to attack us? There's no one there to attack us so there will be no war. We don't think about war. We think about peace. We think about friendships. We think about cooperation, not about war.
The conversation continued:
George Stephanopouos: But aren't you playing with fire? The potential of an Israeli military strike?Later in the year, Ahmadinejad again addressed the suggestion of an Israeli attack during an interview with the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq. "I believe that some think about attacking Iran, especially those within the Zionist entity," he said. "But they know that Iran is an indestructible bulwark and I do not think their American masters will let them do it."
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: No.
GS: Why not?
MA: Those who have stockpiled their bombs and impose their will on others and act unlawfully are the ones who are playing with fire. Have we stockpiled bombs? Do we have atomic bombs? Who has used the nuclear bomb? Is it us stockpiling nuclear bombs? Do we possess a nuclear bomb? Who has the nuclear bomb? Who threatened other with nuclear bomb? We or the Government of the United States?
GS: So, a military strike--
MA: Allow me, who's dangerous? Who wants to attack us?
MA: I'm asking you, who's going attacking Iran?
GS: No, I'm talking about the potential threat against Iran.
MA: I'd like to ask you when you say this, which group are you referring to is going to attack Iran? The United States? Is it the United States gonna attack Iran? Is the United States going to attack Iran?
GS: No, I asked are you worried a potential--
MA: Have you ever heard of that?
GS: --Israeli military strike against Iran.
MA: They're not a factor, in our defense doctrine, we don't even count them.
GS: You don't plan for that at all?
MA: They're finished, the Zionist regime is finished. They can't even manage Gaza. They want to get into a conflict with Iran? Everybody knows about this and I'm surprised that you as a professional journalist don't know. All world politicians know about it.
The Zionist regime can't manage Gaza, do they want to get into a conflict with Iran?
Dagan voiced his belief Wednesday that a conflict with Iran was not yet "unavoidable" and urged the Netanyahu administration "not to make a decision to attack Iran," continuing:
It is important to consider all options and not to run straight for the war option. At the moment no decision has been made to attack Iran, and I am not familiar with any decision to attack in 2011 or 2012."Despite the war-mongering and empty threats, the truth is clear. And whatever their myriad differences, Dagan and Ahmadinejad (along with anyone else who's paying attention) can surely agree on one thing:
There is absolutely no chance Israel will launch an attack on Iran, this, next, or any other year.
And neither will the United States.
UPDATE: In early November 2009, Ha'aretz reported that, in an interview with Sky News, Israel's "Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has said that Israel is not bluffing in its threats to take military action against Iran's contentious nuclear program" and quoted Ayalon:
"The one who's bluffing is Iran, which is trying to play with cards they don't have. All the bravado that we see and the testing and the very dangerous and harsh rhetoric is hiding a lot of weaknesses."Truer words have never been spoken...about Israel, that is.