Line in the Foreign Policy sand.
There have been concerns raised in Israel by left wing pot stirrers to cast the Tea Party as policy isolationists in the Ron Paul mold. It’s a tactic picked up from liberals in the US aligned with the progressive movement, people who naturally fear the Tea Party which poses a significant political threat.
While limited government, fiscal responsibility and accountability have been mainstays of Tea Party domestic politics, the foreign policy side has been more muddled and less cohesive. Alternating between a smaller isolationist fringe and a more traditional GOP idealistic view of America’s role on the world stage.
Palin Vs Paul
Sarah Palin is unabashedly pro-Israel. Ron Paul considered a hostile entity here, is most certainly not. As such, the wing that best defines the Tea Party on foreign policy is of direct interest to Israelis, we rely on our American brethren for support which is crucial to the State of Israel. The Tea Party is a bold new force in American politics, the uncertainty has kept Israelis guessing.
The brand new Tea Party caucus in Washington however, has quickly moved to draw a line in the sand delineating where large portions of the Tea Party stands on critical foreign policy issues. One of their 1st resolutions has half the caucus sending a message loud and clear..
Expressing support for the State of Israel’s right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel. [...]
It’s a signal that the Tea Party may not only choose to be more bold than the GOP on domestic issues, but may show similar rousing boldness and passion in the foreign policy realm as well.
The Resolution is largely symbolic. None of that symbolism will be lost here in the State of Israel.
Crashes Always Bring Out The Critics
The tragic loss of an IAF CH-53 in Romania possibly killing 7 is sure to bring out the critics as such tragic events nearly always do. The Yasur has indeed suffered some horrific collisions & crashes over its near 50 year history with the IAF..
The most notable of these accidents was a crash in February 1997, when a mid-air collision of two Yasur craft killed 73 Israeli servicemen en route to southern Lebanon. Two decades earlier, in May 1977, the Yasur was at the center of another deadly accident, when 54 paratroopers lost their lives in a crash during a training accident not far from the West Bank town of Jericho.
Several months later, another accident involving the Yasur saw four servicemen killed in a crash close to Kibbutz Gat in southern Israel. In summer 1971, another Yasur helicopter crashed into the sea off the Sinai coast, killing 10 soldiers and officers as they returned to Israel following a mission.
In April 1974, two more Yasur helicopters were involved in a collision, when one landed directly on another already on the ground. Eight soldiers were killed in the incident.
In August 1992, two members of the IDF’s elite search and rescue unit, the 669, were killed in a training accident in the Judean Desert. The two soldiers fell to their deaths when a rope used to descend from a Yasur broke.
During the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah succeeded in shooting down a Yasur, killing its five crew members. [...]
Those incidents represent extreme numbers casualty wise. But the numbers are high because the Yasur is both so critical, and heavily utilized. It is the backbone of the IDF’s troop transport capabilities holding over 20 soldiers. Nearly every legendary assault by the IDF in some shape or form involves our CH-53s. Recently, there have been pushes to replace the venerable Yasur choppers with the US VTOL Osprey.
The Yasurs are just too old is the usual theme, followed by those heavy loss statistics. However, today’s IAF Yasurs are a far cry from their original incarnation and have undergone two full modernization programs, the latest Yasur 2025 has extended the operational life of the choppers well into the next 2 decades.
A new version of the ‘Yasur’ helicopter joined the growing IAF fleet. The ‘Yasur 2025’ program, two and a half years running, hopes to improve the IAF’s ‘Yasur’ helicopters by extending their service in the force until the year 2025. “Today Israel’s best assembly lines are rolling out prototypes of new strategic combat helicopters,” said commander of the IAF base in Tel Nof, Brigadier General Ronen Dan during his speech.
The ‘Yasur’ helicopters squadron has served the Air Force since the 1960s and is an essential part of the IDF fighting forces. Whether in routine operations, in transporting forces and equipment, in evacuating combat soldiers from the field and in executing other special missions. “From 1969 until today, the ‘Yasur’ helicopters have written many significant pages in history, and have executed operations which the vast majority of people are not even aware of, but are grateful for” added Brigadier General Dan. Three years ago, it was decided that the expected life for functioning helicopters should be extended, and lengthen their service until 2025.
As part of the project, new systems were installed on the helicopter, among them were, self-defense systems, electronic countermeasures, network communication, flight safety, and other advanced systems – most of them are developed in Israel. “We all wait with baited breath to fly on the newly improved platform which brings with it impressive capabilities in many different aspects. It has the compatibility for further improvements in the future as well as installing other systems, and is infinitely important to the battlefield of the future.
The choppers have been retooled. The IDF naturally generalizes but part of the re-tool includes upgraded modern avionics & systems with Israeli variants, offensive Air to Ground missile targeting and launching capabilites, hover & stabilization technologies, as well as a new raised operational ceiling well above normal..
Work to modify the CH-53 “Yasur” with 20 new systems was completed at the air force’s 22 maintenance unit late last year, with key elements including the installation of new electronic warfare and satellite communications equipment. Some of the equipment will enable the CH-53 2025 to perform high-altitude relay missions, with earlier test flights having seen the type reach an altitude of 18,000ft (5,490m).
The latest crash was deep in mountainous terrain within Romania, likely at higher altitudes perhaps testing some of the new Yasur 2025 capabilities in adverse weather. Dangerous business. The loss of our soldiers especially during operational training is never easy. Keeping the IDF on the cutting edge in both manpower & technology is a terribly costly endeavour. Pilot error, mechanical failure all take their toll and leave every Israeli saddened.
But now is not the time to just mourn this sacrifice, question our brave men and women or their equipment. Instead we should celebrate their achievements. Our pilots and the Yasur’s they fly are the workhorse of the IDF, keeping us safe through their skill and daring.
Through 2025 and well beyond.
The following are the names of the six missing personnel who were on the IAF helicopter that crashed in Romania:
Lt. Col (Res.) Avner Goldman (48), Modi’in
Lt. Col. Daniel Shipenbauer (43), Kidron
Maj. Yahel Keshet (33), Hatzerim
Maj. Lior Shai (28), Tel-Nof
Lt. Nir Lakrif (25), Tel- Nof
Sergeant 1st capabilitiesClass Oren Cohen (24),endeavor Rehovot
Let’s hope they can yet be recovered.
Sadly I was being respectful to the families this morning when I wrote that line above. We all knew tragically, that no one was going to be recovered alive from the crash site. The IDF has released now officially that all six Israeli aviators and the lone Romanian soldier onboard were KIA in the crash.
Multilateral solutions and Diplomatic contusions.
Engagement! Containment! The Straight of Hormuz!! they cried. All of it sounded wonderful over pate in Ivy League circles. In fact, just before Obama took office shelving the military solution became high fashion, put it in a drawer they said. Engagement became the order of the day. But now, strange winds are afoot.
A last resort military solution to prevent nuclear armed mad mullahs depends on a number of critical components. The exhaustion of other options, the willingness to use force, and technical ability. These three factors are now coming into alignment and the Strike Option is not only back in play, its got top shelf billing.
1 – Exhaustion
The toughest sanctions we are going to see, after over a year and a half of delay and failed engagement are now law in the USA. The Europeans may soon follow suit. Either way the card is in play. No one believes sanctions can prevent a nuclear Iran. At best they are a delaying tactic. This latest final round of sanctions may represent the exhaustion of all other options, knocking requirement one off the list in short order, as Iran’s nuclear & ballistic missile programs advance.
2 – Willingness to use force.
Israel, long believed to be the military option wildcard has always been willing to use force. The Israeli public by overwhelming majority in polling has shown it is fully prepared to strike, even if it means going against the wishes of President Obama. Equally, it’s far from a secret that Israel’s political & military establishment is unified over the need to prevent a nuclear Iran. No shocker there, the Israel chapter is closed.
Things get interesting when we look outside of Israel..
The White House has been stressing that bi-lateral discussions in the security & military echelon between America & Israel have never been closer. That dialog is focused in many ways on the Iranian threat.
We’ve seen over the past year large joint military exercises involving US & Israeli forces, gaming missile defense & regional war scenarios. The intent is to buttress the new interlink between Israel & America, tying the IDF into the US/European central command regarding missile threats.
Of greater note, much of the dialog seems to involve joint planning of theoretical strike options. Either by Israel alone or perhaps involving US assets themselves should the need arise. A far cry from the American position of just a year ago when military options were shelved, and US official after official landed here in Israel to warn us not to strike..
Since the US pushed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran through the UN Security Council last month, Jerusalem has increased diplomatic efforts to convince the White House that for the sanctions to work, a credible military option needs to be on the table to scare Iran to reconsider its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
An indication that this might have happened came in the latest issue of Time magazine, in an article titled “An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table.”
Written by Joe Klein, the article claims that in recent months, the US military’s Central Command has made significant progress in planning targeted air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, some of which were deemed impossible to penetrate just two years ago.
According to the report, the progress was made possible by the “vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region.”
Israel has reportedly been “brought into the planning process.” [...]
Winds of Change
Could US military planning, and intelligence views have changed so drastically?
According to former CIA director Michael Hayden, that just maybe the case..
A US military strike on Iran has become more likely and could be justifiable in the future, former CIA chief Michael Hayden said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“My personal view is that Iran left to its own devices will get itself to that step right below a nuclear weapon,” said Hayden, “and frankly that will be as destabilizing as their actually having a weapon.”
The former CIA director stated that an attack on Iran had not originally been a serious option, but in light of Iran’s intensified pursuit of nuclear materials, the military option “may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.” [...]
We know that the 2007 NIE which discounted the Iranian nuclear threat publicly, has now itself been discounted by US intelligence. The Pentagon has drastically changed time-lines for an Iranian nuclear capable ICBM maturing, possibly as soon as 2015.
These events suggest a new acknowledgment that the threat to the US is real. The Washington Obama engagement track has failed spectacularly, while prominent voices in the US House & Senate continue to imply the military option was never shelved at all..
A Nuclear Iran could shatter the Obama legacy
Others have now begun suggesting that President Obama, a leftwing ideologue without parallel, may be forced to strike just in order to keep his ideological dreams alive. The notion put forth being that a nuclear Iran will utterly destroy key aspects of Obama’s core foreign policy visions. Non-Proliferation, and a non-nuclear new world order. Issues which any novice following events could immediately recognize as near & dear to his heart.
Taken as a whole, it might seem as if the Political, Military, and Intelligence wings of the US Govt apparatus have all swung round, up to & possibly including the President himself. If that were indeed the case it would knock off the 2nd requirement – The willingness to use force.
It is worth noting that international polling has shown majorities in favor of the whatever it takes to stop Iran school of thought..
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a gathering of ambassadors in Moscow on Monday conceded that “Iran is moving closer to possessing the potential which in principle could be used for the creation of nuclear weapons.”
Moscow’s admission comes at a time when much of the world is beginning to recognize the magnitude of the threat of an Islamofascist state possessing weapons of mass destruction. In a Pew Research poll of 22 countries last month, a majority in 16 of the states preferred a military strike over tolerating a nuclear Iran. In the U.S., 66% preferred a strike, while 24% objected to it.
In Egypt, 55% supported a military strike on Iran, while 16% opposed it. In Jordan, the figures were 53% to 20% in favor.
So even Mideast Muslims understand the danger to themselves — and they understand that their supposed great enemy, Israel, is likely to be the power to rid the region of that grave danger.
So do Americans. IBD/TIPP polls have consistently favored Israeli military action, and did so again by a 56% to 30% margin in last week’s survey (see chart)
These consistent views internationally, combined with rumors of Muslim states willing to even quietly assist Israel should the need arise all point to military force as a credible option.
3- Technical Ability
The last requirement on the list is the great unknown. Clearly America could level the Iranian nuclear program, the top tier of the regime, and even the bulk of the IRGC itself if it so chooses. That is not speculation. America is an unstoppable military juggernaut which could from a distance cut through Iran like a hot knife through butter.
We are not in the same league as the Americans, but Israel might be able to do hefty damage to the program, as well as Iranian Ballistic Missile production facilities should it be backed into a corner. If we could with international assistance, open a corridor for 2-3 days of sustained strikes utilizing air power, sea based assets, and Jericho missiles it is likely Israel could do some major damage to Iran’s illicit abilities, and knock the program back years if not a decade or two.
The notion put forward by detractors that a serious strike would only delay Iran 2 or so years seems frankly comical. Iran is teetering economically, and its programs have taken 20 years to put together at a cost of endless billions. Any serious blow could be a fatal one. Leaving in its wake an already near collapse and stagnant economy ravaged by 30%+ unemployment, combined with a sanctioned regime starved of capital or ability to regenerate nuclear programs or options.
In any event the Iranians may not leave Israel, America or the Gulf region much choice.
As public opinion solidifies, options exhaust, and political opinions change in Washington. The last remaining hurdle, technical ability may well fall into place.. If it already hasn’t.
In the 48 hours since this was posted a number of events directly related to the analysis above have taken place. The EU has indeed followed suit. Both the EU & Canada have announced wide ranging strict fuel & energy sector sanctions on Iran, effectively closing the current sanctions effort chapter.
The top US Department of State official on Iran, and a point man in the Obama Administration engagement effort at the end of this week is resigning. Is this the most potent signal yet that the failed engagement effort is over? Or that the military strike option has indeed gone top shelf? Perhaps both?
This post has been nominated this week as a Non-Council submission to the Watcher’s Council. Woot! My thanks to the Watcher and the Council for their reading and consideration. Update July 31st – I got shellacked!! Congrats to this week’s winners!
GW Bush’s Gift to Israel Goes Fully Active.
So sayeth Debka
A ballistic missile fired at Israeli from any spot in the Middle East, be it Iran, Syria or South Lebanon, can now be tracked from launch by top Israeli commanders by means of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System (ALTBMD) developed to protect NATO forces against missile threat and provided Israel by the United States. [...]
In the last nine months, the US and Israeli armies have carried out two training exercises in the use of this system – first during the big Juniper Cobra 2010 war game last November … just after an intelligence alert that Iran, Syria and Hizballah had doubled their ballistic missile arsenals; again, from June 6-10, when the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Force was anchored 50 miles off Israel’s southern shore. They practiced combined responses to possible Iranian, Syrian or Hizballah attacks on Israel in the event of a war with Iran.
That exercise, dubbed Juniper Stallion 2010, tested command and battle management and combined early warning drills against incoming missiles. The American AN/TPY-2 radar network using X-Band for intercepting ballistic missiles posted on Mt. Keren (in the Israeli Negev opposite the Egyptian border) was linked for the purpose of the exercise to the Europe-based US Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS).
I hope the crew likes Falafel.
The X-band radar was a gift from President Bush before he left office, an effort spearheaded by Congressional Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL). The combined package entails for the 1st time a small permanent contingent of US Armed Forces / Military personnel on station based in Israel, in what is ostensibly a fully enclosed US mini-base, existing within a much larger IAF superbase.
They have brought with them localized air defenses in the form of PAC-3 Patriots. On top of the PAC-3s which Israel already fields, the mobile X-Band arrival and deployment probably means the US has also deployed an advanced THAAD ballistic interceptor battery here as well as backup to Israeli systems, they are usually a package with the radar. That would be newsworthy as well as quite yummy. The THAAD is the US equivalent to the Israeli IAI Arrow-2 missile shield. Systems and deliveries were in September 2008..
The United States has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar aimed at improving its defense against an Iranian missile attack, Defense News weekly reported over the weekend.
According to the report, quoting American and German sources, more than a dozen aircraft, including C-5s and C-17s, helped with the September 21 delivery of the AN/TPY-2 Transportable Radar Surveillance/Forward Based X-band Transportable (FBX-T), its ancillary components and some 120 US European Command (EUCOM) personnel to the Nevatim Air Base in the Negev.
While the X-Band radar itself is certainly lovely and VERY handy, and the THAADS are cool too. The critical component isn’t just additional tracking abilities which benefit both Israel and the US regarding ballistic missile launches, but full connectivity to the US Global Network monitoring such launches. That connectivity to the US JTAGS system is the real prize, I wrote about it when the X-Band arrived..
As mentioned, Nevatim is the new IAF / IDF superbase, the new command center for Israel’s air force. Now it also houses a US mini base on site as well the 1st of its kind – a Joint Tactical Ground Station. The system ties all US sat, radar and sensor information together in order to paint a real time view of the full war theater. Useful for spotting & tracking incoming missiles, but also the system used to direct offensive forces on precision strikes, guiding fighters to targets in real time (right to the cockpit as necessary) to take out defenses & missile launchers.
That could be handy indeed it seems not just to report and intercept incoming missiles, but to pre-empt them as well before they launch via strikes. If anything the xband arrival spells coordination, between Israel and US assets in the Gulf, Med, & Red Sea, tying in the US Aegis ABM & THAAD systems across the theatre.
The Obama administration has been quick to claim deep coordination between US military assets & the IDF. It’s true this has been going on, but this plan was hatched under Bush like so many others, and it has been carried out by Sec Def Gates who himself has spanned the administrations. Israel is now tied into the most advanced real time war monitoring system in the history of the world. The haters love to say we have eyes & ears everywhere, as of now they are indeed correct.
A Missile Shield Every Jewish Mother Could Love..
The short range Iron Dome, the medium range David’s Sling, the long range IAF Arrow-2, now combined with the American sea based US Aegis SM-3 ABM cruisers, as well as advanced THAAD American interceptors, rounded out by the latest Patriot PAC-3s; all tied together to the US Global & Space monitoring network. Yikes, that’s A LOT of missile defense. The question is, what did we have to give up?
Kirk who as mentioned spearheaded this effort said it’s not what you think..
[...] “There is no quid pro quo,” he said.
“You mean that the US did not say that in exchange for deploying the X-Band system Israel needs to receive US permission to attack Iran?”
“No, the US made no such demand,” Kirk said.
Let’s pray he was indeed correct. As John Madden might say, the best defense is a good offense.
I realized this post might benefit from video of things exploding!!
I don’t buy the notion that a massive Islamic Center with a top 13th story Mosque overlooking Ground Zero is ‘community outreach’ & neither should you.
In Shanksville PA at the site of United Flight 93′s tragic 9/11 crash, deluded Jihad sympathizing leftists tried to mark the hallowed ground with a giant crescent made of trees pointing to Mecca in the traditional Islamic custom. Out of over 1000 design submissions, the so called “Crescent of Embrace” was the one selected for the official 9/11 memorial. Madness, a huge Islamic symbol to mark the site of one of Islam’s ugliest moments.
Now at the WTC site, another symbol of victory?
That’s what Jihadists & their supporters revel in, symbols of victory over the infidel. They dedicate buildings, sites, children.. you name it to martyrs & atrocities. How this project is going forward is beyond me. Then again no it isn’t..
America’s own government seeks to strip the worlds radical Islam, Jihad, Islamic terrorism from the lexicon.. Sweep it all under the rug in the name of political correctness. Why not stick a huge honking Mosque up with a view over Ground Zero? It fits in with the progressive agenda nicely, it’s not as if Islamic terrorists viciously slaughtered 3000 people in the name of Radical Fundamentalist Islam anyhow.
President Touched A Raw American Nerve
Surrounded by high profile liberal Jewish advisers, Obama promised the world and some regarding his Israeli bonafides while campaigning. The American Jewish community extended the benefit of the doubt despite what were clear warning flags.
- Obama’s hard progressive political views, most often associated with unfriendly parts of the US democratic party.
- Strong ties to African American Black Liberation Theology in the form of a 20 year stint under viciously anti-Israel pastor Jeremiah Wright.
- A consistent pronounced sympathy to Palestinian and Arab narratives
- His primary foreign policy focus, a loudly stated intention to engage with rogue & terror supporting regimes.
We all know the results.
While American public support of Israel was peaking, the White House pursued a highly visible policy of creating daylight between America & Israel. Undermining Israel’s elected government, ratcheting up pressure, and for the 1st time ever turning the Israeli public itself against a sitting US President. All of it simply unheard of.
Obama was gambling, senior administration figures even warned him such policies could cost him dearly..
Gibbs is also a regular at foreign policy meetings. He volunteered that he attended all 33 hours of the Afghanistan briefings, though he noted that he never said a word. He did chime in during last month’s escalating tensions with Israel, if only to make sure the president understood the “conventional wisdom” promoted in the media, that Obama’s toughness with Likud hard-liners would potentially erode his domestic Jewish support. “For a lot of reasons, he would discount that,” Gibbs said, referring to the president.
Obama was wrong..
The American Jewish community, both houses of Congress, the American public have all voiced their anger. The GOP buttressed by poll after poll showing massive pro-Israel support among Republicans (often over 80%), in conjunction with alarming diminishing support among Obama democratic faithful; has seized Israel as a key issue and is running with it politically for the 2010 Mid-Terms. All in the hopes of luring soft democratic Jewish & independent voters to GOP candidates, based on the mounting anger with White House Israel policy and the very public blowout.
As the Obama administration tries to mend its strained ties with Israel, strategists say U.S. policy on the Jewish state could influence several battleground House and Senate races this fall.
Jewish leaders from both parties are watching Senate campaigns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Florida, and a pair of House races in President Barack Obama’s home state where they say Israel policy could loom large. [...]
There is also the matter of funding. Rumors that Jewish funding for democratic candidates, once a torrent has dwindled into a dry wadi. In reaction, a massive WH PR blitz this past month to repair the messaging as Rahm Emmanuel calls it, patch up the dyke so to speak.
Concern mounts. An unfriendly administration, the GOP push politically which seeks to wedge American voters on the issue. All of it threatens what was once a green pasture of strong bi-partisan Israel support in America. The only consolation, many candidates will be yelling loud & proud over each other on both ends of the aisle to establish their own Pro-Israel bonafides with the American public.
Israel - So often already through no fault of its own, has become an all new battleground once again in 2010.