Tag Archives: Iran

NIE Debacle: Benefits of Game Changing Diplomacy Backed by Game Changing Intel

Back in late 2007, I wasn’t alone while tripping out over what was clearly highly politicized intelligence. The American National Intelligence Estimate released on Iran at the time went against the prominent views of the US Bush administration, the NIE released just prior in 2005, and stood in contrast to the intelligence estimates of a number of key western allies; Including Israel, the UK, Germany and even France.

The NIE made the absurd claim that Iran had ceased the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Worse it did so in the cagiest of manners with buried footnotes, selective declassified wording, topped off with media briefings. It resulted in a derailing of effective US policy on the Iranian issue buying Iran plenty of precious time, a respite which continues.

Dishonest sorta means lying doesn’t it?

Alan Dershorwitz writes..

In December of 2007, I wrote an article about the National Intelligence Estimate that had just concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program back in 2003. The immediate effect of this pollyanna-ish report was to diminish the need for tough sanctions against Iran and take the military option off the table. We now know that the conclusion reached in the report was categorically false, and that those who issued the report knew it was false. [...]

It now turns out that at the time this “stupid intelligence” estimate was released, our intelligence agencies were aware that the Iranians were building a secret military facility buried deep in the mountains near the holy city of Qom. The United States recently disclosed the existence of this facility (after Iran was forced to acknowledge its existence) together with its firm conclusion that it could be used only for the development of a nuclear weapons program. If the intelligence community knew then what they know now, then its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was not only stupid, it was dishonest.

Pretty damning, and justifiably so. Ed at Hotair commenting on a scathing WSJ Opinion piece, states matter of factly that it seems clear enough bureaucrats at US intelligence pulled off a full fledged sabotage of then President Bush’s foreign policy..

As Glenn Reynolds says, the NIE has been exposed as an effort by a handful of people at the CIA to kneecap Bush on national security. It deliberately misled Congress and the nation on the threat posed by Iran, a lie that has cost us valuable time in stopping the nuclear threat. If Iran gets the bomb, we can thank Tom Fingar and his colleagues for distracting the US long enough to allow them to do so.

Jennifer Rubin goes right to the source, raising a number of questions while commenting on remarks by CIA Director Leon Panetta to Time Magazine – She concludes..

Both the 2007 NIE report and the behavior of the Obama administration betray a concerted aversion to confronting Iran and doing what is needed to halt its nuclear ambitions.

Game Changing Diplomacy

Questions which tie in the current administration seem apt. The politicization of the intelligence had an important role supporting and nourishing the floating think tank engagement theories which were emerging. Those theories have become the hallmark of Obama’s foreign policy strategy, and called for ‘putting the military option in the drawer’. The think tanks termed it Game Changing Diplomacy, after a brief by The Center For A New American Security (CNAS) on US Iranian strategy in 2008. CNAS members then went on to staff Obama’s administration in a big way, including  the Deputy Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.

Today, CNAS policies are closely associated with the Obama White House, so it should come as no shock that the Game Changing Diplomacy / Grand bargain strategy has become the blue print for Obama on Iran. However, it is somewhat shocking that apparently part of the effort to usher in ‘Game changing diplomacy’, may have involved a little nudging best effectuated by ‘game changing intelligence’.

A game that seemingly has continued to this day.

* UPD - I futzed with the title a bit and corrected a typo.

Twitterrific: Israeli / US Ambassador Michael Oren Answers My Tweet On Iran (Video)

Filed under Awesome

Embassy of Israel in Washington DC is tweeting

Embassy of Israel in Washington DC is tweeting

Over at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC – World renowned author, IDF spokesman and now Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren has been taking weekly twitter questions, and answering them online via video. A nifty way for the Embassy and the Ambassador to engage with both the media and public, while simultaneously presenting Israel’s positions in an easily accessible online format. Israeli institutions have been thankfully leading the way of late (Gaza), employing web 2.0 technology as a communications format.

When I saw the latest embassy tweet open to questions for the Ambassador regarding Iran, I naturally felt compelled to participate. Israel, America, Iran, these are topics of endless interest here at the Hashmonean. So I asked via tweet what the avg. person could do to keep the international focus on Iran?

To my great pleasure.. The Ambassador has answered two tweets; One from well known blogger & journalist Ben Smith at the politico.. and the other from yours truly – somewhat lesser known blogger, who reads a little Ben Smith.

Video: The Ambassador takes tweets on Iran

Oren gives a thorough low down on Iran & answers to both questions, heck I even got a subtle chiding for my slight lack of diplomacy, awesome! : )
Thanks to the Israeli Embassy for taking and answering my tweet, and seriously who doesn’t love Ambassador Oren?

With the departure of Dan Gillerman ambassador to the UN extraordinaire, it’s certainly comforting to see such great new addition for Israeli diplomacy. You can follow @IsraelDC the Israeli Embassy account at twitter, the youtube channel as well as @benpolitico. My own tweets are up @Hashmonean.

*I fixed Ben’s link from the dreaded WP link to self bug.

Unlikely Allies: Has Iran’s Nuclear Threat Forged a Secret Israeli Saudi Détente?

Denials abound, but so do the many causal links & leaks..

Signs: Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia align

When Obama’s administration first tabled the ideology behind its mid east peace efforts, a core argument was the driving need to take advantage of what was termed ‘a rare opportunity for consensus’. The argument was that the Iranian rush to nuclear technology which must be stopped, had created a rare spot of common ground for often feuding parties all around the Middle East. I recall Senator Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee waxing lyrically about it at the time, and the need to urgently re-examine the Saudi Peace Plan as a result.

A policy of convenient linkage was put forward by the White House quite publically - The peace process was key to solving the Iranian riddle, and as such a massive effort toward Palestinian Israeli engagement was necessary. The Saudi’s weren’t all that interested however, they rejected the notion that forging Palestinian peace was a pre-requisite to stopping Iran. They further quickly doused any talk of concessions to Israel, a key component of Obama’s linkage plan.

Israel also rejected the notion, Netanyahu in fact argued the opposite linkage. The only way to facilitate an eventual peace he said was to remove a main instigator preventing peace, Iran – World’s most prolific sponsor of terror, and patron of the Hezbollah & Hamas radical Islamic terror groups. All three openly sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Thus, in a most backhand manner, it appeared that there was indeed Saudi Israeli consensus. Consensus which was shared with Egypt as well, that Iran must be stopped and more effort toward that goal was needed. The quiet consensus seemingly emerged that America was not being aggressive enough toward that goal. We heard rumblings about it after expansive tours of the Gulf by Sec Def. Gates & Admiral Mullen, the senior US defense officials sent by Obama to brief Gulf leaders.

Signs: The Saudi Strike Path

Not once, but twice now we have heard rumors involving the Saudis spill over into the international press. Rumors regarding possible overflights Israel might employ to cut the distance involved striking the Iranian nuclear weapons programs.  Both rumors linked talks with Israel’s Mossad chief Meir Dagan, and the Sauds possibly turning a blind eye to any Israeli aircraft which might be headed to Iran across the vast Saudi deserts & kingdom.

On both occasions, these rumors were flatly denied by both the Saudis & Israel. Of course, that would be the case whether they were based in reality or not. If anything even in the best case scenario this would be a marriage of convenience, not love or lust that is for certain. But, against the odds another compelling sign has emerged.

Signs: Saudi Largess

The House of Saud is on a military spending binge, a world leading one at that. They are buying up tens of billions of dollars worth of military hardware, a lot of it is advanced US equipment. Israel doth protest, but not all that loudly which suggests a tacit understanding on the international level of sorts that these weapons and systems are not aimed at the holy land. This last point I am arguing may seem somewhat weak in the signs department, but I’ll up the ante and solidify the link by bringing in Russia.

Israel, assisted somewhat by the USA has been vigorously petitioning Russia not to sell Iran advanced Russian S-300 Anti Aircraft missile systems. This has been ongoing for a few years. Escalating to the point where Israel has in its own leaks & rumors threatened that such a weapons system delivery to Iran, could spur an immediate Israeli strike. Clearly, the issue is regarded with the utmost of seriousness as such weapons in Iran could remove a strike option from the table entirely. Thankfully we can suddenly add Russia to the pot of Israeli & Saudi interests seemingly converging.

The Saudi S-400s

When Israel most recently petitioned the Russians (again) about the S-300, the Ruskies were rumored to have replied something along the lines of.. ‘If you don’t want us delivering these S-300s to Iran, why don’t you buy them from us instead?

The implication being clear enough. The Iranian contract was lucrative, but the Russians might be prepared to take the billion plus dollars such a sale would ring up for them someplace else. That sticker price however is a bit steep for Israel to absorb, especially since such a system cannot be integrated into Israel’s defenses which are based entirely on Israeli & American design.

Video: Saudis Buying S-400s?

Which brings us oddly enough back to the Saudis. Their systems and the many billions of dollars more they have pledged to purchase are also mostly American designs. Which makes their recent moves to purchase a big S-400 order from Russia quite interesting. Unlike Israel, the Saudis can afford a billion here or there to prevent the delivery of said missiles to Iran. Maybe the offer was to Israel, but in the interests of détente in the face of a common threat - the Saudis have yet again come in to close the deal on keeping the pressure on Iran.

AMERICA!: Poll Shows Massive US Jewish Support Swing For Settlements & Iranian Strikes

American Jewry Responds to the Pressure Israel Meme

I’ve said it before, I simply do not believe American Jewry would hang Israel out to dry. Tough love the US Administration called it, policy based on an uncomfortably close relationship between far left wing agenda ridden groups & the White House, namely Jstreet. Pressure Israel, Israel is the obstacle, settlements are the obstacle..

J-street’s own bogus custom polling is designed to elicit distorted conclusions & produce media sound-bytes. It’s designed not to engender cooperation or strengthen the US Israel strategic relationship but to push a selective agenda. Sadly for J-street, the highly respected and authoritative yearly AJC polling of American Jewry is now out, and the results are not pretty for the Jstreet crew like Beilin, Ben-Ami or Daniel Levy.. 

American Jews have taken a sharply hawkish turn on Iran, with a majority now supporting a U.S. military strike to end that country’s nuclear weapons program, according to this year’s Survey of American Jewish Public Opinion, released on Wednesday by the American Jewish Committee. [...]

In the survey, 51 percent disagreed “with the Obama administration’s call for a stop to all new Israeli settlement activity, with 41 percent agreeing with that policy.

“That’s a significant shift, and the Obama administration is at fault for putting too much emphasis on the issue of settlements,” said Seymour Reich, a former president of the dovish Israel Policy Forum (IPF). “As a result, the Netanyahu government has outfoxed the administration — and taken American Jewish public opinion along with them.”

Ummm huh.. So much for the cooked claims by Jstreet to the contrary. But wait, on Iran it gets even worse for the pacifist appeasing anti-Israel crowd. In fact it gets much worse. We already know that in Israel the Obama policy has dramatically failed, that support for the US President is below 5% while Netanyahu is soaring in consensus. What we learn is that there is what is being termed ‘Unease’ within the American Jewish community at large over these pressure Israel policies as well, and that when it comes to Iran & existential threats – Even the Liberals get hawkish..

I advise reading the whole thing, because it is a real eye opener

Guerrilla War: IDF Should Prepare For Hundreds of Heavily Armed Hezbollah Raiders Storming Israel (Massive Update)

Yaakov Katz at JPOST has an interesting piece about the 2006 Lebanon war up today. It’s a report on an IDF research article and it comes to some ugly conclusions..

  • Israel failed to execute the last war as well as Hezbollah
  • Israel needs to prepare for hundreds of 5 man Guerrilla teams infiltrating Israel in coming conflicts
  • Hezbollah is armed to the teeth with advanced weapons
  • Israel needs to prepare for a possible scenario where it has “No US Ally or Support”

We’ve already seen a waning of our US alliance under Obama, and a crimp on weapons from the US.

What is of particular interest is the guerrilla raiding teams aspect.

One notes that the catalyst for the last war itself was in fact two or three such teams carrying out a similar attack across the northern border against an IDF patrol, with the goal of killing & capturing IDF soldiers. Using the rocketing of Israeli civilians as a diversion, two such teams ambushed IDF humvees on patrol with RPGs and weapons fire, killing at least three soldiers & abducting Goldwasser & Regev – Who themselves were probably either dead or mortally wounded in the ambush.

Other raiding teams were lying in ambush within Lebanon itself, waiting for the IDF Tank response to cross the border in hot pursuit – Directly toward the intricate Hezbollah bunker & mine networks leading to further IDF losses. The result was the full outbreak of war, where Israel faced village after village stocked with these small teams armed up with advanced RPGs & anti-tank weaponry, complete with advanced armor piercing shaped warhead charges.

In 2000, another similar ambush occurred. That time however Hezbollah were wearing UNIFIL / UN uniforms and driving UN vehicles as their diversion & cover. They attacked a smaller IDF patrol destroying their vehicle, and hauled off three IDF soldiers who again were most likely either dead or mortally wounded.

Large scale raids

The prospect of Hezbollah scaling up this strategy is clearly a serious threat, dozens of such teams or even hundreds as mentioned in the article could create havoc in Northern Israel – Even a mini insurgency going on for some time, in a frightening hide & go seek manner relying on local ‘Arab Israeli infrastructure’ & villages for shelter or supplies, while seeking to kill untold numbers of Israeli civilians.

Unlike traditional threats, Israel could not rely on choppers, heavy weaponry or tanks to counter this terrorist rush. They’d have to be engaged by elite combat forces in close quarters. It should also be noted that these teams would not be Hezbollah regulars, but Iranian trained Revolutionary Guards serving Hezbollah as proxy fighters, these are the most heavily armed & best trained fighters terrorism can currently buy.

Hezbollah is in reality an army with the full Iranian weapons arsenal that employs terrorist tactics, this differentiates them somewhat from traditional guerrilla threats like those faced by the US in Iraq or Afghanistan, and represents a serious challenge. Hezbollah’s heavier weapons & longer range rockets require full logistics & abilities beyond any terror group to maintain & launch, light years beyond what any normal insurgency can muster. How do you engage with an army that does not follow any rules of war on any level? Worse, one who’s main goal is the killing of civilians and causing civilian damage / casualties as opposed to engaging in normal warfare.

The Syria Factor

Also of note, comments by Syrian President Bashar Assad to the effect that this is the manner Syria intends to fight Israel going forward. In 2006, Assad & Syrian Ministers hinted that Syria could resort to ‘Armed Resistance’ & Guerrilla Warfare to retrieve the Golan Heights.

Unable to defeat Israel with their conventional forces the Arabs & Iranians have now fully also invested themselves in terrorism & missiles that target civilians, instead of just tanks or planes to fight. It’s not very honorable, but it sure can kill a lot of innocent people.

Serious Challenges

Let’s hope IDF reforms past, present & future are gearing up to counter these realities. Its no small challenge as Israel needs to counter traditional warfare threats from tanks & planes. Missile & rocket threats from tens of thousands of short medium range weapons on multiple fronts. Missile threats from large long range ballistic weapons probably armed with WMD. A full terrorist threat comprising of gunmen & suicide bombers, and now a combination Guerrilla / Terrorist threat armed with conventional advanced army weapons.


SoccerDad provides a stunner of a Link update:

Using his rather impressive encyclopedic knowledge, SD points out to me that he has read something similar to the report being referenced here on Hezbollah previously! - In fact reading the link he sent my mouth kinda opened a bit. Written a decade ago, Israel’s current Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz warned of a nearly identical threat from Israel’s seam line with Judea & Samaria in reference to the Oslo accords, and the arming of PA security forces by Israel.

Reprinted from Commentary Magazine, December, 1999:

Yuval outlines in very specific terms the dangers to critical infrastructure, civilians, the military and the entire state that small groups of Palestinian guerrillas in a mass assault could  inflict. It’s a prophetic & sobering analysis, one which has left me with an entirely new facet of respect for Mr. Steinitz, while equally leaving me scratching my head somewhat as well.

Where were the IDF big thinkers?

Spanning all that time until now? How come these issues have not been addressed seemingly on multiple borders, and why have we seen in many ways now more than a decade of mediocre IDF strategic thinking, culminating in the painful 2006 Lebanon war? Is it merely complacency or something far more troubling.

Israel’s own Lebanon War Winograd Report blasted the IDF for their lack of out of the box strategic thought, compounded by having a Labor Union chief playing Defense Minister & a negligent Prime Minister. We’re going to need a better effort from our political echelon, regional commands & our upper mid level commanders. Hopefully, the mere fact that we are finally seeing the IDF internalizing, thinking & discussing, while simultaneously reporting & researching means the IDF has come to the same conclusion.

Ehud Barak’s sad Lebanese legacy

Equally, I would like very much to point out that the current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, while serving as the Prime Minister around the time Steinitz penned his own analysis above compounded this situation badly. Barak opened up this second northern front by precipitously & delusionally withdrawing from the Lebanon security corridor in the middle of the night. A move which was stunning in its lack of strategic planning or thought on so many levels it left me in tears when I watched it unfold on the news a decade ago.

He did so with no political deal whatsoever to fill the void left by the dismantling of the Phalange (Israel’s Christian Lebanese Militia allies) and withdrawal of IDF forces from Lebanon, let alone a secured peace deal. Without a doubt the single biggest strategic bungle of the last decade by far. We already know the results of that poor strategic thought on the part of Barak – It’s known as South Lebanon, now a mini self enclosed Iranian terror state which manifested itself in less than 5 years. One imagines he took something away from this & other stunning failures like Camp David II, which resulted in the most brutal terror assault Israel has ever seen.

I’m going to stop now, I’m feeling disillusioned & I have so much more to say I could go on forever. You could write a book about the issues in this post but I promised my readers I would hold post lengths and I’ve already doubled this post’s word count.

It’s not my fault, Gerstman found Pandora’s Box!

33 Minutes to Impact: Obama Bails on Missile Defense (Video)

Why would we in Israel, be at all concerned about this US administration’s commitments on Iran or anything else for that matter?

The suggestion is down right silly! After all it isn’t as if..

  • Obama reneged on the Bush / Sharon settlement agreements.
  • Obama reneged on the Eastern European Missile Defense Shield.
  • Obama reneged on barring Iranian Uranium Enrichment as a pre-condition for Iranian talks
  • Obama reneged on supporting Iranian democracy protesters in lieu of the Supreme Leader.
  • Obama reneged on isolating Syria and shielding Lebanon from Syrian re-occupation
  • Obama reneged on supporting Latin American allies like Honduras or Colombia

So now it’s the Poles and Czechs.. No big deal, it’s not as if Iran is even a threat. Who needs Missile Defense any how. It’s not as if the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons or have threatened to destroy Israel on numerous occasions either.

Don’t you worry. Not in Israel or even in America now that US appeasement has reached stratospheric heights, because it’s not as if President Obama is an appeaser either. Man o man, this guy can LEAD!

Video: 33 Minutes – The time required for a nuclear armed missile to reach American Shores

Precisely the system versus Iran now scrapped in Europe to defend America & allies, by President Obama today.

It’s being ‘re-designed’. Given a little bit of the ‘ole Hope & Change mojo’ which has been working out so well lately..