A startling report in Israeli paper Haaretz claims that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has now flipped and opposes a strike on Iranian nuclear sites, after supporting the project as recently as a couple months ago. There are suggestions in the piece that pressure from American generals has moved him in that direction:
Word is that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is no longer as gung ho about an attack on Iran as his media interviews suggest. Haaretz’s Amir Oren reported this week that Barak opposes launching an attack on the eve of the U.S. elections, and that he may be aiming to join a party headed by Tzipi Livni and to become defense minister in a Livni government.
A top American source told an Israeli politician this week that the Americans now consider Barak to be a pouring-cold-water-over-things type of person, rather than someone who starts fires. People who have met with him in recent weeks got a similar impression. One said Barak cited his reasons for not attacking now with the same conviction and skill he used to support the opposite approach just two months ago.
This is a relieving turn of events, though it’s not an iron-clad guarantee. That’s especially true given how this turnabout may have occurred. One observer says in the piece that Barak “believes the Americans and he doesn’t want to further damage ties between the two countries.”
I think President Obama likes his wars on the covert side and there would be nothing covert about a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. There would be no plausible deniability. So he dispatched high-level military and civilian officials to make his views known to the Israelis, and Barak, at least, responded. There are also rank political issues at play, with Barak positioning himself for any potential aftermath of the Israeli elections.
There are also sources in the piece that say Barak hasn’t changed his mind, so some of this is Kremlinology (Knessetology?). Let’s just say I hope this is true. And not because of election outcomes, but because of the fate of the world.