It was called to my attention yesterday that the nuclear powered USS Enterprise had been dispatched to the Persian Gulf. Right now there are two US carriers in the Persian Gulf — news was made when the second one was dispatched, as it had been policy to maintain only one. A third carrier in the area suggested a further escalation of the state of US readiness.
But no! It seemed, according to many of the sources I accessed, that this is going to be a switch, and that one of those currently in the Gulf — likely the USS John Stennis — will be brought out, with only the USS Nimitz remaining with the Enterprise. No change in policy is intended, said these sources.
Then today the NY Sun reported that by the end of the summer the Nimitz will be brought out as well so that the American presence will be reduced:
"In the standoff between Iran and America , the decision to reduce the American carrier presence in the Persian Gulf indicates a softer line.
"…Another administration official said the decision to leave one carrier in place was an effort to lower tensions with Iran."
Lower tensions with Iran. A softer line. If true, how breathtakingly disgusting.
Meanwhile, personnel from IDF Military Intelligence , reporting to the Knesset yesterday, provided an assessment that Iran may achieve the technological threshold necessary for producing a nuclear weapon in the next six to twelve months, and may have an operational warhead by the middle of 2009. (This is sooner than the predicted dates of 2011 – 2013 provided by US experts.)
IDF Intelligence believes that sanctions have not worked against Iran in part because huge oil reserves provide income that keeps the country going. What is more, the Intelligence assessment included information on the attitude in the Middle East today: Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and then Gaza have solidified belief that Israel can be destroyed in this generation.
Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) — who is charged specifically with dealing with the Iranian threat — met at the beginning of this week with NATO’s Assistant Secretary-General Alexandro Minoto Rizo and the EU’s representative Franco Partini. Lieberman reports that he was told that Israel should not assume the international community will stop Iran just to help Israel. [Note: Fools! As if it would be only Israel that would suffer.]
As Lieberman described the message delivered to him : “Israel should prevent the threat, herself, and should not expect support of other countries. NATO is stuck in Afghanistan and European and American troops are wallowing in the Iraqi quagmire, which is something that is going to prevent the leaders of countries in Europe and America from deciding on the use of force to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
"Winds of Chamberlain are blowing in Europe," Lieberman said in an interview with Army Radio. "When I hear from a respected prime minister like [Italian Prime Minister] Romano Prodi that Israel should agree to a peaceful Iranian nuclear program, it seems like something surreal. The political situation is such that they are trying to turn this into our problem alone."
I know that there are many good people in this world, some of whom are reading this posting. I know that there are wise people, and selfless people, and strong people. But when it comes to my assessment of the leadership of the nations of the Western world, my contempt is boundless. And my rage considerable.
It is only sixty years since the obscenity of the Holocaust , but it seems as if nothing has been learned.
The cowardice that we are seeing.
The reluctance to admit to the existence of , never mind to confront, evil.
The failure to grapple with essential truths : That you cannot negotiate with forces of destruction and that compromise is interpreted as weakness. A softer line, indeed!
The world would let it happen again . To we Jews, that is. Here in Israel our task is to do what we must to protect ourselves. Everything else comes second to that.
May the Almighty help us.
According to what Lieberman said today in a briefing before the Knesset, Israel will be prepared soon for all eventualities. "Naturally I do not intend to give details of Israel’s entire deployment," he said, "but the State of Israel certainly needs to take into account that in the end we will have to deal with that danger, and deal with it alone."
Also today, Binyamin Netanyahu , addressing a conference on the future of the Jewish people, spoke of the same issue. "A small country like Israel in the face of global assault needs alliances," he said. "But be prepared for the possibility that that front [will] not act," in which case Israel will have to act alone.
"Round and round we go, where we’ll stop , nobody knows." That’s the ditty, is it not? Or something close. As I continue my reporting from yesterday, this theme also continues: I must reflect the confusion — for there is no way to report without doing so.
Today there were reports that Egypt doesn’t think there will be a resumption of talks between Fatah and Hamas soon. What is more, Egypt is expressing concern about Hamas control of Gaza because Hamas might strengthen the outlawed Egyptian Brotherhood, which would generate terrorist attacks.
I will not attempt to reconcile this with what I reported yesterday about Egyptian support of Hamas because of fear of al-Qaida.
Though without benefit of a crystal ball , I anticipate that Hamas and Fatah will start talking to each other again. Remember the acquisition by Hamas of Fatah intelligence and the power this gives Hamas to extort concessions from Fatah.
Speaking about reversals , this one is particularly infuriating:
Shaba Farms (about six miles by two miles), at the edge of the Golan Heights, was in an area whose border was not well demarcated as being clearly part of Lebanon or Syria from the time of the French Mandate. The 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Syria noted it as Syrian. In 1967, Israel took Shaba farms as part of the Golan Heights and in 1981 included it in the annexation of the Heights.
In 1982, Israel launched an offensive into southern Lebanon, and subsequently maintained a presence in a security zone there to protect northern Israel from attacks. In 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanon. In June 2000, the Security Council certified that Israel had complied in withdrawing completely from Lebanon and had pulled back to the international line, called the Blue line. This certification clearly did not recognize Shaba as Lebanese. Hezbollah, however, pointed to Shaba farms, saying that this was Lebanese territory and used this "occupation" as pretext for continued attacks.
Well, guess what? The UN has just informed Israel that their cartographers have reconsidered the matter and have decided that Shaba Farms is Lebanese after all. Israel has been asked to withdraw. Nothing doing, says Israel, as this would be a victory for Hezbollah.
It is anticipated that Condoleezza Rice will lean on Israel with regard to this when she arrives here.
Meanwhile, talk of whether there will be a war with Syria continues. The current IDF Intellige
nce assessment is that Syria is not actively planning to attack us, but is strengthening itself defensively. Concern is that there might be a miscommunication because there are no diplomatic channels between Israel and Syria, thereby accidentally igniting a war. Such a war, we are being warned, would be "ten times worse" than the war with Hezbollah was this summer; Syria is in possession of long range missiles.
Thus, goes the logic (a logic which makes me crazy), it is important to achieve some sort of "diplomatic resolution" with Syria as soon as possible. Such a "resolution," motivated by fear and not from strength, would, it seems to me, be a huge mistake.
Very recently, Olmert made an offer to negotiate with Syria, implying that Assad would be welcome in Jerusalem for talks. He was roundly rebuffed by Assad.
Envoys from Egypt and Jordan , whom I mentioned yesterday, who were due here this week to speak with Israel on behalf of the Arab League initiative, have postponed their visit until after Olmert and Abbas meet and Rice’s visit has been concluded.
Tony Blair, who is due here shortly in his new role as envoy for the Quartet, according to recent reports, is seeking a broader role that would give him more direct involvement in peacemaking. "Peacemaking." The illusions continue.
Addressing this in a briefing today , State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Blair’s original mandate shouldn’t be diminished in importance: "…from our perspective, the idea of helping…the Palestinians to build up respected, functioning, democratic institutions is one of the necessary conditions for a Palestinian state."
Did he say helping the Palestinians build "respected, functioning, democratic institutions"? This is what Blair is expected to help them achieve? This is more than illusions. This indeed is profound blindness.