As I begin day two of the media tour for Damascus Countdown, I’m seeing a significant change in tone in the comments of senior U.S. officials — past and present — concerning Iran. Officials who have long been hesitant about the use of military force against Iran are now reluctantly suggesting it may not be possible to avoid war after all.
Listen carefully to the comments of current leaders such as Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry, and the Commander of CENTCOM — as well as to icon of U.S. national security policy such as Henry Kissinger — and to former senior White House advisors such as Dennis Ross and Elliot Abrams, and this is what you will hear:
- The nuclear crisis with Iran is coming to a head.
- Diplomacy and sanctions have not succeeded and may have run their course.
- The Iranians are not making concessions.
- Instead, Tehran is accelerating its nuclear efforts and is dangerously close to building nuclear warheads.
- North Korea just tested a nuclear warhead with Iranian nuclear officials present, and the two countries may be working hand in glove to get Iran ready to build and deploy The Bomb.
- President Obama still does not want the U.S. to take the lead on a military operation — naming Chuck Hagel as SecDef underscored this point.
- Israel, however, believes Iran is getting dangerously close now to the very nuclear “red line” that Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of at the U.N. last fall.
- Netanyahu will soon have a new government enabling him to take action if necessary.
- Netanyahu is likely to appoint Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon as Defense Minister — Ya’alon is a former IDF chief of staff, has been intimately involved in getting Israel ready for a possible war; Ya’alon has been hesitant about force, preferring covert means, but my sense is he is becoming resolved that force may be inevitable.
- A top former Israeli military official said publicly this week that a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would a “one night operation.”
- President Obama is heading to the Middle East soon, and is signalling that Iran and Syria are his top two issues to discuss with Israeli and Arab leaders.
- The question is whether Mr. Obama still intends to pressure Israel not to strike Iran, or will give Israel the “green light.”
Consider these stories in recent days:
- Centcom Commander: Sanctions and diplomacy are not working and we have to “have other options” ready (Times of Israel)
- U.S. commander says Iran sanctions not working (CNN)
- Centcom Commander tells Congress: ‘If Iran reaches critical point in nuke drive, Israel will attack’ (Times of Israel)
- John Kerry Concedes Iran Is Moving Closer to Possessing Nuclear Weapon (ABC News)
- Kerry: Obama would prefer to ‘avoid considering’ Iran strike (Times of Israel)
- Netanyahu: Iran closer to nuclear ‘red line’ (French TV 24)
- Netanyahu: Diplomacy has not worked. Words alone will not stop Iran (speech to AIPAC)
- Kissinger says Iran nuclear crisis close (BBC)
- Clock Runs as Obama Faces Pressure for Strike on Iran (Bloomberg)
- Top General: At Least One Arab State to Go Nuclear If Iran Does (Washington Free Beacon)
- Former US and Israeli officials discuss divisions over Iran
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