Sunday, March 1, 2015

Report: Obama Threatened to Shoot Down Israeli Planes

"I hate him"..."I hate him"

This story, "Obama Threatened to Shoot Down IAF Iran Strike," by Mark Langfan, appeared in Arutz Sheva, today. It was quickly picked up by Jihad Watch
The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma’an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report Saturday, that US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran. 
Following Obama's threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reportedly forced to abort the planned Iran attack. 
According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel's back. 
The report claimed that an unnamed Israeli minister who has good ties with the US administration revealed the attack plan to Secretary of State John Kerry, and that Obama then threatened to shoot down the Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran. 
Al-Jarida quoted "well-placed" sources as saying that Netanyahu, along with Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon, and then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, had decided to carry out airstrikes against Iran's nuclear program after consultations with top security commanders. 
According to the report, “Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army's chief of staff, Benny Gantz, to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran's nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel's security.” 
The sources added that Gantz and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets reportedly even carried out experimental flights in Iran's airspace after they managed to break through radars. 
Brzezinski's idea 
Former US diplomat Zbigniew Brzezinski, who enthusiastically campaigned for Obama in 2008, called on him to shoot down Israeli planes if they attack Iran. “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?” said the former national security advisor to former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with the Daily Beast. 
“We have to be serious about denying them that right,” he said. “If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a 'Liberty' in reverse.’" 
Israel mistakenly attacked the American Liberty ship during the Six-Day War in 1967. 
Brzezinski was a top candidate to become an official advisor to President Obama, but he was downgraded after Republican and pro-Israel Democratic charges during the campaign that Brzezinski’s anti-Israel attitude would damage Obama at the polls.
I think the story could be true. But clearly, many parties might also have an interest in planting it as a false rumor--including (as I see it) both pro-and anti-Netanyahu people as well as the government of Iran. It is interesting to note Brzezinski's citing of the 1967 Liberty attack. Strictly, an American attack against Israeli planes would only be a "'Liberty' in reverse" if one assumes the Liberty attack was intentional. The Israeli government has always denied this. But the claim that it was intentional has always been a trope of anti-Semites and anti-Israel forces on both the left and the right.

Stipulating that it is true, one might ask, what possible U.S. interest could be served by such a threat, or by carrying out such a threat? Or is signing a bad nuclear deal with Iran now the be all and end all of American foreign policy? That would of course be insane.

UPDATE (a few hours later): I'm actually now pretty sure the story is false. See "Kuwait paper makes up story of Obama threatening to shoot down Israeli planes" on the always useful Elder of Ziyon blog. Though, to be fair, Elder throws cold water on it not due to any direct evidence that the story is false but rather due to past false "scoops" from the journalist and the paper. Unfortunately, however, given Obama's record and Brzezinski's statements, I do not think it is unreasonable.

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