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Commentary: Guns of 2012?

By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large   |   Aug. 20, 2012 at 6:50 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A former chief of Israeli military intelligence, who retired two years ago, takes sharp exception to three more recently retired Israeli intelligence chiefs who disagree on the imperative need to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli military head of intelligence, in a column he wrote for The Washington Post, urged U.S. President Barack Obama to visit Israel as soon as possible to "tell its leadership -- and more important, its people -- that preventing a nuclear Iran is a U.S. interest and if we have to resort to military action, we will."

Yadlin says his five-point plan for the benefit of the Obama administration is designed to convince allies and adversaries alike that "military action is real, imminent and doable."

Three more recently retired heads of Israeli intelligence -- Mossad, Shin Bet and the Israeli military -- have spoken out to say that both Israel and the United States should learn to live with an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Three former U.S. CENTCOM commanders -- Gen. John Abizaid, Gen. Anthony Zinni and Adm. William J. Fallon -- were the first to reach the same conclusion.

All six are acutely aware of the alternative -- Israeli bombing followed by mayhem throughout the Persian Gulf and the rest of the Middle East.

Egypt, under its new Muslim Brotherhood government, backed by a Parliament with Muslim Brotherhood members in almost 50 percent of the seats and Salafist extremists in 24 percent, would immediately denounce the peace treaty with Israel and sever diplomatic relations.

The Syrian civil war, with Iran and Russia on the side of the Assad regime and al-Qaida now in the mix of revolutionary forces in the uprising against Damascus, would quickly assume regional dimensions.

Israel has occupied Syria's Golan Heights since the 1967 war and the West Bank since the 1973 war. The emergence of an independent Palestinian state between the Jordan River and Israel is already more geopolitical mirage than practical possibility.

And if the United States is involved in military operations against Iran, Egypt's new Muslim government would probably close the Suez Canal as well. It was blocked during the 1967 war and didn't reopen until 1975.

Estranged during the 30-year Mubarak era, Iran and Egypt recently agreed to resume full diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level.

All six also know that Iran still commands formidable asymmetrical retaliatory capabilities -- from the mining of the Strait of Hormuz through which pass daily 25 percent of the world's seaborne oil supplies; to an 844-mile northern coastline in the gulf within easy missile reach of Qatar where a forward CENTCOM headquarters is based and where the longest airstrip in the Middle East allows U.S. bombers to refuel; to Bahrain, headquarters for the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, where the majority of the population is Shiite Muslim closely affiliated with Iran's Shiite regime.

Iran can also activate terrorist networks against Israel and against U.S. travelers in the Middle East and Europe.

These Iranian retaliatory openers would be sufficient to skyrocket oil prices into the stratosphere -- and tip the balance in the United States, United Kingdom and European countries from recession to depression.

Youth unemployment levels in Greece, Spain and Italy are already at explosive levels. Almost 50 percent of those younger than 25 are jobless in Spain.

"We have to face openly the possibility of a euro breakup," says Erkki Tuomioja, Finland's veteran foreign minister and a member of the Social Democratic Party, one of six parties that make up the coalition government.

Israeli opinion is also sharply divided on the need to bomb Iran and the prospect of retaliatory consequences.

Yadlin, one of the pilots who took part in the 1981 attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, said Israel is fully capable of hitting the nerve center of Iran's nuclear complex, but that Israel would need U.S. support "both the day after and the decade after a strike."

Now head of the Institute for National Security Studies, Yadlin is a strong supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. All three agree that Israel must not leave its fate in the hands of the United States.

Cynics also say that U.S. support is all but assured during an election campaign, a propitious time for Israel to launch air strikes against Iran. GOP contender Mitt Romney already made his position crystal clear on a recent visit to Israel. He sides wholeheartedly with Israel, America's closest ally, whatever Netanyahu and Barak decide to do.

For Obama, the decision is more complex. His own inclination is to side with the three former U.S. CENTCOM commanders, i.e., learn to live with an Iranian bomb. They reckon that should Iran aim anything at Israel, the Iranian regime and its key nerve centers would be pulverized by return.

Unless he is willing to side with Israel in deeds as well as words, Obama would be facing almost certain defeat.

The latest Newsweek cover picture shows Obama, jacket slung over his shoulder, looking back as he walks away, captioned, "HIT THE ROAD, BARACK -- Why We Need a New President by Niall Ferguson."

A British historian, Ferguson teaches at Harvard and he was named by Time "one of the 100 most influential people in the world" in 2004

"We are becoming," writes Ferguson, "the 50/50 nation -- half of us paying the taxes; the other half receiving the benefits."

"The only ratio that matters," says Ferguson "is debt to revenue. That number has leapt upward from 165 percent in 2008 to 262 percent this year, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund. Among developed economies, only Ireland and Spain have seen a bigger deterioration."

Working in Israel's favor is the U.S. election campaign. Neither candidate can take a chance on criticizing, or seemingly spurning Israeli requests for U.S. involvement in what Israel's two principal leaders say is an "existential crisis for the Jewish state."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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