April 28, 2007

Olmert: The Delay Of A Thousand Tomahawks

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert now distances himself from remarks about how a military strike on Iran could delay their nuclear capabilities for ten years. Hours after the German magazine Focus produced the Olmert assertion that an attack using thousands of Tomahawk missiles could grind the Iranian program down for a decade, Olmert's office called the PM's remarks "general" and "off the record":

"Iran's nuclear program can be thrown back by years in a ten day attack using thousands of Tomahawk cruise missiles," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying in an interview published online by the German magazine Focus on Saturday.

Olmert had reportedly said that it would not be possible to completely halt Iran's race to attain nuclear capability, but that a brisk attack that would delay it significantly was "technically feasible." While saying that Israel does not seek military confrontation, Olmert added that "nobody excludes it."

Only a few hours after the publication of the Focus article in Israeli media outlets, the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement denying the report.

The PMO said Olmert was giving a Focus reporter only general information and that he was speaking off the record.

Olmert couched this military strategy in terms of a complete failure of global pressure to sway the Iranians, which so far looks prescient enough. Israel cannot abide a nuclear Iran under the present radical-Islamist mullahcracy and would be forced to act. Olmert asked whether it would do more damage in the long run, as a ten-day attack on Iran would certainly transform the Iranian people into the enemy of Israel.

Of course, wars tend to do that, and a "ten-day attack" is somewhat euphimistic. In reality, Israel would declare war on Iran by doing so. However, with their head of state openly declaring his intention to wipe Israel off the map, one can certainly argue that Iran has already declared a de facto state of war with Israel. Given the circumstance, Israel would have little choice but to make sure that their military and political enemy -- a mantle which Ahmadinejad has claimed repeatedly -- does not acquire weapons that would allow Iran to complete its declared mission.

One might ask Olmert why he didn't see this clearly about Syria and Hezbollah last year, when he elected to attack Lebanese targets instead after Hezbollah provoked a war. A ten-day attack with thousands of Tomahawks would have set Bashar Assad back on his rump, and it would have taken all the steam out of Hezbollah by cutting off its political and military lines of communication. It would also have kicked out one of the struts of Iranian power and reach in the Middle East without destabilizing the nominally anti-Syrian government in Beirut.

Maybe Olmert learned a lesson last year, maybe not. At least he's not offering platitudes about the uselessness of any military reaction to the prospect of a nuclear mullahcracy, and what it means for the war on terror.


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Comments (11)

Posted by PersonFromPorlock [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 10:47 AM

The simple explanation is that Olmert is an incompetent.

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 10:53 AM

It's also a good way to provoke building reinforcement activity that you can watch--to put Iran's military construction activity into motion in "certain places." Or, maybe provoke a military planning meeting that a double agent can attend. Activity that Israelis can watch on the ground and from satellite. It may not have been a genuine "error."

Posted by Grumpy Old Man [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 11:00 AM

Having supplied all these weapons to Israel, we are now hostages do any screwy plan that Israel's government--which even crazed hawks like Caroline Glick have called incompetent--may unleash.

This is in the interests of the US--why?

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 11:58 AM

Re: Grumpy Old Man at April 28, 2007 11:00 AM

People who live on a postage stamp, surrounded by terrorists who want them dead, don't start conflicts for no reason. Even in wars Israel wins, they'll suffer plenty.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 12:25 PM

Good chance Olmert doesn't want to make Israel the fall guy!

Don't forget, in "position #1" ... there was the hope the Israelis would do in Iran, what they did to Saddam's nuclear ambitions in Iraq.

Meanwhile? James Baker is looking HARD at putting $8-billion in up-to-the-minute military hardware, into the hands of the House of Saud.

And, Bush had the nerve to dream he'd see a palestoolian state. Full of TERROR. Wrapping itself around Israel. WIth new borders. Including the heights of the West Bank.

I think the Man Upstairs is out to upset Bush's apple cart.

Well, Israel isn't gonna give Bush the signal that he can use the Jews for the "slam dunk" he wants. Because, yes. He wants to send planes IN.

Can he?

As to atomic bombs; in the hands of arabs, they'd create the kind of mess that would bound those muzzies back into sand fleas; running on top of glass.

Again. Just to use the report coming out in Israel, in why Israel last summer held back: NOT ENOUGH JEWS KILLED BY NASRALLAH'S MISSILES.

It seems that when countries do defensive wars, they look for some sort of "diplomatic balance."

Israel's been asked to pay much too high a price for their 1967 victory. Why? They expanded the country. But the whole world keeps asking them to "pull back." Including Dubya.

You may wonder why Arik Sharon pulled 8,000 Jews out of Gaza. Where they sat on waterfront property.

There were something like 21 Yeshiva's built there, too. And, no IDF army recruiting.

One thing Sharon knew. Poised Jews, in the line of fire, who treated the IDF like a servant class; was something that needed to be removed. And, was.

This way? WHEN the big war comes, Israel's Navy can handle the fire out at sea. And, Egypt can't exactly run a barrage of tanks through the Sinai.

Next war? A different kind.

With Israel having learned on the one hand, about survival. And, on the other, what playing with other nations mean. In terms of diplomatic pants dancing.

Diplomatic pants dancing blows FOG. And, you do it all by yourself, by dancing your cheek to cheek.

It's pretty obvious Tony Blair's gone from the list of close friends to Bush. Ditto, Olmert. Who was never there. He also doesn't want to sit there letting Dubya turn Israel into turkey.

Yes. Dubya's a man of action. And, he may yet attack Iran. But if he does this without thinking it all out? He'll be impeached, for sure.

There are reasons that the GOP, in congress, are not cooperating with him at all! As a matter of fact, COBURN was serious when he told Gonzales to retire.

In today's world? The GOP is not having private conversations with Dubya, as much as just laying it out for him in broad daylight. I have a feeling they think he's that STUPID.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 1:55 PM

The Jerusalem Post, today, offers the interview with Olmert, that started the rumors flying. (When you read Olmert, you must actually look beyond the words; because then you'll see the issues. ONE. Olmert doesn't think the Saud's have let go of their anti-Israel stance. So? That would make Dubya's plans rather moot. With less than two years left to go.) The rest of it? You decide. CAROL HERMAN

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

German magazine stands by report despite PMO denial
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Apr. 28, 2007

"Iran's nuclear program can be thrown back by years in a ten day attack using a thousand Tomahawk cruise missiles," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying in an interview published online by the German magazine Focus on Saturday.

Olmert had reportedly told Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri that it would not be possible to completely halt Iran's race to attain nuclear capability, but that a brisk attack that would delay it significantly was "technically feasible." While saying that Israel does not seek military confrontation, Olmert added that "nobody excludes it."

# IAF squadron prepares for Iran
# Iran and the Democrats

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said Olmert did not have an interview with Focus, and had only given a background briefing and was speaking off the record. Taheri and Olmert had apparently held a 35-minute-long conversation, which was not presented to the prime minister as an official interview, Channel 2 reported later Saturday. Taheri, said Channel 2, neither recorded nor took notes of their conversation.

Taheri, whose writings center around Middle Eastern affairs, is an internationally published columnist who has written for American and European newspapers alike, and held a senior editorial position in his native country's major newspaper. Taheri was also once a Jerusalem Post columnist.

"What (Focus) are printing now in the quotes, the prime minister definitely did not say," Miri Eisen told The Associated Press in Jerusalem.

The Munich-based magazine said it stood by its report.

"Olmert is acting hastily… while causing damage to the state of Israel," MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said following Saturday's reports.

According to Focus, Olmert said military measures would be considered only if existing UN sanctions, and "other sanctions" would fail to bring success.

Weighing the consequences of such a scenario, Olmert said that "we must also ask ourselves whether after a military procedure, the Iranian people as a whole would not become our enemy. And would not such an action pit other Muslim nations against us, thus creating even more problems?"

On other regional matters, Olmert dismissed claims that Israel was not interested in considering the Saudi king's peace initiative.

"We welcome [the plan's] suggestions. They represent a change. In the past, the Saudis tried very hard to be anti-Israeli," Olmert told Focus.

The plan, he added, could serve only as a basis for discussion, and its ambiguities would have to be clarified.

Olmert quoted the Palestinian demand for a 'right of return' as an example. "What does this [demand] mean?" He said, "That Israel should be pushed to agree to commit suicide?"

Olmert also expressed skepticism as to the scope of support the plan enjoys in Saudi Arabia. "Does the Saudi leadership stand as a whole behind the initiative of the king? The [Saudi] minister of foreign affairs surrounds himself with anti-American forces, who still find it difficult to accept Israel as a Jewish state."

AP contributed to this report.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 8:21 PM

Well,Drudge has up the RETRACTION from the german's, on the above article. It never took place. And, the man they said "wrote it," didn't.

So it probably came from the german editor's fertile imagination. But whose to say such thoughts aren't discussed, just the same? When countries meet to analyze what sort of defensive plans, and equipment, they'll need in the future?


Reporter Amir Taheri apologizes to Olmert's spokeswoman for publication of interview on German magazine's website that attributed to PM threatening statements against Iran. Journalist says he did not write interview, asks editors to remove story from site

Posted by Lightwave [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 28, 2007 9:43 PM

Olmert is walking a very narrow tightrope over the abyss.

There are several problems with this:

1) It's hard to move fast on a tightrope.
2) It's ever harder to dodge.
3) You're out in the open with zero cover.

In fact, the one thing Olmert has going for him is that nobody else in Israel wants his job right now. They know they'd be screwed when the summer war with Hizbollah and Syria comes.

Posted by Fight4TheRight [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 29, 2007 7:04 AM

Carol Herman:

I always appreciate your insights into the Israeli positions. Most times that you comment on the Israeli objectives and mindsets, I learn a good deal from your offerings. So thank you.

Posted by georgfelis [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 29, 2007 11:19 PM

I didn’t know Dan Rather and CBS had a German branch?

Seriously though, now that the German author has come out and said they didn’t write the article it sounds like just another case of faux journalism. However even if the quoted sections were accurate (in a Dan kind of way) I can still see Olmert having been schnooked.

(Theoretical Q and A session)
Q: So you are saying there is no military way Israel could stop Irans nuclear program with bombing?

A: Well no, it would take thousands of cruise missiles in a full-scale attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and that would be exceedingly improbable, even if Israel, the US and Russia were to combine their conventional forces…

Next days NYT headline: “Israel’s Prime Minister proposes massive attack on Iran with thousands of missiles”

You really can’t win for losing when talking with a reporter with an agenda. Which is most of them.

Posted by georgfelis [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 29, 2007 11:28 PM

I didn't realize while writing the above that Howard Dean even agreed with me.

I'm frightened.