"Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, traveled to Israel in early June; he was followed in late June by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both officials explained to their Israeli counterparts why the United States believes an attack isn’t necessary now, because the Iranians can’t yet build a nuclear weapon, and why an attack would damage U.S. national interests.
McConnell and Mullen also informed the Israelis that the United States would oppose overflights of Iraqi airspace to attack Iran, an administration official said. The United States has reassured the Iraqi government that it would not approve Israeli overflights, after the Iraqis strongly protested any potential violation of their sovereignty.
"We have made our position abundantly clear to the Israelis and indeed to the world, not just in our public statements but in our private conversations, as well," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. " Ignatius
Ignatius ought to know. He is thought of as a friend by both the Pentagon and the White House. This column might be thought of as something of an announcement by party or parties unknown.
The Israeli/AIPAC huffing anf puffing over the possibility of an independent Israeli attack on Iran is merely a bluff, an attempt to bully the United States into doing something that a simple calcualtion of its own interests would otherwise cause the US not to do. M&M delivered that message.
Military facts rule in this case. To take loose inspiration from Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Israelis can’t get there with enough. "There" being somewhere significant in Iran with "enough" to acheve a desired degree of damage. They are not going to use nuclear weapons. Therefore, in the planning problem for a theoretical Iran attack/campaign they have to be able to deliver enough ordnance to the right target(s) to make the whole thing worthwhile considering the casualties they may suffer. Israelis are not given to suicide attacks. They would want to recover as many of their aircrew as they possibly could. The SAR implications of that, so far from home are "awesome" in the vernacular of MTV. Without American help for that…
And then we come to the "elephant in the room." This is the issue of overflight of Iraqi airspace. If the two naval "Ms" have told the Israelis ON THEIR OWN TURF that the US will not accept Israeli overflight of Iraq, then the game is up for the Israelis. They can launch a big (for them) set of strikes against Iran but they would have to route over Turkey or Saudi Arabia. That would make the trip much longer. That would mean that all the negatives in the attack(s) would be greater. In fact, increased distance often means that the negative aspects of an operation grow as a kind of "progression." This set of operations might well have crossed their culminating point before the airplanes leave the ground. (That was Clausewitz folks. By his dictum as interpreted by me, an effort in a battle or campaign reaches its culminating point when the negatives in the situation begin to outweigh the positives. If the objective is achieved before that point is reached, then the goal of the operation is clearly achieved, If the forward motion of the operation continues past the culminating point, then the goal may still be achieved but a sudden reversal of the situation grows more and more likely as the "advance" continues)
Nevertheless, the Iranians should not take comfort from this situation. President Bush will be commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States until the new president is inaugurated. His reaction to the results of our election is unpredictable. His fixation on the Iranians within his larger notion of a manichean world made up of "good" and "evil" should give the Iranians something to think about if they intend to continue to make useless comments about their "rights."
At the same time, the Iranians should sober up concerning their prospects with a new American president. McCain will demand an end to their nuclear program of enrichment. Obama will seek negotiations over the same thing, but if the Iranians continue their present policy his policy will, in the end, be not much different than McCain’s.
The Iranians should get serious about all this and bring their "theater" of anti- Westernism to an end before a bad result brings this piece of history to a final curtain. pl