At Defining Ideas, Kori Schake has an excellent summary of “The view from Tehran.” Schake makes the case that the mullahs believe they are achieving their aims in their long confrontation with the United States. One of the data points in Schake’s assessment is the retirement of General Mattis ahead of schedule. From Obama’s perspective, Mattis was an inconvenient fellow “because he irritatingly kept insisting that political guidance from the White House was a necessary input into developing military plans regarding Iran” and “the White House did not want to operationalize the President’s stated claim that we would prevent rather than contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” You can see why the man has to go.
Coincidentally, the Times of Israel reports on the testimony of General Mattis before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. General Mattis is head of the Army’s Central Command, but he’s leaving at the end of the month. General Mattis testified that he had no doubt Israel would attack Iran if Iran reached a critical point in its drive for nuclear weapons.
At AIPAC this week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu briefly addressed the subject. I read Netanyahu’s pronouncement consistently with General Mattis’s testimony. Among other things, Netanyahu said:
The Jewish people know the cost of being defenseless against those who would exterminate us. We will never let that happen again. Joe Biden described his meeting with Golda Meir. She said to him: our secret weapon is we have no other place to go. Well, we have our place under the sun. And ladies and gentlemen, we shall defend it.
By contrast with Biden’s blarney, those are serious words.
The Times of Israel also has this extremely interesting report on the AIPAC panel exploring the division between the Obama administration and Israel on Iran. The ToI quotes the former head of IDF Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin:
“We, the Israelis, come [to the issue] with the Holocaust. We are six million Israeli Jews listening to [Iran’s President] Ahmadinejad calling for Israel’s destruction. You come with a different trauma, Iraq. You don’t want another war, understandably.”
But, Yadlin added, “This is not a war, this is a one-night operation, and we should speak about it.”
That is a highly optimistic assessment, but we should certainly speak about it.