When is a terrorist not a terrorist? & War with Iran or not?

Now… At the risk of inviting a charge from some and perhaps many readers that I am naive in the extreme, I have to say I am inclined to the view that the Obama administration was telling the truth when it strongly denied any American complicity in the latest Israeli/MKO assassination. The New York Times put it this way:

“The assassination drew an unusually strong condemnation from the White House and the State Department, which disavowed any American complicity… ‘The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this,’ said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared to expand the denial beyond Wednesday’s killing, categorically denying any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.”

The NYT report then quoted Mrs. Clinton as saying this:

“We believe that there has to be an understanding between Iran, its neighbours and the international community that finds a way forward for it to end its provocative behaviour, end its search for nuclear weapons and rejoin the international community,”

That in my opinion is code for something very like: “This administration is not completely mad. We know that an attack on Iran could have catastrophic consequences for the region and the world. Despite the mounting and awesome pressure we are under from Netanyahu and those who peddle his propaganda here in America, we know that the nuclear problem with Iran must be solved by jaw-jaw and not war-war.”

How catastrophic the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran could be for the region and the world has been put into words by Philip Giraldi, currently the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer. The scenario he presents under the headline What War With Iran Might Look Like takes us all the way to World War III. His article can be found at http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/news/the-cost-of-israel-to-the-us/item/1319-what-war-with-iran-might-look-like

So I believe NYT reporter Scott Shane was on the right track when he wrote that the statements by U.S. officials appeared to reflect serious concern about the (Israeli/MKO) assassinations of Iranian scientists because they could “backfire” and make Iran’s leaders less willing to talk. And, I add, more willing to give in to those forces in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards in particular, who might well be saying that Iran must possess nuclear weapons for deterrence.

My guess is that U.S. officials are also concerned by the possibility that more assassinations could provoke an Iranian response which would give Israel the pretext to attack. (It’s by no means impossible that the main purpose of the assassinations is to provoke an Iranian response to give Israel the pretext for an attack).

That brings me to my own speculation about what is really going on behind closed doors in the Obama administration. At executive level it is, I think, in a state of something close to total panic about what to do to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran if Netanyahu is not bluffing.

My reading of Obama’s latest turn of the sanctions screw on Iran is that it’s his way of not only putting more pressure on the ruling mullahs. It’s also his way of saying to Netanyahu something like, “Give me more time to solve the Iranian nuclear problem by all means other than war.”

Obama needs more time not only to try to get serious and substantive talks with Iran going but also to establish beyond any doubt whether Israeli threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities are a bluff (to put pressure on the U.S.) or not. In an article for Ha’aretz under the headline Israel and U.S. at odds over timetables and red lines for Iran, Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel wrote:

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