It's reasonable to assume that all our "senior officials" have learned the lesson of the Yom Kippur War and are looking at the raw intelligence information rather than relying on the analysis put together by Military Intelligence. If so, the average citizen wants to know, what is the basis for the drastic differences of opinion between the prime minister and defense minister, on the one hand, and the professional security elite, both past and present, on the other? Assuming that all are operating without outside considerations coming into play, one can only conclude that behind the differences lie contradictory views of Israel's true war aims.
Indeed, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak's war aims are far broader and further-reaching than the objectives of the professional security officials, and they are willing to pay the price. These two politicians seek to lodge a complaint before the entire world stating that Israel reserves the right to maintain strategic supremacy over all the countries in the region. A country that acquires a nuclear bomb jumps up to a different level and creates a new situation, one that Netanyahu's Israel sees as an existential threat, making it Israel's duty to respond.
The army's General Staff and the heads of Israel's intelligence services, on the other hand, think the objective set by Netanyahu and Barak is not worth the social cost or the price in human lives. They also don't see a solo attack as being in Israel's security interest, saying Israel cannot destroy Iran's nuclear capability without the full cooperation of the United States.
In their distress, Netanyahu, Barak and their mouthpieces in politics and the media are attempting to depict David Ben-Gurion as their model. This effort is pitiful, given that arguing that Ben-Gurion decided to establish the state on his own is totally unfounded. The leaders of the Haganah pre-state militia, like the heads of British intelligence (even if not all Jewish politicians at the time ), were largely convinced that, compared with the Palestinians and even with Arab armies, pre-independence Israel had the upper hand when it came to personnel, maneuvering ability, the capacity to carry out operations, discipline and organization - qualities that would bring victory on the battlefront.
In all his years in power, Ben-Gurion never tried to change the political situation in the region solely on the strength of Israeli weaponry. Netanyahu and Barak more closely resemble that renowned megalomaniac Ariel Sharon, who invaded Lebanon with the intention of turning it into an Israeli protectorate and destroying the Palestinian national movement. But even Sharon didn't attack before receiving silent agreement from Washington.
Netanyahu and Barak are the first Israeli leaders who are willing to take the risk of a difficult and complicated war of choice just to implement a major strategic plan that is even more megalomaniacal than Sharon's, and is meant to ensure that Israel has the potential to exert control far beyond its borders and neighboring countries. They are also convinced of their ability to force the United States to give us funding and weapons under any conditions and in any situation, even if those weapons are being used for objectives the Americans oppose.
Everyone is in agreement that Israel is not capable of destroying Iran's nuclear facilities, just of delaying their development for military objectives for a short time. The question is: Is it worth sacrificing so many victims for that goal, in addition to generating a global outcry, outraging the United States and losing another layer of Israel's moral legitimacy? The duo in power say yes, for two reasons: An Israeli attack would demonstrate to all the countries in the region what the price is for provoking Israel, and it would teach everyone that the state of the Jews - a dominant regional power that is armed to the teeth - is not deterred by the prospect of being isolated.
And what will happen in another year or two? Netanyahu and Barak appear to be assuming that the United States and Europe, fearing an even more severe and dangerous Israeli reaction, will work together to topple the Iranian regime.
A bet like this could pay off, or it could fail spectacularly. Israelis have always been willing to pay a heavy price for their right to maintain their own state, but they aren't willing to gamble their children's future.
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