Obama has been doing all he can to keep Bibi Netanyahu in his cage to prevent the mad-dog Israelis from attacking Iran.
To this end, the administration has been overly public in assuring the world that it will not tolerate either a nuclear bomb in Iran’s hands or interruption of oil flow through the Hormuz. Obama stated two years ago that the US stands ready to retaliate against anyone who attacks Israel. The US taxpayers have built Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system.
The US was even ready to send ground troops to Israel. In the last few days the Israeli side, speaking through the Jerusalem Post [see previous post], publicized plans for the US to deploy thousands of troops in Israel. Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc of the US 3rd Air Force visited Israel only two weeks ago to get this deployment – originally called “Juniper Stallion 2012,” but changed to “Austere Challenge 12″ – underway.
Of course, the US and Israel training together is nothing new. Just last spring the USS Harry Truman carrier group visited Israel for joint naval/air exercises. And the US and Israel have long cooperated in virtual war games. But Austere Challenge would be the first large-scale US deployment to Israel of non-virtual boots with actual people in them.
Contrary to what a lot of the pundits have been saying, US boots in Israel are not directly related to an Israeli attack on Iran 1000 miles away. What they would be is a very public show of solidarity between US and Israel — i.e., a serious disincentive to Iran, particularly with respect any plans Iran may have to intervene in Syria.
But that disincentive is not to be. In what appears as almost an emergency notification made at an unprecedented early hour on a Sunday, Debkafile reports that today the Obama administration has suddenly pulled the plug on Austere Challenge 12. The abruptness of this change in plans is, to me at least, reason for grave concern.
For one thing Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has to put his underwear back in the drawer. He was scheduled to go to Israel next Thursday. One presumes that his visit was to have two objectives: 1) consult with the IDF over the coming US deployment, and 2) read the riot act to Bibi regarding the way Israel is handling the Iranian situation. But it now looks like the reading of riot acts is too late. It is Israel, not Iran, that has crossed some sort of line here.
In this later regard, one could tell from the way the administration condemned last week’s Israeli assassination of Iranian nuke-trigger specalist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan that things between Obama and Bibi are going even farther downhill than they were when Obama agreed with Sarkozy that Bibi is a “liar.”
It must also be noted that just 2 days ago the Pentagon announced that additional muscle is now headed for the Persian Gulf – 15,000 troopers to Kuwait and a second carrier, the USS Carl Vinson combat group, is to join the USS Stennis group. The CVN is actually now in the Gulf. Link
But that’s not all. . . according to the Facebook page for the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, it has just pulled out of Thailand. And Naval Today reports that the Abe Lincoln is “en route to support coalition efforts in the 5th Fleet AOR.” DEBKAfile is less ambiguous, they are reporting that the Abe Lincoln is headed to the Persian Gulf. It’s about 5000 nautical miles from Bangkok to Hormuz. At 30 knots flat out, she’ll be there next weekend, about Jan22. Three US carrier combat groups focused on a stretch of water 35 miles wide. Someone has said that a fight over the Strait of Hormuz would be like a knife-fight in a phone booth.
It is becoming more apparent that Obama has given up the game with Bibi. Israel is moving into strike mode and Obama is putting as much distance possible between the US and Israel as quickly as possible by denouncing the killing of Ahmadi-Roshan and by cancelling Austere Challenge. At the same time he is busting ass to get as much firepower into the Gulf region as he can.
My guess is that it will be more like days or weeks, rather than months, before the lid is finally blown off of this over-heated kettle in the Middle East. Events are moving very quickly toward three drastic show-downs: 1) between Israel and Iran; 2) between US and Iran; and, 3) between US and Israel. Only one of these show-downs will be diplomatic, the other two could lead to WW III.
Somebody pass me that Mayan calendar. I want to have another look at it.