A longtime CIA officer who spent 21 years in the
Middle East is predicting that Israel will bomb Iran this fall, dragging the
United States into another major war and endangering U.S. military and civilian
personnel (and other interests) throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Robert Baer made his prediction on the
provocative KPFK Los Angeles show Background
Briefing, hosted by Ian Masters.
Baer has had a storied career, including a stint
in Iraq in the 1990s where he organized opposition to Saddam Hussein. (He was
recalled after being accused of trying to organize Saddam's assassination). Upon
his retirement, he received a top decoration for meritorious service. Incidentally,
George Clooney won an Oscar for playing a character based on Baer in the film Syriana (Baer also wrote the book).
Baer didn't name sources for his prediction of an Israeli attack, but the few he did cite are all
Israeli security figures who have publically warned that Netanyahu and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak are hell-bent on war.
Baer is especially impressed by the unprecedented
warning about Netanyahu's plans by former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan. Dagan left
the Israeli intelligence agency in September 2010 and two months ago predicted
that Israel would attack and that doing so would be "the stupidest thing" he
could imagine. According to Haaretz:
When asked about what
would happen in the aftermath of an Israeli attack Dagan said that: "It
will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how
it starts, but not how it will end."
The Iranians have the
capability to fire rockets at Israel for a period of months, and Hizbollah
could fire tens of thousands of grad rockets and hundreds of long-range
missiles, he said.
According to Ben Caspit of Israeli daily Maariv, Dagan's blasts at Israel's
political leadership are significant not only because Mossad chiefs, in office
or retired, traditionally have kept their lips sealed but also because Dagan is
very conservative on security matters.
Caspit writes that Dagan is "one of the most
rightwing militant people ever born here. ... When this man says that the
leadership has no vision and is irresponsible, we should stop sleeping soundly
Dagan describes the current Israeli government as "dangerous
and irresponsible" and views speaking out against Netanyahu as his patriotic
And his abhorrence of Netanyahu is not uncommon in the
Israeli security establishment. According
to Think Progress, citing the Forward
newspaper, 12 of the 18 living ex-chiefs of Israel's two security agencies
(Mossad and Shin Bet), are "either actively opposing Netanyahu's stances or have
spoken out against them." Of the remaining six, two are current ministers in
Netanyahu government, leaving a grand total of four out of 18 who independently
support the prime minister.
In short, while Congress dutifully gives Netanyahu
29 standing ovations, the Israelis who know the most about both Netanyahu and
Israel's strategic situation think he is a dangerous disaster.
But according to Baer, we ain't seen nothing yet.
There is almost "near certainty" that Netanyahu is
"planning an attack [on Iran] ... and it will probably be in September before
the vote on a Palestinian state. And he's also hoping to draw the United States
into the conflict," Baer explained.
The Israeli air force would attack "Natanz and other
nuclear facilities to degrade their capabilities. The Iranians will strike back
where they can: Basra, Baghdad," he said, and even Afghanistan. Then the United
States would jump into the fight with attacks on Iranian targets. "Our special
forces are already looking at Iranian targets in Iraq and across the border [in
Iran] which we would strike. What we're facing here is an escalation, rather
than a planned out-and-out war...it's a nightmare scenario. We don't have enough
troops in the Middle East to fight a war like that. I think we are looking into
Masters asked Baer why the U.S. military is not
mobilizing to stop this war from happening. Baer responded that the
military is opposed, and so was the civilian head of the military, former
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who used his influence to thwart an Israeli
attack during the Bush and Obama administrations. But he's gone now and "there
is a warning order inside the Pentagon" to prepare for war.
It should be noted that the Iranian regime is quite
capable of triggering a war with the United States on its own through some combination of
colossal stupidity and sheer hatred. In fact, Baer says, the Iranian
Revolutionary Guard would welcome a war. They are "paranoid." They are "worried
about ... what's happening to their country economically, in terms of the oil
embargo and other sanctions." And they are worried about a population that
increasingly despises the regime.
They need an external
enemy. Because we are leaving Iraq, it's Israel. But in order to make this
threat believable, they would love an attack on their nuclear facilities, love
to go to war in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and Iraq and hit us where they could.
Their defense is asymmetrical. We can take out all of their armored units. It's
of little difference to them, same with their surface-to-air missile sites. It
would make little difference because they would use terrorism. They would do
serious damage to our fleet in the Gulf.
Given all that, is it possible that the United
States would allow Israel to attack when the president knows "we would be
forced" to join the war on Israel's side?
Baer's response: "the President is up for
re-election next year" and Israel is "truly out of control."
What happens when you
see 100 F-16's approaching Iraq and there is a call to the White House [from
Netanyahu] that says "We're going in, we're at war with Iran"? What does the President
of the United States do? He has little influence over Bibi Netanyahu. ...We
can't stop him. And he knows it.
It's a pretty frightening scenario, made infinitely
more so by the fact that top Israelis (who have heard Netanyahu's thinking from
Netanyahu himself) also see the future the same way. Those Israelis deserve a
world of credit for sounding the warning bell loud enough that we would hear it
and do something about it - although it's impossible to know if the people who
matter are paying attention.
Actually, only one person matters: the president. If
Israel bombed Iran tomorrow, Congress would forget all about partisan
differences and run, not walk, to the House and Senate floors to endorse the
attack and call for unstinting support for Israel. That is what Congress always
does, and will always do so long as the lobby (and the donors it directs) are
the key players in making our Middle East policies.
And who knows what Obama would do? So far, he has
not exactly distinguished himself when it comes to standing up to Netanyahu.
But an Israeli attack on Iran would be different. It
would endanger countless Americans (in the region and here at home, too). It
would kill off any economic recovery by causing oil prices to skyrocket. It
would engulf us in another Middle East war. And it would threaten the existence
of the state of Israel.
This is something the President needs to focus on
instead of being forced to nickel and dime with the likes of Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell. How
incredible that these two, and their right-wing allies, have our government
tied in knots in their incessant effort to elevate themselves by destroying the
President of the United States. When did Congressional leaders decide that the only thing that matters is not national security -- but their party's fortunes and, mostly, their own? It is sickening.