NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Is Netanyahu Bluffing?


    Gareth Porter: Netanyahu is telling the Israeli people an attack on Iran will not cost much, but is the real objective to destroy the Iranian economy through sanctions? -   April 5, 2012
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    TRNN is a rare source of objective facts, analysis and commentary, not available in mainstream news. - Robert
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Gareth Porter is a historian and investigative journalist on US foreign and military policy analyst. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service on US policy towards Iraq and Iran. Author of five books, the latest of which is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

    Transcript

    Is Netanyahu Bluffing?PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington.

    Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist. He's on a trip throughout the Middle East, following, mostly, the story about the tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States. He's now in Doha, and he joins us from there. Thanks for joining us, Gareth.

    GARETH PORTER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Hello again, Paul.

    JAY: So on the course of this trip, you spent some time in Israel. What's the mood there vis-à-vis the issues with Iran?

    PORTER: I think the mood is very interesting. This is the—the reason that I was interested in visiting Israel at this point is really to see how serious the preparation for war with Iran really is in Israel. And what I found from a key set of interviews that I did is that what—the mood of the public in Israel is rather calm about the whole idea of war with Iran. And it's not because they totally dismiss the idea that there will be a war. The public seems to be inured to the idea that there might well be a war with Iran. But what seems to be at the root of the relative lack of anxiety about a possible war with Iran is that they have gotten the impression from Israeli government officials, over the last year in particular, that a war with Iran would be something of a cakewalk, that Iran is really not able to threaten the safety of Israelis in a way that they should really be worried about, that there will be relatively few casualties. The defense minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, has said that there would not even be 500 Israeli casualties in a war with Iran. And I think that that has been the tone and tenor of the presentation of this to the Israeli people. And from what I've picked up, there seems to be a broad acceptance on the part of most Israelis of that picture of what a war with Iran would be like.

    JAY: What is the Israeli intelligence and military community expert saying?

    PORTER: The main interview that I had with a real military expert on the Iranian missile program was with Uzi Ruben, who was the head of the Israeli antimissile program, the missile-defense program, for nearly ten years, from 1991 to 1999. And what Uzi Ruben told me is really very significant, because what he believes is that the Iranians have made enormous progress in their missile program not merely in creating a intermediate-range missile that can reach all of Israel—'cause that was very well known already. What is not so well known and what Uzi Ruben, I think, was able to detail to me is that the Iranians have improved the accuracy of their missiles to a remarkable degree over the last couple of years, and that they're now able to hit targets with a degree of accuracy that the Israelis were never expecting them to be able to achieve.

    And what that means is that if the Israeli antimissile system allows even 20 percent or 30 percent or 40 percent of the missiles to get through (and that would be a very successful operation of that missile system, I think, for most Israeli experts on it), that would mean that hundreds of missiles would get through, and that a very high proportion of those missiles would be highly accurate and that they would be able to hit not only population targets, whole neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and other major cities, but that they would be able to hit economic infrastructure targets and administrative targets as well. They could do great damage to Israeli society. They could create chaos, in effect. And I think this puts a new frame, a new context for this statement by former Mossad director Meir Dagan that a war with Iran could be the end of Israel. I think that Uzi Ruben would agree with that. I didn't ask him specifically if he agreed with Meir Dagan's—.

    JAY: Well, then what is the calculation being made by Netanyahu? Either he thinks Iran wouldn't counterattack this way for fear it would be the same thing in the other direction—as much as this might, quote-unquote, be the end of Israel, it could also have devastating effects in an all-out aerial war between Israel and Iran. I assume Israel must have a lot of missiles too, not the least of which could be nuclear. So, I mean, they either think the Iranians aren't really going to attack in that way, or what?

    PORTER: Well, this is one of the themes that the Israelis have increasingly been sounding in their statements and in their background briefings for journalists. For example, Jeffrey Goldberg, who just again talked to leading Israeli officials, then wrote in Bloomberg, I think it was March 20, saying that top Israeli officials told him that they did not believe that the Iranians were likely to declare all-out war on Israel in response to an attack on Iran but would merely dump a few missiles, a few bombs on Tel Aviv as a kind of "angry gesture", as he called it.

    So this is really one of the ways they're calming the nerves of the Israeli population, by saying that they don't think the Iranians are really serious about responding with an all-out attack. And, of course, we don't know what Iran's response would be, but certainly I think that it's a fair statement that the Iranians would feel they have to keep their credibility, and that that would mean more than a sort of token response, that they would need to do real damage to Israeli society in order to say to the Israelis, you can't do this without suffering serious consequences, because after all, the Israelis have been saying that if the first round of attack on Iran did not succeed in stopping the Iranian program, that they would have to do it again in the future, and so the Iranians have to, obviously, attack in a way that would persuade the Israelis that that's not really a good idea.

    JAY: You mentioned Dagan, the former head of Mossad. He called Netanyahu reckless and, you know, gives the sense that Netanyahu's not actually a rational actor (a term people like to use these days). On the other hand, you hear some suggestion from Netanyahu that it's a bit of good cop, bad cop going on here, that if Israel isn't there threatening war, then there won't be any leverage in negotiations and sanctions, and so this helps get everybody on board for very serious rounds of sanctions against Iran, because Israel says, oh, if you don't do that, the only alternative is war. I mean, what do you make of what—the real seriousness of the Israeli military, security, and political elite about this?

    PORTER: Well, let me cut to the chase, Paul, because I think that you've touched on the primary issue that I was interested in of course trying to analyze after my interviews in Israel. And what I have concluded based on those interviews, and particularly the interview with Uzi Ruben, is that—I do in fact believe it's most likely that Netanyahu is bluffing.

    One of the interesting things that Rubin said to me, apart from his assessment of the Iranian missile program and of the status of the antimissile program of Israel, is that a lot of people in Israel who believe that it's a very bad idea for Israel to attack Iran are remaining silent. They're not speaking up. And he said the reason that they are not speaking up is that they figure that Netanyahu is in fact playing what he called a game of poker, a poker game, and that they feel that it would not be a good idea to speak up against an attack on Iran, because that would in fact interrupt or disrupt the strategy that they think Netanyahu is following. So I think that that represents a very widespread view among intelligence and military national security specialists in Israel, who understand that it's a terrible idea to talk about attacking Iran [crosstalk]

    JAY: Right. I mean, it seems like the real strategy here—and if you read between the lines of some of the interviews and statements of Netanyahu and Obama, I mean, the real strategy seems to be: create a humanitarian catastrophe in Iran by undermining the Iranian economy as much as possible, in the hopes that somehow that gives rise to popular uprising and regime change in Iran, and that's really what the objective is is weaken Iran, somehow you get regime change, and you take care of your regional adversary. I mean, is that your sense of it?

    PORTER: Well, there are definitely people within the Israeli government who have been talking about the objective of regime change for a very long time. I'm not convinced that Netanyahu and Ehud Barak actually believe that regime change is likely. I do think that they believe that this pressure that they're bringing to bear that involves the threat of an attack on Iran is the only way that you have a chance to push through the kinds of sanctions that would persuade the Iranians to change their policy. I think that's what they're hoping for; they're hoping for a policy change without having to carry out an attack on Iran.

    JAY: Yeah, but one wonders whether the policy change is really about nuclear weapons or if it's more about Hezbollah and some of the other issues.

    PORTER: No, I think that nuclear weapons is the issue that they do want to change Iranian policy about, because they believe that even an Iran that is nuclear capable, that is capable of making nuclear weapons, is going to have much greater traction in the region, and that—more importantly, that Israel will lose its traction, that it will lose its ability to coerce, to intimidate the rest of the region, the other partners of Iran, in what is called the resistance coalition. And I think that that's what is really bothering the Israelis more than anything else. So they're really eager to push Iran as hard as possible to cease its enrichment program.

    And that's why I think that there is a very important disconnect here between the likely negotiating stance of the Obama administration going into these talks and the position of Israel. In fact, I spoke with an Israeli official, who would not be named, but who is certainly familiar with the position of the Israeli government, who said that their position is that it's a bad idea even to negotiate with Iran, but that if they do negotiate with Iran, that the objective must be to force Iran to stop all enrichment, to ship out all enriched uranium, not just 20 percent, but all the rest of the enriched uranium that Iran now has accumulated out of the country. Now, that's obviously a nonstarter, but that is indeed what the official position of the Israeli government is at this point.

    JAY: The United States hasn't gone that far, have they?

    PORTER: No, they have not gone that far. They're not going to go that far, clearly.

    JAY: Thanks for joining us, Gareth.

    PORTER: Thank you, Paul.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    The Modern History of Venezuela and Popular Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (9/9)
    Obama's Wrong Headed Approach To China
    Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement on Earth Day 2014
    UAW Case Shows Weakness of Labor Law
    Exclusive Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business
    The Modern History of Venezuela, The Protests and Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (8/9)
    Greek Politics 4 Years After The Financial Crisis
    CBO Report Confirms U.S. Deficit Back to Normal Level
    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass-Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting