viernes, 14 de marzo de 2014

Israel, mulling attack on Iran, plunges into unprecedented debate about war - Washington Post

"A country that is debating whether to attack or not to attack usually doesn't spill its guts," said veteran Israeli journalist Motti Kirshenbaum. He noted that Israel's usual pattern is to dissect a military offensive after it happens — not discuss it beforehand.

The public appears to be largely taking the furor in stride, in part because some suspect Israel's leaders are essentially bluffing in order to compel the world to get serious about the issue. But there is a growing sense of foreboding: Even Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is believed to favor an attack, says hundreds will die in the counterstrike, and there is awareness of the global security and economic mayhem that war with Iran could unleash.

Never in Israel's history has there been so much talk about an impending war, security affairs analyst and Iran expert Yossi Melman wrote in a column on the Walla! news website on Monday.

"It's one thing for the media to blather about it, but why are leaders and senior officials chattering themselves to death?" he asked.

Although Israel's leaders frequently lament about all the Iran "chitchat," make no mistake: It's they who are fueling the discussion.

The Iranian threat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, "dwarfs any challenge the Israeli home front faces."

True, no Israeli leader has explicitly threatened to attack Iran. Netanyahu and Barak — considered here the main champions of a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities — have said no decision has yet been made. But they sometimes seem at pains to make sure the message is not missed.

Netanyahu has been warning about an Iranian nuclear threat since the 1990s, invoking comparisons with the Holocaust and sidelining all other foreign policy issues during his latest tenure as prime minister.

In recent months, amid the intensity of economic sanctions and boycotts against Iran, there have been hints of self-congratulation related to the theory that only Israeli saber-rattling could have pushed a world eager to mollify Israel and prevent an attack in this fortunate direction.

But of late the media here has filled with leaked reports attributable to "senior officials" projecting a sense that patience is growing thin: The sanctions don't go far enough, and although they have fueled inflation and hammered the standard of living in Iran, they fall short, especially because Russia and China notably refuse to fall into line.

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