Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cause and effect

A Michael Gordon article in the inimitable - thank God! - Michael Gordon/Judy Miller style (my emphasis in red; it's like shooting fish in a barrel!):
"Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

The exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, American officials said."
Note that it took the 'American officials' two full weeks to pipe up about this development and what it signified. Gordon continues:
"A senior Pentagon official who has been briefed on the exercise, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the matter, said the exercise appeared to serve multiple purposes.

One Israeli goal, the Pentagon official said, was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.

A second, the official said, was to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter.

'They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know,' the Pentagon official said. 'There’s a lot of signaling going on at different levels.'

Several American officials said they did not believe that the Israeli government had concluded that it must attack Iran and did not think that such a strike was imminent."

And guess what?:
"At the same time, reports about possible military action against an OPEC state was also contributing to the rise in crude. The New York Times carried an article saying that Israel conducted 'a major military exercise' earlier in June that U.S. experts believe had the makings of preparations for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities."