The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From Fox’s Special Report with Bret Baier Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Leon Panetta saying there is a “strong likelihood” that Israel will attack Iran in April, May, or June:

The fact that it was released is puzzling. But the substance is not.

The fact is I think people haven’t understood what the Israeli clock was. It wasn’t that the Israelis would strike when they thought Iran was in a position to break out and produce a weapon. It is earlier. It’s a different clock. It’s [when] the Israelis would calculate that Iran had so hardened its defenses and have put so much equipment inside, let’s say, the Qom facility under a mountain, such that Israel or anybody would never be able to attack it, and thus Iran would have a free ride.

And that is the moment that the Israelis believe is approaching. That’s what the “zone of immunity” is — that all the material and equipment will be so hardened that nobody will be able to attack it.

The question is why did Panetta release this? Was it a mistake? Was it a slip? He made a release yesterday about what we’re going to do in Afghanistan which looked as if it was a mistake. It was supposed to be announced in May.

But if it’s a deliberate leak, then why did he do this? Is he warning Iran to prepare its air defenses and shoot down Israelis? He’s quite specific about the month. Is it a warning against Israel, “don’t do this because we’re going to announce it and warn people about it in advance?” Is it a bluff against Iran — you better think about this and come and negotiate?

I’m not sure how to read it, but it is astonishing that he would give actual, specific dates of an ally attacking what it thinks is an existential threat.

On whether Israel is planning to attack Iran:

The Israelis are worried that there will be a point soon at which there will be no time in the future at which it could decide to attack and have success. When that moment approaches, Israel, and any government [in] Israel, would attack because it cannot live with an Iranian nuclear weapon.

The Israelis have shown in their history — the attack in 1981 against the Osirak reactor in Iraq; the attack that was in 2007 against the nuclear facility in Syria that the Israelis wiped out — that they cannot live with a nuclear weapon in the hands of an existential enemy, and one that is the most aggressive of all, Iran, which has said openly [that] its mission — its religious obligation — is to annihilate the Zionist entity, that cried against Islam.

It [Iran’s] isn’t an idle threat. The Jews have a history of hearing 60 years ago, 80 years ago, about annihilation — and the world didn’t believe it. So it’s not going to tolerate it [another risk of annihilation]….

Israel is taking a huge risk. But you have to understand the mentality. In May, ‘67, Israel was surrounded by enemies, all alone, and decided [that it] would preemptively attack the Egyptian air force. It sent its entire air force to attack and succeeded [and] won the war. …

In other words, if Israel is surrounded and thinks it’s against an existential enemy it will do everything. It will take risks. And if you listen to Israelis, they will say that the moment today is like the preamble, the weeks before the ‘67 war, when it was alone and surrounded. That’s how it feels.

On Donald Trump’s endorsement of Mitt Romney:

I think it matters. Even though as we saw in the poll and people say, well, the endorsement won’t induce them to vote against the endorsee, I think it matters for this reason — Newt had positioned himself as the insurgent, the outsider, the antiestablishment guy. Then you had all these endorsements of people who were the anti-Romneys who went ahead and who supported his narrative — Cain, Perry, and then with a quasi-endorsement, Sarah Palin.

So all of these people that had a rise and fall as the antiestablishment alternative are the ones who lined up and supported the Newt idea of him[self] as the insurgent. Trump was one of those, and he’s the only one who stepped out of that storyline and instead of endorsing Newt, which would have been the natural continuation of that storyline, switched over and supported Romney.

Now, it’s not a huge event. But I think it does interrupt and disrupt that storyline. In that sense it matters.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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