Israel urged US to attack Iran – not Iraq

By Gareth Porter, ASIA TIMES

WASHINGTON – Israeli officials warned the George W Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilizing to the region and urged the United States instead to target Iran as the primary enemy, according to former Bush administration official Lawrence Wilkerson.

[..]After the Israeli government picked up the first signs of that intention, said Wilkerson, “The Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy – Iran is the enemy.”

Wilkerson describes the Israeli message to the Bush administration in early 2002 as being, “If you are going to destabilize the balance of power, do it against the main enemy.”

The warning against an invasion of Iraq was “pervasive” in Israeli communications with the US administration, Wilkerson recalled. It was conveyed to the administration by a wide range of Israeli sources, including political figures, intelligence, and private citizens.

Wilkerson noted that the main point of their communications was not that the US should immediately attack Iran, but that “it should not be distracted by Iraq and Saddam Hussein” from a focus on the threat from Iran.

[..] The Israeli chief of military intelligence, Major-General Aharon Farkash, said Iraq had not deployed any missiles that could strike Israel directly and challenged the Bush administration’s argument that Iraq could obtain nuclear weapons within a relatively short time. He gave an interview to Israeli television in which he said army intelligence had concluded that Iraq could not have nuclear weapons in less than four years. He insisted that Iran was as much of a nuclear threat as Iraq.

[..] Despite agreement between neo-conservatives and Israeli officials on many issues, the dominant Israeli strategic judgment on the issue of invading Iraq diverged from that of US neo-conservatives because of differing political-military interests.

Israel was more concerned with the relative military threat posed by Iran and Iraq, whereas neo-conservatives in the Bush administration were focused on regime change in Iraq as a low-cost way of leveraging more ambitious changes in the region. From the neo-conservative perspective, the very military weakness of Saddam’s Iraq made it the logical target for the use of US military power.

Gareth Porter is a historian and national-security policy analyst. His latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in June 2005.

August 31, 2007 | Comments Off on Israel urged US to attack Iran – not Iraq

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