web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Iran »
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Contrary to J Street and Media Claims, Former IDF Chief Halutz Is Hawkish on Iran

Lt. Gen. Halutz is actually making the argument, in an admittedly very circumspect manner, that it is the international community - that is, everyone besides Israel - which is to blame for the current cataclysm. Halutz even says that Israel may have to “go it alone.”
Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz at a rally in Tel Aviv last January.

Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz at a rally in Tel Aviv last January.
Photo Credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90

Former Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Dan Halutz is being shepherded around the United States to talk about the international crisis with Iran.  The anti-Netanyahu group J Street is promoting Halutz as critical of Israeli policy and supportive of their position of opposing military action.

But at the first two talks given by Halutz, one of which was attended by a Jewish Press reporter and the other of which can be can be viewed online, it appears that Halutz’s positions are far more complex and nuanced than J Street and their fellow promoters understand.

What is Halutz saying?

On negotiations: “negotiations have failed”;  on diplomacy: “enough Viennese coffee without results”; on sanctions: without the participation of China, Russia and India – all of which have been given exemptions by the US government – the sanctions will take too long to work; and on the issue of “red lines,” the problem isn’t that they are too bellicose, it is that they give the enemy an advantage you don’t want it to have.

On Tuesday, September 11th, Halutz spoke at the Saban Center For Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. On Wednesday evening he spoke at a large suburban Philadelphia Conservative synagogue.  Thursday night the former IDF Chief of Staff spoke at a synagogue in West Chester County, New York, and he is scheduled to speak sometime soon to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the coordinating body for local Jewish community relations organizations.

Lt. Gen. Halutz is actually making the argument, in an admittedly very circumspect manner, that it is the international community – that is, everyone besides Israel – which is to blame for the current cataclysm precisely because the actions taken thus far are inadequate and it is that failure which may result in Israel, alone, having to take military action against Iran.  And that is a situation no one wants.

Sanctions

According to Halutz, the international response to Iran’s nuclear activity has been inadequate on just about all fronts.  With respect to sanctions, there aren’t enough countries participating and there aren’t enough products on the banned list.  In particular, without China, Russia and India’s full participation in sanctions – all of which received exemptions from the United States — the impact on the Iranian economy has been too small to encourage the regime to cease its path to nuclear weapons.

Halutz told the Brookings audience that despite some reports to the contrary, the sanctions are not really having an impact on the Iranian economy.  “It was just reported,” he said, “that the Iranian currency dropped by 8 percent compared to the dollar.”  The Iranians are “not yet convinced that there is a real cost imposed upon them because their leadership has chosen to move forward on a project which is unacceptable to the world.” Unless they are forced to do that, to choose between “bread or nuclear weapons,” the sanctions will not work.

An additional reason sanctions are not working is because not enough products are involved.  Halutz explained that there need to be many more products, “thousands of them” placed on the sanctions list.  He offered two examples. The Iranian airlines and the Iranian shipping lines are still operating in the world and, if they weren’t, the Iranians would be seriously impacted.   Right now they aren’t.

In other words, sanctions only work if they cause sharp pain.  Right now there’s barely a mild caress.

Diplomacy

Halutz believes that diplomatic efforts must continue, but he is contemptuous of the public versions taking place.  “Enough Viennese coffees,” he said, referring to the rounds of talks that have already taken place, after each one of which the Iranians have refused to cease their nuclear activities.

However, he was quite supportive of one diplomatic effort that he believes, if only more countries would join in, could be fruitful.  The bold shuttering of the Iranian Embassy in Canada by President Stephen Harper is exactly the kind of diplomatic effort that needs to be undertaken, but “others must follow.”  Again, as with sanctions, unless many countries – diplomatically important countries – join in, weak diplomatic energy will bear no fruit.

Red Lines

Publicly, J Street repeatedly states that Halutz is against the drawing of “red lines,” that is, the line in the sand beyond which military action against Iran must be taken.  This is significant because President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have engaged in a public spat over the US refusal to set red lines.  The Israeli government is claiming that without them, it cannot rely on the United States and Israel will have to take action on its own.  There are commentators who crow that Halutz’s opposition to red lines reveals a reluctance to use force against Iran, and that it is an explicit criticism of the Israeli prime minister.

It is true that Halutz is definitely against “red lines.”  It is not, however, because he thinks it will interfere with continued diplomacy and will make a war with Iran more likely, as J Street  president Jeremy Ben-Ami, who attended the Wednesday night event, wrote.

Instead, Halutz doesn’t like red lines because he thinks they interfere with effective military strategies. He said, “you want to keep some uncertainty to confuse the other side.” In addition, red lines, if not strictly observed, can signal weakness.  When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, red lines were announced: not one shot across the border.  Well, many shots were fired, Israel did not respond, and that failure hurt Israel’s military credibility.  In addition, red lines are not helpful because circumstances change, and international crises are fluid situations. Creating artificial and immovable lines only hamper military decision-making.

The clearest illustration of Halutz’s opposition to red lines is what he said near the end of his talk at Brookings, when he quoted Clint Eastwood, whom he referred to as “the famous actor at the Republican National Convention, when you have to shoot, shoot.  Don’t talk.  Do not say it, do it.”

In other words, if you have red lines, there is no need to announce it, just take the planned action when those lines are crossed.

Timing of Military Action

A major point of contention for those engaged in the discussion about Iran is the timing of when military action must be taken in order to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to create nuclear weapons.  While few suggest that military action should be taken before all other strategies have been attempted, there is still a cavernous gap in understanding when such action should be taken.

Most people agree that Israel’s military action clock is ticking at a faster pace than is the US administration’s military action clock.  That is understandable, as Halutz explained, “the risk Israel is taking is higher, Israel is directly threatened.”

What’s more, Halutz offered what could be described as a gun-shy tendency on the part of the US.  “I assume, as a human being, that once an organization gave information that led to an operation and the information was found not to be the most accurate, it creates a kind of hesitation for the next time.”

In other words, Halutz suggested that the Obama administration is leery of getting the kind of historic black eye the Bush administration received.  “In the US, you have the memory of Saddam with the unconventional weapon, so I assume that they will come and say, there is a green light, the only way the will be sure, is 100 percent, but there is no such thing as 100 percent.”  “And in Israel, 100 percent is not needed.”

Military Force as Last, last, last, last option

Still, Halutz has repeatedly stated that “military force is the last, last, last option.”  But what does that mean?  And can one ever know that something was the last option until one is already past that point?

The tweet sent out from the speech Wednesday night by J Street Local’s national advisory chair and Philadelphia resident Steve Masters, was “Israeli General Danny Halutz: there is still time to confront Iran’s nuclear development – there is no rush.”

But his full statement, which came in response to a question asked at the suburban Philadelphia synagogue was: “I think there is no rush to do it tomorrow, but we are taking a risk, we know what we know, but we don’t know what we don’t know.” He later was more specific: “There is time, it shouldn’t be tomorrow, not next week, maybe not in the next coming months,” but when asked about the announced Iranian elections in June, his response indicated that waiting until that point was not realistic.

So what does Halutz mean when he says that taking military action must be the last option?

That question was put to Halutz by Ken Pollack, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution.  Halutz explained: “Last, last, last has nothing to do with a timetable.”  He continued, “it represents the efforts made in each area.”  “If, within a week, we finish all the diplomacy efforts successfully, then the sanctions are effective but nothing is achieved, maybe in two weeks we’ll come to the decision.”

But doubling back to how the different strategies interrelate, Halutz explained that there are subparts to the use of force.  A useful way to psychologically exercise the use of force option that doesn’t actually require military action against the opponent is through what he called “force projection.”

That is important, and one way to utilize force projection is through joint military exercises.  Such joint efforts show the enemy – including the enemy’s allies and the general population – that one side has not only impressive military equipment, but also impressive and intimidating allies backing each other.  It shows, he said, “that we mean business, because you can’t convince the Iranians only through diplomacy to come to the table, to negotiate, and agree.”

But misteps also have consequences.

Halutz pointed out that “reducing the volume or size of exercise between the Israeli forces and the American forces is an indication in the wrong direction.”  That was a clear reference to a “massive” reduction of US troops sent for a joint exercise with Israel, reported at the end of last month.

US-Israel Relations

Another point J Street pushed is that Prime Minister Netanyahu is very foolish for picking a fight with President Obama over the Iran issue.  In fact, in J Street’s view, apparently, Netanyahu is more damaging to Israel than what some perceive of as Obama’s poor treatment of Israel.

Wednesday night a J Street official tweeted, “Dani Halutz: current political fight over Iran policy threatening most impt rel. Israel has – with US.”   Halutz did say that Israel’s relationship with the United States is the most important one it has, and, further, that, “we [Israel] need the US more than they need us.”

But when pushed on Tuesday by James Kitfield from National Journal Magazine and Michael Adler of the Wilson Center to comment on the apparent high level of discord between the Israeli and American heads of state, Halutz refused to take the bait.

“The importance of the good relations between the American people and the American Administration to the Israeli people and Israeli Administration is of the highest importance to Israel.  Period.” But he refused to place all the blame on the Israeli prime minister.  In fact, he said “both sides took part in climbing too high.”

He suggested that “in some areas the relations are excellent, and in some areas, mainly the political level, it suffers from declaration and counter-declaration that are made here and there, some of them are serving the internal politics of each country, some of them are serving the case itself.”

Halutz tried valiantly to make the argument we have all been hearing from Israeli leadership for years.  That is, that a nuclear-armed Iran is not only a problem for Israel, it is a problem for the entire Middle East, and for all of western civilization.   He emphasized that if Iran achieves its goal it will lead to a race to acquire nuclear weapons for countries throughout the Middle East, starting with Turkey, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia. “No one will leave [Iran] to be a nuclear super power in this region.” That regional instability would have global repercussions.

But the truth is, as Halutz reluctantly admitted, it may be that Israel will have to “go it alone.”  Ironically, what may be forcing that result more than any perceived military eagerness on the part of Israel is the international reluctance to take tough intermediate steps now.  The unwillingness to impose firm, wide and globally-imposed sanctions, the sugared coffee instead of real teeth diplomacy, and the reduced ability to present a “force projection” may combine to cause exactly what no one wants, and that is the need to move – sooner rather than later – to the “last, last, last, last” option.

If that is the case, Halutz made clear at each talk, “no one should ever underestimate Israel’s capability.”

 

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

16 Responses to “Contrary to J Street and Media Claims, Former IDF Chief Halutz Is Hawkish on Iran”

  1. Gil Gilman says:

    There is not much to argue with in this article, if anything. In fact, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz seems to have a firm grasp on the facts, and his analysis is impeccable. As to why J Street would tout one half of his comment at the expense of the full idea, they are like all other self serving. self proclaimed. scholars with an axe to grind. It is not about truth, or reality if you prefer, it is about their stake in the game. They will do anything to advance their agenda and maintain their fan base and funding. This is the same with ideologues the world over. They are aloof, and in their ivory towers, removed from the hurly burly and won't suffer as those in the maelstrom.

  2. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    One question, Gil, why do you refer to J Street as scholars?

  3. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    One question, Gil, why do you refer to J Street as scholars?

  4. Mikey Pasek says:

    It is worth considering the fact that J Street might actually understand nuance, and that J Street shares the US government's position that all options must be on the table. Having attended General Haloutz's talk at the Brookings, I can say that the General did indeed criticize Netanyahu's call for red lines, and argued that they hurt Israel's own cause…I urge you to not be as partisan as you claim J Street to be, but to talk about issues and not groups. By focusing on accusations of groups you do a disservice to out communal conversation and threaten the important discourse that must occur.

  5. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    Thanks for commenting, Mikey, but may I suggest you read, or re-read the article. It focuses on what Gen. Halutz said, including his full statements on red lines, as opposed to what at least 2 J Street officials represented those statement to be. In my opinion, it is a "disservice to our communal conversation" and makes impossible "the important discourse that must occur" when the views of military leaders are caricatured to fit a particular political viewpoint. In terms of specifics – e.g. the sanctions exemptions and the reduction in American forces involved in joint military exercises with the IDF – Gen. Halutz was more critical of this US administration than he was of the Israeli one, but it was clear his focus is on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, not electing a particular president or prime minister. As it should be.

  6. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    Thanks for commenting, Mikey, but may I suggest you read, or re-read the article. It focuses on what Gen. Halutz said, including his full statements on red lines, as opposed to what at least 2 J Street officials represented those statement to be. In my opinion, it is a "disservice to our communal conversation" and makes impossible "the important discourse that must occur" when the views of military leaders are caricatured to fit a particular political viewpoint. In terms of specifics – e.g. the sanctions exemptions and the reduction in American forces involved in joint military exercises with the IDF – Gen. Halutz was more critical of this US administration than he was of the Israeli one, but it was clear his focus is on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, not electing a particular president or prime minister. As it should be.

  7. Gil Gilman says:

    lol…I should have said self-proclaimed experts. I don't regard the J Street peace at any cost philosophy as scholarship, but the word really means nothing except nachas. I also desire peace, but realize that peace without my existence is no peace at all. Sometimes true peace comes after sacrifice, sometimes through diplomacy. Diplomacy and sanctions didn't work against the monsters of WWII, and there are numerous ideologies, cultures, and potentates against whom they won't work today.

  8. J Street not only threatens Israel and America with their slander they risk their souls.

    All Israel has a share in the world to come except slanderers.

  9. Mikey Pasek, you sound like Neville Chamberlain and you must know the consequences if you are wrong. Will you go and live in Israel and wait for the nuke and then say you were wrong from the sky or in the dirt? Wake up. Israel has been warned they are first and we, in the United States are next. They want to hang their Islamic Flag over the White House and with people like you, they will succeed. Easy to make comments and take chances when you are here in a safe place but how long will it be safe with this President? I hope you do not give him your vote. All Jews should not give this Pres a vote who snubs the head of the Jewish State of Israel. He will see the Pres of Egypt, of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has declared they will not keep the peace with Israel but ignored P.M. Netanyahu while both were in New York yesterday. I will assume you are the ones who were friends with Arafat and I rarely assume.

  10. Mikey Pasek, you sound like Neville Chamberlain and you must know the consequences if you are wrong. Will you go and live in Israel and wait for the nuke and then say you were wrong from the sky or in the dirt? Wake up. Israel has been warned they are first and we, in the United States are next. They want to hang their Islamic Flag over the White House and with people like you, they will succeed. Easy to make comments and take chances when you are here in a safe place but how long will it be safe with this President? I hope you do not give him your vote. All Jews should not give this Pres a vote who snubs the head of the Jewish State of Israel. He will see the Pres of Egypt, of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has declared they will not keep the peace with Israel but ignored P.M. Netanyahu while both were in New York yesterday. I will assume you are the ones who were friends with Arafat and I rarely assume.

  11. Peter Shalen says:

    Thanks for the informative article, Dorothy!

  12. Charlie Hall says:

    Israelis, and Israel supporters need to understand something: The President of the US can never and will never allow another country, no matter how friendly, to force it into war.

    Had Netanyahu been the head of government of any country than Israel, he would have been slapped down hard by all sides of the US political spectrum. In particular, the extreme right in the US, which doesn't even want the US in NATO, would be going nuts. I'm really surprised that Netanyahu, who grew up in the US, does not understand this. His machinations have alienated strong Israel supporters like Barbara Boxer. It is a measure of the strong support for Israel across the US political spectrum that there hasn't been such a reaction.

    The fact is that the US is in no position to support an extended military campaign in the region. If Israel attacks Iran, it will have to be on its own until such time as the US can get its remaining 60,000 troops out of Afghanistan. This needs to happen sooner rather than later in order to deal with the real threat, which is Iran.

  13. The troops can march through Iran and get aboard ship in the Persian Gulf. :-)

  14. Thank Barbara Ledeen as when I went to send her a message, I discovered the Jewish Press here in Washington. Keep an eye on it if I cannot, Peter.

  15. Charlie Hall says:

    Simon H Gedney, I just noticed that comment. The US has 60,000 troops in Afghanistan. The Iranian regular army is something like seven times that size, and that doesn't even count the Revolutionary Guard. Furthermore, most of Iran is difficult, mountainous terrain. What you suggest would be a suicide march.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armed_Forces_of_the_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran

  16. I am familiar with Iran's topography. I am also familiar with its low-level insurrections in Kurdistan, Arabistan and Baluchistan. Farsi-speakers may be a minority in Iran now. Also, an increasing number of both RG and army troops (which have not really been effective) are being diverted to Syria and, probably, Lebanon. Moreover, the current detente between Iran and Turkey will probably be short-lived, if history may be a a guide. So, Iran is putting itself in a position to be squeezed by its ethnic minorities, by the Turks, by its own internal dissensions, and by the US.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Hamas terrorists often misfire their rockets that explode in Gaza civilians areas.
‘Hamas Fired from UN School Area and Prevented Evacuation’ Says IDF
Latest Indepth Stories
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

IDF soldier injured in Gaza is evacuated by helicopter to Soroka hospital.

The residents of Gaza were not occupied by the Hamas; they voted for the terror organization in democratic elections, by a huge majority, by virtue of its uncompromising struggle against Israel. For this reason, the separation between the armed Hamas terrorists and those ‘not involved’ or ‘innocents’ is false. The Gazans are now paying for […]

Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wants answers about the FAA ban on flights to Israel.

Sen Ted Cruz wants the administration to give straight answers to questions about the FAA ban on Israel.

U.S. President Barack Obama

Why is the ban on Israel’s airport different from all other FAA bans?

US extends ban on flights to Israel despite lack of such precaution in similar or worse situations.

Golani brigade commander was hospitalized after being wounded, but he returned to the battlefield to complete the mission.

The Ruderman Family Foundation rewards Jewish organizations for promoting inclusion of those with disabilities.

Israel’s transportation minister said cancelling flights to Israel is like handing a prize to terrorists.

Turkey is attempting to be seen as the protectorate for the Palestinian Arabs.

Members of congress should experience Israelis’ lives. Bomb Shelter Museum will be in D.C. July 22.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/contrary-to-j-street-media-claims-former-idf-chief-halutz-is-hawkish-on-iran/2012/09/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: