JERUSALEM – In a column appearing in the Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, David Wurmser, who served as senior Middle East adviser to former vice president Dick Cheney, warned the Israeli government that President Obama would not assist the Jewish state if it launched a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear and military installations.
“I had always believed the U.S. would do the right thing at the last minute, but at this moment, I don’t expect the U.S. cavalry to ride alongside Israel, even at the last minute,” wrote Wurmser. He also maintained that “Israeli experts,” including former government and military personnel, who have publicly stated that America is “obligated” to stop Iran’s nuclear program misunderstand American foreign policy.
Wurmser acknowledged that former president George W. Bush had several opportunities to stop Iran’s fledgling nuclear program but did not launch a preemptive strike. (According to published reports, Wurmser and Cheney discussed asking Israel to launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s Natanz nuclear installation in 2007.)
Obama, Wurmser wrote, will not alter U.S. policy. “America…will only wake up and act if something terrible happens and American interests are attacked. Until that happens, much to my chagrin, our ally [Israel] will have to go it alone.”
President Bush also refused to attack Syria’s fledgling nuclear installation after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented the White House with intelligence about the Syrian operation. Faced with Bush’s unwillingness to act, Olmert sent Israeli warplanes to pulverize the al-Kibar nuclear station in September 2007.
According to Israel’s Channel 10 military correspondent Alon Ben-David, U.S. reluctance to take action is the prime reason Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “determined to launch an attack on Iran before the November presidential election.”
Ben-David added that Netanyahu believes economic sanctions against Iran have not prevented the Iranian regime from accelerating its nuclear weapons program and the window of opportunity to destroy or set back the Iranian nuclear agenda will be lost in the next few months.
While there have been reports that IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and several other high-ranking Israeli defense and intelligence officials are against attacking Iranian targets without American assistance, Netanyahu apparently has lined up significant political support for an attack.
Last week’s appointment of former Shin Bet commander and Kadima Knesset member Avi Dichter as minister of the home front fueled speculation that Dichter supports Netanyahu’s military agenda. Dichter has been asked by Netanyahu to prepare to defend the country’s infrastructure and civilian population against expected Hizbullah/Iranian or Syrian military retaliation in the event of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran.
Last week the Israeli and American navies conducted several exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Pentagon previously reported that a second aircraft carrier battle group would deploy in the Eastern Mediterranean in early September in order to buttress America’s fleet. Meanwhile, President Obama warned that American forces would act if Syrian dictator Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on civilians or attempted to transfer weapons of mass destruction to hostile forces, i.e. Hizbullah or Iran.