Former CIA Official: Israel Will Bomb Iran in September

A longtime CIA officer who spent 21 years in the Middle East is predicting that Israel will bomb Iran this fall, dragging the United States into another major war and endangering U.S. military and civilian personnel throughout the Middle East and beyond.
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A longtime CIA officer who spent 21 years in theMiddle East is predicting that Israel will bomb Iran this fall, dragging theUnited States into another major war and endangering U.S. military and civilianpersonnel (and other interests) throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Robert Baer made his prediction on theprovocative KPFK Los Angeles show BackgroundBriefing, hosted by Ian Masters.

Baer has had a storied career, including a stintin Iraq in the 1990s where he organized opposition to Saddam Hussein. (He wasrecalled after being accused of trying to organize Saddam's assassination). Uponhis retirement, he received a top decoration for meritorious service. Incidentally, George Clooney won an Oscar for playing a character based on Baer in the film Syriana (Baer also wrote the book).

Baer didn't name sources for his prediction of an Israeli attack, but the few he did cite are allIsraeli security figures who have publically warned that Netanyahu and DefenseMinister Ehud Barak are hell-bent on war.

Baer is especially impressed by the unprecedentedwarning about Netanyahu's plans by former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan. Dagan leftthe Israeli intelligence agency in September 2010 and two months ago predictedthat Israel would attack and that doing so would be "the stupidest thing" hecould imagine. According to Haaretz:

When asked about whatwould happen in the aftermath of an Israeli attack Dagan said that: "Itwill be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know howit starts, but not how it will end."

The Iranians have thecapability to fire rockets at Israel for a period of months, and Hizbollahcould fire tens of thousands of grad rockets and hundreds of long-rangemissiles, he said.

According to Ben Caspit of Israeli daily Maariv, Dagan's blasts at Israel'spolitical leadership are significant not only because Mossad chiefs, in officeor retired, traditionally have kept their lips sealed but also because Dagan isvery conservative on security matters.

Caspit writes that Dagan is "one of the mostrightwing militant people ever born here. ... When this man says that theleadership has no vision and is irresponsible, we should stop sleeping soundlyat night."

Dagan describes the current Israeli government as "dangerousand irresponsible" and views speaking out against Netanyahu as his patrioticduty.

And his abhorrence of Netanyahu is not uncommon in theIsraeli security establishment. Accordingto Think Progress, citing the Forwardnewspaper, 12 of the 18 living ex-chiefs of Israel's two security agencies(Mossad and Shin Bet), are "either actively opposing Netanyahu's stances or havespoken out against them." Of the remaining six, two are current ministers inNetanyahu government, leaving a grand total of four out of 18 who independentlysupport the prime minister.

In short, while Congress dutifully gives Netanyahu29 standing ovations, the Israelis who know the most about both Netanyahu andIsrael's strategic situation think he is a dangerous disaster.

But according to Baer, we ain't seen nothing yet.

There is almost "near certainty" that Netanyahu is"planning an attack [on Iran] ... and it will probably be in September beforethe vote on a Palestinian state. And he's also hoping to draw the United Statesinto the conflict," Baer explained.

The Israeli air force would attack "Natanz and othernuclear facilities to degrade their capabilities. The Iranians will strike backwhere they can: Basra, Baghdad," he said, and even Afghanistan. Then the UnitedStates would jump into the fight with attacks on Iranian targets. "Our specialforces are already looking at Iranian targets in Iraq and across the border [inIran] which we would strike. What we're facing here is an escalation, ratherthan a planned out-and-out's a nightmare scenario. We don't have enoughtroops in the Middle East to fight a war like that. I think we are looking intothe abyss."

Masters asked Baer why the U.S. military is notmobilizing to stop this war from happening. Baer responded that themilitary is opposed, and so was the civilian head of the military, formerSecretary of Defense Robert Gates, who used his influence to thwart an Israeliattack during the Bush and Obama administrations. But he's gone now and "thereis a warning order inside the Pentagon" to prepare for war.

It should be noted that the Iranian regime is quitecapable of triggering a war with the United States on its own through some combination ofcolossal stupidity and sheer hatred. In fact, Baer says, the IranianRevolutionary Guard would welcome a war. They are "paranoid." They are "worriedabout ... what's happening to their country economically, in terms of the oilembargo and other sanctions." And they are worried about a population thatincreasingly despises the regime.

They need an externalenemy. Because we are leaving Iraq, it's Israel. But in order to make thisthreat believable, they would love an attack on their nuclear facilities, loveto go to war in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and Iraq and hit us where they could.Their defense is asymmetrical. We can take out all of their armored units. It'sof little difference to them, same with their surface-to-air missile sites. Itwould make little difference because they would use terrorism. They would doserious damage to our fleet in the Gulf.

Given all that, is it possible that the UnitedStates would allow Israel to attack when the president knows "we would beforced" to join the war on Israel's side?

Baer's response: "the President is up forre-election next year" and Israel is "truly out of control."

What happens when yousee 100 F-16's approaching Iraq and there is a call to the White House [fromNetanyahu] that says "We're going in, we're at war with Iran"? What does the Presidentof the United States do? He has little influence over Bibi Netanyahu. ...Wecan't stop him. And he knows it.

It's a pretty frightening scenario, made infinitelymore so by the fact that top Israelis (who have heard Netanyahu's thinking fromNetanyahu himself) also see the future the same way. Those Israelis deserve aworld of credit for sounding the warning bell loud enough that we would hear itand do something about it - although it's impossible to know if the people whomatter are paying attention.

Actually, only one person matters: the president. IfIsrael bombed Iran tomorrow, Congress would forget all about partisandifferences and run, not walk, to the House and Senate floors to endorse theattack and call for unstinting support for Israel. That is what Congress alwaysdoes, and will always do so long as the lobby (and the donors it directs) arethe key players in making our Middle East policies.

And who knows what Obama would do? So far, he hasnot exactly distinguished himself when it comes to standing up to Netanyahu.

But an Israeli attack on Iran would be different. Itwould endanger countless Americans (in the region and here at home, too). Itwould kill off any economic recovery by causing oil prices to skyrocket. Itwould engulf us in another Middle East war. And it would threaten the existenceof the state of Israel.

This is something the President needs to focus oninstead of being forced to nickel and dime with the likes of Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell. Howincredible that these two, and their right-wing allies, have our governmenttied in knots in their incessant effort to elevate themselves by destroying thePresident of the United States. When did Congressional leaders decide that the only thing that matters is not national security -- but their party's fortunes and, mostly, their own? It is sickening.

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