Robert Baer appeared last week on the provocative KPFK Los Angeles show Background Briefing, hosted by Ian Masters. It was there that he predicted that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to ignite a war with Iran in the very near future.
Robert Baer has had a storied career, including a stint in Iraq in the 1990s where he organized opposition to Saddam Hussein. (He was recalled after being accused of trying to organize Saddam's assassination.) Upon his retirement, he received a top decoration for meritorious service.
Baer is no ordinary CIA operative. George Clooney won an Oscar for playing a character based on Baer in the film Syriana (Baer also wrote the book).
He obviously won't name many of his sources in Israel, the United States, and elsewhere, but the few he has named are all Israeli security figures who have publically warned that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are hell-bent on war.
Baer was especially impressed by the unprecedented warning about Netanyahu's plans by former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan. Dagan left the Israeli intelligence agency in September 2010. Two months ago, he predicted that Israel would attack and said that doing so would be "the stupidest thing" he could imagine.
When asked about what would happen in the aftermath of an Israeli attack Dagan said that: "It will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end."
The Iranians have the capability to fire rockets at Israel for a period of months, and Hezbollah could fire tens of thousands of grad rockets and hundreds of long-range missiles, he said.
There is almost "near certainty" that Netanyahu is "planning an attack [on Iran] ... and it will probably be in September before the vote on a Palestinian state. And he's also hoping to draw the United States into the conflict", Baer explained.
The Israeli air force would attack "Natanz and other nuclear facilities to degrade their capabilities. The Iranians will strike back where they can: Basra, Baghdad", he said, and even Afghanistan. Then the United States would jump into the fight with attacks on Iranian targets. "Our special forces are already looking at Iranian targets in Iraq and across the border [in Iran] which we would strike. What we're facing here is an escalation, rather than a planned out-and-out war. It's a nightmare scenario. We don't have enough troops in the Middle East to fight a war like that." Baer added, "the President is up for re-election next year", and Israel is "truly out of control".
What happens when you see 100 F-16's approaching Iraq and there is a call to the White House [from Netanyahu] that says "We're going in, we're at war with Iran"? What does the President of the United States do? He has little influence over Bibi Netanyahu. ... We can't stop him. And he knows it.
It's a pretty frightening scenario, made infinitely more so by the fact that top Israelis (who have heard Netanyahu's thinking from Netanyahu himself) also see the future the same way. Those Israelis deserve a world of credit for sounding the warning bell loudly enough that we would hear it and do something about it - although it's impossible to know if the people who matter are paying attention.
Actually, only one person matters: the US president. If Israel bombed Iran tomorrow, Congress would forget all about their partisan differences and run, not walk, to the House and Senate floors to endorse the attack and call for unstinting support for Israel. That is what Congress always does, and will always do so long as the Lobby (and the donors it directs) are the key players in making our Middle East policies.
And who knows what Obama would do? So far, he has not exactly distinguished himself when it comes to standing up to Netanyahu.
But an Israeli attack on Iran would be different. It would endanger countless Americans (in the region and here at home, too). It would kill off any economic recovery by causing oil prices to skyrocket. It would engulf us in another Middle East war. And it would threaten the existence of the state of Israel.
Source: Foreign Policy Matters; Al Jazeera.net