Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mitt Romney in Israel: More gaffes, more confusion, and a huge dose of fearmongering: "Iran is five years closer to a nucelar weapon", "Iran's nuclearization is the greatest single security threat America faces", "A nuclear Iran is a dramatic and devastating potential threat to the world and to America"

By Patrick

New issue of Newsweek (read article here)
First "Mitt the Twit", now "Mitt the Whimp"

Mitt Romney is in Israel, and if you need somebody to start WWIII, you don't need to look any further. Although there were more gaffes, like declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and also more confusion by "re-allowing" reporters to cover the fundraiser with Casino-mogul and activist-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, there is one issue that stood out for me: Iran.

No topic is more useful to scare the American voter shitless. On various occasions during the trip, Mitt Romney made strong and potentially dangerous statements. First in a speech, as reported by Huffington Post:
JERUSALEM — On Israeli soil, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States has "a solemn duty and a moral imperative" to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.

"Make no mistake, the ayatollahs in Iran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object and who will look the other way," he said. "We will not look away nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."

The presidential election hovered over the speech, with the Old City forming a made-for-television backdrop behind Romney, while some of his campaign donors listened in the audience.

In his remarks, Romney steered clear of overt criticism of President Barack Obama, even though he has taken on the present administration in the past for not doing enough to prevent Iran from potentially developing nuclear weapons.

The former Massachusetts governor also stepped back from a comment a senior aide made a short while before the speech.

"We recognize Israel's right to defend itself," he told his audience. Earlier, the aide, Dan Senor, previewed the speech for reporters, saying that "if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision."

Mitt Romney also explained America should not "join in" if others criticize Israel (who "seek to undermine Israel"), as this would only "embolden Israel's adversaries." Pandering for American right-wing votes, especially from Jewish voters, has never been easier.

Mitt Romney's full warmongering speech:

But what I found even more striking were Mitt Romney's comments which he made today on CBS in an extensive interview with "Face the Nation", while visiting Israel. In this interview Mitt Romney said for example that "Iran's nuclearization is the greatest single security threat America faces" and also said that "a nuclear Iran is a dramatic and devastating potential threat to the world and to America." Also, "Iran is five years closer to a nuclear weapon, than it was when I spoke here at Herzliya five years ago" (read the CBS-transcript).

Watch the complete CBS-interview (with these remarks about Iran starting at about 10:15):

It also caused a stir that ahead of the Republican presidential candidate's remarks in Jerusalem's Old City, campaign adviser Dan Senor told reporters that Romney would back an Israeli military strike against Iran if necessary to thwart the company's nuclear weapons development.

Of course it has become incredibly popular to engage in fearmongering or even warmongering, as far as Iran is concerned, and many American voters will ultimately believe such statements. However, nothing would be more dangerous to see an attack on Iran as inevitable - and I get the impression that this is the direction where Mitt Romney is heading.

First, it is not certain at all that an Iranian state with nuclear weapons would be "the greatest single security threat America (or Israel) faces. Second, all the proponents of military action against Iran quickly forget that Iran has strong allies: China and Russia. Military action against Iran could very well cause a new "cold war" - or even a "hot" one, if zealous right-wing hawks, religious extremists or "tea-hadists" are sitting in the White House. 

It is not even necessary to quote ultra-liberal or progressive experts to strengthen this view. The voice of reason in this matter is nobody else than Pat Buchanan, a man who is conservative to the core. He surely is conservative, but apparently no fool. He gave an astounding TV-interview in February this year, in which he made remarks which no Democrat could afford to make in the current climate: "Iran doesn’t frighten me and I don’t think it should frighten the American people."

Pat Buchanan said:
“There are people that want a war,” he said. “I mean, do not think no one wants a war. You don’t have wars unless someone wants it. And quite clearly the Israeli government would like to see the United States smash Iran’s nuclear program, which they think is creating the additions where Iran could, with one leap forward, get a bomb.”

“The Israeli lobby would like to see a war. They support the Israeli government. Neoconservatives do. Many Republicans do. There are many Americans who genuinely believe that if Iran — they believe Iran is moving toward a weapon; and if it is, they would favor military action to prevent it.

There are a number of people who want a war.” Buchanan explained what it was like to live under the threat of a Soviet nuclear attack, and suggested that it was a far greater threat than anything the Iranians could produce. And Israel, he said, with an estimated 300 nuclear weapons, could be a bigger threat than Iran.

“During the Cold War, with due respect, the Soviet Union had thousands of weapons that could have destroyed us in an afternoon,” he cautioned. “And we could have done the same thing.”

“I was around during the Cuban missile crisis. I was genuinely terrified. But Iran doesn’t frighten me and I don’t think it should frighten the American people. They don’t have a bomb. They haven’t made a decision to build one. They didn’t have the means to deliver one, and the Israelis have 300 atomic bombs. I mean, who presents the existential threat to whom?”

Watch the complete interview:

Does Israel need protection? Of course it does! The Western nations provide massive military and financial assistance to Israel, and rightfully so. For example, speaking about my Germany, my country: The German magazine "Der Spiegel" revealed just recently in a major story (click here for the complete English translation) that Germany not only supplied Israel with several high-tech submarines which are now being used by Israel to carry nuclear weapons, but that Germany also has a decade-long history of generously delivering stockpiles of weapons to Israel.

This long-standing German policy was summed up by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2002 like this: "I want to be very clear: Israel receives what it needs to maintain its security." 

The "Spiegel" reported:
Research SPIEGEL has conducted in Germany, Israel and the United States, among current and past government ministers, military officials, defense engineers and intelligence agents, no longer leaves any room for doubt: With the help of German maritime technology, Israel has managed to create for itself a floating nuclear weapon arsenal: submarines equipped with nuclear capability.


But now, former top German officials have admitted to the nuclear dimension for the first time. "I assumed from the very beginning that the submarines were supposed to be nuclear-capable," says Hans Rühle, the head of the planning staff at the German Defense Ministry in the late 1980s. Lothar Rühl, a former state secretary in the Defense Ministry, says that he never doubted that "Israel stationed nuclear weapons on the ships." And Wolfgang Ruppelt, the director of arms procurement at the Defense Ministry during the key phase, admits that it was immediately clear to him that the Israelis wanted the ships "as carriers for weapons of the sort that a small country like Israel cannot station on land." Top German officials speaking under the protection of anonymity were even more forthcoming. "From the beginning, the boats were primarily used for the purposes of nuclear capability," says one ministry official with knowledge of the matter.

Insiders say that the Israeli defense technology company Rafael built the missiles for the nuclear weapons option. Apparently it involves a further development of cruise missiles of the Popeye Turbo SLCM type, which are supposed to have a range of around 1,500 kilometers (940 miles) and which could reach Iran with a warhead weighing up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds). The nuclear payload comes from the Negev Desert, where Israel has operated a reactor and an underground plutonium separation plant in Dimona since the 1960s. The question of how developed the Israeli cruise missiles are is a matter of debate. Their development is a complex project, and the missiles' only public manifestation was a single test that the Israelis conducted off the coast of Sri Lanka.

The submarines are the military response to the threat in a region "where there is no mercy for the weak," Defense Minister Ehud Barak says. They are an insurance policy against the Israelis' fundamental fear that "the Arabs could slaughter us tomorrow," as David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the State of Israel, once said. "We shall never again be led as lambs to the slaughter," was the lesson Ben-Gurion and others drew from Auschwitz.

Armed with nuclear weapons, the submarines are a signal to any enemy that the Jewish state itself would not be totally defenseless in the event of a nuclear attack, but could strike back with the ultimate weapon of retaliation. The submarines are "a way of guaranteeing that the enemy will not be tempted to strike pre-emptively with non-conventional weapons and get away scot-free," as Israeli Admiral Avraham Botzer puts it.


In August 2009, Netanyahu, who had recently been re-elected as prime minister as head of the conservative Likud party, came to Berlin. Netanyahu explained to Merkel how important the submarines were for Israel; that wherever an Israeli looks, to the north, south, or east, there is no strategic hinterland to work with, and only airspace and sea to serve as buffer zones. "We need this sixth boat," participants in the meeting say Netanyahu told Merkel during his Berlin visit, coupling the statement with a request that Germany donate this submarine, as it had the previous ones.

Merkel's response included three specific requests in exchange. First, Israel should halt its policy of settlement expansion, and second, the government should release tax assets it had frozen, which belong to the Palestinian National Authority. Third, Israel must allow construction of a sewage treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, funded by Germany, to continue. The critical factor, the chancellor added, was absolute discretion. If details leaked out, the deal would be off, because resistance from the Bundestag would be too much to overcome. The two leaders agreed that German diplomat Christoph Heusgen and Netanyahu's security advisor Uzi Arad would work out the details.

Arad is known as an impulsive and hotheaded individual who has no problem with verbally attacking the Germans. When Merkel criticized Israel's settlement policy in a July 2009 address to the Bundestag, Arad called the Chancellery and fired off a volley of angry complaints at Heusgen. Arad ended the call with the demand that Merkel should not only apologize, but also retract her statements.

The fact that Arad was supposed to be leading the negotiations delayed the talks over the sixth submarine once again. In the end, Netanyahu asked Yoram Ben-Zeev, Israel's ambassador to Germany, to help out.

Ben-Zeev returned to Israel when his term as ambassador ended on November 28, 2011. He was standing outside his house in Tzahala, a suburb of Tel Aviv, when his cell phone rang. It was Jaakov Amidror, Netanyahu's new security adviser.

"Are you sitting down?" Amidror asked.

"I'm standing in my neglected garden," Ben-Zeev replied.

"Netanyahu has one more request," Amidror told him. "Germany is ready to sign the submarine deal. You need to get on the next flight to Berlin."

Ultimately, Ben-Zeev and Heusgen agreed on the final details over the phone, and the contract was signed on March 20, 2012, at the Israeli ambassador's residence in Berlin. Defense Minister Barak flew in especially for the meeting and Rüdiger Wolf, a state secretary in the Federal Defense Ministry, signed on behalf of the German government. Since the Israeli government had financial problems once again, Germany made further concessions, agreeing to pay €135 million ($170 million), a third of the submarine's cost, and to allow Israel to defer payment of its part until 2015. Netanyahu dutifully expressed his thanks with a hand-written letter.


The chancellor has missed an opportunity to use one of the few sources of leverage the German government has at its disposal to exercise influence on the Israeli government, which behaves like an occupying power on Palestinian territory. The fourth submarine, known as Tannin, was first launched in early May and its delivery is set for early 2013. Submarine number five will follow in 2014 and number six by 2017.

These latest submarines are especially important for Israel, because they come equipped with a technological revolution: fuel cell propulsion that allows the ships to work even more quietly and for longer periods of time. Earlier Dolphin class submarines had to surface every couple days to start up the diesel engine and power their batteries for continued underwater travel. The new propulsion system, which doesn't require these surface breaks, vastly improves the submarines' possible applications. They will be able to travel underwater at least four times as long as the previous Dolphins, their fuel cells allowing them to stay below the surface at least 18 days at a time. The Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran is no longer out of the operating range of the Israeli fleet, all thanks to quality engineering from Germany.

In the Haifa harbor, the Tekumah's diesel engines growl loudly enough that conversation is just barely possible. Out at sea, though, when the submarine is in true operation and all systems are functioning cleanly, "you can barely hear the motors at all," says the naval officer in charge of the boat. The Tekumah can plow through the water at speeds of 20 knots and above, a sleek and powerful predator. But the real skill, says the officer, comes in the low-speed operations carried out near enemy coasts, places where the Israeli Navy works covertly, where the Tekumah and the other submarines have to approach their targets with great care, moving as if on tiptoe.

'Everything Possible'

The naval officer sees his submarine as "one of the places where Israel is being defended" and his determined tone leaves no doubt he will take whatever action necessary if he considers his homeland to be under attack. "The Israeli Navy needed this boat," he says.

He also says he followed the controversy over Günter Grass' poem and was surprised by the intensity of the debate. His own family originally came from Germany -- his grandparents managed to escape before the Holocaust, fleeing their Munich suburb in 1934 and later becoming part of Israel's founding generation. "We can never forget the past," he says, "but we can do everything possible to prevent a new Holocaust."

This naval officer will likely be needed to serve onboard submarines for some time to come. In Israel, Berlin and Kiel, they are already talking about the fact that the Israelis will soon want to order their 7th, 8th and 9th submarines.

The "inconvenient" truth (for Mitt Romney) - Israel is not defenseless at all, but has supreme protection. See the following graphics, courtesy of "Der Spiegel" (click on pictures to enlarge):

What Mitt Romney and other right-wing fearmongers do not tell the American public is the fact that Israel is well protected and does not need to fear Iranian nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran could have catastrophic consequences for world peace. That is one of many reasons why Mitt Romney should never become the next US President. But facts are not welcome in a world full of propaganda - the world of the American voter.

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