Jerusalem: The top US general, visiting
Israel at a delicate and dangerous moment in the global
standoff with Tehran, is expected to press for restraint amid
fears that the Jewish state is nearing a decision to attack
Iran`s nuclear programme.
Thursday`s arrival of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, just four
months after he took office as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, underscores Washington`s concern about a possible
Israeli military strike.
It also spotlights key questions at the center of the
global maneuvering to prevent an Iranian bomb:
How effective are the current economic sanctions in
pressuring Iran`s leadership? Israel wants a far tougher
regime, while the Americans seem confident the current path
Could aerial bombardment or missile strikes, the expected
Israeli military toolkit, damage nuclear installations deep
underground enough to be worth a counterstrike from Iran? Some
think Israel is mainly saber-rattling to scare governments
into tougher sanctions.
Might covert activity suffice Iranian scientists and
military officials have been killed, computer viruses
unleashed, a missile base blown up. Finger-pointing and
denials abound; evidence about who`s behind it all does not.
Could Israel really surprise Washington, its main ally
and protector, with a military move that could affect America
itself, in an election year to boot. Israeli officials have
not pledged to give advance warning.
In the background, rarely openly discussed, is the
somewhat prickly relationship between the Obama administration
and the rightist government in Israel. The antipathy, born
largely of disagreements on the Palestinian front, may not be
helping navigate a situation as delicate as Iran.