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Gates' Misreading Of Iran

Menashe Amir: "U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Iran Assessment Is Gross Misreading Of Iranian Psychology"

"Current Sanctions Are More Biting But Are Not Crippling Enough To Force Iranian Regime To Kill Project"

"Ludicrous For U.S. Defense Secretary To Ease Pressure On Iranian Regime By Saying Military Strike Would Only Provide Short Term Solution Of Two-To-Three Years"

IAF F-16I

U.S. Secretary of State Robert Gates has come out against a military strike against Iran arguing that it would only provide a short term solution of two-to-three years to the Iranian nuclear weapons threat. At the same time, Gates told the Wall Street Journal that the latest UN sanctions are biting much harder than anyone expected. Israeli analyst Menashe Amir takes issue with the Gates assessment charging that it is another misunderstanding of the Iranian situation, similar to the approach of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter that led to the Khomeini Revolution and the Islamist regime that now rules Iran. If Israel ever decides to go it alone against Iran, Israel Air Force pilots will likely lead the way. The traditional seven days of mourning has just ended for two airmen. Maj. Emmanuel Levi and Maj. Amihai Itkis who were killed when their F-16I crashed in the Negev. Writing a tribute in the Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, a former Israel Air Force commander Maj.Gen.(res.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu shared his thoughts and feelings.  

The F-16I aircrafts, the backbone of the Israel Air Force, are now flying once again in Israel's skies after being grounded immediately after the crash that killed the two airmen. The fact the jets have been ordered back into the air, indicates that a technical defect did not cause the aircraft to crash into the Negev desert during a night-time training flight. It was not the first time Israeli pilots have been killed and as always the country was stunned by the sudden news that two of its best, brightest and most dedicated defenders had died while protecting the Jewish state.

Maj.Gen.(res.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu, a former Israel Air Force commander wrote this tribute on hearing of the tragedy: "If you are numbered among the Israel Air force family, a moment of paralysis strikes you. If you are an ordinary citizen you feel that something dramatic and sad has happened - this is accompanied by a sense of helplessness and anxiety that flows mainly from not knowing what might have happened there in the cockpit. And there is the question - how can it be prevented in the future? Since Israel's borders have been reduced, except for when the IAF spreads its wings over the Mediterranean and Europe, the IAF compresses its training in the skies over the state. With no alternative, and in order to avoid noise and overcrowding in the airspace over central Israel, the skies of the Negev have become the IAF's main training area. Although the Negev is being developed, most is still covered in darkness that simulates battle conditions, but which also necessitates peak alertness and sharp reactions. 

Maj. Emanuel Levi

Under these conditions our sons and daughters train night and day. While they acquire supreme skills in the air they are also accompanied by the unknown and sometimes danger. Major Amihai Itkis and Maj. Emmanuel Levi were there as a matter of routine, they flew the F-16I the most sophisticated and effective aircraft existing in the world today. In Israel's hour of need, and alas when the day comes when the state's security is endangered, its pilots and navigators will be on guard, well trained - outstanding, and surpassing their rivals by several grades. And in order to be there with the required proficiency, for years they focus night and day in their studies, training, in introducing innovations, and setting new challenges. Each and every time, they set even higher standards than existed just a short time before. 

Maj. Emanuel Levi

No one knows for certain yet just what happened in those few seconds when the two experienced airmen were in distress. Was it a sudden technical defect? Did the darkness blur their senses or did their orientation veer out of control? The facts will be ascertained in the near future and the IAF will do the right thing to reduce, as far as possible, similar cases in the future. Meanwhile we will be with the bereaved families whose grief is difficult to describe. We will bid farewell to our hallowed fallen with the honor they so deserve and say in a loud and clear voice to our soldiers: 'We are with you, we appreciate you and cherish your spirit of volunteering, for your steadfastness that knows no limits, for your refusal never to tire and for your determination to always return to the arena as soon as possible. The entire state stands by your side.' " The words of former Israel Air force commander Maj.Gen.Eitan Ben Eliyahu. 

Twelve years ago, Amihai's elder brother Barak was also killed on duty while serving as a Lieutenant in the Israeli Navy. Maj.Itkis was engaged and the marriage was set for another four months. Maj.Emmanuel Levi had served as an officer in the Paratroops before volunteering for the pilot training course. Since his childhood, he had also dreamed of becoming an airman in the Israel Air Force. If Israel ever decides the Iranians have dropped all pretense and goes all out to acquiring the A-bomb, and there is no choice but to go it alone, it will be Israel Air Force pilots who carry the brunt of the preventative operation.

Robert Gates

Gates & Iran: In any case, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates still contends that international sanctions will provide the only long term solution. Gates told the Wall Street Journal: "The sanctions have really bitten much harder than anyone anticipated and we have some evidence that Khamanei is beginning to wonder if Ahmadenijad is lying to him about how much trouble the economy is really in". Gates was of the view that everything else is a short-term solution, a two-to-three year solution: " And if it's a military solution it will bring together a divided nation and make them absolutely committed to attaining nuclear weapons. They will just have to go deeper and more covert." This assessment by Secretary Gates was not music to the ears of Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who recently told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the West must convince Iranian leaders it must be willing to attack Iran's nuclear targets, if they do not desist from their nuclear weapons program.

Menashe Amir at IsraCast Studios (Photo: Tomer Yaffe)

What can be said about Gates' statement? Menashe Amir, an Israeli analyst on Iran, calls it another U.S. misreading of the situation in Iran. Amir told IsraCast: 'The latest sanctions may bite more but they are not crippling and they will not kill Iran's nuclear weapons project. Far stiffer sanctions will be be needed. The analyst said it was ' ludicrous' for Gates to declare that a military strike would only provide a two-or-three year solution and would serve to unite the Iranian people behind the regime's intention of acquiring nuclear weapons. Amir contended:" This was another example of America's misreading of Iranian psychology, similar to that of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose policies precipitated the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and enabled the fanatic Islamist regime to take power". Amir is of the view that opponents to the regime believe that the nuclear weapons program is a disaster for the Iranian people. Moreover the Gates approach actually runs counter to America's own National Intelligence Estimate that found the Iranians suspended their nuclear weaponization project for a time in 2003, for fear the U.S. forces in neighboring Iraq might attack Iran. Amir said: " When the Iranians feel they are seriously threatened by the U.S. they give in!" 

David Essing

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