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Monday, January 27, 2014

Is a friend who spills your secrets really a friend?

Has anyone else noticed a very disturbing trend in the relationship between Israel and the United States?  Specifically that the US government seems to be ratting out just about every single military / intelligence operation the Israeli government allegedly carries out.  It's like a jealous friend running to betray a secret shared in confidence in order to impress someone else.  After all, publicly shaming Israel is a tried and true way to curry favor with much of the world.

For its part, Israel is generally circumspect about its military and intelligence operations.  This is part of its deterrence.  The unknown is often far scarier than the known.  Months and even years after Israel has allegedly struck a target, or eliminated a terrorist in an extra-judicial killing, there will be no confirmation or denial from the Israeli government regarding responsibility.

Yet in the past few years (i.e. during the Obama administration) the following 4-step scenario has played out again and again:

  1. Something (or someone) somewhere in the world is blown up (or killed).
  2. The media or one of Israel's enemies (redundant, I know) speculates that Israel is behind it.
  3. Israeli offers a demurral or refusal to comment.
  4. An unnamed White House spokesperson confirms that Israel was, in fact, behind it.

If you want to discuss whether Israel is right or wrong to be blowing stuff up or introducing terrorists to their 72 virgins, I'd be happy to host that discussion.  The primary responsibility of every government (not just Israel's) is to protect its citizens.  That means if a government identifies a clear and present danger to its citizens, and has the ability to eliminate that danger, they are not only allowed, but required to do so.  

Obviously if they can eliminate a clear and present danger through peaceful/diplomatic means via cooperation with domestic or international law enforcement agencies, friendly governments, etc., that is ideal.  

But in a few select cases, which hopefully don't require sock puppets to explain, the most reliable/expedient way to eliminate a threat against one's citizens before the threat can be realized is to blow it up / kill it.

All day yesterday Lebanese media was abuzz with reports of Israeli jets operating over Beirut and flying low over the Beka'a Valley.  Maybe true.  Maybe not.  Naturally Israel refused to confirm or deny entering Lebanese airspace.  And there the matter would likely have been left.

Except that late last night in the Syrian port city of Latakia, something big went boom.

Now, there is no lack of 'splody stuff in Syria these days, and no lack of people running around that country trying to blow up and murder one another.  But this was a particularly large explosion in a country where large explosions are increasingly routine.

According to the article I was reading, Palestinian sources immediately claimed that Israel had struck an arsenal holding Russian S-300 missiles.  For those not familiar with the S-300, it is a long range Surface-To-Air missile that has been defined by Israel as a 'regional game changer' (i.e. a weapon that would alter the current balance of power between Israel and the countries and entities with which it is officially at war).

For most observers, the fact that Israel has repeatedly called the introduction of the S-300 a regional game changer... followed by a foreign media report of S-300s located in a Syrian port being blown up, would have been enough to be able to connect the dots.  A red line was announced.  A red line was crossed.  Boom.  Nothing left beyond the red line but a smoking crater.  Equilibrium restored.

This is the very definition of deterrence.  Nobody had to take credit for the explosion.  Grown up nations with skin in the game all had a pretty good idea of what had happened.  And close 'allies', whose relationship is often called 'friendly', had almost certainly been given a 'heads-up' as a courtesy.

This past October something else went 'BOOM' in the Syrian port city of Latakia.  Despite Israel's customary silence on what, if anything, they might have had to do with the explosion, a White House spoke-person immediately gave a statement confirming that Israel had been behind the strike:

"According to the [White House] source, the target was rockets and rockets-related equipment that Israel feared would be transferred to Hezbollah".  [source]

I mention this because I'll be curious to see how many hours will pass today before an unnamed White House spokes-person confirms that Israel was responsible for last night's explosion in Syria.

If it happens (and I'm fairly certain it will), I think the time may have come for Israel to kick our tattle-tale 'friend' in the nuts (metaphorically speaking, of course) by revealing a few uncomfortable secrets that I'm sure the Mossad has about clandestine US ops.

Israel isn't the only player on the world stage with secrets worth keeping.

Posted by David Bogner on January 27, 2014 | Permalink

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From your CRT to HaShem's eyes.

Posted by: Elisson | Jan 27, 2014 5:31:01 PM

Do you really want to raise the stakes that way? Israel has far more at stake here.

Posted by: Fred | Jan 27, 2014 10:43:49 PM

When's Bibi finally going to make you an official government advisor?

Posted by: Alissa | Jan 28, 2014 4:51:01 PM

Alissa... There are thousands of taxi drivers, barbers and bartenders in line ahead of me. :-)

Posted by: David Bogner | Jan 28, 2014 4:54:15 PM

Hey, Israel; sorry about the whole Obama thing. Too many Americans invested in style over content. Won't happen again.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Mar 8, 2014 9:05:11 AM

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