William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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U.S. TO STRIKE IRAN? – AT 10:21 A.M. ET:   This kind of went under the radar, but it's worth reporting, because the sources are in a position to know, or at least think they know.  From The Times of Israel:

NEW YORK — If the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program is not resolved diplomatically in the coming year, it will be resolved militarily by the end of 2013, two top US foreign policy officials told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

“I think there’s the stomach in this administration, and this president, that if diplomacy fails [to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons] — to use force,” according to Dennis Ross, a former Mideast envoy during the Clinton administration, and until November 2011 President Obama’s top advisor and planner on Iran in the National Security Council.

James Jeffrey, a former deputy national security advisor and, for the past two years, the US ambassador to Iraq, agreed with Ross’s assessment.

“I think [Obama’s] first choice will be a negotiated settlement. Failing that, I think that we’re going to strike,” Jeffrey said.

“One way or the other, these guys [the Iranian regime] are either going to stop their program or, before we’re halfway through 2013, they’re going to have enough [enriched nuclear materiel] to go critical in a few weeks,” he added. “I think if we don’t get a negotiated settlement, and these guys are actually on the threshold [of weaponization capability], as Obama said during the campaign, then the president is going to take military action.”

The two officials spoke with The Times of Israel at the gala dinner of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, held Thursday night at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The event honored Ross and Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security advisor to George W. Bush. Jeffrey, who was in attendance, recently joined the institute as a visiting fellow.

During an on-stage discussion with Ross and Abrams halfway through the evening, Washington Institute director Robert Satloff asked the former officials, “Will either America or Israel employ preventive military action against Iran’s nuclear program – yes or no?”

The two replied in unison, “yes.”

“Will this happen in 2013?” Satloff pressed.

“Yes,” said Ross.

“Yes, I agree,” added Abrams.

COMMENT:  Abrams, in particular, is a major skeptic of this administration, so his agreement may have some meaning.  On the other hand, I have my serious doubts.  The tone of Obama's second term is taking shape, and it's decidedly left wing. 

We also have, as noted here in the last few days, a serious politicization of intelligence under Obama.  Intelligence reports can be written, or interpreted, to indicate that Iran is "having trouble" with its nukes, or has "delayed development," meaning a strike would not be required.  Just yesterday we saw the bizarre story, from Reuters, of a new congressional report indicating that Iran is way behind schedule in the development of its ICBM.   The gist of the story was that Iran would need an ICBM to deliver a nuclear bomb.  That itself is blatantly untrue, but we may be seeing the start of a campaign to paint the Iranian nuclear program as no big deal, or, at least, not an immediate big deal.

I have no doubt that Ross, Jeffrey and Abrams believe what they said.  I just wonder if what they believe is really true, or just administration hype to keep the hawks in line. 

December 8,  2012