Will Israel Try the October Surprise?

Democracy Now! guests discussed whether an escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran might lead to an attack, and when that might occur. In the first segment, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy said the populace was opposed, but that pressure was coming from Netanyahu and Barak:

… The matter of fact is that almost the entire military and defense establishment of Israel, the present one and the former one, is united in opposing an attack in this time. But still, the decision makers—mainly two, the prime minister and the defense minister, Barak—seem to be very, very devoted to do something.

In the second segment, Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, worries that the Israeli leaders might exploit the election cycle to get support for an attack:

So when we hear this coming from Israel, particularly right now at this very vulnerable time of an election cycle here in the United States, what we’re hearing is that if there is going to be an Israeli strike, and with the political leadership saying there is, there’s not going to be a military coup in Israel where the military would refuse to carry out such an order. If they are told to do it, they will do it. The choice that the leadership has is, do we wait until after the election, when we might get a president we like better, meaning Mitt Romney, but we might get Barack Obama again, who might be in a stronger position? Imagine the problems facing President Obama today if we heard from the Israelis, “Oh, by the way, our planes are in the air. They are en route to bomb Iran. And we’re expecting your help to send refueling capacity, for instance, in the air. And if you don’t, our pilots might die.” Imagine what that would mean for a president running for re-election here in the United States. So we have a very dangerous moment despite the opposition of the military and the intelligence agencies of all across Israel, all across the United States, everybody disagreeing with this, the vice president, the president of the United States disagreeing with it. And yet, do we want to imagine that we would be certain there be no such attack and no such U.S. involvement at this moment of the election? I think it’s a very, very dangerous—a very, very dangerous moment.


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