US spied on Israel over strike on Iran's nuclear program

Just how badly did Barack Obama blow up our relationship with Israel? According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, there was a point in 2012 when the US believed Israel was ready to carry out a commando raid against the Iranian nuclear reactor at Fordrow. In response, we sent another aircraft carrier to the Gulf and readied attack aircraft. in case a regional war broke out after the strike.

This raises an interesting question: On whose behalf would we have intervened?

Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site. Worried that Israel might ignite a regional war, the White House sent a second aircraft carrier to the region and readied attack aircraft, a senior U.S. official said, “in case all hell broke loose.”

The two countries, nursing a mutual distrust, each had something to hide. U.S. officials hoped to restrain Israel long enough to advance negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iranthat the U.S. had launched in secret. U.S. officials saw Israel’s strike preparations as an attempt to usurp American foreign policy.

Instead of talking to each other, the allies kept their intentions secret. To figure out what they weren’t being told, they turned to their spy agencies to fill gaps. They employed deception, not only against Iran, but against each other. After working in concert for nearly a decade to keep Iran from an atomic bomb, the U.S. and Israel split over the best means: diplomacy, covert action or military strikes.

Personal strains between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erupted at their first Oval Office meeting in 2009, and an accumulation of grievances in the years since plunged relations between the two countries into crisis.

This Wall Street Journal account of the souring of U.S.-Israel relations over Iran is based on interviews with nearly two dozen current and former senior U.S. and Israeli officials.

U.S. and Israeli officials say they want to rebuild trust but acknowledge it won’t be easy. Mr. Netanyahu reserves the right to continue covert action against Iran’s nuclear program, said current and former Israeli officials, which could put the spy services of the U.S. and Israel on a collision course.

This is a gripping account of how our relationship with Israel fell apart, including the growing realization by the Israelis that the president was pro-Arab. But the distrust was most evident in our insistence on keeping the back channel negotiations with Iran in Oman a secret from the Israelis. The White House was afraid Netanyahu would expose the secret meetings with Iran in order to destroy them. Indeed, if lawmakers had gotten wind of these back channel negotiations, the president would have been forced to call them off. Needless to say, the Iranians would have been livid.

The anti-Israel attitude permeated the entire government - from the State Department, to the White House, to the CIA - which means it's going to be difficult re-establishing trust no matter who wins the presidency in 2016. In retrospect, this may be the most toxic part of President Obama's foreign policy legacy; how he destroyed one of the strongest, friendliest relationships in US history.

 

Just how badly did Barack Obama blow up our relationship with Israel? According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, there was a point in 2012 when the US believed Israel was ready to carry out a commando raid against the Iranian nuclear reactor at Fordrow. In response, we sent another aircraft carrier to the Gulf and readied attack aircraft. in case a regional war broke out after the strike.

This raises an interesting question: On whose behalf would we have intervened?

Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site. Worried that Israel might ignite a regional war, the White House sent a second aircraft carrier to the region and readied attack aircraft, a senior U.S. official said, “in case all hell broke loose.”

The two countries, nursing a mutual distrust, each had something to hide. U.S. officials hoped to restrain Israel long enough to advance negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iranthat the U.S. had launched in secret. U.S. officials saw Israel’s strike preparations as an attempt to usurp American foreign policy.

Instead of talking to each other, the allies kept their intentions secret. To figure out what they weren’t being told, they turned to their spy agencies to fill gaps. They employed deception, not only against Iran, but against each other. After working in concert for nearly a decade to keep Iran from an atomic bomb, the U.S. and Israel split over the best means: diplomacy, covert action or military strikes.

Personal strains between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erupted at their first Oval Office meeting in 2009, and an accumulation of grievances in the years since plunged relations between the two countries into crisis.

This Wall Street Journal account of the souring of U.S.-Israel relations over Iran is based on interviews with nearly two dozen current and former senior U.S. and Israeli officials.

U.S. and Israeli officials say they want to rebuild trust but acknowledge it won’t be easy. Mr. Netanyahu reserves the right to continue covert action against Iran’s nuclear program, said current and former Israeli officials, which could put the spy services of the U.S. and Israel on a collision course.

This is a gripping account of how our relationship with Israel fell apart, including the growing realization by the Israelis that the president was pro-Arab. But the distrust was most evident in our insistence on keeping the back channel negotiations with Iran in Oman a secret from the Israelis. The White House was afraid Netanyahu would expose the secret meetings with Iran in order to destroy them. Indeed, if lawmakers had gotten wind of these back channel negotiations, the president would have been forced to call them off. Needless to say, the Iranians would have been livid.

The anti-Israel attitude permeated the entire government - from the State Department, to the White House, to the CIA - which means it's going to be difficult re-establishing trust no matter who wins the presidency in 2016. In retrospect, this may be the most toxic part of President Obama's foreign policy legacy; how he destroyed one of the strongest, friendliest relationships in US history.