According to several US sources, the US-Israel joint anti-missile excercise, code name Austere Challenge 12, was delayed on Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak’s request. The pro-Israel lobby groups in the US blame Barack Obama for getting cold feet. However, speaking off the record, officials in the United States and Israel confirmed published reports that Iranian threat in the Strait of Hormuz factored into the decision.
The other lame excuse made by both Israeli and American officials – are lack of funds for such joint military excercise.
“Some Washington observers found both cited Israeli rationales for the delay–budget cuts and Israeli concern about further raising tensions with Iran – as conspicuously thin,” wrote Laura Rozen in The Envoy on January 17, 2012.
Critics of the Obama administration are insisting that the delay revealed a fissure between President Obama and Netanyahu over how to handle Iran. Some suggested that the Obama administration feared the joint exercise would further ratchet up tensions with Iran.
Danielle Pletka, vice president of the AIPAC sidekick, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has claimed that Obama do believe in Iran’s threat to close the Starit of Hormuz which would cut off almost 60% of oil supply to Europe.
One Israeli report, on the country’s Channel 2, quoted unnamed Israeli officials as saying that it was the U.S. that requested the postponement, although U.S. officials and other Israelis have pushed back, insisting that it was Israel that made the request.
Pentagon officials reached out to journalists Tuesday to reinforce their claim that it was Israel, not the United States, that requested the delay. According to Atlantic’s former Israeli prison-guard Jeffrey Goldberg, Barak requested to cancel the exercise because he feared the Israeli military lacked the resources to carry it out effectively.
Eitan Barak, an assistant professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suggested that the delay request could ba Israeli move to blackmail the US to fight Iran alone on behalf of Israel. He said that Israel has in the past ratcheted up its defensive posture as a means of pressuring the United States and the West to confront a regional threat. He noted that during the first Gulf War, in 1991, Israel pulled its missiles out of their silos after suffering a barrage of Iraqi Scud missiles. Israel was signaling impatience with the failure of allied forces to take out Scud missile launchers in western Iraq.
“Once the US satellites detected the missiles, the United States took Israel seriously” and started hitting western Iraqi targets, the Hebrew University’s Barak said. “It was a clear signal, if you don’t do something, we will.”