Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Re: Wheeling, Dealing, and Looking Venal

A few days ago we discussed some of the behind the scenes deal-making going on between the U.S. and Israel over Iran. The post mentioned that the U.S. was providing some military hardware and weaponry to Israel in exchange for a pledge not to attack Iran until after the November election.

I suggested that, if the report was accurate, it implied that the president was subordinating matters of great national importance to his own electoral fortunes. This elicited an informative response from a reader named Keith who thought there is another possible explanation for why an attack on Iran might be delayed until 2013. Keith wrote:
With regards to the 2013 comment, I would be very surprised if it actually has anything to do with the election. The weapons promised to Israel, which will be a very good deterrent to Iran, will probably not be ready until sometime into late 2013. I'm guessing the bunker busting bombs promised are the MOP GBU-57. Testing for those bombs is not slated to be completed until sometime this year. The MOP was developed for the type of application that may be required if there is an attack on Iran. These bombs are designed to penetrate farther into hardened sites than any other bomb before and pack more explosives than any other - including the MOAB GBU-43.

As for the [mid-air refueling] tankers, after nine years, the Air Force finally got through the hurdles with being able to order replacements for the KC-135. The KC-X program has been marred with protests by the general contractors, GAO accounting related issues, and criminal investigations. It has only been about a year since the Air Force has placed orders to replace our fleet, which has been flying since the Eisenhower administration.

In both of these cases, export versions will likely have to be developed before being delivered to Israel. The United States typically only ships variants to what our military uses. Yes Israel's Air Force using F-16's (as do we). But the versions sold to them, do not have the most powerful, fuel efficient engines as ours [do]. The navigation systems are not as good as ours. The list goes on.

Bottom line: I strongly believe the 2013 statement has nothing to do with our election and more to do with weapons availability. The underlying statement from the U.S. is, "Don't start something now and expect we are going to deliver the weapons technology as soon as things start going bad for you."
This sounds plausible, and it certainly puts the Obama administration in a better light than does the claim that they're pressuring Israel to delay an attack on Iran for political reasons. Even so, whether the White House is tailoring their demands upon Israel to suit their political ambitions or whether, as Keith says, they're simply bending to logistical necessity, war between Israel and Iran would in fact cause oil prices to soar and that would almost surely diminish Mr. Obama's reelection prospects.