A report in the Jerusalem Post of a joint missile defense exercise involving the United States and the State of Israel suggests that the Obama administration is finally taking the possibility of a general war in the Middle East seriously.So Obama's decision to conduct this exercise is just one more proof--as if any were needed--of the close, warm relations between the US and Israel--and between Obama and Bibi.
The exercise will involve the deployment of American THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile batteries and U.S. Navy Aegis ships equipment with anti-ballistic missile systems along with thousands of American troops. The American systems will work with the Israeli three tier ABM system -- Iron Dome, David's Sling (still under development) and the Patriot -- to ward off a simulated missile attack on the State of Israel.
In the meantime, Israel is expanding its Iron Dome system, designed to combat against short range missiles fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. Israel will also establish a headquarters group at EUCOM headquarters in Germany. The United States will establish one in Israel.
With a rebellion raging in Syria, Islamists in the process of taking over the government of Egypt, and Iran rattling sabers in the Persian Gulf, the possibility of conflict in the Middle East has rarely been greater. Such a conflict would certainly feature a missile bombardment of Israel, not only from Gaza and Lebanon, but also long range missiles from Iran. Developing a joint defense against such an attack is only prudent.
The exercise represents a change in Obama administration strategy, made necessary by the failure of the old one. The Obama administration had made it a point to put distance between it and the government of Israel, going so far as to deliberately slight its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. At the same time it attempted an policy of engagement with America's enemies in the Middle East, particularly Iran. It also supported regime change in Egypt and in Libya, the latter with military force.Mark Whittington, the author of this commentary, himself notes:
Belatedly, it looks like the Obama administration is attempting to repair military ties with Israel while stepping up sanctions and perhaps covert operations against Iran. There is even some consideration of intervention in the Syria rebellion in order to hasten regime change, according to Foreign Policy.The only thing Whittington leaves out is the "E-word"
Is Obama's change of heart due to the obvious failure of his Middle East policy and his desire to patching things up with Netanyahu?
Or is it because of the upcoming election and the fact that unlike in the last election, Obama does not have the Jewish vote in his back pocket.
What do you think?
Hat tip: LBD
Technorati Tag: Israel and Obama and Election 2012 and Middle East.