Saturday, September 29, 2012

' Behind the scenes, however, analytic pessimism is the predominant ethos'

'After a telephone call and a meeting between respectively President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton with Netanyahu during the latter’s visit to New York, the confidence of Administration officials that they have deflected the immediate risk of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites has consolidated. While substantial differences remain between Washington and Tel Aviv about timelines, these now appear to be subject to longer-term discussion, not short-term Israeli unilateralism. As an NSC official commented to us: “The issue remains on the agenda for 2013, but we have won time. Netanyahu will now likely concentrate on a new election in Israel.” The Administration does not appear to have paid a political price for this approach. Despite some conservative support for an Israeli military strike, Governor Romney is now himself talking publicly about a strategy that can avoid military action. Away from Iran, both Clinton and Secretary of Defense Panetta are trying to put the best gloss on developments in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Behind the scenes, however, analytic pessimism is the predominant ethos. Obama is coming under increasing political pressure to refute Republican charges of weakness in Egypt, hesitation in Syria and a changing storyline over the events in Benghazi. Obama’s previous advantage on foreign policy is coming under sustained Republican attack. Beyond the Middle East, there is rising concern among strategic analysts inside the Intelligence Community about the ominous trend in events in East Asia...'

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