Le rendez-vous de la fin de l'été

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Le rendez-vous de la fin de l'été

15 août 2006 — « It would be a demo for Iran », dit une source (“ a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel”) à Seymour Hersh, telle que Hersh le rapporte dans son dernier aticle pour le New Yorker. La “demo”, c’est l’opération lancée par Israël contre le Hezbollah.

L’article de Hersh démonte les mécanismes des liens entre Washington et Tel Aviv pour préparer et lancer cette attaque. L’article est largement cité dans la presse internationale. Le Guardian du 14 août écrit : «  The US government was closely involved in planning the Israeli campaign in Lebanon, even before Hizbullah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross border raids in July. American and Israeli officials met in the spring, discussing plans on how to tackle Hizbullah, according to a report published yesterday. »

Le 14 août, Hersh a répété à CNN, à propos de l’“enlèvement” de deux soldats israéliens par le Hezbollah le 12 juillet et l’opération israélienne qui s’ensuivit : «  July was a pretext for a major offensive that had been in the works for a long time. Israel's attack was going to be a model for the attack they really want to do. They really want to go after Iran. »

La notoriété de Hersh est très grande, et justifiée par la valeur et le bien fondé de ses révélations. Sa version du conflit Israël-Hezbollah est désormais un fait politique et militaire. Elle clarifie décisivement les circonstances de la préparation et de l’engagement d’Israël dans cette affaire. Hersh a apporté une contribution essentielle à l’éclairage et à la compréhension évidente de la signification du conflit. Israël a agi comme un “proxy” et Washington a manipulé l’action de ce pays contre le Hezbollah, tout cela dans le but de préparer une attaque contre l’Iran.

Les révélations de Seymour Hersh

Ci-dessous, nous présentons des extraits substantiels de l’article de Hersh sur ce point de la connivence entre Israël et les USA. Ces extraits de l’article de Hersh sont en deux parties principalement.

« The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

» Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country’s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, “We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.”

» Hezbollah is seen by Israelis as a profound threat — a terrorist organization, operating on their border, with a military arsenal that, with help from Iran and Syria, has grown stronger since the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon ended, in 2000. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has said he does not believe that Israel is a “legal state.” Israeli intelligence estimated at the outset of the air war that Hezbollah had roughly five hundred medium-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets and a few dozen long-range Zelzal rockets; the Zelzals, with a range of about two hundred kilometres, could reach Tel Aviv. (One rocket hit Haifa the day after the kidnappings.) It also has more than twelve thousand shorter-range rockets. Since the conflict began, more than three thousand of these have been fired at Israel.

» According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah — and shared it with Bush Administration officials — well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”

» The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by Hezbollah. He went on, “The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of Middle East democracy.”

» Administration officials denied that they knew of Israel’s plan for the air war. The White House did not respond to a detailed list of questions. In response to a separate request, a National Security Council spokesman said, “Prior to Hezbollah’s attack on Israel, the Israeli government gave no official in Washington any reason to believe that Israel was planning to attack. Even after the July 12th attack, we did not know what the Israeli plans were.” A Pentagon spokesman said, “The United States government remains committed to a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program,” and denied the story, as did a State Department spokesman.

» The United States and Israel have shared intelligence and enjoyed close military coöperation for decades, but early this spring, according to a former senior intelligence official, high-level planners from the U.S. Air Force — under pressure from the White House to develop a war plan for a decisive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities — began consulting with their counterparts in the Israeli Air Force.

“The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,” the former senior intelligence official said. “Who is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? It’s not Congo—it’s Israel. Everybody knows that Iranian engineers have been advising Hezbollah on tunnels and underground gun emplacements. And so the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’ ” The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he said.

» “The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”

» A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House “has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preëmptive blow against Hezbollah.” He added, “It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.” (As this article went to press, the United Nations Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution, although it was unclear if it would change the situation on the ground.) »

(…)

« Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, the U.S. government consultant said, several Israeli officials visited Washington separately, “to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear.” The consultant added, “Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Securit Council.” After that, “persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board,” the consultant said.

» The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon’s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official. The airport, highways, and bridges, among other things, have been hit in the bombing campaign. The Israeli Air Force had flown almost nine thousand missions as of last week. (David Siegel, the Israeli spokesman, said that Israel had targeted only sites connected to Hezbollah; the bombing of bridges and roads was meant to prevent the transport of weapons.)

» The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was “the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.” (The initial U.S. Air Force proposals for an air attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity, which included the option of intense bombing of civilian infrastructure targets inside Iran, have been resisted by the top leadership of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps, according to current and former officials. They argue that the Air Force plan will not work and will inevitably lead, as in the Israeli war with Hezbollah, to the insertion of troops on the ground.)

» Uzi Arad, who served for more than two decades in the Mossad, told me that to the best of his knowledge the contacts between the Israeli and U.S. governments were routine, and that, “in all my meetings and conversations with government officials, never once did I hear anyone refer to prior coördination with the United States.” He was troubled by one issue—the speed with which the Olmert government went to war. “For the life of me, I’ve never seen a decision to go to war taken so speedily,” he said. “We usually go through long analyses.”

» The key military planner was Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, the I.D.F. chief of staff, who, during a career in the Israeli Air Force, worked on contingency planning for an air war with Iran. Olmert, a former mayor of Jerusalem, and Peretz, a former labor leader, could not match his experience and expertise. »

L’USAF au cœur du projet

On commence ainsi à avoir une vision précise des tenants et aboutissants de l’attaque israélienne. Il s’agissait bien d’une répétition de l’attaque contre l’Iran, avec éventuellement dans l’imagination de certains, un enchaînement direct entre l’attaque contre le Hezbollah et l’attaque contre l’Iran.

Les correspondants privilégiés des Israéliens à Washington dans ce cas sont connus et sans surprise. Au sein de l’administration, il y a Cheney bien sûr; il y a le clan des néo-conservateurs et tous les extrémistes qui les entourent; il y a aussi une partie importante de la bureaucratie du Pentagone. Ce dernier point est le plus important. Il n’est pas certain que Rumsfeld soit partie prenante. Au contraire, il est évident que l’USAF en tant que telle, et à la différence des autres services, est complètement partie prenante. Avec elle, il est encore plus question d’une attaque contre l’Iran.

L’USAF est le service le plus intéressé par une attaque contre l’Iran, pour diverses raisons, qui tiennent essentiellement à son statut et à l’affirmation de sa puissance bureaucratique. Nous en avons déjà développé certaines. On ajoutera que, du point de vue “spirituel”, l’USAF est toute désignée pour une mission qui est vue par les millénaristes américains comme répondant à la volonté de Dieu, — selon, dans tous les cas, le “scénario” des Saintes Ecritures, au chapitre “Armageddon”. Du point de vue des capacités enfin, l’USAF représente la seule possibilité d’attaque US contre l’Iran, à cause des moyens dont elle dispose. Ce n’est plus du tout le cas de l’U.S. Army et des Marines, durement éprouvés par l’Irak, et qui pourraient même être mis en danger en Irak par une attaque contre l’Iran. L’U.S. Navy tend à être du côté de l’Army et des Marines, contre l’USAF, notamment par crainte statutaire d’être reléguée au second plan dans le cas d’une attaque contre l’Iran sous la direction de l’USAF.

Au tour de l’Iran

Les acteurs étant clairement identifiés, il reste à voir ce qu’est aujourd’hui la situation en fonction des événements depuis le 12 juillet. L’idée de départ que l’attaque contre le Hezbollah était une répétition de l’attaque contre l’Iran est d’autant plus justifiée que les Américano-Israéliens perçoivent le Hezbollah comme une simple duplication des capacités et des techniques iraniennes. L’USAF estimait que l’attaque contre le Hezbollah permettrait de tester l’efficacité d’une action aérienne contre des installations souterraines, — bunkers notamment, — mises en place et supervisées par des Iraniens, telles qu’on devrait en trouver par conséquent dans le complexe nucléaire iranien. Le résultat (positif, indeed) de l’attaque israélienne devait convaincre définitivement de la justesse du choix d’une attaque aérienne contre l’Iran. L’échec est complet et la situation particulièrement sombre, avec la démonstration à contretemps et à contresens de Tsahal.

Hersh cite notamment Richard Armitage sur ce point : « According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term — and who, in 2002, said that Hezbollah “may be the A team of terrorists” — Israel’s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning to the White House about Iran. “If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces — can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.” »

Nous entrons dans une phase nouvelle. L’échec de Tsahal est une démonstration “en temps réel” (avec les morts civils qui vont avec) qu’une attaque essentiellement, voire exclusivement aérienne contre l’Iran est une aventure hautement risquée, avec si peu de chances d’aboutir qu’on peut parler d’échec certain avec de probables conséquences catastrophique (« If the president is still listening to these people, Lord help the Republic », nous dit Patrick J. Buchanan). L’échec de Tsahal, c’est la démonstration qu’on ne peut rien contre l’Iran avec les plans de l’USAF. Bien évidemment, ce n’est en rien un argument valable pour les esprits échauffés qui tiennent le haut du pavé à Washington — ce serait même le contraire (Buchanan encore : « With our War Party discredited by the failed policies it cheered on in Lebanon and Iraq, there will come a clamor that Bush must “go to the source” of all our difficulty – Iran. »)

Et maintenant que fait-on? On attend fin août, la réponse des Iraniens aux propositions des Européens concernant la question nucléaire. Et si les Iraniens disent non? (Cette possibilité est vraiment une probabilité. Après la piteuse aventure libanaise des Israéliens, et sachant tout ce qu’on sait désormais, notamment les choses exposées ici, les Iraniens ne sont certainement pas inclinés au compromis.) Soyons plus précis : que vont faire les Européens, avec une administration GW dont il est bien possible qu’elle sera plus déchaînée que jamais contre l’Iran? A force de couardise, d’indifférence, de capitulations diverses, les Européens ont repoussé le problème central de la crise du monde que représente l’attitude américaniste. Ils n’ont vraiment rien perdu pour attendre. Peut-être le temps est-il venu, — fin août n’est pas loin — de s’y mettre.