In a rare public expression of concern, Meir Dagan, head of Israel's Mossad external security service, warned Tuesday, June 1, that the progressive decline of American strength over the past decade and the perception of the Obama administration as "soft on military options for solving disputes" have cut deep into Israel's military and diplomatic maneuverability and made it fair game for its enemies. This is reported by debkafile's intelligence and political sources.
Dagan presented the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee with this evaluation 24 hours after Israeli Navy boarding parties prevented vessels sailing the Mediterranean from achieving their object of breaking the Gaza blockade. As the UN Security Council's condemned the loss of life in that raid, the Mossad chief said Barack Obama's first year as president was a period of "devaluation" for "Israeli and American strategic assets."
Dagan's uncharacteristic bluntness was a measure of the anxiety gripping Israel's security leaders over the slump in US-Israel relations.
He timed his cutting observations for the day Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was to have held talks in White House with President Obama. Although that meeting was cancelled and Netanyahu cut short his trip to return home and deal with the crisis over the flotilla incident, the Mossad Director decided that what he had to say was important enough to be said and aired without delay.
The Obama-Netanyahu meeting had been scheduled as a high point in President Obama's charm offensive for mending his ties with Israel and American Jewish leaders, Dagan noted. By speaking out now, he hoped they would be warned not to be taken in by Obama's smiles and understand that his attitude toward the Israeli government had not changed in any fundamental way.
America's ability to generate situation-changing measures in any part of the world was in decline and this weakness reflects directly and negatively on Israel's strategic situation. debkafile notes that by this remark, Dagan indirectly disputed the administration's National Security Strategy report published in Washington five days ago.
This comment also placed him in the middle of the internal political debate in Israel. Whereas opposition factions maintain the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and other neighbours is stalled by Netanyahu's allegedly hard-line positions, the Mossad chief puts it in a different perspective: Whatever the prime minister may do and whichever policy he may pursue, in Dagan's view he is stuck with the endemic weakness stemming from American weakness and the Obama administration's waning support for Israel.
He warned the lawmakers that the current US administration is in the process of making of Israel "a liability instead of an asset." The US president, said the Mossad chief, seriously considered forcing Israel to accept a dictated peace formula. He only backed off when he saw that this tactic would not produce a peace accord. But that was "only a tactical retreat," said Dagan.
"Let's see what steps the Americans take in the future, especially after the midterm congressional elections in November," he said, because, while an imposed peace is only a last resort and not (the Obama administration's) preferred option, it is still on the table and a whip he is holding over the heads of both parties.
The Mossad chief concluded by saying: "Such events (a decision to resort to an imposed peace) could career out of control and lead (US-Israel relations) into extreme situations."