After a lull of a few weeks the Israeli media has picked up again the “Iran – strike or no strike” debate. Pundits are weighing the odds of an attack taking place before the elections in the US in November. Some are going as far as writing that a decision in principle has already been made and it’s only a question of timing.
My guess is that if there is a decision to strike it will be taken by Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister. It will not be taken by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister.
Bibi has proven time and again that he is incapable of making tough decisions. The only tough decision I recall him making is running to the media when he thought someone had taped his infidelities, and that decision was driven by fear. I have no doubt in my mind that he is afraid of Iran’s intentions, but when it comes to Bibi, fear for his own personal fate overrides everything else. He will not risk his political career and his name in history on so difficult a decision. He is not Menachem Begin.
Barak, on the other hand, has proven time and again that he knows to make decisions when the going gets tough. The efforts of Likud back benchers to smear his reputation about taking responsibility are laughable given his track record, both as Israel’s most decorated soldier and as a politician. Barak’s brinkmanship diplomacy in the negotiations with the Palestinians in 2000 prove that he is willing to let the chips fall where they may when it comes to his reputation and legacy, as long as he believes he is making the right decision for Israel.
On paper, Bibi and Barak are not the only ones who will decide on a strike. There is the Forum of Eight ministers who supposedly need to make that decision together. Even though some of those ministers are better at decision making than Bibi, none come close to Barak when it comes to strength of character and intelligence.
I am no fan of Barak and I don’t know if he will make the right decision. Who does? But when the time comes and the archives are opened, I am willing to bet that we will find out it was Barak who set the tone for this fateful decision.