Israel Cannot Wage a War Against Iran Without a ‘Green Light’ From the U.S.

In late December 2008, coinciding with the onslaught of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” directed against Gaza, the Pentagon dispatched some 100 military personnel to Israel from U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to assist Israel in setting up a new sophisticated X-band early warning radar system as part of a new and integrated air defense system. The project had been approved by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in September 2008. With media attention focussing on Gaza, this crucial military initiative in the area of U.S.-Israel Air Defense passed virtually unnoticed. The official story was that Tel Aviv had requested this aid “to help defend against a potential missile attack from Iran”. What was at stake, however, was a new threshold, a fundamental turning point in the structure of Israel’s Air Defense system and its relationship to the U.S. global missile detection system. Casually heralded as “military aid”, the project consisted in strengthening the integration of Israel’s air defense system into that of the U.S., with the Pentagon rather than Israel calling the shots.