The row between Washington and Jerusalem is now in the open, undoubtedly causing celebration in Tehran.
Nothing was said about the 9,000 US troops who landed in Israeli earlier this month for a lengthy stay. Neither was the forthcoming visit by Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, Thursday mentioned.
The friction was already fueled last week by the deep resentment aroused in Israel by Washington's harsh condemnation of the assassination last Wednesday, Jan. 11, of the nuclear scientist Prof. Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, and absolute denial of any US involvement.
This massive military buildup indicates that either President Obama rates the odds of an Israel attack as high and is bolstering the defenses of US military assets against Iranian reprisals ~ or, alternatively, that the United States intends to beat Israel to the draw and attack Iran itself.
The "budgetary constraints" pretext for cancelling Austere Challenge 12 is hard to credit since most of the money has already been spent in flying 9,000 US troops into Israel this month.
President Obama believes he is rushing through the sanctions against Iran's central bank CBI and oil restrictions with all possible speed. He needs time to persuade more governments to support him. Israel sees little real progress in the crawling diplomatic bid for backers and is impatient for action. At the rate the sanctions are going through, they will not be in place before the end of 2012 and by then, Iran will have already acquired a nuclear weapon.Israeli leaders also suspect that the Obama administration may be foot-dragging deliberately in the hope of encouraging Iran to enter into negotiations and so avoid a military showdown. They point out that all previous rounds of talks were exploited for Iran's forward leaps in their nuclear weapon drive, free of international hassle.
President Obama insists on the US acting alone in attacking Iran with no Israeli military involvement. This would leave him free to decide exclusively when and how to stage an operation. He is counting on the tightened military and intelligence cooperation he has instituted between the two armed forces and agencies to safeguard Washington against the surprise of a lone Israeli action.
But Israel has declined to make this commitment - even in the face of US officials' efforts at persuasion.
US military strategists are counting on an Iranian reprisal for an attack on its nuclear sites to be restrained and limited to certain US military assets in the region, Israeli targets and oil installations in the Persian Gulf, including a temporary and partial closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which one fifth of the world's oil passes.They expect Israel to refrain from striking back for Iranian attacks and to leave the payback option entirely in American hands. US officials have said they fear an Israeli overkill would tip the entire American military operation into imbalance and generate unforeseen consequences.
The incoming US troops were therefore armed with the sophisticated missile interceptorTHAAD systems (easily transportable Terminal High Altitude Area Defense hit-to-kill weapons) to show the Israeli government that the US would stay on top of all the military moves against Iran - offensive and defensive alike.