Eli Lake’s story in the Daily Beast today revealing that the Obama administration had sold 55 bunker-busting bombs to Israel in 2009 oversells the truth and appears on its face designed to help Obama’s dismal poll numbers with Jewish voters.
Lake reports that US and Israeli officials confirm the sale of GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators from US military stocks. So far so good. But then we get to the breathless part:
Would the sale be seen as a green light for Israel to attack Iran’s secret nuclear sites one day?
Er, just one problem: The GBU-28 HTP doesn’t have enough explosive power to penetrate many of the Iranian nuclear sites. The only non-nuclear weapon we have in our arsenal sufficient to bomb the deeply buried concrete reinforced structures in Iran is the 30,000 lb GBU-57 Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), which at present can only be delivered on a modified B-2 bomber, which only we have and it’s doubtful that we will sell to Israel or anyone else anytime soon. The 5,000 lb GBU-28 HTP can be delivered with a F-111F or a F-15E.
So what’s really going on with this story? It seems pretty clear that the Obama camp leaked this story because it is getting hammered because of the administration’s bungling of our relationship with Israel and the growing debacle that is the result of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy in the Middle East (e.g. Libya, Egypt, Turkey, etc.). Witness the special election loss last week of a solidly Democrat-held seat in a heavily Jewish district (NY-9). That this is the objective of the story becomes clear when you get to the very end of Lake’s article:
Obama’s security cooperation extended beyond bunker busters. According to Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), who serves on the committees that fund both the U.S. military and foreign aid, Obama gave “orders to the military to ratchet up the cooperation at every level with Israel.”
While the Obama administration has touted some public cooperation with the Israeli military, Newsweek’s article Monday will reveal other covert efforts by the U.S. military to aid Israel in the volatile Middle East region, and the impact the improving military cooperation has had on the sometimes chilly relations between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the president’s popularity in the American Jewish community.
So the Daily Beast/Newsweek is carrying Obama’s water (and they’re promising more revelations in coming days) by helping him look more presidential and more friendly to Israel. Any real surprises there? But in this case the Daily Beast is misrepresenting the implications of what Obama has done. Without the GBU-57 MOP, any conventional attack on Iranian nuclear facilities will be very difficult and the Israelis would probably need to exhaust the entire 55 bomb stock of GBU-28s to make it happen. So the Daily Beast story is a bit of a bust.