Inside the Ring

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“Despite frustrations with diplomatic efforts, Israeli officials are understandably reluctant to discuss possible military options,” the cable said, quoting then-Israeli Defense Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Dani Haloutz as telling U.S. Embassy officials “we don’t want to go there.”

The reason for Israeli reluctance is that knocking out Iran’s nuclear facilities will be far more difficult than Israel’s successful 1981 airstrike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, the cable said.

“A senior military intelligence official told the embassy that the [government of Israel] does not know where all of the targets are located and said that any attack would only delay, not end, the Iranian program,” the cable said.

Israeli officials also said that potential Iranian nuclear target sites are “well-dispersed throughout the country, with several located in built-up civilian areas,” the cable said.

Additionally, the distance to Iranian targets and the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq and the Persian Gulf “raise additional complications,” the cable said.

“An Israeli assault would necessitate prior coordination with coalition forces in Iraq, … leaving the USG open to retaliation throughout the Islamic world, especially in Iraq,” the cable said.

“In addition, the [government of Israel] is acutely aware of Iran’s ability to retaliate, both militarily and through attacks by its regional surrogates.”

China protests report

A recently disclosed State Department cable reveals the sometimes difficult job of being a Communist bureaucrat in China.

Zheng Zeguang, director general of the North American and Oceanian Affairs for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lamented the task of issuing an annual protest over the Department of Defense’s 2009 annual report to Congress on China’s military by complaining the report upsets ties and was unfairly promoting the threat posed by Beijing’s growing military.

According to the cable, which was released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, Mr. Zheng, “reading unenthusiastically from prepared remarks, … formally protested to the [acting deputy chief of mission] DoD’s annual report to Congress on China’s military power.”

The Chinese bureaucrat, a former No. 2 official at China’s embassy in Washington, is well-known among State Department and Pentagon officials as one of China’s key “barbarian handlers” - the term used to describe government and Communist Party officials charged with what the Chinese consider the odious and unappealing task of dealing with foreigners.

According to the cable from Beijing, Mr. Zheng revealed he was not really upset about the report but was just following orders.

“Last year I did this with your predecessor after the 2008 report was released, and now I get to do it again,” he was quoted in the cable as saying.

The cable also noted that, in setting up the meeting, Mr. Zheng told a U.S. official “we have to do this, let’s just get it out of the way so it will not be an issue when we are working on our leaders’ meeting.”

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

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