December 19, 2011
Is it possible that the half-hour meeting last Friday at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, between U.S. President Barack Obama and Defense Minister Ehud Barkak will be remembered in Israel’s history as the moment at which Barack O. gave the green light to E. Barak – for better or for worse – to attack Iran? Can this be seen as a sort of flashback to the talk between Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig in Washington in May 1982, that gave rise to the (mistaken ) Israeli impression that there was an understanding with the United States over going to war in Lebanon?
Defense Minister Barak’s entourage was tight-lipped, on returning to Israel Sunday. In other words, it made no comment. Of course, the members of the delegation would only know what they heard from one side of the Obama-Barak meeting, but such a secret could not be disclosed, even in a whisper. At first, it would only be reported to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A meeting between an Israeli defense minister and a U.S. president can be held for three reasons: to convey to the president confidential military or diplomatic information; to try to convince the president to change his policy; or to obtain information to update the assessment of the chances that he has been convinced about making some move.