TEL AVIV – In a surprising policy paper, the Center for American Progress, or CAP, the so-called idea factory of the White House, expressed support under certain circumstances for an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if international negotiations eventually fail.
CAP was founded by John Podesta, who currently serves as President Obama’s senior adviser and White House counselor.
The think tank is known for its singular influence over the Obama administration, with many of its recommendations being utilized by the White House.
CAP’s visiting fellow, Shlomo Brom, authored a Nov. 17 CAP paper with a list of recommendation seven days before the now-passed Nov. 24 deadline for the conclusion of a deal between the P5+1 and Iran on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The deadline passed Monday, with the world powers agreeing to extend nuclear talks for seven months after comprehensive talks failed to produce a deal.
CAP’s report issued a list of recommendations for how the Obama administration should respond to the three most likely scenarios regarding talks with Iran: if a final deal was reached, if the talks failed or if an extension had been agreed upon.
While the CAP paper was addressing the already-passed Nov. 24 deadline, it is instructive to note CAP’s support for Israeli military strikes on Tehran’s nuclear facilities if the talks had ended in failure.
CAP’s thinking on the issue could give a glimpse into the Obama administration’s attitudes and future planning if the nuclear talks collapse after the seven-month extension.
If the talks had failed, the CAP suggested the Obama administration should prepare “for the greater probability of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.”
The think tank posited the U.S. “should not necessarily oppose an Israeli strike under certain circumstances.”
Continued the CAP paper: “First, a successful Israeli attack may allow the United States to avoid difficult decisions about intervening in Iran’s nuclear program.”
“Second, the current regional situation diminishes the odds of an Israeli attack developing into a wider regional conflict.”
CAP explained the Iranian-backed Hezbollah would find it difficult to retaliate against Israel since it has been bogged down in Syria fighting the insurgency targeting Bashar al-Assad’s regime there.
CAP believes Assad himself is “unlikely to divert precious military resources away from his own survival, even to retaliate on behalf of his benefactors in Tehran.”
The paper concluded that most probably Iran would be left alone “with a very limited capability to retaliate.”
Since Iran would “likely be aware of its limited space of maneuverability,” it could be more responsive to Israeli military threats, rendering “following through on those threats unnecessary.”
CAP’s support of Israeli military strikes contrasts sharply with the reported attitude of the Obama administration, which is widely portrayed in the news media as staunchly opposing any Israeli attacks on Iran.
A previous Time Magazine profile stated of CAP: “Not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway.”