“Quite frankly, the the iron hand in which the White House rules this building, they don’t sneeze here without waiting for the White House to say ‘gesundheit!’“ – Jim Miklaszewski [on “Morning Joe”]
WHAT IS going on beneath the >Wall Street Journal Pentagon drama? The quote from NBC’s veteran Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski this morning added as much context as the entire WSJ report.
A short snippet, which really isn’t close to telling the whole tale:
White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.
Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.
[…] The last straw for many U.S. diplomats came on Aug. 2 when they say Israeli officials leaked to the media that Mr. Netanyahu had told the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, that the Obama administration was “not to ever second-guess me again” about how to deal with Hamas.
The White House and State Department have sought to regain greater control over U.S.-Israeli policy. They decided to require White House and State Department approval for even routine munitions requests by Israel, officials say.
Instead of being handled as a military-to-military matter, each case is now subject to review—slowing the approval process and signaling to Israel that military assistance once taken for granted is now under closer scrutiny.
Whatever happened, it seems to include as a backdrop Prime Minister Netanyahu‘s confidence in the U.S. Congress giving Israel any support it needs, which means he’s pretty much ignoring President Obama altogether.
What that got Netanyahu is the draw strings closing on the Pentagon purse, sending a message to Israel that the commander in chief will decide what Israel gets, especially since the Administration isn’t so happy how they’re utilizing the armaments they are getting.
Somewhere between what Jim Miklaszewski paints inside the Pentagon, and the Wall Street Journal reporting, something happened, even if everyone, including Israel, is denying it.
The plot thickens and it includes an increasingly rough picture of the relationship between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government.
No wonder President Obama seems a little surly these days, his strongest supporters peevish. Between his poll numbers, a very rough midterm that’s a toss-up at best, not to mention Hillary Clinton telling truth to his power, it’s been a very rough summer for the President.