a key figure…

Posted on Tuesday 23 February 2010

I seem to be a single story blogger these days. I’ve been curious about Meir Dagan, Isreal’s spy chief since reading this in an earlier piece:
The tone of his directorship is set by a photograph on the wall of his modest office in the Tel Aviv headquarters. It shows an old Jew standing on the edge of a trench. An SS officer is aiming his rifle at the old man’s head. “This old Jew was my grandfather,” Dagan tells visitors. The picture reflects in a nutshell his philosophy of Jewish self-defence for survival. “We should be strong, use our brain, and defend ourselves so that the Holocaust will never be repeated,” he once said.
Were I Jewish, I think it would be hard not to translate the Holocaust into a framework for everything. We did the same thing from the other direction. We came home from World War II with a hero mentality that we have tried unsuccessfully to carry through some fairly poor choices for our military. American exceptionalism has run its course. Likewise, the Holocaust mentality of Israel has lost some of its power for the non-Jewish world:
Mossad chief seen as indispensable on Iran

By Leslie Susser
February 22, 2010

JERUSALEM [JTA] — Israel has not claimed responsibility for the assassination in Dubai of top Hamas arms smuggler Mahmoud Mabhouh, but the killing is raising questions about whether it will compromise Israel’s effort to stop Iran from obtaining the bomb. That’s because one of the key figures behind the effort, Mossad chief Meir Dagan, is coming under heavy criticism for the sloppy operation in Dubai.

Operating under the assumption that Israel was behind the Dubai hit, some Israeli analysts are calling for Dagan’s ouster. They say the Mossad has adopted an irresponsible, trigger-happy approach to fighting terrorism, and they point to the diplomatic imbroglio facing Israel for the use of fake British and Irish passports by members of the hit squad, who traveled under the names of European citizens now living in Israel. Dagan’s tenure at the Mossad is up for renewal at the end of the year.

Defenders of Dagan point to the long list of Mossad achievements in the war on terrorism and the campaign against Iran’s nuclear program, and argue that his tenure at the intelligency agency should be extended for an unprecedented fourth time. They insist that his knowledge of the Iranian theater is unmatched, and that as the clock reaches zero hour on the Iranian nuclear threat, his input will be invaluable – and not only for Israel.

Under Dagan, the Mossad has had just two priorities: delaying Iran’s nuclear program and counter-terrorism. "The list must be short. If we continue pretending we can do everything, in the end we won’t do anything," Dagan was quoted as saying when he was appointed by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2002. Sharon reportedly told Dagan to run the agency "with a knife between its teeth."

The main focus of his tenure has been Iran. Soon after Dagan took over the Mossad, the agency reportedly passed on information to the United States and others that the rogue Pakistani nuclear dealer Abdel Qadir Khan was helping the Iranians build a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz
They must be right about the Iran thing. This is a picture of Meir Dagan from an Iranian news service. I can’t read the words, but from the picture, I can guess it’s not flattering:
I understand that the Iranian Nuclear threat is real and needs careful attention, but I question having a such a person in that position. His parents were Holocaust survivors and his entire career has been as a warrior – soldier and undercover agent. It’s hard to imagine that he could make a transition from the spy-versus-spy mentality if such an opportunity were to present itself. There’s a saying about old soldiers that might well apply to Meir Dagan. If he retires, I’d suggest an identity change. If he stays, a bunker in an undisclosed location sounds like a good idea.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from the American Iraq misadventure. Dick Cheney came to the Vice Presidency with a fixed mind-set about Iraq – presumably building from his stint as Secretary of Defense during the First Gulf War. In the face of overwhelming evidence that he was wrong on a number of counts, he pressed us forward based with his unsustainable bias.

There will come a time when Israel’s fate will depend on making a change from rigid Zionism to a position requiring something other than paranoia. It is unlikely that that can happen with the likes of Meir Dagan as a key figure in the Israeli government [and the head of Mossad is a very key figure there.] No question that Mossad pulled off the Dubai operation with their usual competence, but at what cost? The unexpected competence of the Dubai police was equally impressive [human drones…]…

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