Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward has released another transcript of a recent White House strategy session, this one devoted to the looming Iran-Israel confrontation.
“My source,” Woodward said, “whom I refer to cryptically in my upcoming book as ‘Hillary,’ allowed me to listen to the tape, and the exchange below is accurately represented”:
OBAMA: Sooner or later, Iran’ll nuke Israel, Israel will retaliate, and the mess will distract me from socializing America. What to do? David?
AXELROD: Seize the initiative, sir: launch a preemptive nuclear strike on an Israeli city before Iran does. Israelis won’t have cause to vaporize Iran, saving millions of lives and denying Ahmadinejad and the mullahs their martyrdom.
OBAMA: Hmm… Strangelovian. A nuclear firebreak, risky but forestalling something far worse. And our bomb, unlike the Iranians’, would be clean, keeping casualties modest. George?
MITCHELL: The strike would embolden Iranian moderates, sir, and earn us goodwill on the Arab Street.
OBAMA: OK. SecDec, station relief ships in the Med to assist Israel immediately after the blast; we help our friends. State, you’ll warn Iran that we’ll regard interference with the relief effort as unhelpful.
HILLARY: The target city, sir?
OBAMA: Haifa? Beersheba? Leon, what do you think? Tel Aviv?
PANETTA: Um, if you say so, sir. Where can I reach Mr. Aviv?
MICHELLE: Still here? I need the Cabinet Room in five minutes for my Alinsky breakout session. You hear me, Barack?
Defense Secretary Robert Gates would neither confirm nor deny that Administration officials have discussed taking Israel out to advance the peace process. “I can’t speak to that,” Gates said. “I’m not the one with the ‘football.'”