All … Please be advised, a reader from Toronto correctly informed me that I made a serious error of fact in my last piece in Counterpunch, “Obama as Moral Dupe: Will Erdogan Blink?”
I stated that the threat to sink any Gaza aid ship or escorting warship carrying Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was made by Deputy of Staff Uzi Dayan. In fact, Dayan is not the currrent Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, but a former DCS. He is now a member of Likud Party in the Knesset. He is not a member of the Netanyahu government, however.
Therefore, the threat to sink any ship carrying Erdogan was not technically made by the Netanyahu government. However, given the fact that Dayan is a member in good standing of the Israeli generals club; the fact that being Moshe Dayan's nephew, he is a prominent member of the Israeli military aristocracy; and the facts that the Jerusalem Post and Army Radio are known mouthpieces for the Israeli Government, I suspect this threat was an exercise in “strategic ambiguity” to hype tensions in the hope of deterring the Erdogan government, while leaving the door open for the Netanyahu government to distance itself from the remarks, should that become necessary. It is also possible Dayan had domestic political reasons for making this statement. And, of course, he may have been a loose cannon.
Whatever the case, imagine a prominent US senator saying the US must take a military action that could kill the prime minister of a rival country, and the President taking no action to disavow those remarks. I have searched the internet to find a statement disavowing Dayan's comments by the Netanyahu government and found none to date.
I should have included wording to this effect — and paradoxically, I think a correction these lines would have made my argument stronger, because it is more illustrative of the kind of psychology at work in a march to a folly reminiscent of that in 1914.
Also, apropos the question of Erdogan blinking, the Turks do not seem deterred and on the contrary appear to be ratcheting up the pressure, if the following quotes attributed to Turkish President Gul in this Ha'aretz report are accurate.
“On Friday Turkish President Abdullah Gul told the French daily Le Monde that Israel must make amends to be forgiven for a commando assault on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, including apologizing for the attack and paying compensation.
Gul added that if Israel made no move to heal the rift, then Turkey could even decide to break diplomatic relations.
In an interview published on Friday, Gul said the Israeli attack at the end of May, which killed nine activists, was a “crime” which might have been carried out by the likes of al-Qaida rather than a sovereign state.
“It seems impossible to me to forgive or forget, unless there are some initiatives which could change the situation,” Gul was quoted as saying by Le Monde.
Asked what these might be, he said: “Firstly, to ask pardon and to establish some sort of compensation.” He added that he also wanted to see an independent inquiry into the botched raid and a discussion on lifting Israel's blockade of Gaza.”
In my opinion, statements like Dayan's and Gul's illustrate how this crisis could evolve in to a more serious crisis than the Cuban Missile Crisis. I say more serious, because in the Cuban crisis, both sides had militaries armed with nuclear weapons that we now know were controlled by rational civilian leaders, whereas in this crisis is inherently more unstable, because only one side has nuclear weapons, and that side's politics are dominated by the military, its political and military leaders have a belligerent history preemptive wars, and it has a national outlook that is governed by an increasingly disconnected sense of self-righteous victimhood that has, in Henry Siegman's words, lost its moral imagination. An the other side is equally stubborn and it senses it has the moral high ground. And the US is in this up to its neck, because it has tight connections to both sides of the quarrel.
Sorry for any confusion caused by my mistake.