The perception is that Israel is going through the stages of sanctions, etc., not with the idea or conviction that at the end, the other side will yield. If the purpose was to exert pressure to bring the other side to the table, the rhetoric should be different. […]
Obama has placed emphasis on negotiations. In this current election for the US presidency, his hands are tied. He cannot proceed, because he cannot appear soft on Israel’s security.
Negotiating with Iran is perceived as a sign of beginning to forsake Israel. That is where I think the basic difference is between Romney and Obama. What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war. Therefore when [he recently] said, he doesn’t think there should be a war with Iran, this does not ring true. It is not consistent with other things he has said. […]
Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere.
In the end, this is what I think: Making foreign policy on Iran a serious issue in the US elections — what Romney has done, in itself — is a heavy blow to the ultimate interests of the United States and Israel.
It is not as if, if he wins the election, and gets into the White House, he can back up. The Iranians are listening attentively to what he says. When he says, he would arm the opposition in Iran. They understand.
Al-Monitor: Are the Iranians paranoid the US policy is regime change, even as I don’t think for the Obama administration it is true?
Halevy: They are certainly convinced the policy [is regime change]. And that is not the only regime the US has problems with in the field of values. The regimes in Beijing, North Korea, Moscow […]
Romney has been very costly on Russia […] If you want to create a situation, where the only way to go about things is to go back to the Cold War, that is what is being done here. It’s very dangerous.
I don’t think the US public wants to go to another world war over values in this way. If it persists, it will be a slide down a very slippery slope.
It’s a question of concept. Where are we going in the 21st century? Are we going to try to propagate policies on the battlefields?
Al-Monitor: Beyond the heated US campaign rhetoric, what do you make of the wider perception that, even though Obama has actually used force quite a bit, and successfully oversaw the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, that he is perceived, or misperceived, as not wanting to use force, and the US is seen therefore as weak.
Halevy: I think nobody who has been involved in ordering the use of force can forget the angst, the days and nights of concern, as to what and how it can be done.
Romney has said, Anybody could have decided to finish bin Laden. Even [Jimmy] Carter. This again was a mistaken concept. President Obama didn’t just decide [one day to kill bin Laden]. The operation to end the life of bin Laden necessitated multiple points of decision by him. I know from operations I have been involved with on a smaller scale.
They are very intricate. You don’t just give the order and wait in your office for commanders to come three months later and say it’s done. No. This kind of operation, which is accident prone, hands on operation, one has to make one decision after the other […] It took courage and cool headedness and leadership. Anyone who says it was an easy thing to decide, doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. [Such comments] show a total lack of understanding of what this kind of operation means.
Once I was in charge of an operation and Netanyahu was Prime Minister. One day, because of the intricacy of what we were doing, I talked to him 10 times on the phone […] Ten times. It was a Friday, a day I will not forget.
This kind of operation, every minute, an issue comes up, that sometimes requires a decision on the political level.
The Libya story, the way it’s being used, is a sordid manipulation. […]