Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is attempting to pin US President Barack Obama into
a corner by demanding the US president delineate "little red lines"
which if passed would prompt US military action against Iran's nuclear
facilities, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta claimed Friday night.
In an interview with Foreign Policy's
National Security Channel, Panetta dismissed Netanyahu's engagement of
Obama on the issue of preemption, saying, "The fact is [that]
presidents of the United States, prime
ministers of Israel or any other country - leaders of these countries
don't have, you know, a bunch of little red lines that determine their
"What they have," Panetta asserted "are facts that are presented to them
about what a country is up to, and then they weigh what kind of action
is needed to be taken in order to deal with that situation. I mean,
that's the real world. Red lines are kind of political arguments that
are used to try to put people in a corner."
Despite the apparent friction between the US and Israel over Iran, Panetta dismissed
the notion of a rupture in relations between the two countries.
just say, when you have friends like Israel you engage in vigorous
debates about how you confront these issues," he said. "And that's
what's going on."
When asked about the ongoing protests
throughout the Middle East and North Africa over the the Innocence of Muslims
film, Panetta confirmed the US had upped its preparedness by positioning forces that could be deployed to as
many as 18 countries in the event they are needed to quell unrest.
said that the US is "paying particular attention" to a number of
countries in the region, where demonstrations erupted this week in
defiance of a US-based amateur movie which denigrated the Islamic
While Panetta admitted the region is
experiencing "convulsions" following last year's Arab Spring, and that
al-Qaida and other terrorist elements are trying to capitalize on the
resulting power vacuum, he nonetheless warned against discounting the
general shift towards democracy. "[O]ne demonstration of extremists," he
said, "any more than a Ku Klux Klan demonstration in the United States,
is not necessarily reflective of what the rest of the country feels."
respect to the attack on the US' mission
in Bengahzi, Libya, in which
Ambassador Chris Stevens, two former Navy SEALs, and a State Department
worker were killed, Panetta reiterated that authorities had yet to
identify the perpetrators. According to the defense secretary, "it's
something that's under assessment and under investigation, to determine
just exactly what happened here."
He conceded, however, that
al-Qaida has become more active in Libya and across North Africa, but
denied that this reality conflicts with his statement last year that the
terror group was nearing "strategic defeat."
"The al-Qaida that
attacked the United States of America on 9/11, we have gone after in a
big way," he said," but "we always knew that we would have to continue
to confront elements of extremism elsewhere as well."