The New Iran Conspiracy Theorists

In response to the series of Iranian attacks in the Persian Gulf, former Obama-administration members joined others in outlandish speculation about the identity of the perpetrators, while accusing the Trump administration of seeking a casus belli against the Islamic Republic. Noah Rothman writes:

In the American Conservative, Gareth Porter wrote that the administration’s efforts to blame Iran [on the May 12 attacks on four ships] was “an intelligence deception comparable to the fraudulent pretense for war in Iraq.” . . . Senator Bernie Sanders likened the attack to the Gulf of Tonkin incident and insisted that the primary sources of tension in the region were “provocations on the part of the United States against Iran.”

One month later, American officials again blamed Iran for a bold daylight assault on two more tankers in the Gulf of Oman, releasing a detailed timeline of events and video evidence in support of the charge. . . . Barack Obama’s former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes contended that Donald Trump’s lack of credibility ensures that the U.S. is “isolated in trying to pin the blame on the Iranians,” which is untrue. “What is their motivation to be provocative with the Iranians?” Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointedly asked on Sunday. “Why of all the countries in the world did the president of the United States choose as his first country to visit Saudi Arabia?” She added, “Follow the money.”

Like most conspiracy theories, the notion that President Trump is spoiling for war in the Middle East is wholly resistant to contradictory evidence. . . . Despite Iran’s attacks, the president and his cabinet officials have continued to set conditions for direct diplomatic engagement with Iran. . . .

The pattern of escalation in the Persian Gulf suggests that Iran is not done testing America’s lack of resolve. Absent the U.S.’s imposing unendurable costs on Iran’s bellicose behavior, the next attack could be one that Washington simply cannot afford to ignore.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Iran, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Foreign policy


Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation