Gen. Dempsey puts Israel in its place: you attack Iran, you make things harder on all of us. Sec. Panetta and Lt. Gen. Clapper tell Israel the stakes: you attack Iran, you’ll at best buy two nuclear-free years. Meanwhile, Iran is sending signals that it’s willing to re-negotiate its nuclear program while still sounding bellicose noises about preempting an attack. The obvious conclusion is that Iran is rattled from economic sanctions and is trying to figure out how to respond. This isn’t exactly success — that would be a de-nuclearized Iran; or failing that, a contained Iran — but the indicators are all positive. When Dennis Ross says so, you can probably believe.

So what how do Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak respond?

Israel has protested to the United States over recent comments by senior American officials critical of any Israeli attack on Iran, saying this criticism “served Iran’s interests.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other senior officials made their displeasure known to Tom Donilon, U.S. national security adviser who has been in Israel this week.

It’s like they don’t accept any threshold for success short of smoking craters on Iranian soil. And they need American help to make those craters happen. It’s no wonder a man like Dempsey, who served several command tours in the Middle East, is willing to talk like a grown-up to Israel. Someone has to be the adult here.