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For Our Politicians, War With Iran Can’t Come Soon Enough

New book reports on missed opportunities for avoiding confrontation

It was quite a spectacle, that first week of March: the president of the United States, three of the four Republicans hopeful of taking his place, even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — all trooping to the annual conference at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “a hawkish, pro-Israel lobbying group” as The New York Times describes it, to pledge their undying support for Israel, each trying to outbid the other with prostrated pandering.

“We have now reached the point where the current Administration’s policies, however well- intentioned, are simply not enough”, Kentucky Republican McConnell said. Meaning, we should attack? Rick Santorum accused President Obama of yielding to Iran with “another appeasement, another delay, another opportunity for them to go forward while we talk.” Instead, we should attack? Newt Gingrich said, “In a Gingrich administration, we would not keep talking while the Iranians keep building. The red line is now”. Meaning, the planes just left the carrier deck?

“Already, there is too much loose talk of war,” said Mr. Obama in his own obligatory pilgrimage to AIPAC. “For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster”. Whereupon he did his own saber rattling, assuring the gathering that, “When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back” and “that includes all elements of American power…a political effort, a diplomatic effort, an economic effort, and yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency”.

What to make of the ritualistic AIPAC kowtow? The “Daily Show”’s Jon Stewart pretended to explain it to Iran:

“You've probably been hearing a lot of talk about America and bombs ...Are you familiar with Florida? It's a region in the South that we have filled with old Jews…and whoever wins it wins the presidency, and in Florida, they would like to bomb you … so the talk of war is not actually meant for you”.
In a news conference on super-Tuesday, Obama took the Republican candidates to task:

“Those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” he said. “They’re not commander in chief. When I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war... And, typically, it’s not the folks who are popping off who pay the price.”

Unheard in the thunder of war drums was the announcement by the United States and five other nations to accept a January offer by Iran to resume talks, with Iran willing to discuss its uranium enrichment program for the first time. Mr. Netanyahu argues that Iran should suspend uranium enrichment as a precondition to any talks; the White House says that would end the talks before they begin. Netanyahu believes that talks are only a delaying tactic while work on a bomb continues — just "running the clock", as he put it. If diplomacy and negotiations forced by sanctions are deemed useless by the Israeli prime minister, what else is there? Are we hearing that Israel’s decision to bomb has already been taken?

The sanctions, though, are taking a toll. Mehdi Khalaji, an Iranian journalist currently at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said on the PBS Newshour that the sanctions are quite unprecedented for targeting

“not only Revolutionary Guard and some factories and individuals associated with, but the whole economy; namely, the banking system and also oil trade. It really bites the regime. And one of the main concerns of the Islamic Republic is … that the political crisis becomes one of the side effects of the sanctions. That would be very hard for the regime to manage it, because they had a difficult time in 2009 in dealing wth post-election crisis.

You know that last month the country's currency was decreased to about half. So people are panicked. So, the country is really in trouble. And the number of factories that are shut down is just increasing more and more”.
He says, though, that supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei ”has a long record of uncompromising attitude”, and views the nuclear program as bound up with the

“destiny of Islamic Republic and any compromise on nuclear program would lead to a chain of compromises which ultimately target the existence of Islamic Republic. He believes that the West and Israel would never recognize the Islamic Republic, and if we give up now, we have to give up the whole regime.”

“Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons”, Mr. Netanyahu said in his speech at AIPAC. By insisting that it has the right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, but then refusing to allow open inspection access, Iran deserves all the pressure and suspicion that has been brought to bear, all the more so for recently announcing another impregnable facility carved out of a mountain near Qom for enriching uranium to 20%. What could that be for other than a military purpose?

But still, might that be the power threshold Iran is after: only the capability as a threat to hold over the region? And is that enough to justify a preemptive act of war with no proof that Iran intends to take the final step of building a bomb?

How naïve. It ignores Israel’s and the media’s constant reminder of what Ahmadinijad said in 2005, that he wanted to “wipe Israel off the map”?

Except he never said that. The idiom does not exist in Farsi, as Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan has tried repeatedly to point out. What Ahmadinijad said translates as “remove the regime from the pages of time”, citing the example of the Soviet regime’s collapse. In other words, regime change. Cole adds,

“He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse”.

That same fiction just showed up again in a Washington Post op-ed piece by Mitt Romney. He writes, “What’s more, Iran’s leaders openly call for the annihilation of the state of Israel”.

Still, even if Iran professed that it had gone no further than weapons capability, how could it be known what further might be taking place in those mountain caves?

The Obama Administration is convinced it would detect any attempt to produce a bomb. In this interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the President said Tehran “is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we know that they are making that attempt.” Satellites would detect use of the conventional explosives used to detonate the bomb, international inspectors would be sent home, and we have some degree of intelligence about Iran’s scientific community’s activities.

Mr. Netanyahu points out the U.S.’s dismal record in spotting weapons breakthroughs, most recently how little is known whether North Korea has a working bomb after two nuclear tests.

In their meeting, Mr. Obama did not advance beyond his long-held position that “all options are at the table.” Natnyanuhu reportedly would try to demand that the American President define the red lines that, once crossed, would trigger a U.S strike on Iran, but apparently did not cross that red line.

“A Single Roll of the Dice”, a new book by Trita Parsi, president of the Iranian-American Council, tells us it didn’t have to come to this. After the 2003 invasion that saw the U.S. overrun Iraq, the Iranians send the U.S. a letter offering negotiations on almost all issues of contention between the two countries. Iran admits its proxy dealings, agrees to stop support of Islamic jihad and Hamas, and offers full transparency of its nuclear program. But the Bush Administration, in its triumphalist mood, doesn’t even consider the offer. It believes it can get more if it pursues regime change in Iran. It worked in Iraq, didn’t it?

And it happened again. President Obama asked Brazil to see if it could resurrect a deal with Iran that had been offered by the U.S. in 2008 and 2009. We had offered to take Iran’s lower enriched uranium and transfer it to Russia, which would produce fuel pads for creating Iran’s medical isotopes. Teaming up with Turkey, in May of 2010, at the same time that the U.N. Security Council was considering sanctions, Brazil succeeded. But literally two days before, Russia and China had agreed to the sanctions. The Obama Administration opted for sanctions instead of the deal.

And he we are.

1 Comment for “For Our Politicians, War With Iran Can’t Come Soon Enough”

  1. So the Obama Admin. is going to know when Iran is developing a bomb before they make a move. Famous last words! Just ask the Shah.

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