Goldberg’s war drums

on 66 Comments

A few more takes on Goldberg’s piece that seeks to rationalize an attack on Iran. First, Trita Parsi at Salon says that the piece represents a "campaign for war":

It is important to note that the aim of this unfolding campaign may not be to pressure Obama into military action. It could just as much serve to portray Obama as weak and indecisive on national security issues that are of grave concern to the U.S. and that are of existential nature to Israel. This portrayal will give the Republicans valuable ammunition for the November congressional elections as well as for the 2012 presidential race.

…If Goldberg’s article is the starting salvo of a campaign that does not take into consideration the existential threat this [military action] constitutes to the Iranian pro-democracy movement, and that aims to push out Obama and push in a Republican president amenable to a U.S. war against Iran for the sake of avoiding an Israeli war against Iran, then the risk of war in the short term may not be as great as Goldberg claims.

But the long-term risk of a war that is boldly framed as a test of an American president’s commitment to Israel should not be easily dismissed.

At the Atlantic, Jim Fallows takes Goldberg’s side, concluding that he is not trying to mainstream the idea of war, then offers this line: "the magazine is meant to contain a lot of different views." I don’t think this is true, and in fact reflects the distorted frame that the mainstream has erected here, impressed by neoconservatives. Fallows offers Robert Kaplan’s piece in the Atlantic against war on Iran, but I’d point out that Kaplan is opposed to the realist-Arabist strain of thought in American foreign-policy that opposed Partition and has been revived today by realist opposition to Israeli expansion/sympathy for the Arab view of militarist Israel. Does the magazine ever contain this realist view? Let alone an antiwar/leftwing view? Remember that this magazine killed Walt and Mearsheimer’s bombshell piece on the Israel lobby that shockingly said there was not a "moral" reason to support Israel over Palestinians. 

I still haven’t read Goldberg’s piece, but very few people read it as Fallows does. The two experts on the PBS News Hour last night, for instance, regard it as a predicate for war.

MARGARET WARNER: But when you talked about the drumbeat of war that has been out in the air, what are you referring to, briefly?

ROBIN WRIGHT: Well, "The Atlantic Monthly" has a piece. There have been a number of columns —

MARGARET WARNER: About the thinking in Israel?

ROBIN WRIGHT: The thinking in Israel and the point of no return, and have we already crossed the threshold? That Israel believes that if nothing is done, it will have to strike, and it’s basically pressuring the United States also to consider taking military action. And I don’t think — I think that’s jumping the gun by a year or more.

RAY TAKEYH: I have heard from Israelis that this is an existential threat and this summer is the last summer. That was 2004, 2005, and now it’s next summer. And next summer it will be the following summer.

So I don’t actually believe that there is going to be an Israeli war. I think Israelis are risking one danger. By continually talking about existential threats and red lines, and not following through, they are increasingly facing a potential credibility crisis.

Also at, Gareth Porter suggests that Goldberg as a neoconservative tool is working to convey Israel’s bluff to the U.S., to manipulate the U.S.

Israel clearly cannot afford to risk a war with Iran without the assurance that the United States being committed to participate in it. That is why the Israeli lobby in Washington and its allies argue that Obama should support an Israeli strike, which would mean that he would have to attack Iran with full force if it retaliates against such an Israeli strike. 

The knowledge that Israel could not attack Iran without U.S. consent makes Israeli officials extremely sensitive about the possibility that Obama would explicitly reject an Israeli strike.

Goldberg reports that "several Israeli officials" told him they were worried that U.S. intelligence might learn about Israeli plans to strike Iran "hours" before the scheduled launch. 

The officials told Goldberg that if Obama were to say, "We know what you’re doing. Stop immediately," Israel might have to back down. 

Goldberg alludes only vaguely to the possibility that the threat of an attack on Iran is a strategy designed to manipulate both Iran and the United States. In a March 2009 article in The Atlantic online, however, he was more straightforward, conceding that the Netanyahu threat to strike Iran if the United States failed to stop the Iranian nuclear program could be a "tremendous bluff."

66 Responses

  1. potsherd
    August 14, 2010, 10:46 am

    Parsi has an excellent point about the Republican positioning on this issue, and there are a lot of Democrats who are going to have to choose between their own party’s future and a foreign government.

    • Citizen
      August 14, 2010, 11:03 am

      The Democratic party presently depends on at least 40% Israel First donations. What will they choose? I’d say, to one-up the Republicans on backing Israel’s POV right or wrong. Obama’s goose is already cooked.

      • DICKERSON3870
        August 14, 2010, 1:13 pm

        RE: “…Obama’s goose is already cooked…” – Citizen
        MY COMMENT: I have been pondering whether such a big loss for the Democrats this November might be quite liberating for Obama. He might just realize that he cannot possibly hope for any cooperation from the new Congress, and foreign policy will be the only way left for him to “leave his mark”. Think ‘Nixon going to China’.

      • potsherd
        August 14, 2010, 4:48 pm

        The truly liberating thing for Obama would be to realize he has no chance of re-election. No politician with election on his mind can possibly be honest.

      • Psychopathic god
        August 14, 2010, 9:46 pm

        Dickerson, for some time now the Leveretts have been pressing the case for Obama to model Nixon going to China as his policy toward Iran. link to

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 8:02 am

        So who’d be Obama’s Kissinger? Freeman’s been castrated. I don’t see Obama producing, in effect, a done deal opening up relations with Iran. All he does is make dramatic principled statements and then back off them. Yet there is a case to be made, based on MAD philosophy. Obama’s never hinted publically about the irony inherent in Israel making demands agaomst Iran based on the NPT while simultaneously choosing not to sign the NPT itself.

  2. Kathleen
    August 14, 2010, 10:59 am

    The one thing that I have been noticing is that some are trying to spin this excelerated pressure to take more aggressive actions towards Iran as new? Just after the immoral and illegal invasion of Iraq Reuel Marc Gerecht (on the Diane Rehm show etc), Micheal Ledeen, Cheney, John Bolton (numerous times on Talk of the Nation) John McCain and many others who lied this nation into Iraq started repeating the “Iran has nuclear weapons” chorus everywhere they could. I heard this repeated on so many news outlets I quit counting. David Gregory, Stephanapoulous, Bob Schiefer, Chris Matthews, Neil Conan, Diane Rehm etc allowed unsubstantiated claims about Irans alleged nuclear weapons program to be repeated with NO CHALLENGES. The other debunked statement that all of these talking heads along with Rachel Maddow, have not only allowed to be repeated is that misinterpreted “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map” hooey. I even heard RAchel and Scott Simon say it.

    Hell NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross not only allowed these unsubstantiated and inflammatory statements to be repeated. Terry has endlessly repeated them herself.

    The stage has been set. Over 50% of the American public believe that Iran all ready possesses nuclear weapons.

    And we can be sure that House Resolution 1553 will most likely come up for a vote just before the fall election. The either you are with us against Iran or against us vote.

    • MRW
      August 14, 2010, 2:25 pm

      I want to highlight what you wrote, Kathleen, because it is damned important. And infuriating:

      David Gregory, Stephanapoulous, Bob Schiefer, Chris Matthews, Neil Conan, Diane Rehm etc allowed unsubstantiated claims about Irans alleged nuclear weapons program to be repeated with NO CHALLENGES. The other debunked statement that all of these talking heads along with Rachel Maddow, have not only allowed to be repeated is that misinterpreted “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map” hooey. I even heard RAchel and Scott Simon say it.

      The Gallup poll says that the national trust in Newspapers and TV News now averages 25%, with the 30 yr old to 49 yr old crowd registering 16%.
      link to

      Serves them right. I doubt I would have become the information junkie I have become without the lies the NYT spread about the Iraq War. I was driven to source so many of their articles and, frankly, the amount of time required to do it infuriated me. I just wish there was some mechanism that worked to let these civic betrayers know.

      • Psychopathic god
        August 14, 2010, 10:03 pm

        C Span should be included as one of the most egregious offenders in the demonize Iran campaign. C Span is trusted, like Colin Powell was trusted. When C Span allows guests to say, “Iran should be bombed,” without challenging the guest, or allows guests to say patently untrue things about Iran without probing the truth value of the statements, and when C Span’s morning news brief consistently features some negative item about Iran, a pattern begins to emerge, of C Span at best engaging in very sloppy and biased journalism, at worst, affirmatively pushing an anti-Iran agenda.

        Today, on Wash. Journal, Pedro Ecchevaria permitted a guest to place Iran in the same category as Japan, and to suggest that Iran should be bombed.
        Here are the caller’s words. (Notice how ‘our’ people are “precious;” ‘their’ people are expendable.) “Consider Truman’s dilemma, whether to send in a million young precious people into Japan or to drop the bombs, versus Obama now facing a nuclear Iran. Do we go ahead and bomb them, obviously with conventional bombs, and who knows whether we would be saving 5 million people in Israel or in Saudi Arabia because Iran could go ahead in a fanatical big finale and drop the bomb on one of their neighboring countries.”

        There are so many misjudgments and wrong facts in that brief statement that it’s hard to know where to start. But each lie has been repeated and repeated by Israeli and US government officials, and echoed by mainstream media, so that ordinary purveyors of news think they are speaking truth.

        This is an extremely dangerous situation.

        How can it be that anonymous commenters on a blog like this must submit to moderation, while our elected leaders can advocate for killing innocent civilian Iranians (Brad Sherman — YOU) and the people of the United States are not outraged.

      • RoHa
        August 14, 2010, 11:20 pm

        “who knows whether we would be saving 5 million people in Israel or in Saudi Arabia because Iran could go ahead in a fanatical big finale and drop the bomb on one of their neighboring countries.”

        “We” do not know whether “we” sould be saving anyone, because “we” do not know that even a nuclear-armed Iran will attack anyone. There is no certainty of anyone getting killed.

        “We” do know that if “we” bomb Iran now “we” will be killing lots of Iranians. There is certainty that people will get killed.

        This is why preventative war is excluded under Just War theory.

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 8:18 am

        Those people you refer to are busy castigating Obama for his statement supporting the First Amendment in behalf those US citizens practicing the Muslim religion (a la his Cairo speech, Obama has now retracted his blanket support for the mosque “near” (2 blocks away) GZ). You can give them details galore connecting the zionist dittoheads’ drumbeat for war on Iran (by those who had drummed for war on Iraq) and your message just bounces off them because Sharia Iran is the new Islamofascist boogieman and the Arab terrorists need to be fought “over there” so we don’t have to “fight them over here.”

      • lysias
        August 15, 2010, 8:54 am

        I stopped listening to C-SPAN Radio three or four years ago, after it became apparent that they were still giving far too much air time to neocons even after they had become discredited and unpopular.

        I wonder what Brian Lamb thinks of what has become of C-SPAN.

    • traintosiberia
      August 14, 2010, 4:48 pm

      I remeber the result of a poll back in 2006 done on US poulation regarding poular suport for attacks on Iran.The result was a meagre 6% of the people polled.
      By 2008 and 2009 and then by 2010 the number have steadily move up to a whooping above 50%.
      What has changed since then in Iran?
      Other than an election in 2009 and a positive arbitration by Brazil and Turkey ,nothing has .
      But a vast range of different cabals connected at different swithches have managed the treasury,pentagon,administartion through the “main server”, that is the media have whipped up the hysteria.
      When dust settles these offsprings of incestous realtionship between money and media will be payinga heavy price.It wont be Iranian who will exact this price.It will be commonfolks in US.

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 8:24 am

        Oh, you mean the price will be exacted by the homeless and dead in uniform? Those commonfolk? The commonfolk never have any say at all in US foreign policy. They do get to repeat the lies drummed into them incessantly by the likes of Krauthammer, who has more legs than all of them combined.

    • potsherd
      August 14, 2010, 4:50 pm

      I don’t know why people keep assuming that Rachel Maddow is some kind of progressive on Israel, or that she would ever take an honest position. Maddow is a Zionist. Period. Her progressivism extends only to issues with which she is personally involved. Gay marriage? Of course. Justice for Palestine? Huh?

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 8:26 am

        Aw come on, she did buy her mom a cute Afghanini place rug, and she even fired off a couple of shots with an M16. Her vaguely Arabic ensemble was cute too.

    • Antidote
      August 15, 2010, 7:01 am

      Meanwhile, in the UK, Cameron runs into major criticism for ‘misspeaking’ on Iran’s nuclear weapons:

      link to

  3. annie
    August 14, 2010, 11:24 am

    i’m w/garth porter. i think we’re in phase called ‘softening the target’, the target being us.

    • annie
      August 14, 2010, 12:07 pm

      i wrote that prior to reading parsi’s excellent article. i think the campaign is to push this further into the american discourse.

      Indeed, the likely political motivation for this unfolding campaign should not be underestimated. Just as much that the building blocks of the Iraq war were put into place under the Clinton years — most importantly with the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 — serious preparation for selling an Iran war to the American public under a Republican president (Palin?) in 2013 must be undertaken now, both to establish the narrative for that sell and to use the narrative to remove any obstacles in the White House along the way.

      the atlantic may wants more vigorous conversation but the parameters of that conversation are limited.

  4. MHughes976
    August 14, 2010, 12:24 pm

    I would pay much attention to Ray Takeyh’s remarks, which do remind us how long these apparent threats have been around. He’s right that Israel faces a credibility crisis, which will interact with the legitimacy crisis. Well, crisis is a strong word, it’s more like a slow but steady erosion.

    • Shingo
      August 14, 2010, 8:57 pm

      “Well, crisis is a strong word, it’s more like a slow but steady erosion.”

      I don’t think it’s pver stating it M. Israel has been in a permanent state of chrisis since 1948.

    • Antidote
      August 15, 2010, 7:09 am

      Actually, the Iranian threat has been cited by Israel much longer than Takeyh’s remarks reveal. Here is Haggai Ram, in an interview on Islamophobia (which I already posted several times)

      “I play this game with my students. We went to the newspaper archives to look for stories about Iran’s nuclear capabilities since 1979. And they’ve come up with a very interesting finding – that since the 1990s there are reports in the Israeli press that within a year or two years Iran will have had nuclear weapon capabilities. In 1990 they said it will happen in 1993, then 1995, 1997 and so on. This is just a continuation of the same game. I will tell you a best case scenario and a worst case scenario. The worst case scenario would be that Israel with the support of the United States or without it, goes and attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities. That would be catastrophic, especially now when the regime in Iran is increasingly losing its legitimacy and its hold over the restive population. If that scenario materializes, Iran will use it to unite forces at home and Iran even more than Iraq will have the capability of hurting Israel with its missiles. An Israeli strike against Iran is possible, it would have horrendous consequences for Israel in particular and the Middle East in general. This is something that I am very, very worried about. As an Israeli, I have seen my leaders many times taking very irrational decisions, which had very negative effects on Israel. The best case scenario would be to recognize that Iran has thus far not really acted outside of the NPT, Whatever Iran has been doing up till now has been in accord with the NPT. This is something which we cannot say about Israel. Israel has the largest nuclear arsenal in the Middle East. If it were not for this arsenal, perhaps Iran would not feel the need to have a nuclear arsenal for itself. So the very fact that Israel has a nuclear arsenal has a very destabilizing effect on the Middle East. This is a destabilizing factor that not too many people would like to mention. The best thing for Israel to do would be to call for a universal nuclear disarmament, including Israel, which is not a signatory state to the NPT.”

  5. marc b.
    August 14, 2010, 12:39 pm

    on a conspiratorial note, the skeletons in the closet of that dope Palin are more assuredly locked away safely after T. Stevens bit it in a recent plane crash. Pres. Palin would be nuts enough to ‘do’ Iran.

    • Philip Munger
      August 14, 2010, 6:54 pm

      Having known Palin now for almost 20 years, I’ve got to protest re Palin’s “skeletons in the closet.”

      They are pretty much out there, for any real investigative reporter to either resuscitate or delve into further. The “lamestream media,” one of Palin’s terms I agree with, though not for her reasons, has all along failed to picture Palin to the country in terms that do her dishonesty due credit. Ted Stevens’ demise has nothing to do with their unwillingness to finish her off, nor could it somehow lock away anything having to do with Palin. I’m not at all sure what you meant by linking Palin to Stevens. Could you be more clear?

      As many bloggers, from Andrew Sullivan all the way down to me have discovered, covering Palin increases hits more than any other politician in the history of the worldwide web.

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 8:34 am

        What’s not to like, a crisp sexy lady who shoots grizzli bears, all the while thanking the Lord for her sharpshooter aim? She’s better than Dan Quayle, yes? See her skirt.

      • marc b.
        August 16, 2010, 9:41 am

        i have no special insight, but i disagree with your assessment. as a general principle, no one passes into the office of the presidency without being hopelessly compromised. it just wouldn’t do to have a president not subject to blackmail on some level. i think that she will be the next president, which is truly frightening.

  6. traintosiberia
    August 14, 2010, 6:26 pm

    “U.S. Is Bankrupt and We Don’t Even Know It: Laurence Kotlik , he is a professor of economics at Boston University“-

    Either this should prevent anymore trip by Pentagon, or if taken , would unleash 1917 Russian upheaval on a grander scale.

    • Citizen
      August 15, 2010, 8:40 am

      The only thing that may prevent war on Iran is our investment banker, China. Israel already sees this clearly and is working hard to convince
      China it only looks too risky and will pay giant dividends, of special note, the rise of China as the new superpower. Zionists have a history of coopting powerful regimes, and exchanging them whenever needed.

  7. wondering jew
    August 14, 2010, 10:35 pm

    I don’t think Israel should attack Iran.

    I think America’s decision to attack or not should be made by five people:
    Obama, Gates, Hillary, Biden and Mullen. Or better yet by two people: Gates and Mullen.

    I have not heard a single voice on this blog voice any worry about Iran getting the bomb, as if it’s a positive thing. It’s not. I have not heard a single voice on this blog voice any objection to the rulers of the government of Iran. That is apparently the job for others, this blog is here for balance, to attack Israel and not the rulers of Tehran.

    • RoHa
      August 15, 2010, 1:37 am

      I do not worry about Iran getting the bomb because I see no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme. The people who have spent the last ten years or so telling us that Iran is a year ot two away from having the bomb are the same people who lied to us about Iraq. Why think that they are telling the truth now?

      Iran is a signatory to the NPT, and seems to be pretty much abiding by the rules. Indeed, Iran was prepared to go beyond the rules and make a nuclear swap deal of the type that the U.S. has been demanding. The U.S. changed its mind, and now wants something else.

      Iran is not threatening its neighbours, though it did give some initial assistance to the U.S. against the Taliban.

      I do strongly object to the Iranian government’s treatment of the Baha’is.

    • Chaos4700
      August 15, 2010, 2:01 am

      So what are you going to do, WJ, if (when?) Israel attacks Iran? What are you going to say? You live there.

      Consider this your lead time to think up an answer to that. Might be a better way to spend your time then attacking us verbally.

    • Rowan
      August 15, 2010, 2:10 am

      Mr or Ms Wondering Jew, whether anybody approves or not of the possibility of Iran “getting the bomb” is besides the point. The USA neither owns nor controls the world. For various reasons, not least the perspectival skew caused by pervasive zionist influence, the US has never come anywhere near to comprehending the dynamics of western Asia. It has however spent fifty years or so destroying all progressive, secularist and progressive nationalist forces throughout the continent. As a result, anti-imperialism there has taken a sort of neo-feudal religious form. But the US and its allies cannot blow all this anti-imperialism away except by reducing the continent to radioactive wasteland. Talking of which, Bonkers Bolton has told Fox that Israel must attack Iran within the next six days, or before the Buhshehr reactor is loaded up, which is scheduled for the 21st inst. What a laugh, eh.

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 11:11 am

        Bonkers Bolton. LOL. How true.

    • Shingo
      August 15, 2010, 3:13 am

      “I have not heard a single voice on this blog voice any worry about Iran getting the bomb, as if it’s a positive thing.”

      That would be:

      a) because there is not a single piece of evidence produced that Iran is gettign the bomb and
      b) it would be no worse that Israel having the bomb. Even Ehud Barak admits that.

      “I have not heard a single voice on this blog voice any objection to the rulers of the government of Iran.”

      Unlike the lunatics in Tel Aiviv, who are hell bent ion starting WWIII, the government of Iran is of no consequence to the world. Iran has not attacked on ivanded anyone in 270 years.

      Like Clinton said, Iran is no threat to the US.

      “That is apparently the job for others, this blog is here for balance, to attack Israel and not the rulers of Tehran.”

      Israel is threatening to attack Tehran, not the other way around.

    • traintosiberia
      August 15, 2010, 6:43 am

      Who are we to sermonize on Iran regarding the natue of the Governemnt or the persuit of neuclear power by Iran?

      We should look into US policy vs Vietnam -“As for Vietnam, the U.S.-Vietnamese nuclear deal currently in the works is extremely important for America’s East Asia policy. Obama cannot afford to have the public and especially Congress turn against this initiative because of its close resemblance to the Iran situation.
      In short, Vietnam is being offered the same deal as Iran but with one major proviso: Vietnam can purchase fuel and equipment from the United States for its nuclear power plants, which will help revive the U.S. nuclear industry. However, Vietnam is reluctant to pledge not to enrich uranium on its own, just like Iran. Negotiations have lasted over a decade”
      link to

      We fought Vietnam for 9 years and placed restriction for another 20 years. We blamed Vietnam for all kinds of human right/religious right violations until now. It seems it suits US interest , US can bend its own rule when that suits him. US placed trade restriction on India following 1998 neuclear test and now we are providing with most assisstances in neuclear technology despite the poor human right record,war with neighbours,and continued safety issues .We are doing for business and supposedly as an investmnet against China’s military . Didn’t we do same in Iraq against Iran destabilizng the whole region? same applies to the tension between Vietnam and china. How on earth , a policy based on same “economic and miliatry intersts” could be embraced as a reasonable and accecptable behavior when the consequences could be rising tension and friction in the region?
      It has been established that Iran does not have bomb and has not diversified any material for bomb. So why do we raise that issue? We do it for we want to punish Iran for disobedience over Israel.

      Your reference to Isarel has been raised on this blog before. We can rehash the same material for better digestion. Israel gets away with its corrupting of US policy,with its murders,with its bending of Int. rules and disregard of UN resolutions. Iran does not.

      Balance on this sissue means to remind us that the truth in regard to Iran is not even addressed by the US media.Reminding same thing over and over again will continue from our side as long as warmongers repeats the lies over Iranians ad hominem.

    • potsherd
      August 15, 2010, 7:41 am

      What good does it do to attack the rulers of Iran? It is a tactic of the neocon warmongers. “Iran kills women with stones, so we’ll kill them with bombs, instead.”

      If there were some reasonable chance that Iran would be planning to make and aggressively use a bomb, there would be a reason to criticize it. But no sane person credits this as at all probable.

      There is one, single, huge and inescapable fact: Israel is a nuclear threat to Iran, Iran is not a nuclear threat to Israel. Given the violence of the Israeli threat, nothing is more reasonable than that Iran would want a strong defense, possibly including the bomb.

      If there is one thing that contributes to extremism in Iran, it is the constant pressure from outside. If Israelis, those sensitive flowers, feel beleagured and defensive because of criticism, what must Iranians feel when under constant threat of attack and “crippling sanctions” organized by the Zionist enemy?

      The motive of those who agitate for criticism of Iran is by no means the improvement of life in Iran, but demonization of the regime so as to justify an attack on it.

      • Antidote
        August 15, 2010, 9:09 am

        Also: when and where has a military attack ever effected a regime change, rather than have the opposite effect? IF anything, Churchill’s strategy to bomb the Germans until they change their government strengthened support for the Nazis, and he may have gathered that much from the British reaction to the ‘Blitz’. Not to mention Afghanistan and the Taliban. The point has frequently been made that the mullahs may indeed welcome an Israeli/US attack for precisely this reason: to solidify national support, to discredit any sympathies for ‘Western’ civilization/democracy. If nothing else, it would boost the case for acquiring nuclear weapons.

      • RoHa
        August 15, 2010, 7:46 pm

        “when and where has a military attack ever effected a regime change,”

        Attack or defeat? The regime in Argentina collapsed when British ships arrived and dumped Argentine POWs on the shore.

      • wondering jew
        August 15, 2010, 9:34 am

        There is no question that demonization of the Iran regime is being used and will be used to justify an attack. Nonetheless there is a purpose to be served by a clear eyed look at what that regime is. Because some people (nobody here apparently) are capable of seeing the Iran regime for what it is and still opposing an attack.

      • Psychopathic god
        August 15, 2010, 10:49 am

        there is nothing an hasbarist fears more than a “clear eyed look” at Iran’s “regime” (those of us, and I count myself one, who have such a clear eyed view call Iran’s government a government, not a regime).

        The world is hyperventilating that a woman in Iran has been sentenced to be stoned to death.
        This hugely emotionalized issue has been used to inflame the passions and cloud all other “clear eyed” understanding of Iran. Somehow, the fact that a woman may be stoned to death in Iran legitimizes Israel’s ACTUAL execution-style killing of an American citizen, Furkan Dogan; Israel’s ACTUAL death-by-bulldozer killing of another US citizen, Rachel Corrie; the wounding of at least two other US citizens, Tristan Anderson and Emily Henochewicz.

        Demonizing Iran’s regime occludes clear eyed assessment of these statistics:
        approx 100,000 persons are imprisoned in Iran, .0014 of Iran’s population;
        approx 2 million persons are imprisoned in USA, .0066 of US population, almost five times as many as Iran.
        approx 11,000 persons are illegally detained in Israeli prisons, .0022 of Israel’s population, more than one-and-a-half times as many persons (proportionally) than are imprisoned in Iran.

        The Iranian government has submitted its nuclear facilities to intrusive IAEA inspections; IAEA cameras are installed in every Iranian facility that has nuclear material. More information is known and regularly disclosed about Iran’s nuclear technology than about any other nuclear power in the world.
        The government of Iran has cooperated with Turkey and Brazil in a nuclear deal, and has indicated its willingness to negotiate with the US if the US will negotiate in good faith.
        Iran’s government enforces repressive dress- and behavior-codes on its population.
        Iran’s government and many Iranian Muslims are staunchly supportive of Palestinian resistance to Israeli repression and occupation. To that end, Iran has funded groups that resist Israel’s forces, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran also funds Lebanese reconstruction projects, has or is funding the construction and staffing of hospitals and other municipal facilities in Lebanon and Palestine.
        Iran has close relationships with Shiite parties in Iraq and is deeply involved in reconstruction activities in Iraq.
        Iran has close ties with Afghanis, to whom Iran is culturally, historically, and geographically related.
        Iran has been accused of supplying IEDs that have killed US troops and others in Iraq and Afghanistan. No compelling evidence has been presented to support the claim, but it is not at all unlikely that private Iranian weapons suppliers as well as some government-related entities have engaged in either for-profit or hostile actions toward either Iraqi adversaries or US occupiers.

        You need more clear eyed?

        Consider what one sees from another clear eyed assessment:

        Israel refuses to even acknowledge the existence of its nuclear weapons; Israel deceived US inspectors who examined Israeli nuclear sites;
        Israel has used its nuclear weapons to extract important military advantages from the West, at the expense of the West;
        Israel maintains under house arrest and gag a whistleblower who disclosed the existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal;
        Israel forbids discussion of its nuclear “Third Temple” project — Abraham Cohen was more or less banished from Israel to the US because he wrote about Israel’s nukes.
        Israel’s government is on record stating that its leader acted in bad faith when he entered into deals to resolve the most intractable problem of the past 45 years in the entire ME: the matter of a sovereign state for Palestinians.
        Israel has attacked neighbor states on slim or trumped up ‘provocation;’ in the course of those attacks,
        Israel has used internationally sanctioned weapons such as flechettes, DIMEs, cluster bombs, and white phosphorus.

        facts, wj. clear eyed facts.

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 11:16 am

        We Americans don’t have our full weight behind the Iran regime as we do behind Israel. In fact, we’ve been trying to drag Iran down. Accordingly, the purpose of this blog is to cast a clear eye at what the Israeli regime (which we’ve been supporting) is. You turn reality upside down.

      • potsherd
        August 15, 2010, 12:21 pm

        What is it, WJ, will no one produce the ritual denunciation you are fishing for? If everyone says in unison: “Iran is ruled by nasty ayatollahs” will you be happy?

    • Citizen
      August 15, 2010, 8:51 am

      When’s the last time Iran initiated an attack on any country? Who’s troops, weapons, ships are deployed all around Iran on neighboring lands? Who is constantly threatening Iran and boycotting it in every way possible with no thought but to pressure Iran more? Iran has nothing to gain by attacking anyone, but plenty to gain by defending itself against an attack by Israel and/or the USA. Gates and Mullen are lackeys. BTW, this blog is here for balance; it’s a samisdat blog. Not the other way around.

    • LeaNder
      August 15, 2010, 8:56 am

      I have not heard a single voice on this blog voice any objection to the rulers of the government of Iran.

      That’s your subjective impression but far from the truth. We have almost opposite positions on the subject, especially concerning Ahmadinejad and the mindset that supports him. But we all seem to agree that another war against Iran is absolutely crazy and very dangerous for us all (for Israel too).


      Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States

      A nation is “a group of people … held together by a common enemy.” (Herzl) ? No, it’s not 1938 it’s 2010.

      • wondering jew
        August 15, 2010, 5:13 pm

        Leander- Thanks for the links.

    • LeaNder
      August 15, 2010, 9:21 am

      Not sure what you have in mind when you write only Gates and Mullen should decide on the issue, but I’d suggest you read this to the end:

      Any attack on Iran would not end well
      via Patrick Lang. It’s not his or other contributors first post on the issue.

      When Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking American officer, was asked recently on NBC’s Meet the Press whether the U.S. has a military plan for an attack on Iran, he replied: “We do.”

      General staffs are supposed to plan for even the most unlikely contingencies. But what the planning process will have revealed is that there is no way for the United States to win a non-nuclear war with Iran.

      The U.S. could “win” by dropping hundreds of nuclear weapons on Iran’s military bases, nuclear facilities and industrial centers (i.e. cities) and killing 5 million to 10 million people, but short of that, nothing works. On this, we have the word of Richard Clarke, counterterrorism adviser in the White House under three administrations.

      Clarke revealed to The New York Times four years ago that, in the early 1990s, the Clinton administration had considered seriously a bombing campaign against Iran, but the military professionals told them not to do it.

      The Pentagon’s planners have conducted war games to model an attack on Iran several times in the past 15 years, and they just can’t make it come out as a U.S. victory.

      There’s nothing the U.S. can do to Iran, short of nuking the place, that would force Tehran to kneel and beg for mercy. It can bomb Iran’s nuclear sites and military installations to its heart’s content, but everything it destroys can be rebuilt in a few years.

      And there is no way that the United States could invade Iran. There are some 80 million people in Iran, and although many of them don’t like the present regime, almost all are fervent patriots who would resist invasion. Iran is a mountainous country four times the size of Iraq. The Iranian army is slightly smaller than the U.S. Army. But unlike the U.S. Army, its troops are not scattered across literally dozens of countries.

  8. SkepticalHumanist
    August 15, 2010, 1:58 am

    As long as Israel threatens and lobbies to have iran bombed, iran has every right to arm itself to prevent such belligerent and unwanted preventive wars of aggression.

    furthermore, the ME will be a much safer place with a nuclear balance of power. As long as a sociopathic israel runs amok knowing it can act as the neighborhood bully with no consequences, Muslim blood will be shed on the whims of zionist zealots and military industrialists.

    but that’s assuming iran is weaponizing nuclear weapons, when most of the evidence points to the contrary.

  9. annie
    August 15, 2010, 6:34 am

    this blog is here for balance, to attack Israel and not the rulers of Tehran.

    you want balance?

    i don’t think iran should attack israel.

    I think America’s decision to attack israel or not should be made by five people:
    Obama, Gates, Hillary, Biden and Mullen. Or better yet by two people: Gates and Mullen.

    I have not heard you voice any worry about israel getting the bomb, as if it’s a positive thing. It’s not.

    the reason this conversation is not balanced is because the situation is not balanced. we aren’t funding iran’s military supremacy in the region as we are israel’s. our pundits and msm are not hammering us to bomb israel to get them to comply to international law, nor is our government imposing sanctions on israel. this blog is hosting a front page article right now representing a peace group “concerned with what the majority of Jewish Israeli’s think” suggesting bds might hurt the feelings of population of israel and therefore not somehow persuade them to make peace. (note the population of israel doesn’t appear to let the ‘feelings of palestinians’ stop their colonialist agenda ).

    so, we’ve got the US gov, aipac, the msm and all their pundits, the christian fundie groups and the whole right wing noise machine yammering to support israel not bomb it into compliance. on the opposite side we have one twisted (debated till ad nauseum) alleged years old statement the prez of iran wants to wipe israel off the map. and you want balance? maybe phil and adam have been remiss on not posting a front page article on how bombing iran might hurt the feelings of iranians and therefore would not persuade them, or something. balance? this is not the new york times, this is a blog. you’re our balance. look on the bright side, no one here is advocating we bomb israel. israel already has nukes, where’s your worry about that?


    • Citizen
      August 15, 2010, 11:20 am

      Nicely said, annie.

    • potsherd
      August 15, 2010, 12:24 pm

      I would say everyone posting here probably agrees that we do not wish Iran to attack Israel.

      Will this satisfy WJ? Is this what he wants?

    • Antidote
      August 15, 2010, 12:51 pm

      completely agree with your entire post, annie.

      This is, by the way, the same false dilemma Bush utilized to rally support for the ‘war on terror’: you’re either with us or against us (i.e. for the ‘terrorists’)

      Most sane people would naturally be both against bombing/destroying Iran, and bombing/destroying Israel. So why the persistent (paranoid?) insinuation that whoever doesn’t want to bomb Iran must necessarily be in favor of (Iran or whoever) bombing Israel? Makes no sense whatsoever

  10. potsherd
    August 15, 2010, 7:45 am

    Juan Cole weighs in on Cpl Goldberg today: link to

    He makes an intriguing point, that the neocons have the support of America’s 400 billionaires in a nation that has become an oligarchy.

    Who are these 200 neocon billionaires? What is their motive in promoting wars?

    • potsherd
      August 15, 2010, 7:53 am

      correction because this appalling software has no editing function: HALF the 400 billionaires.

    • Shingo
      August 15, 2010, 7:55 am

      I do love the uncharacteristic contempt that Cole demonstrates for the neocons, and Gooldberg in particular. This sentence had me laughing:

      “Cpl. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Israeli army, where he was a prison camp guard during the first Intifada or Palestinian uprising, and who masquerades as a journalist over at the Atlantic”

      • Psychopathic god
        August 15, 2010, 10:58 am

        how many Christian ex-Marines serve as right-hand advisors to Israel’s government leaders?

        how many Christian, AngloSaxon Americans write for major Israeli journals and hold a prominent and dominant place in Israeli air and print media?

      • Citizen
        August 15, 2010, 11:23 am

        Does a former volunteer US Army tank maintenence guy have the office next to Israel’s leader?

      • MHughes976
        August 15, 2010, 12:31 pm

        Thanks for the reference to Cole, who I think is right about the non-bellicosity, for rather different reasons, of Obama and Netanyahu. Moreover there’s not enough money even if 200 billionaires empty their pockets to buy public support for another war even in the rather militaristic United States. Internationally the only Tony Blair figure seems to be Geert Wilders and he wouldn’t be able to do the job.

  11. Jim Haygood
    August 15, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Talk about letting the cat out of the bag — the AP released an explosive article on Sunday about the double standard which applies to Israel’s long-established nuclear program:

    <blockquote cite="VIENNA – Ignoring a U.S. warning, Arab nations are urging Washington and other powers to end support of Israel's nuclear secrecy and to push the Jewish state to allow international inspections of its program, diplomats told The Associated Press Sunday.

    The Arab appeal is contained in an Aug. 8 letter signed by Arab League chief Amr Moussa that was shared with The Associated Press. It asks for backing of a resolution that Arab nations will submit to the September assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed in a statement last month to "work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel" at the 150-nation International Atomic Energy Agency conference.
    On the proposed Mideast nuclear-free zone talks, their statement warned that "any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening such a conference unlikely."

    But the Arab letter says the notion of singling out Israel "is not the case."
    "Singling out a state assumes that there are a number of states in the same position and only one state was singled out," the letter says. Referring to the Nonproliferation Treaty, it says: “The fact is that all the states in the region have acceded to the NPT except Israel.”

    link to

    Oh, my. Emperors Netanyahu and O’Bomber have no clothes — how embarrassing! No amount of spin will make the Arab League’s inconvenient facts go away. The rule of law shines on the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ alike, it seems. Internet killed Israeli PR …

  12. potsherd
    August 15, 2010, 1:41 pm

    “Ignoring a US warning.”

    The US is now Israel’s whore, covering up its violations against the international community with threats. Lebanon has the right idea when it tells the US to go to hell, they’ll defend themselves. Because the US has more than amply proved it will not lift a pinky to defend Lebanon even against the most heinous atrocities from Israel.

  13. Rowan
    August 15, 2010, 1:48 pm

    blockquote cite doesn’t work the way the instruction beneath the comments box says it should; blockquote here works just the way it does everywhere else. :-)

    I have been pondering the supposed conventional wisdom that smashing Iran is a zionist thing rather than a USAian thing. I am not so sure that that’s true. At the time of the Iraq-Iran war, the zionist consensus was that Iraq was a real threat to Israel and Iran was not. Israel even shovelled a few armaments Iran’s way, though you might say this was just part of a strategy to get Iraq and Iran to go on destroying each other.

    Nowadays it is true Iran generates lots of bloodcurdling anti-Israel invective, and also supports Hezbollah. But the Iranians always seem to me to be pragmatists; if Israel had stuck to the old ‘strategy of the periphery’ and gone on supporting Iran, then in return Iran would probably have encouraged Lebanese Shiism to take a much more placatory form.

    I think the real reason it has not is that US zionists, who control the spigots of US military (and other) funding to Israel, have over-enthusiastically leapt onto an anti-Iran bandwagon that at least originally had more to do with oil. The US oil companies want Iran’s oil, just like they wanted Iraq’s. US zionists may be serving the purposes of the oil lobby, rather than purposes that really make any sense in zionist terms.

    If this is so, then Israel is actually in a very bad position. If they had been able to ignore this pressure from US zionists, so keen to cater to the desires of the oil multinationals, and if they had clung onto the old ‘strategy of the periphery,’ they would have been able to achieve something like a regional balance of power. As it is, assuming Iran does get somehow knocked out of the regional equation, Israel will find itself facing a vastly more powerful and highly armed Sunnism with no counter-balancing factor. I think the day is approaching when the US and even the oil industry will find that it can no longer control Saudi Arabia, and the convenient assumption that Al Qaeda was and is just an extremist aberration of Wahhabism will be stripped away.

  14. Antidote
    August 15, 2010, 1:56 pm

    another illuminating discussion of Goldberg’s article from

    link to

  15. Jim Haygood
    August 15, 2010, 2:40 pm

    The scariest aspect of Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic Monthly (which I have read in its entirety) is that it paints a picture of both the Netanyahu and Obama administrations trying to suss out each other’s intentions re Iran, without either side being willing to take a clear stand.

    Israel is maintaining ambiguity (which suits it fine), while the Obama administration resists Israeli pressure for direct U.S. military action against Iran, yet refrains from forbidding Israel to act unilaterally — a nuclear version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ as it were.

    This is a far cry from the Suez crisis in 1956, when President Eisenhower peremptorily told the Israelis to back off, and didn’t get any lip (or threats of electoral reprisal) in return. What a contrast from Lyndon Barack Johnson’s whitewashing of the USS Liberty attack just eleven years later. Something happened in between — I’ll let you fill in the blank.

    In myriad ways — from its troop deployments in the region to its dependence on imported oil — the U.S. has much to lose from an Israeli attack on Iran. Iran may be Israel’s long-standing obsession, but it is hardly a threat to the United States.

    Obama’s failure to put his foot down and forbid Israel from blindsiding the U.S. with a surprise attack on Iran is a capitulation to foreign pressure. The Israeli gnat now dictates terms to the American elephant; we are undone!

  16. midnightschild
    August 15, 2010, 8:34 pm

    I would like to see a Russian missle defense site erected on Iranian soil. I wish both China and Russia would send a message to both Israel and the US letting them know a strike would not be permitted without retaliation. I wonder how many wars does the US feel it needs to be a part of before our people say enough. We will be leaving two failed states in our wake in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think both Israel as well as the Muslim world have sized up Obama and came to the same conclusion that he’s just a wuss. Israel certainly isn’t afraid of him. For those who want the war with Iran, let them go and fight and die. Our soldiers have done enough. Obama has already invited Israel into the planning for a stike on Iran. So who is wagging this dog’s tail? I don’t think Obama will find others to go along with him this time. It reeks of the same WMD’s that Iraq was suppose to have. He needs to remember what happened to Russia with its defense spending. Our country can suffer the same fate. We can very well go broke if we continue to follow Israel’s lead.

  17. cogit8
    August 15, 2010, 10:01 pm

    Phil, you have a gift for keeping it simple; your title “Goldberg’s war drums” says it all in just 3 words. Your next phrase: “Goldberg’s piece that seeks to rationalize an attack on Iran” is also a succinct gem of a summary.
    If and when the United States of Israel attacks Iran, it may provide Ahmadinejad with the provocation he’s been looking for to launch an all-out area-wide war , one purpose of which will be to severely damage the Jewish State. However, his first targets will not be the US of I, but every major oil refinery, pipeline, and every oil-tanker within the 1200 mile range of Iran’s missiles. The Iranians have already programmed these missiles, hidden them all over Iran and Lebanon, and provided an automatic ‘command to launch’ in the event of a US of I attack.

    People seem to have forgotten that it only took one small missile to knock out an Israeli warship off of Lebanon in 2006, and that Hezbollah now has tens of thousands of missiles. It might take some time to destroy the Western World’s oil supply lines, but there is no way to defend these tenuous lines, whether on land or sea.

    Atomic bombs on Iranian nuclear sites? Ahmadinejad has stated quite clearly that he doesn’t need atomic weaponry. He may also have borrowed a page from bin Laden’s strategy: suck the idiot westerners into wars in Arabia that can’t be won and bleed them to death with a thousand cuts while you strangle their economies that depend on cheap oil. After all, it’s worked like a charm in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where idiot Zionists (and their tools) don’t even realize the damage that America has suffered on behalf of Israel. Europeans get the picture, and so they’ve mostly withdrawn their token “coalition troops”.

    Atomic bombs on Iran? Every Muslim in the Middle East/South Asia may rise up as one, destroy all the convoys and supply-lines, hunt down every occupier and infidel, cut every pipeline, and blow-up everything foreign they can find. The Egyptian street is waiting for a reason to explode and sweep the quisling ruling class off it’s back. Saudi Arabia anyone? Pakistan? anyone like to predict what they will do with their “nukular” weapons once Israel looses the dogs of war and attacks Iran?

  18. Rowan
    August 16, 2010, 1:40 am

    There is some truth in the claim that some strata of Sunnism would like to see Shiism attacked. Those strata are few but fairly powerful. They include the wahhabi ulema and the wahhabi-inspired jihadists. But it is certainly an exaggeration to say that the Sunni regimes are shaking in their shoes with terror of a “nuclear-armed Iran”.

    Someone on my own blog has cited James Petras’ statistics of news content to prove that really and truly the oil industry is not pro-war and never have been. The statistics seem to show this; but I have a sense of nonsensicality about it. Could it be that the zionist lobby has been acting as a sort of ventriloquist’s dummy for the oil industry? I cannot explain things otherwise, unless zionist power in the US is much greater even than it appears, and the zionists actually own the oil industry, and can tell it to keep quiet.

  19. RoHa
    August 16, 2010, 6:35 am

    And there is the story – rapidly denied by the Saudis – that Israel would be allowed to use Saudi airspace in attacking Iran. For the Saudi Government to allow that would be breathtakingly risky and abysmally, mind-bogglingly, heart-stoppingly stupid.
    (Not that that is a guarantee they won’t do it. As I have said before, one should never underestimate human stupidity.)

    Some of the risks:

    RSAF Mutiny. The Government might give the order “stand down and let the enemy of Islam and of all Arabs come through to attack a friendly Islamic country”, but most officers would choke on it, and especially the middle ranking and junior officers who actually fly the planes. If they refuse to accept the order, they could go up to challenge the Israelis in the air. Risk of war with Israel.

    Even if they don’t get together in time for that, there is still the risk of a general rebellion throughout the RSAF and RSADF, which could spread even further through the armed forces.

    The Government could try keeping the Air Force busy with an “exercise”, like this,

    link to

    but there would still be the question of what happens afterwards.

    Popular rebellion: The Saudi public would be furious. Regardless of what the Government said, they would be blamed either for incompetence or collusion. At the least, the public would want some high-ranking heads to roll. (Literally. Saudis cling to traditional values.) Combined with a rebellion in the armed forces, this is the sort of thing that could convert the country into The Republic of Arabia.

    And all of this could take place while Iran is taking their oil-rigs and tankers apart, since the Iranians would not take kindly to the Saudis helping the enemy.

    Not the wisest course of action for the Saudi Government, then.

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