Incitement: Washington Institute for Near East Policy applauds covert war on Iran

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 36 Comments
Patrick Clawson
Patrick Clawson

Reuters includes a frank statement of incitement from an Israeli, toward Iran and us too. (Thanks to Annie Robbins):

“The Iranians are exposing this in order, ultimately, to provide a large degree of rationale and justification, both domestically and abroad, for what they will eventually consider as a reprisal,” said Uzi Rabi, a Middle East expert at Tel Aviv University.

He predicted an “unavoidable showdown,” most likely in the Gulf, where Iran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, with a possible spillover in the form of Israeli and Western air strikes on Iran.

The bellicose message is echoed in Washington. The NY Times article by Scott Shane, “Adversaries of Iran Said to Be Stepping Up Covert Actions” also includes a message of incitement, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. And only in the last paragraphs of a long story do Americans actually put themselves in Iranian shoes:

Patrick Clawson, director of the Iran Security Initiative at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I often get asked when Israel might attack Iran,” Mr. Clawson said. “I say, ‘Two years ago.’ ”

Mr. Clawson said the covert campaign was far preferable to overt airstrikes by Israel or the United States on suspected Iranian nuclear sites. “Sabotage and assassination is the way to go, if you can do it,” he said. “It doesn’t provoke a nationalist reaction in Iran, which could strengthen the regime. And it allows Iran to climb down if it decides the cost of pursuing a nuclear weapon is too high.”…

But would Iran actually climb down from this covert war? Here is the ending of that story:

Gary Sick, a specialist on Iran at Columbia, said he believed that the covert campaign, combined with sanctions, would not persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear work.

“It’s important to turn around and ask how the U.S. would feel if our revenue was being cut off, our scientists were being killed and we were under cyberattack,” Mr. Sick said. “Would we give in, or would we double down? I think we’d fight back, and Iran will, too.”

Do Americans want such a conflagration?

Update. Here’s Jeffrey Goldberg beating the drum, saying there’s slim chance “to avoid all-out war”. All-out war? Why do these folks love military action so much? And the “destruction of Iran’s industrial infrastructure”. Who’s he kidding? We did great at it in Iraq….

The U.S. may one day have to stop Iran’s nuclear program by force. Before it takes such drastic action, it should, once again, attempt to show Iran the possibility of a different future, one in which it is allowed to rejoin the community of nations.

…Obama would have to convince the Iranians that he is offering one final chance at real dialogue — not out of weakness, but because, as a peace-loving person, he doesn’t want to order the destruction of Iran’s military and industrial infrastructure….

The chance for success is slim.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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36 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    January 12, 2012, 12:19 pm

    “It’s important to turn around and ask how the U.S. would feel if our revenue was being cut off, our scientists were being killed and we were under cyberattack,” Mr. Sick said. “Would we give in, or would we double down? I think we’d fight back, and Iran will, too.”

    yeah, they are savoring the idea iran will fight back. i think iran can play covert too. last i heard anyway.

    • Citizen
      January 13, 2012, 8:28 am

      When Ron Paul asked the public at some of his recent GOP candidate debates to put themselves in Iran shoes–he got a large groan and boos from the GOP audience.

    • peeesss
      January 13, 2012, 11:03 am

      Jeffrey Goldberg is, and has been “savoring ” for war with Iran for years. His words now indicating a last chance for “peace” is just his play on words in order to appear rational. Obama offering “one final chance for real dialogue”, give me a break. The US has been at war with Iran, so called covertly, for years starting with Bush one and now Obama. And quite publicly and openly. The US has funded the terrorist Mujahadeen for strikes inside Iran,. Funded opposition groups in Irans electoral process. for years. Sanctions, embargos , constant threats of invasion, bombings, nuclear{all options are on the table } war. Have armed the gangster family Arab Dictatorships to the teeth. Cyber attacks and the kidnapping and assassinations of Iran scientists. And ,of course, the massive arming and intelligence coordination with the State of Nuclear Israel that has made it clear to the world the destruction of the Iranian government is their goal. Obama , a man of peace.? He has rejected his own proposals to Iran about turning over their enriched uranium to a third party. after Iran accepted it. {Through Turkey /Brazil}. He has put forth that preposterous allegation of the “attempted” assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador. He has just sent 9,000 troops to Israel and hundreds of bonco busting bombs . Spy planes, drones over Iran 24/7. Obama peace loving?. Doesn’t want an excuse to initiate a war with Iran by provocation ? Obama is an intelligent man. Why all these acts if not to push Iran into a response in order to “retaliate”.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 13, 2012, 11:25 am

        Obama offering “one final chance for real dialogue”, give me a break.

        exactly peeesss. i completely agree with you. that was my first reaction to the goldberg article.

        gruesome framing, as if it is already determined. have you read the mathew baer thread…i think this has gone mainstream..

        btw, welcome to mondoweiss. ;)

      • peeesss
        January 13, 2012, 11:42 am

        Thank you Annie. I did read the Matthews/Baer piece Not so sure if it will lead to a more thorough , honest discussion about the Iran/US/Israel situation. I recall Matthews , at times, questioning, quite honestly, the neocons push for the Bush11 Iraq war. Then abruptly switching gears and praising the Bush war effort , with flag waving rhetoric. Hey , we can hope for a more honest discussion.

  2. dumvitaestspesest
    January 12, 2012, 12:32 pm

    They will attack Iran very soon. All this talk is a smoke blown in people’s faces to keep them quiet , hopeful and happy.
    The decision is already made .
    For those ,who still wonder about how good is Ron Paul.
    Look at this video and learn.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 12, 2012, 12:33 pm

      it’s only january. i have no idea how obama is going to stave off the uberzio packfest until the election. no idea. talk about pressure.

      that’s assuming he doesn’t want to attack iran.

    • BillM
      January 12, 2012, 1:06 pm

      Who is “they”? I assume you mean the US, since Israel certainly won’t attack without US participation.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 12, 2012, 3:37 pm

        how do you know israel won’t attack without US participation? israel won’t even guarantee obama he will give him a heads up before he attacks. or haven’t you heard.

      • Citizen
        January 13, 2012, 8:31 am

        More likely all Israel has to do is threaten to attack Iran & mention it will use whatever force it has, if needed, and put on a show of readying nukes, and US will attack Iran itself, or at least toss a lot more cash and deploy a lot more troops and missiles over in Israel than it is doing right now.

  3. Annie Robbins
    January 12, 2012, 12:32 pm

    speaking of wapo, this is a few days old..pre assassination, but very instructive WaPo Censors Iran Sanctions’ Regime Change Intent.

    check out how wapo had to walk back their headline and story.

    The goal of U.S. and other sanctions against Iran is regime collapse, a senior U.S. intelligence official said, offering the clearest indication yet that the Obama administration is at least as intent on unseating Iran’s government as it is on engaging with it.

    vs the ‘new’ version:

    The Obama administration sees economic sanctions against Iran as building public discontent that will help compel the government to abandon an alleged nuclear weapons program, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official.

    there’s more too. plus, it sites dennis ross.

    • dumvitaestspesest
      January 12, 2012, 12:42 pm

      Look at the usage of a common propaganda words:”REGIME collapse”.
      Of course Iranian political system is a “Regime”. We have to believe in this.
      MSM and politicains tell us so.
      Compare to the “vibrant democracy” of Israel and USA , who are always busy carrying “humanitarian interventions”all over the world ,Iran ,by minding its own business, is a full blown “regime”.
      “Alleged”nuclear power. Another shady word: “ALLEGED”.
      Iraq had also “alleged” nuclear weapons. Then it turned out that they were really “alleged”. What was the cost of confirming this “alleged” accusation??
      Israel has nuclear weapons, and there are not “alleged”, but this does not seem to bother Allmighty USA and its allies?

    • teta mother me
      January 12, 2012, 9:34 pm

      that’s not new.
      CA congressman Ed Royce, Sept 2007 re passage of Iran Sanctions bill, 1400 — “Iranians have had gas riots because price of gas is so high. Goal of this bill is to cause the situation to get so bad that Iranians will riot and overthrow their government.”

      Ephraim Sneh, former Israeli deputy defense minister, June 2008 AIPAC mtg in Washington “The Iranians won’t overthrow their government. So we have to do something. Make Iran’s leaders worry about how they will feed their 70 million people.” (followed by applause)

      Charlie Rose interviewing Mohammad Javad Larijani, Iranian parliament member, Nov 2011 “So, I understand people in Iran are having a hard time buying food. Is that right? Prices are high, right?”

  4. jimbowski
    January 12, 2012, 1:14 pm

    It’s very naive for Clawson to claim the ongoing covert war won’t “provoke a nationalist reaction in Iran.” I bet he predicted in 2003 that an Iraq invasion would be a “cake walk.”

    • ritzl
      January 12, 2012, 3:29 pm

      Clawson has been advancing this contention for a while. He co-authored a WINEP policy analysis that a war with Iran wouldn’t “be so bad” in terms of “blowback.” The overall contention was that: a) there would be minimal nationalistic popular “rallying” within Iran (if “informationally” managed correctly); and, b) Iran would minimally respond to “preventative” military strikes. But the examples and scenarios they cite/pose are completely (and artificially, imho) dismissive of significant effect.

      For example (from a Clawson WINEP analysis):

      Relations with China and Russia. Although a detailed assessment of U.S. relations with China or Russia is beyond the scope of this study, both are great powers and past rivals that could decide, at some future date, to resume their competition with the United States for global influence. If a U.S. strike on Iran (regardless of its effect on Iran’s nuclear program) resulted in a dramatic deterioration in U.S. relations with either or both of these great powers (because Beijing or Moscow concluded that Washington was reckless or aggressive, or because Beijing was adversely affected by high oil prices following a strike), U.S. interests would face a potentially serious setback. Conversely, if a U.S. strike
      so impressed Russia or China with U.S. resolve that they decided to avoid military competition, then the strike would yield important benefits for the United
      States. And if a U.S. strike led to a protracted U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, Russia and China might see an opportunity to arm Iran, whether to profit from the conflict or bleed the United States. At any rate, such possible outcomes should be factored into any discussion about the risks and challenges of preventive
      action against Iran.

      In other words, seriously impacting China’s economy would not be a significant effect of a preventative military strike, and even if it was, they would only see it as an opportunity to sell arms (as opposed to stop buying US sovereign debt, e.g.).

      Such is the level of insight that influences US policy makers and/or policy.

      Clawson’s on Iran is reminiscent of a conversation I had with an influential Senate DLA, pre-Iraq. He was totally sold on the “oil will pay for the invasion and reconstruction” line, i.e. “no problem.” Oblivious. Willfully so. To this day.

      Abstract: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC04.php?CID=292 (full paper available in .pdf)

    • teta mother me
      January 12, 2012, 9:43 pm

      Clawson is a one-note samba, and this is that note.

      He spoke at an Iran Task Force hate fast about 5 years ago, same spiel. The Iran Task Force event was billed as “interdenominational;” listed sponsors were 10 Jewish organizations — Jewish federation, ZOA, ADL, AIPAC, etc., plus a guy who ran a Christian mission from his cell phone. I wrote to Juan Cole about it at the time, and had the director of the local World Affairs Council look into it.

      Before he started the Everybody Hate Iran gig he monitored the stages of starvation of Iraqis — no kidding: He edited a couple publications for National Defense College that measured caloric availability, health status by age level, numbers of deaths in each age bracket, availability of black market goods, patterns of government provision of food — Clawson grudgingly observed that Saddam was ensuring that one way or another the Iraqi people, all classes & parties, were getting as close as possible to sufficient food. Clawson said that was a ploy to keep the people on his side. No shit.

      Another essay he wrote for National Defense College was on morality of sanctions. He argued that Iraqi civilians deserved to suffer because, even tho they did not have ability to vote for their leadership, they should have taken opportunities to overthrow him. This is the level of moral degenerate WINEP traffics in — and Dennis Ross is back in the cess pool.

      Clawson bears a physical resemblance to Col Reginald Dyer, the British general who ordered the massacre of Indians at Amritsar.
      Both are despicable human beings.

  5. dumvitaestspesest
    January 12, 2012, 1:37 pm

    There are two major ways of carrying a war.
    One is “manu militari “,which involes a direct, military attack at a country.
    It is used quite often, but it requires lots of moolah, lots of military equipment and lots of “collateral damage”.
    The other way is by the usage of deceit/trickery/guile ,which involves assasinations, sabotage, vilifing etc. Used often in so called “peaceful” times.
    In High school it would be called “bullying,” without an obvious, physical attack.

  6. Dan Crowther
    January 12, 2012, 1:50 pm

    Well, based on polling numbers, it looks like, yes – Americans do want such a conflagration

    http://www.pollingreport.com/iran.htm

    Paul Craig Roberts latest is a good read:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/01/12/the-next-war-on-washington%E2%80%99s-agenda/

    • Annie Robbins
      January 12, 2012, 3:39 pm

      don’t believe those polls. it’s a big trick pulling americans onboard by telling them what most americans want, when it isn’t true.

      • Dan Crowther
        January 12, 2012, 4:27 pm

        I disagree. Iran has been the bogey man for decades now – the polls are all pretty consistent, Americans dig war – and would resort to it to “stop Iran for obtaining…. blah blah”

      • Annie Robbins
        January 12, 2012, 4:54 pm

        i don’t care how consistent polls are. i don’t believe it. pollsters know how to get the results they want.

      • Dan Crowther
        January 12, 2012, 5:02 pm

        haha! alright, alright robbins – i like the fire! I guess I will leave the option for believing them open, but I hear ya….

      • chet
        January 12, 2012, 5:53 pm

        It’s all in the wording of the questions.

      • teta mother me
        January 12, 2012, 9:54 pm

        I agree Annie. I started to tune in to all the Iran, Israel affairs when I heard Robert Lieber on C Span waggle his finger and TELL Americans that they support Israel, not Palestine.
        A caller said, “No we don’t.” Lieber said, “Yes you do. Polls say so.”

        That was back in 2006 or 2007.
        Since then, the demonization campaign against Iran has really heated up. But more recently, the push-back has accelerated (based on anecdotal evidence).

        I’m with you Annie; a. the polls are fudged; b. the people are increasingly propogandized; but c. the people are waking up and speaking out.

      • Citizen
        January 13, 2012, 8:35 am

        Clawson has a firm belief that if you get public opinion on the side of preemptive war on Iran, that’s the biggest thing you need, then Allied opinion, and if would help other biggies in the world. He says history shows this over and over.

      • kma
        January 12, 2012, 11:07 pm

        in Feb 2002, the only countries that showed a majority in favor of war against Iraq were the US, Israel, and Kuwait. it was just over 50% in the US after Colin Powell put on his performance. Kuwait’s poll added that its population was firmly against occupation. Israel’s poll was unqualified YES, 61% in favor, I think… all other countries said NO.
        in the spring of 2002, there were many polls. one headline read something like “US citizens approve of nuclear attack on Iraq”, but if you read the actual poll, it asked, if Iraq used nuclear or biological weapons against Americans, would you support nuking Iraq? lots of polls are like that.

        I do not believe that most Americans want to go to war with Iran. I do not believe that most Americans even know what war is like.

  7. Kathleen
    January 12, 2012, 2:16 pm

    Micheal Singh Managing Director of Washington Institute for near East Policy was on Washington Journal last Sunday inciting the situation with Iran. Linked to it the other day here at Mondoweiss. Washington Journal has yet to have Flynt or Hillary Mann Leverett on their program to discuss the facts. They choose to keep having folks on who push a military confronation with Iran like Singh

  8. Bill in Maryland
    January 12, 2012, 3:05 pm

    Phil’s question: “Do Americans want such a conflagration?”
    The 99% do not. But unlike the early weeks of the Iraq conflict, this time around many more people are aware of Israel’s interest in dragging/ boxing us into a war with Iran, Israel’s regional competitor (yet not a real security threat to the US).

    God forbid, but if is there is such a war and ensuing conflagration, Americans will protest in the streets (even without conscription), this time with big signs about Israel and the Zionists that even MSNBC cable hosts will be forced to discuss, and the AIPAC/ J Street/ JVP battle for the soul of American Jewry will only intensify.

  9. Annie Robbins
    January 12, 2012, 3:42 pm

    goldberg, from phil’s UPDATE:Obama would have to convince the Iranians that he is offering one final chance at real dialogue

    hear the war mongering framing? sounding a rosy peachy w/the peace-loving lingo pumping war. friggin pisses me off.

  10. upsidedownism
    January 12, 2012, 4:05 pm

    The USA has been in a permanent state of war with Iran since before most people in this forum were born. This in turn is a continuation of Anglo-Persian conflict that goes back to long before anybody knew what fossils were or that you could make a fuel for them.

    In 1622 the East India Company joined forces with Safavid Persia to effect “regime change” upon the Portuguese backed rulers of Hormuz Island in the Straits of Hormuz. For decades thereafter the Company and British monarchy continued to try to collect the protection money they claimed from the Persians owed them.

    Most Americans don’t even know that the USA had already had 10s of thousands of “boots on the ground” in Iran. During WW2 predominantly African American troops worked ceaselessly on the “Persian Corridor” to supply the Soviet Union with 100’s of thousands of vehicles; Many of the jeeps and trucks which rolled into Berlin to take the Reichstag were built in Detroit.

    We are simply experiencing another chapter in a centuries old attempt to control one of the world’s oldest and most strategically placed civilizations. The US and Iran are at war.

    The US is so powerful that it can not only wage war on multiple countries at the same time but can do so without its own population even noticing. Ahmadinejad is currently in another country, Cuba, which the USA has been in a state of war for a long time as well. If another country imposed sanctions on the US like those it imposes on Cuba, Americans would consider it a hostile act and go to war over it; if its not an all out shooting war its because the poor Cubans have no hope of retaliating against all powerful Uncle Sam.

  11. lysias
    January 12, 2012, 4:57 pm

    As Stephen Kinzer recounts in his book Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future, Americans once supported democracy in Persia. The man who wrote the constitution resulting from the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1909 was Princeton graduate and Presbyterian mission teacher Howard Baskerville.

    • teta mother me
      January 12, 2012, 10:05 pm

      as well, in about 1901, Iranians so trusted Americans that, when they recognized they needed assistance in arranging accountability for their oil resources lest corruption creep into the system, they called upon Americans to set up governing & accounting systems for Iran. W. Morgan Schuster went to Iran, where he worked well and was highly respected by the Iranians. But it lasted less than a year — British & Russians thought he might spoil a good thing they had going, looting Iran’s treasury, so they insisted that Schuster be sent back home. Schuster wrote “The Strangling of Persia,” his memoir of the wonderful people he worked with, and the dirty deal they got.

      The “tightening the noose” meme is particularly disturbed and disturbing.

  12. HarryLaw
    January 12, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Most Americans know sponge bob square pants lives in a pinapple under the sea, but could they find Iran on the map?

    • dumvitaestspesest
      January 12, 2012, 6:14 pm

      You are very correct sir:). And they are not even bothered by that.
      They think that’s a ok.
      All the free schooling, education, libraries,modern technology etc.
      It went right under the sea where sponge bob lives.

  13. DICKERSON3870
    January 12, 2012, 6:09 pm

    RE: “Washington Institute for Near East Policy applauds covert war on Iran… Here’s Jeffrey Goldberg beating the drum, saying there’s slim chance ‘to avoid all-out war’. All-out war? Why do these folks love military action so much?” ~ Weiss

    FROM TED RALL, 07/22/10: …Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Eternal Fascism” describes the cult of action for its own sake under fascist regimes and movements: “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
    SOURCE – http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/22-1

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