Sanity check on Iran

Iraq Iran
Graphic from ThinkProgress last August

Some rays of light amid the Iran warmongering. Yesterday the New York Times ran an important piece on the Iran war saber-rattling saying that it recalled the buildup to the disastrous Iraq war. Reporter Scott Shane several times made the Israel connection:

With Israel and Iran exchanging accusations of assassination plots, some analysts see a danger of blundering into a war that would inevitably involve the United States.

Echoes of the period leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 are unmistakable, igniting a familiar debate over whether journalists are overstating Iran’s progress toward a bomb. Yet there is one significant difference: by contrast with 2003, when the Bush administration portrayed Iraq as an imminent threat, Obama administration officials and intelligence professionals seem eager to calm the feverish language..

With the notable exception of Representative Ron Paul of Texas, Republican presidential candidates have kept up a competition in threatening Iran and portraying themselves as protectors of Israel. A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday released a letter to President Obama saying that new talks could prove a “dangerous distraction,” allowing Iran to buy time to move closer to developing a weapon..

the news media, including The New York Times, which ultimately apologized to readers for some of its coverage of claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, are again under scrutiny by critics wary of exaggerated threats. Both the ombudsman of The Washington Post and the public editor of The New York Times in his online blog have scolded their newspapers since December for overstating the current evidence against Iran in particular headlines and stories.

Jim Fallows, an important voice during the Vietnam debacle, approves this piece at the Atlantic:

it’s very good to see the NYT running, on page one and above the fold, an analysis of the reckless agitation for a preemptive military strike on Iran, and of the risks this talk holds for all involved. Lots of people wrote these analyses, after the fact, about the panicky rush-toward-war mentality that preceded the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It is certainly better to start talking about the problem now, when “hey, wait a minute” thoughts can make a difference.

Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast says that an attack on Iran makes no sense, but the hawks are winning the debate:

And who are the hawks who have so far marginalized the defense and intelligence establishments in both Israel and the U.S.? They’re a collection of think-tankers and politicians, most absolutely sincere, in my experience. But from Rick Santorum to John McCain to Elliott Abrams to John Bolton, their defining characteristic is that they were equally apocalyptic about the threat from Iraq, and equally nonchalant about the difficulties of successfully attacking it. The story of the Iraq debate was, in large measure, the story of their triumph over the career military and intelligence officials—folks like Eric Shinseki and Joseph Wilson—whose successors are now warning against attacking Iran.

How can it be, less than a decade after the U.S. invaded Iraq, that the Iran debate is breaking down along largely the same lines, and the people who were manifestly, painfully wrong about that war are driving the debate this time as well? Culturally, it’s a fascinating question—and too depressing for words.


Yes culturally it’s a fascinating question. And I don’t think Beinart is completely forthcoming; he went down the waterslide himself, he supported the Iraq war and back then he credited the influence of Paul Berman, Robert Kagan, David Frum, Tamara Cofman Wittes and Kenneth Pollack. The cultural question he addresses is the Israel lobby: the aggrandized role inside the Jewish community (and the American establishment) of neoconservative extremists.  Who gave the neocons power? Liberals did. And culture played a significant role.

Note that Eli Clifton (who reports that Tucker Carlson says Iran should be annihilated) broke open the Israel lobby piece of this story months ago at Think Progress:

a Tuesday press release [PDF] from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) brings to mind eery parallels between the escalation of sanctions against Iran and the slow lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Now (and again thanks to Ilene Cohen) here is Yossi Verter, in Haaretz, saying that even people in Israel are sick of the saber-rattling. And Shimon Peres is trying to box out the hawks with Obama.

President Shimon Peres is expected to tell U.S. President Barack Obama early next month that he does not believe Israel should attack Iran in the near future.

…According to these officials, Peres is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s position on Iran, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak is perceived, at least by the Americans, as pushing for an attack.

Peres told officials that there is no point in what he called the “unceasing self-intimidation” being voiced by senior Israeli spokesmen. This is what he intends to tell Obama.

This piece further undermines the reports by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic in 2010 and Ronen Bergman in the New York Times Magazine that cast an Israeli attack as inevitable and logical, based on Israeli military and government sources. Who were they talking to, and why were they parroting their views? Self-intimidation indeed. 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of
Posted in Iran, Iraq, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Media, Neocons, US Politics

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  1. Krauss says:

    “This piece further undermines the reports by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic in 2010 and Ronen Bergman in the New York Times Magazine that cast an Israeli attack as inevitable and logical, based on Israeli military and government sources. Who were they talking to, and why were they parroting their views? Self-intimidation indeed. ”

    Wait, you mean Goldberg et al are not hacks writing for Israeli interests?
    You mean there is actually a much more nuanced debate inside Israel on this issue(which is often repeated but is it really?)


    • Chaos4700 says:

      If that’s your idea of “nuanced” I feel sorry for you.

    • Krauss says,

      You mean there is actually a much more nuanced debate inside Israel on this issue(which is often repeated but is it really?) Shock.

      I’m not sure Phil meant to say that, Krauss. At any rate, there’s a lot of evidence that Israelis are no longer having a “nuanced debate” about it. For example, yesterday’s WaPo had a story entitled, “Israelis Seem Resigned to a Strike on Iran.”
      Here’s an excerpt, and the link is below:

      As if noting a change of seasons, many Israelis are talking about a possible war come summer, or later this year, with an air of inevitability born of years of festering conflict that has periodically flared into full-blown hostilities. The prospect of devastating counterstrikes and mass casualties seems to be taken in stride, seen as a lesser evil than facing a nuclear-armed Iran.

      “It’s like people are saying, ‘A typhoon is coming,’ ” Avi Funes, a 57-year-old accountant, said over lunch at the Azrieli Center, a towering glass-and-steel mall and office complex next to the military headquarters and the Defense Ministry — a potential target area for retaliatory missile strikes.

      “People aren’t taking to the streets to protest against an attack,” Funes added. “There’s a kind of complacency. What can the ordinary citizen do? It’s not up to him.”

      link to

  2. piotr says:

    The problem is perhaps even larger.

    It is basically futile for Iran to try to satisfy “us”. They should prove the negative. This would require to open for inspection all “suspect sites”, including the sites which held military secrets that Iran must have to survive. Two regimes that fully complied were subsequently destroyed.

    The only way to resolve the issue of proliferation is if both sides exhibit some degree of good will, but it is forbidden in our political discourse to show any “good will” to an “evil regime”. So the best we can hope for is that we will keep sanctions forever. Consequences at the moment are bizarre. Contrary to info “uncovered” by Jeffrey Goldberg, Saudi Arabia did not prevent the rise in the price of oil after new sanctions on Iran. China gets cheaper oil from Iran, Russia sells less to China and more to hapless Europe, for a better price. In other words, we organized a financial bonus for China and Russia and a symmetric penalty for Europeans — and ourselves. No other tangible benefits can be shown.

    Some moronic strategists were on record that even if the Western sanctions on Iran will not ruin it, they will be expensive. But those “losses” are boon to China, India and Russia (Russia gets valuable price increases for its oil and gas), so it is not exactly a loss for Iran — actually, it shapes a Eurasian block than enhances the security of the regime of Iran.

  3. Scott says:

    Yes, I noted that “Culturally it’s a fascinating question–and too depressing for words” line. Many ways to read that. I read it as depressing that no one is willing to push back against the Israel lobby, which I think is Beinart’s take too, though he would find it more than I a problem internal to modern American Judaism.

  4. Les says:

    February 22, 2012
    Khamenei Reconfirms Fatwa Against Nuclear Weapons

    In a speech to nuclear scientists Ajatollah Ali Kahamenei today reconfirmed his Fatwa against nuclear weapons:

    On numerous occasions, the Iranian people and government officials have announced that they do not seek to develop nuclear weapons and that nuclear weapons have no place among the needs of the nation and the military system of the country. We believe that using nuclear weapons is haraam and prohibited and that it is everybody’s duty to make efforts to protect humanity against this great disaster. We believe that besides nuclear weapons, other types of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons also pose a serious threat to humanity. The Iranian nation which is itself a victim of chemical weapons feels more than any other nation the danger that is caused by the production and stockpiling of such weapons and is prepared to make use of all its facilities to counter such threats.

    Reading the whole speech and understanding the logic of Kahmenei’s judgement may be worth your time.

    Posted by b on February 22, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    link to

  5. Citizen says:

    Get ready, Israel will attack Iran, and, the US will rush to support Israel with whatever it takes in treasure and grunts. The issue is solely in Bibi N’s hands. Can you imagine, during a campaign for POTUS, that any American POTUS (or congress), will stand up against going to the aid of Israel, once the Persians react with force to the attack on them? In my thinking, it’s already a done deal, the way the power politics will play out, no matter the price of gas at them pump. There is nothing in the current campaign for next POTUS that suggests otherwise.

    What will happen will be, additionally, a result of the US and Israel each retaining hole cards. I suggest you look at the Yom Kippur War, and how it came about via semi-ignorant complicity of the players: link to

    • Walid says:

      I had just read the Counterpunch Yom Kippur War article, Citizen, and it was a shocker. I was starting to get used to stories of connivance between Arabs and Jews on the backs of Palestinians but this amour à trois involving Arabs, Jews and the US in a make-believe war that killed thousands just to boost America’s and Sadat’s popularity is hard to stomach.

      The NYT’s “Obama administration officials and intelligence professionals seem eager to calm the feverish language” is more along the lines of the Counterpunch article. People have to be naive to believe this BS about the US not wanting to see Iran bombed while the mad Netanyahu is dying to do it. The US and Israel are playing good cop-bad cop games on this and on top of it, you have Ahmadinejad going out of his way to piss-off everyone with his rhetoric while the Ayatollah re-issues fatwas condemning nuclear arms.

      A better title for this thread would have been “Naivety Check on Iran”

      • Keith says:

        WALID- “People have to be naive to believe this BS about the US not wanting to see Iran bombed while the mad Netanyahu is dying to do it.”

        I agree completely. Iran is of critical importance to empire and to the transition to a transnational empire. If empire can effect favorable regime change, control will be complete, virtually unchallengeable, at least in the short run. If not, things get complicated. Real complicated. We are at an extraordinarily dangerous period. This is bigger than Israel. Much bigger.

        • American says:

          I don’t buy it. And neither do the VSFPP (very serious foreign policy people).
          There is no upside for the US to go from it’s policy of off shore balancing of power and ‘stability’ —to control by conquest. There is no financial or resource payoff for the US in oil considerations or any other.

          “If’ I wanted to ‘control’ a neighborhood for some purpose for example–which of it’s neighbors would I make a pact with to do that —the guy everyone in the neighborhood hates —or the guy who has the most influence in the neighborhood I want to control?

          If you look at it as risk and rewards business deal for ME US Empire — you can see the irrationality of a oil and everything else disruptive war on someone you could simply entice with mutual benefits that would cost you nothing and achieve your own goal.

          Anything else is irrational. War on Iran is the product of Israeli greed and hubris and Neo mad ideology. That is what this is all about. Nothing else, not even the pitiful “nuke threat” and proliferation excuse.

      • stevieb says:

        Personally I’d recommend being careful about the conclusions you reach about the Yom Kippur War based on Shamir’s mysterious letter. Having read the counterpunch article I can’t help but feel it doesn’t add up. Finkelstein’s analysis of the Yom Kippur War in “Image and Reality:” is what I’m thinking of , and in particular the reality that Sadat was always trying to negogiate with Israel about the return of the Sinai in exchange for a peace treaty, and was rebuked by Golda Meir et ‘al. To explain this away as a cynical political ploy by Sadat doesn’t sound right. Egypt was well within it’s rights to militarily challange Israel for territory it stole in ’67. What did Israel gain from this so-called conspiracy? At the time they were drunk on military success, hence the rebuff of Sadat, and there was no need for them to enter in a dangerous ‘amour a trois’ as you say.

        • lysias says:

          As far as I can see, Shamir’s article doesn’t explain what Soviet Ambassador Vinogradov’s evidence was for his assertions (apart from an apparent suggestion of collusion made to him by the Jordanian prime minister). Since Sadat’s shift from a Soviet alliance to reliance on the West was a Soviet defeat, which Vinogradov had to explain to his superiors, one can understand why he might have favored an explanation that served to excuse himself and the Soviet Union.

        • American says:

          Doesn’t make much sense to me either.

      • piotr says:

        This guy Israel Shamir is reputed to be weird, and Russian sources may include disinformation. I would view it as “possible, but highly speculative”.

    • lysias says:

      Obama could secretly tell Iran to hold off on any response to an Israeli attack until after the U.S. election, offering a promise to do nothing to support Israel at that point.

    • o my god, you mean gas for my Escalade will get really really expensive? o my god o my god how will I get to many manicurist every week?

      Barbara Slavin asked Ephraim Sneh if Israel’s military planners had concerned themselves with the number of Iranians who might be killed or injured from nuclear fallout is/when Israel attacks Iran.

      Sneh said, “You’re asking me an ethical and a military question, and I can’t answer . . . In our planning we have taken precautions so civilian harm will be minimal . . .

      Slavin called out from the audience: “How can civilian deaths be minimized if nuclear fallout covers the area (or words to that effect).
      Sneh (figuratively) patted Slavin on the head, smiled slyly, and said, “I can’t answer that.”

  6. HarryLaw says:

    US policy towards Iran is incomprehensible, Regime change was the policy for a long time, but since the Iranian opposition parties are just as much for nuclear power as the incumbents, regime change will achieve nothing. They appear to want Iran to stop enriching uranium full stop, even though it is their legal right to do so. We have reached a stage where one side has to back down, history has shown the US does not take yes for an answer, they would simply make more demands, it is inconceivable that Obama would back down in an election year,so it is hard to see a peaceful solution, the neocons and the lobby have cornered Obama, rather Obama’s weakness has enabled them to do so.

  7. American says:

    An attack on Iran is entirely in Obama’s hands. Everything else is just noise.
    It’s now a fight between Netanyahu with congress in his pocket vr Obama.

    Israel and the US and Iran know Israel can’t sucessfully attack Iran…only the US has the capability.
    Here’s a map of the route Israel would have to take to hit Iran for those who don’t have one.

    link to

  8. hass says:

    The mess with Iran is really a symptom of our dysfunctional relationship with Israel, as well as the influence of small and wealthy domestic constituencies on shaping national policies. And since I don’t see those two issues being resolved anytime soon, it is quite likely that this country will be dragged into yet another war, not because it makes any sort of rational sense but simply because of the momentum of the hype generated by the NeoCons and pro-Israeli lobby, who have right now effectively made it impossible for any US politician to climb down from a war footing on Iran.

    And if you doubt this, consider that all of our Constitutional checks-and-balances, which were built into the system supposedly to prevent or at least slow down bad decision-making, such as the Congressional check on the Executive’s war making power, were simply non-issues when it came to the invasion of Iraq. Every single check-and-balance in our system totally failed to stop a rush to a war based on falsified information. Our democratic system proved to be a farce and a paper tiger.

  9. RE: “from Rick Santorum to John McCain to Elliott Abrams to John Bolton, their defining characteristic is that they were equally apocalyptic about the threat from Iraq” ~ Beinart

    SEE: How the Power of Myth Keeps Us Mired in War, by Ira Chernus,, 01/20/11

    (excerpt) “…White Americans, going back to early colonial times, generally assigned the role of ‘bad guys’ to ‘savages’ lurking in the wilderness beyond the borders of our civilized land. Whether they were redskins, commies, terrorists, or the Taliban, the plot has always remained the same.
    Call it the myth of national security — or, more accurately, national insecurity, since it always tells us who and what to fear.
    It’s been a mighty (and mighty effective) myth…”

    SOURCE – link to

    ALSO SEE: Israel’s Defense Chief OK’s Hundreds of Israeli Deaths, By Ira Chernus,, 11/11/11

    (excerpt)…An essential motive of Zionism from its beginning was a fierce desire to end the centuries of Jewish weakness, to show the world that Jews would no longer be pushed around, that they’d fight back and prove themselves tougher than their enemies. There was more to Zionism than that. But the “pride through strength” piece came to dominate the whole project. Hence the massive Israeli military machine with its nuclear arsenal.
    But you can’t prove that you’re stronger than your enemies unless you’ve also got enemies — or at least believe you’ve got enemies — to fight against. So there has to be a myth of Israel’s insecurity, fueled by an image of vicious anti-semites lurking somewhere out there, for Zionism to work. Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran has gradually risen to the top of Israel oh-so-necessary enemies list. Iranophobia is rampant in Israel, as one Israeli scholar writes, because “Israel needs an existential threat.”
    Anyone who has grown up in Israel, or in the U.S. Jewish community (as I did), and paid attention knows all this…


  10. dalybean says:

    Interesting viewpoint but I think most of this is just advance CYA by the media and more, much more, will be needed to slow down the push for war. In addition, Peres has denounced the comments you just attributed to him and says that all options are on the table.

    I see the Israeli-neocon strategy (and those sources like the NYT telling us that Israel can’t do it alone) as trying to make this the responsibility of the the U.S. I also think the allusions to the fact that Israel can’t do it alone without using nuclear weapons (which Mondoweiss astutely picked up in the New York Times) is just the opening salvo in another Israeli blackmail scheme against the U.S, which probably is deeper and deadlier than we know, using nuclear threats and more.

    And now AIPAC is gearing up to swarm Capitol Hill to get full buy-in on that new congressional resolution that would change the redline on the Iran issue “as a matter of vital national security (for the U.S.)” from preventing Iran from having “nuclear weapons” to preventing Iran from having “a nuclear weapon capacity,” which arguably means we have already reached the new redline and so war is immediately warranted. They are also insisting that Iran be prohibited from any nuclear enrichment at all and that Iran cease its anti-ballistic missile program entirely. Also, containment as a legitimate strategy is to be prohibited.

    Then you have the concerted takedown of CJCS, General Martin Dempsey, on his important statement that an Israeli attack would be imprudent and that the Iranians are rational actors–by Netanyahu (“statements (of Dempsey) “serve Iran”), Richard Haas, President of CFR (questioning Dempsey’s judgment and his failure to defer to Israel), John McCain and Lindsay Graham (on foreign soil in Israel and deferring to Israel over the US military), and Newt Gingrich specifically blasting Dempsey last night as incomprehensible at the specific behest of Moderator John King, with all of the candidates except Ron Paul jumping on the bandwagon for the U.S. to gear up for war against Iran. Col. Pat Lang expects for the neocons to push for Dempsey to be drummed out of his position, as Eric Shinseki was for his heresy against the neocons in the run-up to the Iraq war. The push appears to already be on.

    And won’t it be too late for cynical observations if AIPAC gets the Congressional buy-in to their Iranian resolutions in three weeks time at the AIPAC conference with their 10,000 lobbyists descending on the Congress?

    Isn’t it time right now for the people who want to prevent this catastrophic war to call and write their representatives every day (as was done with healthcare) to counter the AIPAC push and also to defend our own military against the fifth column aligned against them?

    Is an effort to get a call-in and letter writing campaign to Congress and a twitter campaign to prevent the US being forced to go to war with Iran something Mondoweiss and other like-minded influential blogs could get behind?

    This is a harder campaign than healthcare because there is an (inchoate?) fear that one’s name will be entered on an anti-Israel or anti-semitic blacklist. But it is so important and it is really past time to start.

    With all due respect to those making journalistic observations that we are being railroaded into war again, it will not be enough to stop what is happening without a more concerted effort to petition the government, just as AIPAC and its fellow travellers do so successfully.

    MJ Rosenberg told me a few years ago that the only way to influence my Maryland Congressman Christopher Van Hollen on this issue, unless I had hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby him, was to accost him in his driveway at home and embarrass him, which I just can’t see myself doing. Considering how much experience Rosenberg has and that this is how desperately he views the situation, I find it utterly depressing and almost hopeless.

    I hope someone savvier and more organized than me comes up with some ideas to stop this march to war. I will jump in with both feet, even if I end up on a dreaded “list.”

    • lysias says:

      After an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran, is it conceivable that the U.S. could support Israel even then?

      • After an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran, is it conceivable that the U.S. could support Israel even then?

        No. Such an event would shock the American public to its senses, and Israeli intelligence knows that. The U.S. government, I expect, makes sure that they know it. But that doesn’t keep Bibi/Barak from playing the “game strategy” of mad-dog-on-the-loose, anyway.

        Israel using nuclear weapons first would be a terrible thing. But that would be the beginning of the end for AIPAC and American support for Israel. There are other scenarios following an Israeli attack on Iran (absent American participation) – such as permanently higher oil/gas prices and Great Depression II – which could have the same result for the Israel Lobby.

        In the words of the Bard, ‘Tis an ill wind that blows no good.

    • Dan Crowther says:

      Tremendous Post Dalybean

      Yes, we all really need to do something – NOW

    • American says:

      “I hope someone savvier and more organized than me comes up with some ideas to stop this march to war. I will jump in with both feet, even if I end up on a dreaded “list.”

      There are only 535 congressperps. They are all fat and slow. We could probably kidnap and hold them on some kind of citizens arrest indefinite detention thingy..LOL

    • Citizen says:

      Fox Hannity show panel was really beating the drums for war on Iran last night; every word in the lead up, by the panel, host were weighted by glibly painting Iran as a monster determined to attack Israel. They had a short clip of General Dempsey, immediately followed by an interview with some former General who’s every word sounded like it was coming from Bibi N’s mouth. In short, though the show spent about ten minutes on Iran there was no debate at all, just hasbara within which the short Dempsey clip was stuck–nobody ever addressed what Dempsey actually said in the clip.

    • dalybean says, And now AIPAC is gearing up to swarm Capitol Hill to get full buy-in on that new congressional resolution that would change the redline on the Iran issue “as a matter of vital national security (for the U.S.)” from preventing Iran from having “nuclear weapons” to preventing Iran from having “a nuclear weapon capacity,” which arguably means we have already reached the new redline and so war is immediately warranted.

      For more about AIPAC’s machinations with this Senate resolution, see Robert Wright, “AIPAC and the Push toward War with Iran,” in the current Atlantic Magazine. Here are the concluding paragraphs, and the link is below:

      But, even so, the resolution defines keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapons “capability” as being in America’s “vital national interest,” which is generally taken as synonymous with “worth war.” And, though this “sense of Congress” resolution is nonbinding, AIPAC will probably seek unanimous Senate consent, which puts pressure on a president. Friedman says this “risks sending a message that Congress supports war and opposes a realistic negotiated solution or any de facto solution short of stripping Iran of even a peaceful nuclear capacity.”

      What’s more, says Friedman, the non-binding status may be temporary. “Often AIPAC-backed Congressional initiatives start as non-binding language (in a resolution or a letter) and then show up in binding legislation. Once members of Congress have already signed on to a policy in non-binding form, it is much harder for them to oppose it when it shows up later in a bill that, if passed, will have the full force of law.”

      No wonder Democrats who worry about war have the “jitters.”

      (emphasis added)

      link to

  11. MHughes976 says:

    Obama wants reelection and I don’t believe he wants unpredictable things getting in the way. He’s not an idiot, so he knows that wars are unpredictable things. So I don’t believe he wants war with Iran. If he had wanted one he could have had one any time in the last few months. His propaganda has been about how his policy of means short of war is working just fine. We Euros and the Iranians seem to be playing a game of pretending to boycott each other, which may be foolish and dangerous but doesn’t involve the threats and ultimatums which normally, as with Iraq, precede wars.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      He doesn’t want it, MHughes, but if Netanyahu starts a war you better believe Obama will get behind it. Success in national American politics is literally chained to Israeli interests. Israel could drop a nuke on Iran, and Obama would lose the election if he didn’t support mass murder on that scale.

    • Walid says:

      “Obama wants reelection and I don’t believe he wants unpredictable things getting in the way. ”

      MHughes, during a time of war, don’t Americans always stand behind their president irrespective of how lousy he is? If Obama wants a 100% chance of being reelected, his best bet is to have a war or to have the people spooked out of their wits about the prospect of one which is now being fueled day and night by Israel. Didn’t Bush II take Bin Ladin out of mothballs for his reelection and every time he was in a tight spot? Now the spook is Iran and after that, the likely candidate to be framed for the cause would be Chavez.

      • Walid: “If Obama wants a 100% chance of being reelected, his best bet is to have a war or to have the people spooked out of their wits about the prospect of one which is now being fueled day and night by Israel. ”

        It would appear that the American public is not spooking. The NYT article cited above by Phil mentions a recent poll indicating that most Americans favor bombing Iran if it is developing a nuclear weapon (as I recall, 52% for, 35% against).

        And I have seen at least two news reports in which unnamed Administration sources suggest that the White House favors a bombing campaign against Iran in the fall, before the elections. One presumes that it should begin too late for the inevitable rise in gas prices to have had much impact on the electorate by election day.

        • Walid says:

          “It would appear that the American public is not spooking.”

          Thomson, the spooking part was only part of it; the other part has to do with rallying around the flag and behind the President in a time of war. If so many were polled as being for the bombing, it makes their rallying that much easier and it would bring Obama that much closer to the other candidates that with exception of Paul are pushing to bomb Iran. Whether Obama does it himself or through proxy Israel, the end result on the American electorate would be the same. Americans would not be averse to having their government jumping in to support Israel in a war on Iran; it’s been supporting it in all its escapades since 1967. Did you check out Citizen’s link to the Counterpunch article on the Yom Kippur War?

        • Walid, I’m agreeing with you, buddy.

        • MHughes976 says:

          Well, we’ll see. You’re all very rational and persuasive people!
          I’ll still venture a peep of dissent. I think that if Netanyahu could send Obama to war with a snap of his fingers he’d have done it by now and thoroughly enjoyed it. If Obama had wanted to build up a mass of votes on the basis of Stand with Israel he would have started already, would not have made a show of resisting the Boycott Iran legislation (just the sort of thing that infuriates voters of that stamp) and would not be placing his reliance on a crazy surge of support at the last minute. There would be some signs of tension among the top people if Dempsey’s remarks had been unauthorised.
          Obama is, whatever else he is, no fool. He knows that Walid and others are right to say that support surges at the first minute of a conflict but he’s read his Clausewitz and knows that military plans often lead to spectacular short term failures even if you win in the end. The people who cheer you on are just waiting to hang you from the lamp post when things take a turn for the worse. Even Lincoln, Father Abraham at first, had to endure people singing ‘When this cruel war is over’ before too long. Well, this was a medium term phenomenon, but a risky attack on Iran could turn sour pretty quickly.

  12. Taxi says:

    Is Natanyahu preparing the residents of tel aviv for a blitzing? No. Could the great mighty israel even put out it’s Carmel fire? No.

    So it ain’t gonna happen. Cuz tel aviv is the first target, and the daimona is on the radar.

    The Aprtheid israeli politicos are sabre rattling for local consumption. Aparthied israeli citizens have become acutely pathological, thanks to decades of the politics of fear, and they need to daily hear that their politicians are gonna kill Arabs and Iranians before they think them sound and electable. Sure they got war fever, but they got paper balls and they’ll never go it alone.

    All israel is interested in is setting-up a war: not starting it, or fighting it.

    It’s the only thing they can do really.

    But with the advent of the internet and free-flowing information, and in the midst of the random earthquakes of the so-called Arab Spring, their chances of success at a false-flagger is diminishing. Why else do you think they’re building settlements faster than ever before? Cuz they know that they gotta take firmer root when the local Arab/Iranian tsunami hits ‘em.

  13. ToivoS says:

    Ari Shavetz has an interesting take on Bibi’s Iran obsession — link to

    Basically, Shavetz makes a fairly good case that Bibi has essentially replaced the Palestinian issue with the Iran issue in the thinking and debate in Western capitols. It seems quite accurate. It is now Iran all of the time. This has to be a tremendous diplomatic achievement by the Israelis. It is permitting them to accelerate the seizure of more WB land and further ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem with nary a peep out of the US or other Nato countries.

    Ari’s fear is that Bibi, even if he was just bluffing, may have put himself in a position to have no choice but to invade once his bluff is called.

    • lysias says:

      Invade? Invade Iran? Just how would Israel manage to do that? Aren’t there some countries in the way?

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Simple. They’ll order the US military in, like they basically did with Iraq.

      • piotr says:

        Iran has many vilages and IDF has a very good experience in fighting villages. One should note expertise in fighting with tree crops that few armies possess.

        A possible weakness is that IDF has relatively small [recent] experience in combat in the situation where the enemy shoots back. Some experts warn that Iran’s irrational mullahs may resort to such unfair tactics.

        • IDF has relatively small [recent] experience in combat in the situation where the enemy shoots back. Some experts warn that Iran’s irrational mullahs may resort to such unfair tactics.

          i heard they have weapons too, other than rocks. that could prove challenging.

        • RoHa says:

          “A possible weakness is that IDF has relatively small [recent] experience in combat in the situation where the enemy shoots back. Some experts warn that Iran’s irrational mullahs may resort to such unfair tactics.”

          But that’s not allowed, is it?

      • Walid says:

        “Invade? Invade Iran? Just how would Israel manage to do that? Aren’t there some countries in the way?”

        lysias, the countries in the way and those surrounding Iran contain about 50 American (and by extension Israeli) bases and it would be a piece of cake to change the markings on US planes to make them appear Israeli. This stunt involving Israel was pulled once before in 1956 when Israel and the UK joined France’s war on Egypt when France landed 12 Mysteres on an Israeli desert base and painted over the tricolor circle markings with a Star of David before the bombing to make the planes appear Israeli. I’m sure over the years this gimmick has been pulled over and over by various countries. Excerpt from the History Learning Site:

        “… On October 28th, Israel launched a secret strike on Egypt – so secret that for years the Egyptians had no idea as to what had happened. Israeli intelligence had found out via a spy when and where an aeroplane carrying senior Egyptian military commanders would be flying. It was shot down killing all on board. Many in Egypt believed it to have been a tragic accident.

        At the same time, twelve French fighter jets flew from Cyprus to Israel. Dayan was concerned about the aerial strength of the Egyptian air force and the French fighters were a guarantee against this. The fighter planes were given Israeli markings and the French pilots given the appropriate documentation.

        On October 29th, 395 Israeli paratroopers were dropped in the Sinai Desert – about twenty miles from the Suez Canal… ”

        link to

        • lysias says:

          I was asking about an invasion. I wouldn’t call bombing or strafing from the air an “invasion”.

        • Walid says:

          “I was asking about an invasion.”

          Sorry about that, here’s a map that shows American bases starting from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and other countries across the Gulf, to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey that have borders with Iran. Most of these countries wouldn’t object to an invasion from their soil or coast. Of course Israel wouldn’t have the manpower for an invasion. See map in link:

          link to

        • lysias says:

          Do you think the U.S. would have the manpower for an invasion? Iran is 3.76 times the size of Iraq.

        • i presume we do, but whether we have the manpower to overpower and contain the fallout is another matter entirely.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          Invasion? No way. The US may potentially form a beach head on Iranian soil (to keep waterways open) but no way there is a “march to Tehran”

        • Citizen says:

          I think that if a war with Iran is started by Israel or USIsrael, it will come down to boots on the ground, followed eventually by talk of a US Military Draft implementation–this will be catastrophic for domestic US affairs; and, combined with the impact on our economy, will be a total disaster for USA. But that’s something Americans should think about, especially the 98% that are not Jewish. Yet, they won’t.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          I think if it got to the point of land invasion/boots on the ground/potential draft in the US – we would be having a much different “conversation” about what the hell is going on here…..

          I can say for certain, I would take my punk ass to Canada – no way Im going back into the service for this bullsht.

        • “potential draft in the US – “

          there won’t be a draft.

          Both Romney & Gingrich are proposing changes to immigration law so that illegal Hispanics can gain naturalized status IF/AFTER they enlist, serve in US military. Full disclosure — another option in some forms of the DREAM legislation is “citizenship after completing college OR military service,” but either Gingrich or Romney, I don’t remember which, says the ‘college’ option should be eliminated.

          If these two GOP hawks are campaigning on this issue, you can bet the hawk Congress is on board, and in this situation, ONLY the military option will be on the table.

          Has anyone on Wall Street started a betting pool on how long before US people start Machiavelli-ing their leaders?

        • piotr says:

          Walid, I beg to disagree. Iraq is Iranian ally, right now it extends 5 billion dollar credit line to Syria which is not American suggestion. Turkey plays it both ways, but they refused to allow their territory to be used against Saddam, they will not do it against Iran. Azerbaijan has VERY weak strategic position. Its only way to export oil is a pipeline that passes several miles from Armenia, a country in a state of war — and dependent of Iran for the very survival. Only Russia could save Azerbaijan in such a situation, and surely they will not PROMISE IN ADVANCE.

          NATO is barely making it in Afghanistan. This is the end of very long logistical chain, and if Taliban is armed like Hezbollah is armed now, it will turn ugly. Central Asian countries will not do anything against Iran, Russia and China combined (namely, providing staging ground for an invasion). That basically covers all borders. Emirates are too close to Iran to afford being hostile. Right now they are signing a large contract to purchase electricity from Iran. There are 0.5 million Iranian expats in Emirates, which are also main trading conduit for Iran.

          We are left with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. None really qualifies. So we would have to run the invasion from Diego Garcia.

          Also you can have 500 military outposts, but for invasion + occupation you must have some boots. If 150,000 are barely making it in Iraq and in Afghanistan, you must have 500,000 to barely make it in Iran. A possible solution would be to offer a very good non-aggression treaty + OK for nukes + a lot of economic assistance and rent 500,000 troops from North Korea.

  14. Nevada Ned says:

    See an excellent article on today’s CounterPunch by Gareth Porter, taking the hot air out of the balloon of the IAEA, which demanded access to Parchin, an Iranian military site. Turns out that on two occasions in recent years, IAEA was granted access to Parchin, searched several buildings, and found nothing. For details see this link

    link to

  15. Nice piece of reporting on what to me is the issue dujour, this one will affect our soldiers and the rest of us back in the “homeland”, siegheil.

    unless the American President speaks directly to the volk and the narrative changes 180 degrees the aggressive neocons personality shall win the day.

    link to

  16. RoHa says:

    Sanity is no fun, and it won’t get you elected in the US.

  17. Sin Nombre says:

    It seems to me that what we are going to see depends to a tremendous degree on the Israelis estimation of (A) whether they are going to be able to get Obama to launch an attack on Iran before the elections (because I suspect they believe they never will after same), but then also (B) who is going to win the election.

    If, that is, they think Obama is going to win, then they have to put him up against the wall now, or force his hand now by launching their own attack first and then getting the U.S. involved from there.

    If they think Obama is going to lose to one of the Republicans other than Paul, then I think that would change their posture, although I doubt they much trust Romney. (Because, after all, who does trust him?)

    Right now then I think we’re seeing their calculation that indeed Obama is likely to win, so that it is indeed right now that they are going to have maximum leverage over him. Indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if Netanyahu isn’t going to use his upcoming meeting with Obama in March to take his final measure and see whether Obama will indeed be willing to go first, or whether Israel will have to go first (all before the elections) and trust that Obama is susceptible to being dragged in after that. (Israel getting hit with a few missiles, the call then going out to protect Israel, and blah blah blah or etc.)

    Sort of funny seeing a foreign country so insanely interested in our elections. Makes Ron Paul look like a wise old man to say that we ought not be that involved in the rest of the world so that same happens given all the manipulation we then get subject to.

    • ToivoS says:

      Sin I have been running through the same considerations. Game theory time. What is so pathetic is that the most powerful country in the world is being led around by the nose by an insignificant country like Israel — just one small problem is that is a country with American backers that have access to some major funds.

      • Citizen says:

        ToivoS, in the end, it all comes down to Zionist moneybags. It could be different, for example, if Obama goes over the top of our MSM & political in-fighting, and speaks directly to the American people, telling them no rational person thinks Iran is a direct threat to America, or Israel, either in terms of what Iran says, which is always reactive, or in terms of what they threaten, which is, basically nothing when one considers the war capacity of the USA and/or Israel. Like Dempsey said, Iran is a rational regime. It really is. But hey, what are historical facts to American politicians secured by AIPAC, or to Israel, which always needs a Hitler to justify it’s continued existence “as Israel.” Zionism is the key, combined with the American campaign finance system, which is basically, bribery.

  18. jewishgoyim says:

    “Who gave the neocons power?”

    Now this is the million dollar rhetorical question and I’m not sure the answer that Phil gives is satisfying:

    “Liberals did. And culture played a significant role.”

    What does Phil mean exactly?

    • Citizen says:

      Phil meant PEP.

    • I first tuned in to I/P but especially Israel Lobby issues after reading a bio sketch of Dick Cheney in April 2001, by Nicholas Lehman (sp?) in New Yorker. Lehman said the person who most shaped Cheney’s thinking was a prof at Yale, H Bradford Westerfield. I looked up Westerfield & read a textbook he wrote that Cheney probably read for his classes w/ Westerfield.

      Here’s what Bradley Westerfield wrote in 1955 in “Foreign Policy and Party Politics: Pearl Harbor to Korea:”

      “Palestine is the classic case in recent years of the determination of American foreign policy by domestic political considerations. American Zionists showed themselves to be zealots, relentlessly determined to secure the intervention of the United States government on behalf of a Jewish state in Palestine. They had wealth to devote to the cause, and beyond that they had two peculiar advantages among the various pressure groups seeking to influence major American foreign policy. First, the Jewish population for which they claimed to speak was concentrated in urban centers in the big industrial states, especially New York, Pennsylvania, and California; these states were closely divided between the two political parties, and nder the existing “general ticket” system of counting electoral votes for the presidency, Zionists appeared to be a dedicated group who might be able to swing all the many electoral votes of those key states to one party or the other and thus decide a national election; even state and local elections in these big states were of national importance for strengthening local party organizations which would be needed to help in national campaigns. Second and equally important, they were virtually unopposed by any other pressure group and faced an indifferent or mildly sympathetic public. [I had thought that the Roman Catholic church was large enough, powerful enough to mount opposition to Zionism, but zionists pre-empted Catholic hierarchy -- one of the first 'trophies' of NYC zionists was Roman Catholic Fiorello LaGuardia, closely followed by Chicago's Archbp. Mundelein. As well, Roman Catholics spent several decades practicing how to shoot with U-shaped rifles; "pro life" was a useful distraction and one that RC 'true beweevers' still can't resist defending with the last measure of their political capital--freiers; pedophilia knocked RC church out of serious contention.] Anti-Semites, e.g., preferred to have the remnants of European Jewry go to Palestine than come to New York; American security interests in the Arab world were not understood widely enough or felt strongly enough to create substantial political resistance to Zionism.


      In these circumstances leaders of both parties had nothing to lose and everything to gain politically by competing for Zionist votes and Zionist money. In the years 1939-1945 the stakes in this game grew much higher than before. Zionists developed a sense of great urgency as a reslut of the the decimation of the Jewish population of Europe and the threat contained in the British White Paper of 1939 that no Jewish immigration would be permitted in Palestine after 1945 (except with the unlikely consent of the Arabs). And during the war the main center of world Zionism moved from London to New York, where the politically strategic location of millions of Jewish voters, plus coolly calculated contributions to party campaign funds, [Samuel Untermyer was a leader in NYC Democratic party circles & very close to Wilson and FDR] were available to bring the pressure of the American government to bear on Britain.”

      as I read that last sentence — I had thought that Churchill pressured FDR to get involved in war in Europe, but it might have been a mutual support system of sorts — BOTH leaders being pressured by Zionists to pressure each other to get involved in a war that Herbert Hoover declared a major blunder.

  19. talknic says:

    Sanity 101 : If a country wants nukies it can join the IAEA without signing an NPT. It can then receive the benefits of membership (as Israel does) and LEGALLY develop nukies.

    Or if it has already signed an NPT it can legally leave the NPT, still receive the benefits of membership (as Israel does) and LEGALLY develop nukies.

    Insanity 101 : US/Israeli propaganda

  20. Daniel Rich says:


    Bomb Iraq Iran!
    Bomb Iraq Iran!
    Bomb Iraq Iran!

    Is anyone taking the NYT, WaPO, LAT serious these days?

    • lysias says:


      Invade Libya Syria!
      Invade Libya Syria!
      Invade Libya Syria!

      • Rusty Pipes says:

        It’s “Shiny Syria: The Ultimate Distraction from Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing.” As long as beating the war drums and making Syrian atrocities (as reported by so-called “human rights organizations”) the Middle East lede story keeps what is happening in the West Bank out of the news, who knows whether the hasbarists will find an actual war on Syria necessary?
        Ooh look, another Friday protest in Syria — time for a GOI Friday news dump.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          While I think it is important that the news does report on Syria like they have been, the double standard is pretty glaring. Where is this “under the microscope” examination whenever Israel uses military force on civilians? Hell, how about Bahrain or Saudi Arabia? Being an ally to US interests seems to buy immunity (and impunity) from the American “fourth estate” (which really has become part of the government propaganda machine now, ironically)

  21. piotr says:

    The real problem is that NOBODY knows what would happen after an attack. I was extrapolating the war of 2006 as a “dress rehearsal”. Israel as a stand-in for USA, Hezbollah for Iran.

    Hezbollah retaliated for bombardment by lobing crappy missiles and ONE anti-ship missile that disabled an IDF vessel. Missiles were stopped neither by bombardment nor by ground attacks. It was proven that the new generation of anti-tank self-propelled grenades can make short work from the new generation reactive armor tanks.

    In principle, Iran can respond by stopping traffic in the Strait of Hormuz subject of very reasonable demands: attackers pays reparations. And lets through tankers to countries that may no belligerent moves, India and China.

    Someone can respond by “calling the bluff” and sending some tankers through the Strait. But a salvo of missiles can destroy a tanker, and that would probably stop the rest from trying. While it is hard to put a tanker in flames, once done it is not a place to be. Try to leave a ship when the sea is covered in flames … Plus, a single cargo would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

    So we, USA, could bomb the sites sending missiles. Here is a question: how many tunnels and decoy tunnels with bunkers did Iranians prepared for the occasion?

    But the real question is who would be blamed? During last jumps in oil prices there were riots in various places. If the public will attribute high prices to Israeli action, what would that do? I am talking about Europe and North America.

    And what would happen in Muslim countries? Our positions in Pakistan and Central Asia are quite wobbly. And even more so in Afghanistan.

    • lysias says:

      The value of a single tanker would be trivial compared to the losses resulting from the fact that thereafter other tankers going through the Strait of Hormuz would be uninsurable.

      • piotr says:

        Exactly. If Iran announces “exclusion zone” and USA does not occupy the mountains next to the straight, the traffic is basically halted. Insurance has specific clauses exempting acts of war.

        The trick is that Iran would need some exit plan: how to finish. And have some backing, because it has to trade afterwards. I would imagine something sufficiently reasonable to be backed by China. Either reparations or some kind of written security guarantee. It suffices that Israel would loose face.

        For all the blather how “saving face” is paramount in Middle Eastern culture, nobody is as fanatical about it as Israel. So it would be quite a pickle for Israel. And for us.

        Iran’s supreme leader could also use the attack to lift the fatwa against nuclear weapons. You must remember that Iranian leader is a Supreme Jurist and the Law is sacred — it comes from God. So one cannot just go around fatwa without a very good reason, like our Supreme Court undoing “suicidal idiocies of Founding Fathers” about due process.

        Also, since the nuclear program is nowhere and anywhere, you could have craters of size of little volcanoes in 100 places and they would still claim that the Zionist entity miserably failed in interrupting their peaceful program. This is the beauty of the program that does not quite exist.

        My conclusion is that what Israel and USA should dread most are not some fabled chemical weapons or “rain of missiles on Tel Aviv” but simple actions that will put both in a pickle. There is no easy military response to announcements. We would need to make a barrage of our own announcements, and convince Chinese and Russians.

        800 lb gorilla is what would happen politically in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria etc. This is in “we have no idea” and “anything can happen” zone. An elephant in the room is the reaction of American drivers to a huge price hike caused by Israel.

  22. American says:

    Such a comedy.
    The US and EU put sanctions on Iran and went around the world strong arming other countries not to buy Iran oil.
    So then Iran announced it would boycott oil to Europe.

    So now Europe is offficially complaining about Iran boycotting them on Iran oil. LOL

    Beam me up Scotty.

  23. Phil: Yes culturally it’s a fascinating question…. The cultural question [Beinart] addresses is the Israel lobby: the aggrandized role inside the Jewish community (and the American establishment) of neoconservative extremists. Who gave the neocons power? Liberals did. And culture played a significant role.

    I agree: Culture is a fascinating phenomenological question. See, for example, Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes. But more to the present context, consider these words from a contemporary Jewish writer*:

    The Modern Age is the Jewish Age, and the twentieth century, in particular, is the Jewish Century. Modernization is about everyone becoming urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. It is about learning to cultivate people and symbols, not fields or herds. It is about pursuing wealth for the sake of learning, learning for the sake of wealth, and both wealth and learning for their own sake. It is about transforming peasants and princes into merchants and priests, replacing inherited privilege with acquired prestige, and dismantling social estates for the benefit of individuals, nuclear families, and book-reading tribes (nations). Modernization, in other words, is about everyone becoming Jewish.

    (emphasis added)

    *Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (2004), introduction

    I ask you to imagine what a typical rancher in my state of Texas would think if he read this.

    It is not at all hard to find similar passages in the writings of living American Jews. The hubris is so thick one can slice it with a butter knife. These and similar ideas, so prevalent among Jewish thinkers over the last half-century or so, are strong indications of the kind of “culture” that has produced America’s neoconservatives. The writer is correct: These Jewish-centric attitudes now pervade our better universities, our political institutions and think-tanks, and our national media.

    But to explain the ever-expanding power of the Israel Lobby and its associated Jewish power structure, one must add to the cultural mix the peculiarly toxic element of ethnocentric nationalism we call Zionism. If, as Slezkine writes, the Modern Age is the Jewish Age, then Zionism is what now makes our culture so extremely dangerous for America and the world.

    • piotr says:

      But this is XXI century, which is not a Jewish Century (or they want two?)

      Jihad is the new thing. (I know what you want to say, but Roman Empire was modernizing 2000 years ago, modernizing is not a new idea either).

      This is how Jews can join the Jihad trend: [why "all young men should enlist in IDF"], in ever-liberal Ha’aretz:

      “The prerogative to study the Torah indeed helps the IDF reign victorious in battle, but the ones who decide the battle are the soldiers themselves. That has been the case since the days of Joshua. ”

      Santorum talks fondly about Crusades. As Mussolini noted, every man needs his little jihad. Joshua! Santiago! Matamoros! [I do not know Arabic, but we can also raise trident for Lord Krishna etc.]

  24. Kathleen says:

    Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett’s efforts to educate the public about the facts on the ground in Iran and US Iranian policy has been monumental! Race for Iran their website is a national treasure for facts

  25. Kathleen says:

    ” and the slow lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.” That lead up started immediately after the invasion of Iraq. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Condi “mushroom cloud” Rice, Bolton, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Woolsey, Perle were all over the place focusing on Iran. The MSM immediately allowed them to repeat unsubstantiated claims about Iran. Cheney was on Tim Russerts not long after the invasion of Iraq saying go get Iran. Russert did not challenge him. Many more examples of the MSM rolling over when false claims about Iran would be repeated on Face the Nation, George Stephanopolous’s program etc etc

  26. Don’t want war with Iran?

    Vote Ron Paul for President, Dennis Kucinich and others for Represantatives, and Occupy Washington with 3 million+ people who threaten to storm the White House if any attack is launched.

    Also, keep your eyes open for any false-flag attacks which try to portray Iran as the instigator of the war.