New round of Iran sanctions pressures Obama to move closer to Israel’s ‘red line’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 105 Comments
An Iranian woman walks past a mural painting of a revolver on the walls of the former US embassy in Tehran. (Photo: Atta Kenare AFP/Getty Images via Globalpost)

Yet another round of sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear program was passed yesterday in Congress–the latest measure in what Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor said is a campaign to “tighten the economic noose” around Iran. The bill also represents another effort to pressure President Barack Obama to inch closer to Israel’s “red line” on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Berman and Ros-Lehtinen
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), left, and Howard Berman (D-CA)
were principal sponsors of the latest Iran sanctions bill

The legislation, titled the “Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012″ (H.R. 1905), passed easily in both houses of Congress. In the House, the vote was 421-6, with anti-war stalwarts like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul speaking out against the bill. The bill was so uncontroversial in the Senate that it passed by unanimous consent. President Obama, who announced a separate set of sanctions on July 31, is expected to sign the bill, according to news reports–though he has executive discretion on how to implement the legislation.

The measure was strongly backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who triumphantly heralded the latest sanctions as part of “the strongest set of sanctions to isolate any country in the world during peacetime.” The legislation was introduced by hardline supporters of Israel in Congress, like Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Howard Berman (D-CA).

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) (h/t Paul Mutter) explains the crux of the latest sanctions:

The bill expands sanctions on insurers dealing with Iran’s energy sector; sanctions anyone affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps; expands sanctions on energy and uranium mining activities in Tehran; and freezes the assets of individuals and companies that enable Iran to repress its citizens through the use of technology.

It also reduces the threshold for incurring sanctions from $20 million in annual dealings with Iran’s energy sector to $5 million.

The JTA also notes this important point:

Also, for the first time in actionable legislation, the measure defines the capability of building a nuclear weapon as posing a threat to the United States.

“Capability” is the key word. The term “nuclear weapons capability”–repeated endlessly in the bill’s text–is a fuzzy one.

Commenting on an earlier Iran-related bill, Kucinich said that the term was “a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program.” In other words, by some readings Iran already has the “capability” to produce a nuclear weapon if it decided to (which it hasn’t). Robert Wright similarly notes in The Atlantic that “the term ‘capability’ is so mushy that Israel could bomb Iran tomorrow and say that it did so because, by its definition of ‘capability,’ Iran was exactly a day away from possessing it!”

AIPAC and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been pressuring the US to adhere closer to their red line, and this is one way to ramp up that pressure. A separate, non-binding resolution that AIPAC pushed around its annual conference was also focused on the word “capability.”

The difference in approach between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations was on display recently when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Israel. Panetta emphasized that it was US policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, whereas Netanyahu emphasized the “capability” to do so. (See this Jerusalem Post article for more on this.)

And, as Phyllis Bennis noted Wednesday on Mondoweiss, the Romney campaign has “accepted the official position of his host country – Israel – which is that a nuclear capable Iran is the red line.” Romney advisor Dan Senor–whose sister runs AIPAC in Jerusalem–was explicit that Romney’s position was that Israel would be justified in striking Iran if it reached the “capability” to produce a nuclear weapon.

So both Congress and the Romney campaign are marching in lockstep, putting pressure on the Obama administration to adhere to the Israeli “red line” on Iran. And you can expect more pressure: Senator Mark Kirk, the Israel lobby’s go-to guy in Congress, has vowed to introduce more Iran sanctions.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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105 Responses

  1. upsidedownism
    August 3, 2012, 9:33 am

    Pity Iran
    Imagine if there were nuclear armed Iranian cruisers and aircraft carriers churning along the coasts of the united states; iranian military bases in mexico, canada and other surrounding countries.

    The Iranians are enduring the equivalent of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, day after day, year after year, endlessly under pressure from the the US and its middle eastern allies. Iran doesn’t threaten the United States in any way, and the US government should just leave iran alone.

    • BillM
      August 3, 2012, 3:33 pm

      Except that it can’t go on, year after year; that is the other half of the problem. It’s not just that he US is moving closer to Israel’s incoherent red lines, it’s that the current US posture is not sustainable. The massive US buildup greatly increases the cost of oil. It’s only workable right now because the work economy is weak (meaning demand is very low) and there are no other crises driving up prices. This current tenstion can’t be sustained in an expanding economy.

      Further, the buildup itself is hideously expensive. It is also exhausting to the Navy particularly, and it prevents Obama’s much touted “pivot” to Asia, since 50-60% of the carrier fleet is now dedicated the Middle East, and even large percentages of other systems (like minesweepers).

      The US simply cannot stay in this posture year after year, so there must be some sort of resolution. Resolutions can be broken down into 4 broad categories:

      1) A humiliating US climb-down.
      2) A humilating Iranian climb-down.
      3) A negotiated settlement both sides can call a victory.
      4) War.

      I just dont see either 1 or 2 happening. They would be devastating to the losing side, worse than risking a war from the leadership perspective. For #3, the space is there for a negotiated settlement, since Iran has announced on religious grounds it won’t seek nuclear weapons and on practical grounds it would be willing to halt 20% enrichment, and the US has announced some level of enrichment can continue. But honestly, the basis for a negotiated settlement has existed for years, and no one took it. Moves like this current legislation close off that basis.

      What does that level? As the Sherlock Holmes saying goes: “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

      • ToivoS
        August 3, 2012, 5:17 pm

        Sensible analysis. Your option 3 is still the most likely. However, the outcome would have to be an American climb-down but one that our PR expertise would spin as a victory. Nixon and Kissinger were able to say that they had achieved “peace with honor” in 1972 and it was not until 1975 that it became apparent to all we had essentially surrendered.

      • ritzl
        August 3, 2012, 9:20 pm

        @ToivoS +1

        Though I’m not sure that Obama has the option of an enabling (to get to #3) PR spin on Iran. In ’72 we were collectively tired of Viet Nam and accepted the result. Today the forces propelling us toward #4 are not tired, and in fact never sleep.

      • Don Bacon
        August 3, 2012, 6:36 pm

        I disagree.
        It doesn’t greatly increase the cost of oil, isn’t hideously expensive, isn’t exhausting the Navy and only employs a maximum of two (of eleven) carriers, not even close to half of the active carriers (eight).

      • ritzl
        August 3, 2012, 11:56 pm

        @ Don Bacon Two or three carrier groups in a pond the size of Lake Erie may not be “hideously expensive,” but it is hideously wasteful. That’s the way I took BillM’s comment.

        Not only in the military sense, as BillM explained, but in the sense of all the political and military bureaucratic and policy effort that has to go into making that presence a sustained national priority.

        There are so many other global problems that require our attention, that defining away a diplomatic outcome with Iran in lieu of some parts real, but almost completely imagined (or again, defined by us), intransigence on Iran’s part is in fact “hideous.”

        What is the global real-politik price for killing some Indian fishermen because they were mistaken as (actually, assumed to be in the shoot first sense) Iranian, in your calculus? Doesn’t that make our global FP and military policy much more difficult? Everywhere? Just think what an actual shooting war with Iran would mean in that same context. All the economic devastation to middle America aside, would we be viewed, ever again, as operating in good faith, globally? No.

        Hell, if instability is the currency of, and motivation for, US global interactions, we lose big with our current course wrt Iran. Priceless.

        I realize that US global dominance (at the moment) is an enforcing mechanism. Few countries will overtly contradict us, diplomatically, in pursuit of our money and influence. But they will back off helping us locally, even in our legitimate needs. To me that is also the definition of a “hideously expensive” price to pay.

      • ToivoS
        August 4, 2012, 12:09 am

        Don not sure who you disagree with here. It does seem that the that the US has few military options against Iran. It should be clear to any rational observer that the US does not have the power to invade Iran and impose our will on the Islamic Republic. The country is just too large. Perhaps we can bomb them into the stone age. We tried that in Vietnam and it did not work at all. (Do you remember, the more we bombed, the more the Vietnamese people rallied behind their country.)

        So what option does the US have. The fact that the US has 11 aircraft carrier battle groups is not important. What happens if the Iranians engage one of those battle groups in the Persian Gulf and succeed in sinking one. They do not need to defeat all 11 but if they bloodied one it would be considered a major victory for Iran.

        My fear is that such a defeat might just cause the US to use nuclear weapons against Iran in revenge.

      • Don Bacon
        August 4, 2012, 11:49 am

        There have never been two or three carrier groups in the Persian Gulf. Even BillM didn’t claim that. There have been two carrier groups in the region, and one in the Gulf, but if they weren’t there they’d be somewhere, wouldn’t they.

        I’m not claiming it’s a good idea, I’m disputing wrongful claims. Again, if you missed it: “It doesn’t greatly increase the cost of oil, isn’t hideously expensive, isn’t exhausting the Navy and only employs a maximum of two (of eleven) carriers, not even close to half of the active carriers (eight).”

        At least get the facts right.

        Actually the carriers (particularly in the Gulf) make inviting targets for Iran cruise missiles and the Navy of course knows that, so in that sense they are a war preventative.

      • Roya
        August 4, 2012, 2:49 pm

        I disagree. It doesn’t greatly increase the cost of oil

        Well reality disagrees with you:

        The price of oil spiked on Friday June 30, with experts attributing the nearly 10 percent increase in costs almost entirely on the loss of Iranian oil from the Western market.

        And June 30 was the day before the EU embargo took effect.

      • Don Bacon
        August 4, 2012, 3:43 pm

        The subject is military buildup, of course, not sanctions.
        So you get an “F” in blogging.

      • Roya
        August 4, 2012, 5:54 pm

        @Bacon “It” is a pronoun. Pronouns are ambiguous. Also you get an “F” in tact.

      • BillM
        August 5, 2012, 1:16 pm

        Don, I think it is you who are mistating the facts. First off, there have been 2-3 carriers in the REGION for a while. Often, one is deployed in the Eastern Med, but it is entirely Middle Eastern focused, so I would certainly count it. And, of course, a carrier doesn’t have to be in the Persian Gulf itself (and certainly wouldn’t be in the Gulf itself in the event of war for obvious reasons).

        As to the number of carriers, the US currently has 11, and is about to drop to 10. A carrier can spend (at most) half it’s time actually at sea. Thus, the US can average about 5 carriers operational in the world. 2-3 in the Middle East means 50% of carriers are devoted there. Remember that Obama’s “China pivot” (I say Obama’s, but any US President would do the same) involves refocusing the Navy 60+% in East Asia. 60% in East Asia and 50% in the Middle East leaves negative 10% for the rest of the world. The math just doesn’t work.

        Regarding the price of oil, this is subtler, since you can never attach the precise amount to a risk premium. Some folks have estimated it at about $20-25. I think it’s lower now, again because the price of oil SHOULD be low. There are few supply disruptions. Even Libya is largely online. The world and particularly the US are seeing a natural gas boom, driving down energy costs. And most important, the economy is a wreck, cutting consumption. The price of oil should be rock bottom, but it isn’t. The Iranian risk premium has a lot to do with that. If other factors (particularly the economy) ever drive up the price of oil, the Iranian risk premium will certainly spike it to unbearable levels very quickly.

        Thus, I don’t see the current policy as sustainable on a year-over-year basis. Economic realities will force a “resolution” of some sort.

      • BillM
        August 5, 2012, 1:19 pm

        Don, re: Roya’s comment, I’d say you are the one to get the F. I, at least, certainly consider both the sanctions and the military buildup part and parcel of the same policy, and I don’t really see how you can analyze one independently of the other.

      • ritzl
        August 3, 2012, 9:06 pm

        Excellent summary. Thanks.

    • Kathleen
      August 3, 2012, 3:40 pm

      How absurd it is that Israel a nation that refuses to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty is stirring up the war pot with a nation Iran who has signed the NPT. Can it get any more insane? Iran has pushed for a nuclear free zone. While Israel has stockpiles of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that go undeclared and un inspected. No wonder people in that part of the world get so pissed with Israel. A bully

  2. Woody Tanaka
    August 3, 2012, 9:37 am

    The warmongers in Tel Aviv and it’s suburb, Washington, D.C., are playing with fire.

  3. edwin
    August 3, 2012, 9:42 am

    Canada has the “capacity” to produce nuclear weapons. Which first world countries do not have this capacity? I think that this resolution is an attempt to declare that a first-world Iran is a threat and is unacceptable.

  4. HarryLaw
    August 3, 2012, 9:52 am

    International Law and the UN legal system have been trashed by the US/Israel, might is right is now excepted wisdom in US/Israeli politics. Susan Rice said at the UN the other day that unless Russia and China did as we say on Syria, then the US would go outside the UN, which is what the US had been doing in Syria before she had even said that [Obama’s signing statement earlier in the year]. Only Russia and China can save this faltering world legal order, unless they do they are next, that’s guaranteed.

    • Averroes
      August 3, 2012, 12:31 pm

      Donno about that, the US (and most other superpowers, past and present) have a tendency to usually go after weak, dirt-poor, defenseless countries. Any country that poses a serious threat and has a formidable military response capability to be reckoned with, even if it is much less than that of the US, is probably in safe waters. Consider the fact that the US hasn’t dared mess with North Korea after it obtained nuclear capabilities. Which is a pretty insightful and telling sign to other countries that if you want to be immune from US military belligerence and aggression, strap up on nuclear arsenal. Pronto!

      • Daniel Rich
        August 4, 2012, 1:34 am

        @ Averrroes,

        Q: Consider the fact that the US hasn’t dared mess with North Korea after it obtained nuclear capabilities.

        R: NK does NOT have nukes. It has aging nuclear facilities and blew up a lot of dynamite in a mine. Play poker?

        NK’s bluff is laughable [but it ain’t funny]

      • Averroes
        August 4, 2012, 6:28 am

        @Daniel Rich,

        “Since the NPT entered into force in 1970, three states that were not parties to the Treaty have conducted nuclear tests, namely India, Pakistan, and North Korea. North Korea had been a party to the NPT but withdrew in 2003. ”

        “Alas, the time and resources needed are indeed scarce, so to this day, only nine countries are nuclear-equipped-the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. Here we see these links visualized, starting with the Manhattan project and fanning out over the last six decades (click here for the full-size popup).”

        Also see:

        The “Official” Nuclear Weapons States

        Five countries, the US, UK, France, China and Russia are considered to be “nuclear weapons states” (NWS), “an internationally recognized status conferred by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)”. Three other “Non NPT countries” (i.e. non-signatory states of the NPT) including India, Pakistan and North Korea, have recognized possessing nuclear weapons.


        Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Turkey: “Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States”

        While Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities are unconfirmed, the nuclear weapons capabilities of these five countries including delivery procedures are formally acknowledged.

        The US has supplied some 480 B61 thermonuclear bombs to five so-called “non-nuclear states”, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. Casually disregarded by the Vienna based UN Nuclear Watchdog (IAEA), the US has actively contributed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe.

      • Daniel Rich
        August 5, 2012, 12:21 am

        @ Averroes,

        Countless [NK] defectors claim otherwise. Are you familiar with Kim’s brave men [un’s daddio]? The detonation of the ‘bomb’ was/is the weakest on record ever. Nuke-lite? I don’t profess to know the answers, but I call bluff ‘bluff’ when I see it. Same reason why Israel won’t attack Iran. BS bluff. NK’s starving and desperately needs food. Think that might be a hint at how to connect the dots?

      • Roya
        August 4, 2012, 3:28 pm

        Is Iran a weak, dirt-poor, and defenseless country? Let’s put this Orientalism to the test.

        1. As far as weak: the reason Israel is so threatened by Iran is that it is the only country standing between it and regional hegemony. Most respectable politicians, journalists, analysts, etc. agree that Iran was the net winner of the Iraq War. Iran and Saddam’s Iraq were enemies, and Iran took a seat as the US ousted Hussein for them, and then gave way to the rise of an Iraqi government that is very friendly to Iran. Aside from having a common enemy in the US, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, is Shi’ite, which also gives a religious bridge to the Iran-Iraq relationship. Haaretz also seems to disagree with you, as according to them, Iran is a “regional superpower, even without nukes.”

        2. As far as dirt-poor: this Iranian hotel does not look very impoverished to me. In order to witness Iran’s dirt-poorness you may also take a guided tour of Iran, where they will take you through the dirt-poor and ancient cities of Shiraz, Isfahan, and Tehran. They may also take you to Mashhad or the religious city of Qom, which are also very dirt-poor. However I recommend that you go before Spring 2013, as chances are that by then you may be hit with Israeli and/or American bombs. :)

        3. As far as defenseless: one of the positive developments arising from the international sanctions that Iran has endured over the past 30 years is that it has becoming increasingly self-reliant and advanced, particularly in military technology. While Iran’s forces cannot beat those of the US in a conventional war, Iran is very capable of bringing about disastrous consequences should it seek to if attacked. Here is Philip Giraldi’s take on what war with Iran might look like. I’ll give you a heads-up: it ain’t pretty.

      • Averroes
        August 4, 2012, 9:11 pm


        I must admit, I am a little bit confused. Either you are purposely misconstruing and misreading my comments, or else my comments were disgustingly opaque. I doubt it was the latter because this is at least the third time you’ve done this, thus far, on this thread. So let me reiterate, loud and clear, that I was stating the undeniable historical trend and fact that there is a clear US propensity to act with aggression (militarily) against weaker, poorer, and horribly defenseless countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Cuba, Philippines, etc… choose your pick). And for precisely this reason, there is a good chance that it WONT attack Iran, because it does not fit that category, for precisely the reasons you mention.

        Have absolutely no clue what your Orientalism comment was referring to.

      • Roya
        August 5, 2012, 1:50 am

        Averroes, that was hasty (mis)reading on my part. Apologies. Also I agree with your points from 8:54 pm.

      • Roya
        August 4, 2012, 3:54 pm

        Consider the fact that the US hasn’t dared mess with North Korea after it obtained nuclear capabilities.

        No, aside from the fact that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are questionable, the US isn’t going after North Korea because it does not pose a threat to the United States. Iran does not pose a threat to the United States either, as America’s interests in the Middle East are limited to ensuring a steady flow of oil. The primary reason why the US is bullying Iran right now is because of Israel. And while Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel, Israel is getting the US to go after Iran (1) because Israel wants to be the regional hegemon and (2) because it needs to divert the world’s attention and create a Middle Eastern boogeyman while it creates “facts on the ground.”

      • Averroes
        August 4, 2012, 8:54 pm


        “the US isn’t going after North Korea because it does not pose a threat to the United States. Iran does not pose a threat to the United States either”

        I did not say that North Korea or Iran posed threats to the United States. I said that North Korea, either on the verge of being nuclear capable or already in fact so, has a real deterrent that prevents US military aggression against it. Iran should pursue the same. Either have a nuclear-free world for everyone, everywhere, or have the underdog nations get the bomb too so that they can’t be intimidated or threatened with being wiped off the map any longer. Iraq tried in the 1980s but Israel (and by extension the US) wouldn’t have that, couldn’t fathom the possibility of a viable challenge to their hegemony in the ME, so the Israelis took out the Iraqi nuclear reactor. Same thing all over again, albeit on a much larger scale.

        Other than that, I agree with your points.

  5. ritzl
    August 3, 2012, 10:10 am

    Bush made this same change in 2007 after the NIE came out saying that Iran wasn’t attempting to make a nuclear weapon. He went from “making a weapon” to “necessary knowledge” in a heartbeat.

    As recently as October, Bush was invoking the threat of a third world war if Iran was not prevented from obtaining the necessary knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.

    Most people thought Bush was crazy. Now Obama’s to sign that same open-ended policy definition (war guarantee) into law. Most people thinks he’s sane.

    Bring back the draft. No exceptions. Stop DC from using OPKs to do its dirty work. Make ’em use their own.

    • tear-stained uzi
      August 4, 2012, 4:31 pm

      Bring back the draft. No exceptions. Stop DC from using OPKs to do its dirty work. Make ‘em use their own.

      I say conscript every warmonger, every armchair general and keyboard kommando.

      Send in the clowns!

  6. Boycott Israel on Campus
    August 3, 2012, 10:26 am

    You have acutely reported on the Zionist war fever against Iran and against the entire Arab world. The reader can easily picture Ros-Lehtinen and Berman serving as Wartime Junta Leaders, complete with sunglasses and military fatigues.

    But is that all we get from Mondoweiss? Acute analysis of the obvious?

    Who will finally march for a total boycott against Israel?

    Who? And where?

    • justicewillprevail
      August 3, 2012, 1:06 pm

      You tell us, we’ll be there.

    • Annie Robbins
      August 3, 2012, 1:24 pm

      is that all we get from Mondoweiss?

      you’re so predictable

      • CloakAndDagger
        August 3, 2012, 1:27 pm

        Oh, stop responding to him, annie. We already know what he is.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 3, 2012, 2:03 pm

        okay C&D, sorry.

        btw, awesome report usual

      • Boycott Israel on Campus
        August 3, 2012, 1:55 pm

        And you, Annie, are a fine reporter. I expect more from Mondoweiss than good reporting.

      • justicewillprevail
        August 3, 2012, 5:50 pm

        I expect no more from you than patronising comments and demands that MW does something for you. You want a march? Organise it.

    • Kathleen
      August 3, 2012, 3:42 pm

      It is c oming as the two state solution dissapears and the apartheid state of Israel becomes more apparent and talked about

  7. Averroes
    August 3, 2012, 10:31 am

    Here is the speech given by Ron Paul in opposition to the bill:

    Not that it matters, just one step closer to all out war. Criminals and thugs and hypocrites as leaders of the “free world”. This will end very bad.

  8. justicewillprevail
    August 3, 2012, 10:33 am

    Aipac-run Congress on one side, Romney and his billionaire Israel firsters on the other (It is no coincidence that this ramping up comes in the wake of Romney’s hand over of US policy to Izrael). Yahoo is running a campaign to force war on Obama. The noose isn’t tightening on Iran, it is tightening on Obama and all the US personnel who the Israelis believe should put their lives on the line in pursuit of a warped apartheid ideology, one which cannot stand on its own feet. Gore Vidal was right, America is not a democracy but a sort of militarised republic. And one hijacked by zealots and lunatics.

  9. American
    August 3, 2012, 10:38 am

    There is only one way left to deal with Israel Firsters—-Fear.
    Fear is only thing left for dealing with our government, period.
    Been saying and saying Americans have to make their politicians fear the people more than they fear the special interest.
    Yea, laugh, but I’ve been seeing it in my crystal ball for a long time
    And evidently people smarter than me have have been mulling this over for a long time too.

    Glenn Greenwald below talking about Chris Hayes book ‘Twilight of the Elites’.

    ”One of the issues that has most interested, and most baffled, me, about all of these matters is the palpable lack of elite fear. In the past, the nation’s plutocrats were instilled with at least some fear — a healthy and necessary fear — of what would happen if inequality became too pronounced, if the 99.9% began suffering too much as a result of elite plundering and greed. Sometimes this fear led to extreme precautions (tycoons stashing wealth on a ship able to flee at the first sign of a Socialist Revolution), while other times it led to symbolic gestures (public acts of charity) or more substantive appeasement (the New Deal) as a way of placating mass anger. Especially when, as now, the force of law ceases to operate as a constraint on them (because the rule of law breaks down and no longer applies to the powerful), this fear of mass rage-fueled uprising imposed at least some limit on elite corruption, all grounded in self-interest: the worry that too much abuse would upend the system responsible for their wealth, status and power.
    Yet even in the wake of the oligarch-caused 2008 financial crisis that has spawned extreme levels of sustained suffering around the globe, and even as social unrest emerges in several places in the Western world as a result of this insecurity and sense of outrage and betrayal, the American elite class still seems remarkably free of any such fear.”

  10. Daniel Rich
    August 3, 2012, 10:43 am

    Q: … was explicit that Romney’s position was that Israel would be justified in striking Iran if it reached the “capability” to produce a nuclear weapon.

    R: that’s like two boozed up nitwits proclaiming they’re gonna kill uuuu, until you kick their faces in. Israel is NOT going to attack Iran.

  11. Kathleen
    August 3, 2012, 11:16 am

    Both candidates and our Reps snuggling up to the Israel firsters (Ros Letinen, Berman etc) and Israel

    • CloakAndDagger
      August 3, 2012, 1:19 pm

      Meanwhile, in Britain, their politicians are moving away from Israel as reported in the Guardian:

      In an unusually forthright interview for Israel’s Channel 10 news, Gould said he detected a shift among the middle ground of British members of parliament towards a more critical view of Israel.
      “Support for Israel is starting to erode and that’s not about these people on the fringe who are shouting loudly and calling for boycotts and all the rest of it. The interesting category are those members of parliament in the middle, and in that group I see a shift.”

      • Boycott Israel on Campus
        August 3, 2012, 2:50 pm

        So boycotting Israel is “fringe” and unnecessary?

        The “middle ground” of the British parliament is ready to liberate Palestine, so we can sit back and relax?


        Boycott Israel — and DON’T wait for Parliament to liberate Palestine. They will do no such thing.

      • straightline
        August 4, 2012, 4:52 pm

        80% of Conservative MPs in Britain belong to Conservative Friends of Israel, as do a significant proportion of Labour MPs – I don’t have a figure for the Labour Party. I agree BIoC, this is about doing everything in their power to prevent liberation of Palestine. They feign support for a two-state solution but they will not lift a finger to help make it happen against the wishes of the Israeli government.

  12. hass
    August 3, 2012, 11:50 am

    About 40 countries have the theoretical “capability” to make nukes right now:
    Thats 1 out of every 4 or 5 countries on the planet.

    Ironically, unlike many of those nations that enrich uranium, Iran has already offered to place additional restrictions on its nuclear program that go well beyond its legal obligations under the NPT (these offers included opening the program to joint participation with Western nations, effectively making it impossible for them to secretly make nukes)

    But framing the issue in terms of “capabilities” and “intentions” to do things at some indefinite point in the future, is useful since it conveniently side-steps the fact that there’s no actual evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.

    • Fredblogs
      August 3, 2012, 1:39 pm

      No evidence apart from their production capabilities for highly enriched uranium that vastly exceed any peaceful needs. And their stockpiles of 20% enriched uranium that far exceed any peaceful needs and can be converted to weapons grade uranium for making a bomb in a matter of months given their existing centrifuge capability. They should have enough 20% enriched uranium by early next year that converting it to a bomb would be a matter of a few months work.

      • Averroes
        August 3, 2012, 2:20 pm
      • Woody Tanaka
        August 3, 2012, 2:51 pm

        Well, when the israelis agree to give up their weapons, then we can worry about any other nation in the world and their capabilities.

      • Fredblogs
        August 3, 2012, 3:05 pm

        Except that the Israelis aren’t going to give nuclear weapons to terrorists. Iran may. The Israelis aren’t going to nuke the U.S. Iran may. The Israelis aren’t going to use their bombs unless they are under existential threat. Iran may use its bombs offensively.

      • Averroes
        August 3, 2012, 4:38 pm

        Nonsense. You’re an idiot. That is not how things work in international relations, nevermind the rhetoric of Ahmadenijad or Netanyahu. Consider the Soviet Union vs US, or Pakistan vs. India, etc… Even the most conservative thinkers and scholars argued that the Cold War era was extremely stable due to a “balance of power”, or “mutually assured destruction (MAD)”, which is what Kenneth Waltz argues in the article in Foreign Policy Magazine. He’s probably one of if not the most renowned and respected conservative writers/thinkers on foreign policy issues, but at least has the common sense to not swallow the hysterical BS coming out of Washington and Tel Aviv.

      • ToivoS
        August 3, 2012, 5:05 pm

        The Israelis aren’t going to use their bombs unless they are under existential threat.

        That is reassuring. I recall reading from a worried Zionist that Israel is facing an existential threat from Iran and a demographic existential threat from its local Palestinians. Does that mean Israel should do a preemptive nuclear attack against Iran? Against the Palestinians?

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 3, 2012, 5:49 pm

        “Except that the Israelis aren’t going to give nuclear weapons to terrorists.”

        I don’t think that. I don’t think that any country that can authorize some of the nonsense that Mossad has pulled over the years and which attacks neighboring countries at will may very well find a time to give the terrorists of Mossad the bomb. Especially given the fact that no matter what the facts the US (and useful idiots like you) will make excuses for why it couldn’t have been the israelis. Tehran could explode tomorrow and people like you would be claiming it was Botswanna or Saudi Arabia and Foxman would say it’s antisemitic to blame isreal and the dopes in Congress will affirm it and veto anything in the UN about it.

        “Iran may.”

        Given the fact that they would be destroyed if they did, why would they? Oh, that’s right. They’re Muslims, so that must mean they’re CRaaaAAAzy, with death wishes and want to do nothing but have their own children and society blown up.

        “The Israelis aren’t going to nuke the U.S. Iran may.”

        You need to seek mental health care for your pathological paranoia.

        “The Israelis aren’t going to use their bombs unless they are under existential threat.”

        And then what? The Sampson Option in which they destroy Europe and the Middle East and wipe out humanity because the Jews might have to form a non-racist government? This is your idea of sane?

        “Iran may use its bombs offensively.”

        Given the fact that Iran hasn’t invaded a neighbor in hundreds of years, and irael does every couple of months, I’ll place my bet on israel using it offensively first.

      • santasa
        August 3, 2012, 6:01 pm

        Really !? And you know that from … your confidential source, one with “crystal ball”, who see the future ?!

      • Mooser
        August 3, 2012, 6:42 pm

        “The Israelis aren’t going to use their bombs unless they are under existential threat.”

        That’s a ridiculous, suicidal policy! There’s always an existential threat to Israel, and to the Jews. Israel must, for the sake of themselves and the world’s Jews, bomb everywhere right away. The alternative is just to give up and die!

      • eljay
        August 3, 2012, 11:51 pm

        >> Except that the Israelis aren’t going to give nuclear weapons to terrorists.

        But you don’t actually know that. And, unlike Israel, Iran doesn’t have nukes.

        >> The Israelis aren’t going to nuke the U.S.

        But you don’t actually know that. And, unlike Israel, Iran doesn’t have nukes.

        >> The Israelis aren’t going to use their bombs unless they are under existential threat.

        But you don’t actually know that. And, unlike Israel, Iran doesn’t have nukes.

        – Israel may attack its neighbours (which it has already done).
        – Israel may resort to assassination (which it has already done).
        – Israel may resort to ethnic cleansing (which it has already done).
        – Israel may employ its ACTUAL, EXISTING and very REAL – and NOT HYPOTHETICAL – nuclear arsenal (which it has not done…yet).

      • ToivoS
        August 4, 2012, 3:41 am

        As usual the artiodactyl knows how to express the problem in more immediate words.

      • Shingo
        August 4, 2012, 7:49 am

        The Israelis aren’t going to use their bombs unless they are under existential threat. Iran may use its bombs offensively.

        The Iranians aren’t going to use a bomb unless they are under existential threat. Israel may use its bombs offensively.

      • edwin
        August 4, 2012, 10:38 am

        Except that the Israelis aren’t going to give nuclear weapons to terrorists.

        You are probably right. Selling them to white supremacists is a whole new ball game though.

        Documents reveal how then-defence minister Shimon Perez tried to sell South Africa’s apartheid government the bomb

      • Averroes
        August 4, 2012, 11:06 pm

        This just in:

        “While emphasizing that he was “convinced we must do everything to prevent Iran from the ability or desire to develop such a weapon,” Halevy also said that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran would not be existential. “It is a serious threat, perhaps the most serious that we’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s not existential.”

        Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy

        So, Fred, you were saying…?

      • Fredblogs
        August 5, 2012, 10:47 pm

        Mutually assured destruction does not work as a deterrent when the other guy is a religious nut who thinks God will protect his country from a counterstrike. Or where the perpetrator of a nuclear attack thinks he can act anonymously. The Iranians may be crazy enough to think that we won’t retaliate against them if they smuggle a bomb into one of our cities without taking credit for it. Or they may think we won’t retaliate if one of their bombs is “stolen” by one of the many terrorist groups they employ as proxies to make war on the West.

        I think it probably will work, as I think the religious leaders of Iran are a bunch of hypocrites who don’t believe their own schtick, but I could be wrong. Maybe they are sincere.

      • JamieT
        August 6, 2012, 8:57 am

        Fred, why do you push the BS that the Iranian leadership is irrational? The way you talk of them, you’d think they weren’t human. Or maybe that’s intentional on your part.

        And if Iranians are a bunch of religious nuts, then what about their brothers to the west, who think they can ethnically cleanse a whole country because God said it was theirs? (Also, the difference here is that ethnic cleansing serves state ends, whereas nuclear war probably doesn’t. I don’t suggest you argue the point.)

        Countries are rational actors, and I suggest you incorporate that into any future ‘analysis’ you attempt of this problem.

      • Averroes
        August 6, 2012, 11:58 am

        Fredblogs is a racist and bigot. No point trying to convince him otherwise. “They” are always inferior to “us”, since by definition “they” are inherently backwards, uncivilized, irrational, primitive, etc.. whereas “we” are the opposite, we are manifestations of all that is good and right and progressive and noble and righteous, also inherently. It’s in “our” nature. This kind of bullshit Orientalism and Eurocentrism goes back for centuries. Zionism copied that ideology to the T. Nothing new here.

      • Fredblogs
        August 6, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Countries aren’t actors at all. The leaders and people of the countries are. While I think the Iranian leadership will probably react rationally, there is no guarantee that they will. It was incredibly irrational of Hitler to attack Russia, opening up an eastern front before finishing the western front, but he did it anyway. The main problem with Iran having nukes is that it removes the possibility of retaliating for their terrorist attacks on America. Suppose the Iranians sent Hezbollah terrorists to blow up the Golden Gate bridge? Ordinarily, we’d bomb a few of their military bases and their intelligence HQ to retaliate. But if they have the bomb, we can’t do that. They know that, that’s why they want it. They want it to cover their non-nuclear terrorist activities.

      • Shingo
        August 6, 2012, 6:19 pm

        The main problem with Iran having nukes is that it removes the possibility of retaliating for their terrorist attacks on America.

        You’re almost there Fred.

        The main problem with Iran having nukes is that it removes the option of Israel and the US bombing them whenever they feel like it.

        Suppose the Iranians sent Hezbollah terrorists to blow up the Golden Gate bridge?

        Suppose Israel does. Oh that’s right, it wouldn’t matter, becasue Congress would likely endore it anyway.

      • eljay
        August 6, 2012, 8:18 pm

        >> While I think the Iranian leadership will probably react rationally, there is no guarantee that they will.

        Same can be said for the leadership of the supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel.

        >> The main problem with Iran having nukes is that it removes the possibility of retaliating for their terrorist attacks on America.

        The main problem with Israel having nukes is that it gets to act with impunity against its neighbours and against the Palestinians who it continues to terrorize, kill, oppress, and whose lands it continues to occupy, steal and colonize.

        >> They want it to cover their non-nuclear terrorist activities.

        Having seen how it covers the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel’s non-nuclear terrorist activities, who can blame ’em?

      • piotr
        August 6, 2012, 10:32 pm

        Some existential threats described by Netanyahu are posed by “lawfare” and “delegitimizers”, i.e. “Left Blogistan”. So far, IDF has problems deploying bombers and/or assassins against Mondoweiss and its ilk. But with generous help from USA, perhaps they will overcome that difficulty.

  13. Theo
    August 3, 2012, 12:16 pm

    How brainless are our politicians, did not learn yet that with economic sanctions they will achieve nothing, as only the poor will suffer, the rich and powerful will have everything. All it takes is to tell them who causes their suffering and we have another nation hating us.

    Cuba is sanctioned since 1961, or 51 years, and Castro and his brother are still in power. Sadam Hussein ignored our unethical blockade and consequently hundreds of thousands of children died due to the shortage of proper medicine.
    I would prefer that no nation has nuclear weapons, however since that wish is unrealistic we must ask: why can the USA, Israel, Pakistan, India have them, all belligerent nations, and not Iran who did not start a war for centuries?
    If we take the right to dictate rules for them, then we also must allow their objection to our nuclear arsenal. (Ja, just don´t hold your breath)!

    • Fredblogs
      August 3, 2012, 3:07 pm

      Because Iran’s M.O. isn’t to openly make war, but to send terrorists to plant bombs that they then deny sending. It would be just like them to send terrorists with nuclear bombs to blow up New York.

      • justicewillprevail
        August 3, 2012, 5:46 pm

        LOL, just make up anything you like in your desperate attempts to justify a needless war.

      • santasa
        August 3, 2012, 6:16 pm

        Beside that you are confident to the point I have to assume you have crystal ball (do you ?) at least, it still begs one giant question – why would they do that, for crying out loud ?!

      • Mooser
        August 3, 2012, 6:44 pm

        “It would be just like them to send terrorists with nuclear bombs to blow up New York”

        Naa, they’ll hit Tel Aviv first, and that’ll warn us over here in America.

      • Shingo
        August 4, 2012, 7:50 am

        Because Iran’s M.O. isn’t to openly make war, but to send terrorists to plant bombs that they then deny sending.

        That’s been Israel’s MO since the 1940s. Iran expressed national empathy for the 911 victims. Netenyahu said the 911 attacks were very good.

      • Theo
        August 4, 2012, 9:09 am


        I admire your stamina, you are up against everything superior to you, numbers and intelligence, yet you come back again and again.
        Either you are a fighter who will never give up and will go down in flames or the Mossad pays you so well that you just cannot efford to quit!
        One day you may just look into the mirror and say: how could I be so stupid and blind, right after Tel Aviv went up in flames. You can bet your sweet life on that, not if, but when? You tease the tiger so long until it tears you apart and don´t think Uncle Sam will be there to save you. We drop our allies as soon as they become useless, look at Sadam Hussein, and Israel is totally useless for us.
        If we must choose between matzoballs or oil, what is your guess, what will we do?

      • Don Bacon
        August 4, 2012, 12:53 pm

        “Iran’s M.O. isn’t to openly make war, but to send terrorists to plant bombs”

        There are —
        — 44 terrorists are described on the US National Counterterrorism Center’s (NCTC) annual calendar — but not one Iranian.
        — There is a full description of terror threats in the NCTC annual report : “Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year” etc. but not one mention of Iranians.
        — There are 29 “Most Wanted” terrorists on the FBI list but not one Iranian.

        So where did you get the false information that Iran sends terrorists?

      • Fredblogs
        August 5, 2012, 9:49 pm

        State Dept:
        “Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2010. Iran’s financial, material, and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy.”

      • Annie Robbins
        August 4, 2012, 2:45 pm

        It would be just like them to send terrorists with nuclear bombs to blow up New York.

        fred just uses the site to spam the threads.

  14. Kathleen
    August 3, 2012, 12:38 pm

    Listening Now. Unable to link

    As is always the case former CIA middle east analyst Flynt Leverett helps us understand. Over at Race for Iran
    Flynt Leverett on Al Jazeera: Syria as a Proxy Arena for the Obama Administration’s Campaign Against the Islamic Republic of Iran

    Yesterday, Flynt appeared on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story to discuss Syria, regional politics, and U.S. policy in the wake of Kofi Annan’s resignation as the UN/Arab League special envoy for Syria. Click here to view the segment or on the video above. Flynt argues that possibilities for achieving a political resolution to what has become a civil war in Syria have been undermined not by Russia, China, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s intransigence, but, first and foremost, by the United States. Washington has been supporting Syrian oppositionists for years; from the outbreak of unrest in Syria in 2011, the Obama Administration has focused not on what might actually benefit Syrians but on the prospect of regime change in Damascus as a way of weakening Iran.

    In particular, Annan and his staff understood, from the beginning of their mission, that there needed to be a contact group for Syria, encompassing all the relevant regional and international players. By definition, such an initiative needed to engage the Islamic Republic. But the Obama Administration torpedoed the possibility of Iranian involvement, undercutting the viability of Annan’s contact group idea from the outset. And, of course, the United States has been working with other countries—e.g., Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia—to fund, equip, and arm the Syrian opposition. In effect, Washington is fueling one side in Syria’s civil war—which could only be damaging to Annan’s efforts. It is surely more than coincidence that Annan announced his resignation the day after Obama Administration officials back-grounded the media that President Obama signed a covert action finding authorizing CIA support to Syrian rebels.

    Flynt also criticizes Annan directly: while the former Secretary-General verbally advocated a comprehensive and inclusive political process to mediate Syria’s internal conflict, including all relevant Syrian, regional and international players, as the only way to address the problem, he bought into the argument that Assad’s departure had to be stipulated at the outset. This meant that there could not be a serious political process.

    The situation in Syria can only become more dangerous—for Syrians, for others in the region, and for America’s real long-term interests—as the United States persists in supporting the sectarianization of Syria’s internal conflict. And Washington is doing this as part of a broader strategy to play a Sunni “card” against the Islamic Republic and its allies.

    –Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

  15. Les
    August 3, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Not everyone in Israel is as crazy as our Israel occupied Congress.

    Leading novelist David Grossman challenges Israel over failure to oppose unilateral strike on Iran

    He also described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as having a “megalomaniacal” vision
    Friday 03 August 2012

  16. CitizenC
    August 3, 2012, 1:29 pm

    Council for the National Interest released the text of AIPAC’s memo to Congress on this.

    AIPAC pushes bill that will establish virtual state of war with Iran

    The National Iranian American Council was suitably alarmed.

    New Iran Sanctions Undermine Diplomacy and Human Rights

  17. Philip Munger
    August 3, 2012, 1:38 pm

    My favorite Mad Magazine from when I was a kid – in the late 1950s -had the Mad Nuclear Chemistry Kit. The headline above the story, with a picture of Alfred E. Neuman pushing a detonator plunger, and a mushroom cloud coming up down the block, read:

    “Be the first kid on YOUR BLOCK to rule the world!”

    There are dozens of countries and perhaps scores of organizations (Exxon, Dow, Monsanto, GE, Westinghouse, etc.) that, with the right engineering support, have “nuclear weapons capability.”

    I’ve written a lot about the ongoing Fukushima meltdown disaster. Spent fuel pools at hundreds of reactors around the globe present a far greater danger to mankind, to the USA and to Israel than any so-called “nuclear weapon capabilities” in Persia. The most dangerous nuclear weapons are those spent fuel pools, most of which are merely one big power failure away from killing more than Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

    Watching this Iran Red Line kabuki and keeping track of the politicizing of our own NRC to keep it from passing more stringent safety standards at our existing nuclear facilities, makes me wonder if there might be some awfully fatal flaw in our makeup that dooms us to die off or mutate into something completely new due to screwing up our collective responsibilities inherent with planetary “nuclear weapon capability.”

    Israel, not a member of the NPT, is the only country that offered to sell another -South Africa – not just nuclear weapons, but to give that country a choice of what size and flavor it would get.

    • AllenBee
      August 3, 2012, 5:11 pm

      If you come upon a 45 min. lull in Olympics IV drip, this ‘ll cheer you up —

      Lt. General Richard Formica talked about missile threats against America and the possible responses to these threats.

      spoiler alert: 1st question from the audience? “How is the US prepared to handle an Iranian attack on Turkey’s something-something-something.”

      nb. not real encouraging that in a speech that included mounds of acronyms & jargon about how US “provides DOTMILPF of the TIPPY 2 Radars in 850 locations, space operations & ballistic systems around the world, . . .ready to defend our homeland against attacks from rogue states” on at least 3 occasions, the microphone the gen. was using, failed.

    • dbroncos
      August 4, 2012, 3:51 pm

      I agree that the US has much bigger fish to fry than making the world safe for Israel. It’s astonishing that the wars being fought in defense of Israeli fascism, in addition to the proposed war on Iran, are getting as much or more attention from our government than is our economy, rising sea levels, and the threat of nuclear disaster at our power plants as you mentioned above. Given its size, location, and lack of vital resources, Israel should appear somewhere near Burma or Cambodia on the list of nations having real value or importance to the US.

  18. Dan Crowther
    August 3, 2012, 1:47 pm

    The only thing I object to is the idea of Obama being “pressured” into these positions – public rhetoric aside, he’s been a radical authoritarian and aggressive militarist, one could argue he’s more radical than bush. Congress doesn’t decide where the Navy gets sent, the president does that, and Obama has amassed a HUGE presence in the Gulf in recent months – to say nothing of a re-newed aggressiveness in the Pacific- so, good post no doubt, but I could do without the increasingly hard to stomach “Obama wants to do the right thing, but oh those damn (fill in the blank) have beaten him back. He’s been forced into these horrible policies.”

    • Alex Kane
      August 3, 2012, 2:16 pm

      Dan, it is clear that Congress is pressuring the Obama administration to take the line on nuclear weapons “capability.” But I agree with you that Obama’s actions have been horrid and have escalated the chance for war. But that does not mean that he is in line with Israel’s position–his administration is not.

      I don’t think Obama is a “good guy” on this issue. Nor do I think my post implies that.

      • Les
        August 3, 2012, 2:48 pm

        Holding hands with the person you want to convince won’t change a thing but that’s the only thing Obama knows how to do in politics, foreign and domestic.

      • Dan Crowther
        August 3, 2012, 2:52 pm

        The whole capability thing is a media creation, its not about that. thats the rhetorical line that started years ago with “you cant have the (nuclear) knowledge” — Your post implies that the US is not currently at war with Iran. I disagree.

        You keep saying the O administration is not in line with Israel – but its pretty well understood O’s goal is regime change, so what’s the qualitative difference here? The only difference is, the right wingers want to just go in, and Obama and Co. want to soften them up a bit first a la Iraq.

        “Capability” is Iran’s American Elite Consensus Barometer. Obama has done the heavy lifting- the tools, coalitions and logistics to attack are in place, rather than Obama being pressured into “capability,” I think he was waiting for it to be politically acceptable.

  19. HarryLaw
    August 3, 2012, 4:00 pm

    This is all about defeating the Israeli opposition in the middle east in the form of the so called Shia crescent Iran, Syria and Hesbollah, all of whom support the Palestinians. The US/Israel intend to take them all out, with the help of the Sunni Dictators in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and Hariri’s sunni block in Lebanon, The always regarded as low hanging fruit in Syria first, isolating Hezbollah while piling pressure on Iran, I don’t think the US/Israel have calculated the support these plans have on the ground, sure the Kings and Emirs want the US to confront Iran [cut the head off the snake as the Saudi king once said] but that’s a far cry from what the ordinary Arabs want, that famous poll Chomsky always talks about where 80 odd % of ordinary Arabs thought US/Israel posed the greatest dangers to peace in the middle east, whereas only 10% thought Iran did. Things could come unstuck big time for US/Israel if they over reach themselves as they are sure to do since their hubris knows no bounds.

  20. Averroes
    August 3, 2012, 4:51 pm


    Yep. Here is Chomsky speaking on this very issue:

    Just a note: You forgot to add Iraq to that mix of the “Shi’ite Crescent”, especially as it has a majority Shia population and they have very close relations with Iran as well. Iraq has also refused to back the Arab-league initiatives to fund/arm/support the rebels in Syria, which is really angering Washington.

    Saudi Arabia just arrested this dissident Shia scholar a few weeks ago:

    You wont hear the MSM in the US ever bring that up.

  21. lobewyper
    August 3, 2012, 5:41 pm

    I don’t think all this will come to war, but I wonder why we haven’t heard more from Iran’s so-called friends (e.g., Russia). The Iranian leadership can’t be willing to sacrifice many of its citizens to protect its right to uranium enrichment. There must be some “red line” for them as well–the point at which an attack on their facilities is imminent–that will trigger meaningful negotiations. In the meantime, they are earning points for standing up to the two most dangerous bullies in the world.

    • ToivoS
      August 3, 2012, 6:53 pm

      The issue is not uranium enrichment — that is a surrogate issue for something else.

      The US suffered a major strategic defeat in the Iraq War and Iran was the victor. As such they are highly respected by many third world people and an inspiration. The US worries that this precedent could spread and undermine our hegemony elsewhere. That is why we are seeking an unambiguous and verifiable defeat of the Islamic Republic.

      Iran has signaled repeatedly and even agreed with the Turk and Brazilian negotiators that they would be willing compromise on the enrichment issue. The US refused those overtures. Our position is that Iran must halt all enrichment, without compromise, and that once that happens the US will be willing to sit down and listen to Iran’s side of the story. This is obviously a demand that will not be accepted by the Iranians. They will suffer military aggression before engaging in complete surrender.

  22. Nevada Ned
    August 3, 2012, 6:10 pm

    Many people, including prominent Israeli hawks, have said in public that an Israeli attack on Iran would be bad for all parties, including Israel. So what’s really happening? The economic sanctions against Iran seems to be the real US/Israeli goal.

    It should be pointed out that this US strategy worked back in 1953, when the CIA overthrew the Iranian government of Mossadegh and installed the Shah. The Mossadegh administration had nationalized their oil resources, and the British wanted the Iranian government overthrown for that reason.

    The question is whether the same US strategy will work today. Iran is, after all, selling oil in a world where the oil is running out. Let’s hope the Empire fails this time around.

  23. lobewyper
    August 4, 2012, 8:13 am

    From: 972 Magazine:

    Wednesday, August 1 2012|Noam Sheizaf
    Netanyahu’s interviews confirm: IDF doesn’t want to attack Iran
    It seems that the prime minister is now trying to get an American commitment to a U.S. led military action in 2013.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau gave rare interviews to the Israeli media yesterday (Netanyahu usually prefers to speak to international reportes, who don’t bother him with political issues). Israel’s Hebrew channels and the Russian channel got 15 minutes each, on the condition that they won’t be edited. The messages were the same on every platform, explaining the new taxes, and, more important, answering recent headlines regarding the alleged opposition of the army and Mossad chiefs for a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
    “In the Israeli democracy, the one to decide is the ministerial level, and the one to carry out the decision is the military,” said Netanyahu, and added: “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
    The interesting part is what Netanyahu didn’t say. At no point did the prime minister counter the now common view – which was the top headline in Yedioth Ahronoth yesterday – that the army’s Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and the head of Mossad Tamir Pardo oppose the attack. Quite the opposite, the prime minister declared that despite other opinions and objections, the decision whether to attack lies with the government. In other words, Netanayhu basically confirmed that the security establishment opposes the attack.
    This is no small thing. With all Netanyahu’s rhetoric on the historical hour and the second Holocaust, eventually both the prime minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are bound by politics. The public image as if it’s only the two of them pushing the attack means that a failure will fall on their own shoulders, since they ignored the opinion of the professionals. It’s not easy to go to war without a national consensus.
    I agree with Larry Derfner that the chances for an Israeli strike are very low, given the objections inside the security establishment. I think that Netanyahu is now trying to negotiate an American promise to attack by a certain date in 2013. An American led attack would eliminate the risk of political fallout resulting from a military failure, and save Netanyahu the need to fight with the entire security establishment (we shouldn’t forget that he already replaced a chief of staff and head of Mossad which were against the attack).
    The window of opportunity everybody is talking about is apparently not a window for an actual Israeli strike, but an opportunity to use the unique political circumstances in the U.S. in order to increase the likelihood of an American attack.

  24. Averroes
    August 4, 2012, 9:43 am

    Someone should seriously do a Dave Chappelle style impersonation of a White Obama vis-a-vis the Iran situation.

    • lobewyper
      August 4, 2012, 11:29 am

      Hilarious–thanks! Time for Dave to do his Netanyahu impression…

  25. atime forpeace
    August 4, 2012, 10:06 am

    I hear the name Iliana Ross Lehtinen and i understand what is wrong with this great nation of ours.

    The Iliana Ross Lehtinen for term limits committee.

  26. Averroes
    August 4, 2012, 12:01 pm

    “But the question is : “what do you do about it ?” You try to make it worse or try to move towards reconciliation and improve matters. The Bush administration is making it worse. This hysterical rhetoric is going – predictably – going to increase North Korean efforts to develop a nuclear deterrent. And as the South Korean president pointed out, you don’t want them to do it, but it is understandable why they would. You threaten a country with destruction and they’re not going to say. “Thank you, here is my throat, cut it.” They are going to try to find some way to react. There are only two ways to react. Nobody is going to fight the U.S. military. The U.S. depends about as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. It’s technologically far more advanced – such an enormous destructive capacity – that nobody is going to fight a war with it, which leaves two possibilities for a deterrent. One is nuclear weapons and the other is terror. And so by carrying out meaningful threats against other countries, you’re simply inspiring terror and nuclear proliferation.”

    Korea and International Affairs
    Noam Chomsky interviewed by Sun Woo Lee
    Monthly JoongAng, January 24, 2006

  27. Donald
    August 4, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Here’s a link to a short blog post elsewhere people will want to read–


    Summarizing, there’s a new book out by David Crist about US/Iranian relations over the past few decades. The blogger above found a passage where a US official advocated using nuclear weapons on Iranian soil to stop a possible Soviet invasion. There’s also a reference to Moshe Dayan wanting to threaten the USSR with nuclear terrorism as a kind of deterrent. It’s always nice to see confirmation of the double standards Westerners have about such things.

  28. Don Bacon
    August 4, 2012, 2:42 pm

    re: new sanctions
    The most powerful man in the world, acting as the U.S., has imposed new crippling, biting sanctions on two financial institutions, two giants of the world financial system, China’s Bank of Kunlun and Iraq’s Elaf Islamic Bank. Say what?
    Under Treasury Secretary Cohen: “Today’s action exposes these banks’ continued business with designated Iranian banks, and effectively cuts them off from the U.S. financial system.”

    I bet they’re disappointed. Way to go, Team USA. Take that, Bank of Kunlun and Elaf Islamic Bank.

  29. Averroes
    August 4, 2012, 2:56 pm

    In Canada, TD Bank (one of the five biggest banks in Canada) has been closing the bank accounts of Iranian-Canadians who send money back and forth to Iran, in line with the new round of tougher sanctions:

    Also, the mystery surrounding the possible assassination of Saudi Arabia’s new intelligence chief, Bandar (Bush), is still hush-hush in the Western press:

  30. Don Bacon
    August 4, 2012, 4:20 pm

    An Israeli empathizes with Iranians.

    Aug 4, 2012
    The former head of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad Efraim Halevy on Thursday said on Israel Radio he “would be very worried about the next 12 weeks,” if he were Iranian.

  31. piotr
    August 6, 2012, 10:53 pm

    I think that as USA is increasing sanctions, they will eventually break down. USA is a declining economic power, we cannot seriously sanction China, Russia or India. It seems that the most “crippling” sanctions affect insurance of tankers, and this basically means that alternative insurance will operate quite soon, and it is already happening in India.

    India got a very good deal from Iran, namely that Iran will accept barter for Indian products. 20 years ago it would be almost funny, but India has a nice variety of products to offer, including cheap medicines, and a lot of industrial products. Indian government is pressuring more timid domestic oil importer to resolve insurance issue.

    Roughly the same is happening with China. And smaller Asian countries (many not THAT small, mind you) will follow the suit. So my prediction is that USA/EU sanctions will reach zenith and their relevance will decline.

    Concerning military options, as Russia, China and other key Asian countries are against, there is a slew of “gentle blowback” that may happen. Number one, Asians can retaliate by abandoning sanctions altogether. Number two, American forces in Afghanistan can be affected by crippling siege. There are signs that Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan would be inclined not to follow the suit, but it suffices if Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan joins ban on military transit, and Pakistan. That could lead to thousands of American casualties and a major humiliation.

    A serious attack on Iran, the dream of our armchair strategists, can have a serious Russian response. Russia can revoke limitations on military supplies to Iran etc. Escalation can be met with escalation. So I doubt if any military action will take place.

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