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‘NPR’ airs Ken Pollack’s Iran war games and leaves out his last war

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We should all be glad that a strategic war game on Iran at the Brookings Institution lately ended in a terrifying manner, with all-out war, but is Ken Pollack really in a position to be instructing us about the American people’s demands for retaliation against Iran? Pollack is the expert who did more than anyone else to promote the Iraq war among liberals, in New York Times editorials and a book saying that invading Iraq would remake the US image in the Arab world and get their minds off Palestine! But when NPR covered Pollack’s war games the other day, host Robert Siegel left out Pollack’s last war completely. Further evidence that you can’t be taken seriously in Washington unless you supported that debacle. The introduction:  

ROBERT SIEGEL: … The Brookings Institution staged a war game. No real weapons were used, but teams playing the roles of U.S. and Iranian policymakers were presented with a hypothetical but not very far-fetched scenario, and the results were not encouraging. Kenneth Pollack is a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, and he ran this exercise and joins us. Good to see you again.

KENNETH POLLACK: Very good to be back.

SIEGEL: First, you’re not identifying the people who took part in the game, but can you at least describe what kind of people they were?


And here is Pollack getting to be a dove while talking about Americans’ thirst for retaliation:

POLLACK: One of the most remarkable moments for me, one of the moments where I felt like, boy, this game is now headed irretrievably into war, was when the Iranians are debating what to do after the American initial move. The game starts with a terrorist attack, an Irani anterrorist attack, that get’s too out of hand, too big. The United States decides to respond, and one of the things the United States decides to do is to hit a remote Irani Revolutionary Guards’ facility. And the Americans were hoping that the Iranians would see this as a minimal American response.

SIEGEL: It was the least they would do, yeah.

POLLACK: Exactly. Literally the least the American people would accept.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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23 Responses

  1. pabelmont on September 28, 2012, 12:08 pm

    If you are determined to be a bozo, you gotta be at least a minimal bozo. Sure. Undoubtedly. American people would require no less.

    But it rather begs the question of why should the USA (or, might I slyly suggest, the American people) feel the need to attack iran (or to limit its getting you-know-what — which Israel, Pakistan, India, N-Korea, USA, USSR (sorry, Russian Fed), France, UK, China, (who am I forgetting) already have and NO NUKE WARS STARTED YET (since 1945).

  2. Dan Crowther on September 28, 2012, 12:17 pm

    “that debacle”

    Why can’t you say crime? It was a crime, a terrible one. Debacle refers to a bad decision and the subsequent fall out from it – the invasion of Iraq was state terrorism pure and simple. Ah, I should just quit, after all you agreed with the crime of attacking Libya. Where’s your mea culpa for Libya, Phil?

    • philweiss on September 28, 2012, 12:29 pm

      dont feel mea culpa; so you’ll just have to do, youa culpa

      • Dan Crowther on September 28, 2012, 12:43 pm

        Yeah, I mean, why would you? Especially after Mikey Lewis’ glowing piece on Barry’s decision making process in this months VF… So, when a president lies about nukes in order to invade a country, it’s bad – but when a president lies about imminent slaughter of “hundreds of thousands” it’s OK.

        Or was the invasion of Libya OK because “the lobby” wasn’t seen to be directly responsible? Is that it? If it’s a “lobby” action it’s bad, if it’s a “realist” action, it’s kosher?

        Awesome by the way that you don’t feel a mea culpa for supporting an invasion that turned a developed country into a mad max movie.

      • marc b. on September 28, 2012, 2:22 pm

        I should just quit, after all you agreed with the crime of attacking Libya. Where’s your mea culpa for Libya, Phil?

        dont feel mea culpa; so you’ll just have to do, youa culpa

        thanks, dan, for that provocation. there’s weiss in a nutshell. why his very own institute has just published its post-intervention analysis entitled, ‘libya, after gaddafi: the road to … um … er’. he isn’t able to identify the people who conducted the analysis, but he describes them as “some very former, very anonymous, not-so distant relatives of senior american officials, people who have actually analysed stuff in the past.” their conclusion? weiss wasn’t mistaken about libya, and, in any event, what’s another arab country descending into mass murder and anarchy when compared to the need to satisfy the moral outrage of one american humanist.

      • Skandall on September 29, 2012, 5:44 pm

        Phil can do no wrong. Just ask his Mom :)

  3. seanmcbride on September 28, 2012, 12:23 pm

    It is easy to acquire the impression that some neocons are evil sociopaths who are trying to manipulate the American people into self-destructive policies on behalf of Israel. They are completely shameless. And they have their glib enablers in the “liberal” media.

    Ken Pollack, by the way, is a classical “liberal Zionist.” Which means that he is a Zionist, plain and simple. Zionists — including Ken Pollack — have been the key ringleaders of all our foreign policy debacles for the past decade — and they have yet to have been held accountable for the damage they have caused to so many human beings for the sake of their narrow ethnic nationalist cause.

  4. Abdul-Rahman on September 28, 2012, 12:27 pm

    Any America citizen who is not appalled by the Israeli-firsters at the “Saban center” (of course named after Mr., “I wake up every morning thinking how I can serve Israel”, Haim Saban) is nothing but a zombie following AIPAC’s dictates (in this case to lead America into another Iraq war).

  5. German Lefty on September 28, 2012, 1:04 pm

    Today on Democracy Now!
    Palestine Conditions “More Brutal” Than in U.S. South of 50 Years Ago, Says Author Alice Walker

    • pineywoodslim on September 28, 2012, 9:54 pm

      As someone who grew up in the South in the 50s and 60s, I think the basic difference between the South then and present day Israel now is the fact that virtually no one thought that blacks didn’t belong in the South, or thought that blacks weren’t Americans. They thought that blacks belonged “over there” in another part of town, but not “over there” in another country.

      And it went without saying that even in those days, black culture was acknowledged as an integral part of southern culture.

      Whites recognized that there were two social or cultural norms–black and white. While many whites disliked the black norm, they recognized its existence, and they knew that the white norm was not the only one.

      Edit: although I was born and raised in the South, my father was an Irish immigrant from Chicago. The attitude among first generation European immigrants in Chicago to blacks was a bit different from that of southerners in the South. In Chicago, it seemed to me that those immigrants viewed blacks as from another planet, that Chicago belonged to the Irish, the Polish, Italians, whatever, and that blacks really had no right to be there at all. It was far more tribal than the South in that respect.

    • HemiFaulk on September 29, 2012, 12:13 am

      To compare the genocide visited upon Palestinians to the U.S. South of any age is laughable at best and also part and parcel of ongoing media bias. Must have been a slow news day. Walker is a writer of fiction and an activist, I’m not impressed.

      But to sell newspapers or draw viewers to your site you got to have headlines. check out the facts below that ought to be in the headlines every day.

      The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites were lynched between 1882 and 1968. 86 years, note lynching was not always racially motivated, though unfortunately many times it was, but compare the numbers if you will.

      in the last 12 years see deaths that are in a class by themself:
      Palestinians 6,568 probably need a daily update
      Israelis 1,096

      Causes of Deaths of Israeli Soldiers in 2005
      Committed Suicide 30
      Terror Incidents 6

  6. Kathleen on September 28, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Just like NPR to give only part of the story. And why in the hell are these Iraq warmongers being given space to say anything? Oh would that be that a disproportionate amount of NPR funders want an attack on Iran? This morning over at the Diane Rehm website their introduction to the International week states that Netanyahu “delivered a speech” and Ahmadinejad “railed against Israel” No bias there.

    Over at Foreign Policy Stephen Hadley you remember Bush’s foreign policy adviser who would not give counter terrorism expert Richard Clarke the time of day to hear his specific warnings about Al Qeada and Hadley who was part of the Bush team to purposely undermine U.S. national security some more by purposely outing under cover CIA agent Valerie Plame. The same Stephen Hadley who put the false 16 WMD words back into Bush’s SOTU speech…Yet another warmonger gets to tell us what his foreign policy advice is about Iran. When will people stop giving these deadly wrong warmongers space to lie some more?

  7. gazacalling on September 28, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Yeah, I can’t listen to NPR anymore, because their I/P coverage is so terrible it made me distrust the whole outfit.

  8. David Doppler on September 28, 2012, 2:49 pm

    We’re seeing what Clawson meant, “Crisis Initiation is hard work.” The whole team needs to be mobilized, all assets dedicated to the task at hand. Maybe Bibi’s chart was also meant to communicate that, today (September 27) we’re 70% of the way to the US election. When we get to 90% (roughly 13 days before the election, or October 24), then the war starts. Here’s my redline! This would imply a timeline adopted on June 17.

  9. Kathleen on September 28, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Robert Siegel like so many other MSMer’s leaves out important and relevant details. Like Pollack being one of the bigger promoters of the Iraq war based on a “pack lies” which Pollack was more than willing to go along with and add to.

    So we have Stephen Hadley over at Foreign Policy telling the U.S. what to do in the case of Iran. Pollack at NPR. Bet next week we will be hearing from Feith and Wolfowitz about what to do in regard to Iran. Yep seems like the MSM can not get enough of staging forums for the same Iraq warmongers to push us into another unnecessary and immoral military confrontation. They just can not get enough of destabilizing the middle east

  10. Les on September 28, 2012, 4:37 pm

    NPR’s story on the travails of an Israeli settler who had to return to Israel after her government changed its mind about having settlements in Gaza was modeled on the German Nazi media about the plight of their Sudetenland brothers.

    • seafoid on September 29, 2012, 5:00 pm

      There is no comparison between the Sudetenland and Jewish settlers in Gaza.

      Expelling the German speaking population of the Sudetenland was a war crime.

  11. DICKERSON3870 on September 28, 2012, 6:41 pm

    RE: “Kenneth Pollack is a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution” ~ Robert Siegel
    AND RE: “But when NPR covered Pollack’s war games the other day, host Robert Siegel left out Pollack’s last war completely.” ~ Weiss

    “Haim Saban”, by Matthew Yglesias, The Atlantic, June 10, 2007

    [EXCERPT] If you’re interested in the foreign policy views of major Hillary Clinton financial backer Haim Saban [who is also a “funder of the Democratic Party” – J.L.D.], there’s no need to follow the Atrios path of attempting guilt by association with Kenneth Pollack.
    He [Saban] discussed his views on the Middle East and Persian Gulf region in great detail in a reasonably recent interview with ‘Haaretz’:

    When I see Ahmadinejad, I see Hitler. They speak the same language. His motivation is also clear: the return of the Mahdi is a supreme goal. And for a religious
    person of deep self-persuasion, that supreme goal is worth the liquidation of five and a half million Jews.
    We cannot allow ourselves that. Nuclear weapons in the hands of a religious leadership that is convinced that the annihilation of Israel will bring about the emergence of a new Muslim caliphate? Israel cannot allow that. This is no game. It’s truly an existential danger.” . . .

    SOURCE –

  12. Shingo on September 28, 2012, 7:01 pm

    Pollack has to the dumbest motherf#cker since Doug Feith.

    It continues to astound me how these chicken hawks can’t get their heads around the fact that Iran would respond to an American attack. All our enemies are supposed stand still while we pump them in the nose, and reacting to that punch in any way makes them a threat to us.

    It boggles the mind that this cretin continues to be given any kind of public platform to demonstrate his intellectual disabilities.

  13. ToivoS on September 28, 2012, 8:20 pm

    These war games may or may not be accurate but they all have one realistic element built into them. Iranians are disadvantaged because the number of options they have in responding to US aggression is fairly limited. One of these limited options is their possession of anti-ship cruise missiles that go by a variety of names such as sunburn-SN22 and -SN27. These missiles have a terrifying potential — they may quite possibly be able to evade the Navy’s antimissile Aegis defenses and hit US warships. Being combined kinetic weapons and high-explosives they possibly have the potential to deliver 700 pound bombs into the interior of their targets before exploding.

    Back to the games. What would happen if one of these missiles caused the catastrophic destruction of a US Cruiser? An air-craft carrier? Not to mention the eight minesweepers we now have in the Gulf (crews of 80 each? Somehow built into these games is the realistic assumption that the US would go into all out war if such say a carrier went down with its crew of thousands. No matter how severely the Iranians were provoked our pride could not accept such a loss. Given that the US does not have a large enough land army to occupy Iran our only realistic response might very well mean going nuclear.

    Ken Pollack should not be trusted in general but if he were to release the details of his game, it could be a wake up call to many as how dangerous the crises with Iran has become.

  14. Citizen on September 29, 2012, 4:23 pm

    MSNBC on TV now re Bibi’s UN cartoon bomb:
    Mark Regev, Israeli spokesman: Iran brutalizes its own people, and is harming Syria; can’t let Iran keep harming the world. All free folks must be united against this; has nothing to do with US elections. Bibi has good relationship with US, with Obama. Minor disagreements blown out of proportion.

    About Bibi’s cartoon bomb:
    MR: It gets very complicated; idea was to show you how far Iran has gone beyond the pale of acceptability. If Iran gets nuke weapon it’s like Al Quaida getting nuke weapon.

    Comment: must be true since Iran has attacked so many countries that subscribe to judeo-christian values.

  15. traintosiberia on September 30, 2012, 11:55 am

    The game starts with a terrorist attack, an Iranian terrorist attack”
    I guess the world cant have that game show as long as every terror attack can be traced back to Tel Aviv or its Amen Corner in US.
    May be just to have that capacity of tracing it by its own people all the way back to Tel Aviv or that Amen Corner ,Iran wants to have some nukes .
    This sinister pattern of mutually reinforcing each other worst ethnicity- based destructive misanthropic agenda keep on popping up every time we think and hope that we have seen the worst.
    Pity these psychopaths!

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