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‘NYT’ and ‘Inquirer’ pundits push back against neocon hysteria, offer containment rationale

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At a time when Israel lobbyist Dennis Ross assures us that we are moving toward “the use of force,” and Martin Indyk assures us that there will be an attack on Iran in the spring, and neoconservative David Brooks assures us that the US and Israelis are “on the same page,” presumably for an attack in the spring– well, there’s good news in today’s papers. Pundits who favor containing Iran are beginning to stick their heads out.

This is the best development of the election campaign: Romney’s neoconservatism has been politicized; public opinion has weighed in and Indyk and Ross’s push for war is being rejected. So realists feel safe in expresssing these views.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer Trudy Rubin savages Netanyahu for trying to tell Americans how to respond to Iran and then she offers the rationale for containing Iran:

Yet, many U.S. (and Israeli) security experts think the Iranian regime is too rational to entertain the idea of nuking Israel. An attack on Israel would destroy two million Palestinians, along with Islam’s third holiest mosque, and guarantee a second-strike nuclear attack on Tehran. It would destroy Iran’s (already fading) aspirations to become leaders of all Muslims, including Sunnis.

Moreover, Ahmadinejad, the prime spouter of apocalyptic rhetoric, is so out of favor with the regime that his spokesman was arrested in Tehran the day he spoke at the U.N. His presidential term ends next spring and won’t be extended.

If the threat is less urgent, and the ayatollahs are rational, more pressure may still produce results.

Sorry Rubin, but the mosque is not in Israel. It’s in annexed East Jerusalem, an annexation no one in the world accepts outside of the Zionists. But the point is an important one: realist Steve Walt said it long ago.

Rubin also says what I’ve said: Romney would dial back his rhetoric if he were elected. Because we have no interest in another war:

[A]ny U.S. president must design that policy in accordance with America’s interests. He must calculate at what point the threat justifies military action. (My guess is that, if elected, Mitt Romney would roll back his commitment to back Bibi’s red lines all the way.)

Next, here is William Broad in the New York Times saying that the way to insure that Iran will get a bomb is to threaten it. He is reflecting, implicitly, Ahmadinejad’s argument in New York last week — who is this Netanyahu to be threatening another country with attack? 

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation specialist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies [says] “…My sense is that the threat of military action makes bad guys feel like they need the bomb.”

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, seemed to have embodied that kind of determination when he said famously in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

So maybe Israel should get rid of its nukes? Implicit in Broad’s argument is the realist claim that other countries have managed “existential” threats with a rationale of mutually-assured destruction. Yes that leaves me cold. But maybe Israel should just chill. Broad’s experts:

Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior nonproliferation official at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a prominent arms analysis group in London, said in an e-mail interview that it was “almost certain” that a military strike on Iran would result in “a Manhattan-style rush to produce nuclear weapons as fast as possible.”

These analysts maintain that the history of nuclear proliferation shows that attempting to thwart a nuclear program through an attack can have consequences opposite of those intended. Mr. Lewis of the Monterey Institute and other experts often cite Iraq. Israel’s attack on the Iraqi Osirak reactor in 1981, they argue, hardened the resolve of Saddam Hussein and gave his nuclear ambitions new life.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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23 Responses

  1. seanmcbride on September 30, 2012, 12:34 pm

    Phil,

    Regarding: “Pundits who favor containing Iraq are beginning to stick their heads out.”

    Iraq=Iran?

    Note well: Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk are Democrats and “liberal Zionists.”

    I came to the conclusion some time ago that Ross, Indyk, Miller and their entire crew of “pro-peace” and “two-state” “liberal Zionists” have been Likud moles inside the American government all along, tasked with the mission of sabotaging any efforts to achieve a two-state solution. They are completely fraudulent and have done enormous damage to American interests in the Mideast. They are working hand in glove with neoconservatives.

    • hophmi on September 30, 2012, 11:36 pm

      “I came to the conclusion some time ago that Ross, Indyk, Miller and their entire crew of “pro-peace” and “two-state” “liberal Zionists” have been Likud moles inside the American government all along, tasked with the mission of sabotaging any efforts to achieve a two-state solution. They are completely fraudulent and have done enormous damage to American interests in the Mideast. They are working hand in glove with neoconservatives.”

      You think these three guys are Likud moles. Why on Earth should anyone take you seriously when you express an opinion like that? It’s classic Sean. Paranoid, ridiculous, fact-free.

  2. Citizen on September 30, 2012, 1:08 pm

    So, given all of this reasoning, why doesn’t the US demand Israel join the NNPT as Iran has done? We know JFK tried to stop Israel from getting the bomb but his effort was cut off when he was assassinated, and the Hillbilly power ego Johnson took over. Did the US do anything to stop India from getting the bomb? Ditto re Pakistan? I’ve never seen any discussion of this. How many average Americans even know Israel has 2-400 nukes? If they knew, wouldn’t Bibi’s mission to gain America’s support for his premptive war on on Iran lose a giant amount of easy support?

    How about Bibi’s early involvement in getting Israel the bomb with stolen material from the USA? Shouldn’t Dick and Jane get some news info on this?

    • ColinWright on September 30, 2012, 5:49 pm

      Citizen says: “So, given all of this reasoning, why doesn’t the US demand Israel join the NNPT as Iran has done? “

      My understanding is that we have legally obliged ourselves to suspend aid to any country that develops nuclear weapons outside the NPT. I’m a bit hazy on this, since until we have the political will to call a spade a spade, it’s moot point, but…

      All Obama needs to do is ‘discover’ Israel has a nuclear weapons program, and then he’s constitutionally obliged to suspend all aid.

      We can strip Israel of her nuclear arsenal tomorrow. We just have to have the nerve to say that’s what we want.

      …or Israel can defy us. Which is good too. Aside from the consequences for Israel, whatever she does thereafter will at least have the merit of not being done on our dime.

      • pabelmont on October 1, 2012, 4:00 pm

        What, good gracious, the great Oz defy the USA? I thought we were watching the USA defying the great Oz! How topsy-turvy can things get? And Israel cannot defy (deify?) the USA until USA dares publicly to instruct Israel. Well, we can always hope! (UNSC and ICJ have told Israel what the law demands, and Israel ignored both.)

  3. traintosiberia on September 30, 2012, 1:53 pm

    War to these nutty are something to watch and enjoy and make profit on the sides by selling “Israeli Arts” to an otherwise confused spectators while poor unwashed rural youths with limited or no opportunity to make anything out of life are forced to die for these psychopaths.

  4. Citizen on September 30, 2012, 1:55 pm

    Rubin does not touch upon the recent Congressional vote reaffirming no containment strategy–with only Rand Paul voting NO. Why?

  5. sciri21 on September 30, 2012, 2:05 pm

    While I agree that Iran wouldn’t nuke Israel, it’s not necessarily true that doing so would kill all of Israel’s Palestinians. Israel is generally divided into separate Jewish and Arab areas, so I guess it might be possible to bomb Israel’s Jewish areas while killing a relatively small proportion of the Arab population. I’m certainly not endorsing such a scenario, I’m just pointing out that Rubin’s argument isn’t entirely correct.

    • W.Jones on September 30, 2012, 9:05 pm

      I generally disagree, Sci. While I understand there is such thing as “tactical nukes” that could damage a limited area at first, in fact there would be tons of spillover contamination. Witness for example the Dimona reactor. Apparently Israeli citizens in its area are suffering from radiation to some extent, and there was no hit on those citizens.
      But what’s more, so many Israelis live in Jerusalem, that it’s pretty hard to hit it in such a way it wouldn’t affect anyone else. In fact, a major nuclear attack in the Mideast would harm both sides even if only one side was hit, because of regional spillover.

    • Kris on September 30, 2012, 11:23 pm

      The radioactive fallout from detonating a nuclear bomb would cover a huge area. The average nuclear bomb today is 100 times more powerful than the ones the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

      The people who die immediately from the nuclear blast are the lucky ones. Many more people suffer horribly from radiation poisoning for days to months before they die. And many, many more people suffer for years after that with cancer and birth defects and cancers in their children.

      Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a long time ago, and we in the U.S. have forgotten about all the deaths and suffering we caused by dropping those nuclear bombs. And most of us don’t even know about the high rates of cancer and birth defects we have caused in Iraq by using depleted uranium weapons there.

      You can read about how nuclear bombs work, here: http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/basics/weapons-basics.htm

      And then read about what happens to people after a nuclear bomb explodes, here:
      http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/nuclearfaq.asp

      It seems to me that every country should have some nuclear bombs, to deter attacks by the U.S. and Israel, but the evidence is that Iran not only is not trying to make nuclear weapons, but does not even want such weapons, because of their religious beliefs.

      • Kris on September 30, 2012, 11:39 pm

        I’d like to correct my comment that the average nuclear bomb is now 100 times more powerful than the one we dropped on Hiroshima.

        The nuclear bomb we dropped on Hiroshima was 15 kt (kilo tons), while
        the “modern strategic warhead is, with few exceptions, now typically in the range of 200-750 kt.” http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Nwfaq/Nfaq5.html

  6. ColinWright on September 30, 2012, 4:16 pm

    Meanwhile, more serious shifts are taking place.

    “Turkey and Egypt denounce Syria regime, pledge support for Palestinian cause

    Turkish PM and Egypt’s new president call on Russia, China, and Iran to stop backing Assad regime; Erdogan says Turkey determined to speak out against Israel’s ‘state terrorism.’…”
    — Haaretz

    The major powers in the region are waking up. No more Springtime for Israel.

  7. ColinWright on September 30, 2012, 4:29 pm

    As far as the Iranian bomb goes, one aspect of it all is that Iran is ringed by Sunni-dominated states that can’t possibly find the prospect of a nuclear-armed Shi’a fundamentalist state pleasant. Turkey presumably finds being the regional big dog agreeable — what happens to that if Iran has a bomb? For the gulf states with large Shia minorities or majorities, the prospect of an Iran that has iron-clad protection against retaliatory attacks no matter what she gets up to can’t be agreeable.

    So the boycott against Iran could be a lot firmer — and Iran would indeed find a prolonged boycott intolerable.

    …But Israel’s shenanigans must make it politically extremely difficult for these states to publicly support measures against the Iranian bomb project. To side with Israel is like siding with the neighborhood child molester.

    …so the net effect is to vitiate any coherent drive to bribe, cajole, and coerce Iran into dropping her nuclear aspirations. Israel’s actions certainly serve her psychological needs — but they don’t serve any other.

  8. Citizen on September 30, 2012, 5:25 pm

    Foreign Affairs Initiative (FPI), yet another of the myriad rabid Jewish Zionist/Neocon NGOs with gullible goy front staff and jewish board of directors (Eric Edelman, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Dan Senor), just put out a poll they say says the American masses (62%) are champing at the bit to attack Iran: http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/09/30/poll-62-of-americans-support-use-of-force-to-stop-nuclear-iran/

    • Mayhem on October 1, 2012, 3:15 am

      An earlier survey confirms the level of American support for stopping Iran by using military action.
      Face the facts and refer to http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/05/18/a-global-no-to-a-nuclear-armed-iran/

      • MarkF on October 1, 2012, 10:31 am

        Well then by all means, let the war begin. Show of hands – who’s willing to send their sons and daughters to fight and die in Iran? Anyone? Hello?

        I guess not a Kristol, Senor, Kagan, Bolton, Podhoritz, Krauthammer or Rubin in a foxhole. Maybe a Child of Mayhem?

        At least Palin was willing to send one of her babies to fight.

        Oh well, $4 a gallon gas after the Iraq war. I guess the economy can handle $8 a gallon just as easily.

  9. southernobserver on September 30, 2012, 6:10 pm

    Living with the bomb has been no joke. MAD? Completely Mad! And yet, I hate to say it, but I seriously wonder if its existence is one of the things that reduced the numbers of serious, all out wars in the last half century?

    As part of a negotiated solution, would it be better to _give_ Iran enough missiles to reassure it that it was not about to be attacked?

  10. David Doppler on September 30, 2012, 7:17 pm

    There is a deep weariness with the “existential threat” rhetoric. It increasingly becomes obvious that it is just an excuse to do bad things to the neighbors. And, in Netanyahu’s case, symptomatic of a cartoonish outlook on the world.

    It is Israel’s obligation as a nation to love justice and walk humbly with G-d. The Likud-Beiteinu regime needs to be ousted, and someone elected who can start to lead Israel in a saner, more realistic pathway. Beginning with atonement for mistreating the Palestinians.

    • Taxi on October 1, 2012, 1:39 am

      David Doppler,

      Unfortunately, there aren’t enough good israelis to vote for a righteous leader like you prescribe – the zionist ideology prohibits them from working with the concept of justice and equality.

      Israel as a country now finds itself in a spider’s hole, just like Saddam the individual found himself in a spider’s hole at the end of his days.

    • MRW on October 1, 2012, 4:51 am

      Ain’t going to happen @David Doppler. Jews (Diaspora and other otherwise) should have thought of this 10 years ago. You’ve alienated the Gentiles. You’ve written your line in the sand. The cruelty is going to continue, plus the reams of self-justification (fill in the blanks from pro- to anti-Zionism). Ain’t gonna’ happen.

  11. NickJOCW on October 1, 2012, 7:19 am

    Report revives speculations on Azerbaijan-Israel plot against Iran

    http://rt.com/news/azerbaijan-israel-attack-iran-362/

    • Taxi on October 1, 2012, 8:23 am

      Yeah Nick, I’ve seen similar reports circulate and I take ’em all with a pinch of salt. The Azers wouldn’t dare make such a move with so many countries hostile to zionism surrounding it. There is NO BENEFIT to them whatsoever in getting involved. Not even Saudi Arabia, who would love to see Iran smashed, would dare help israel attack Iran in such a direct way.

      Israel’s on it’s own on this one. That’s why it will do NOTHING to Iran.

      The only way israel can attack Iran and succeed is not by conventional warfare, but by the preemptive use of it’s nukes on Iran. And that in itself, won’t even protect israel from total annihilation if it were to launch such an attack.

      Simply put: the Iran game is over. All that remains is the incessant chatter about the hypotheticals.

      • NickJOCW on October 1, 2012, 9:23 am

        Agree. Quite apart from which The White House and the Pentagon will surely find even the floating of such a notion singularly irritating. Do you suppose that’s another nail in the proverbial – or two?

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