On Fox News Sunday, a bellicose Bill Kristol predicted President Obama “will end up a year from now using force against Iran,” but Obama just doesn’t want to signal that now.
Kristol believes that during this phase of diplomacy and sanctions, President Barack Obama should be talking about a military strike on Iran in order to force the Islamic Republic to acquiesce to Western Demands.
Watch the Fox News clip, as captured by Think Progress:
Matt Duss, writing for Think Progress, points out that beyond Kristol’s certainty about the eventual use of force, his assertion that a public show of bluster by Obama will help bring Iranians to the negotiating table is built upon unsound reasoning.
He finds that Kristol, the co-founder and editor of the Weekly Standard, doesn’t take into account the evidence of many Iran experts considered President George W. Bush’s belligerent rhetoric a massive failure, which led to a period where the Iranian nuclear program rapidly advanced.
Duss’s post — worth reading in full — notes that, as Jim Lobe also reported at the time, the Iranian dissident activist Akbar Ganji said that military threats hurt the opposition in Iran. Duss writes:
Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji was adamant in a May 2010 interview that talk of a U.S. military option was harmful. “If you do not have the threat of foreign invasion and you do not use the dialog of invasion and military intervention, the society itself has a huge potential to oppose and potentially topple the theocratic system,” Ganji said, adding:
“What I’m trying to get to is that jingoistic, militaristic language used by any foreign power would actually be detrimental to this natural evolution of Iranian society.”
“Unfortunately, the policies of the United States have fanned the flames of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East, particularly during the Bush administration,” Ganji said. “The belligerent rhetoric of Bush didn’t help us [the Iranian democracy movement], it actually harmed us.”
However, given his history of pushing for the Iraq war, it’s no surprise to see Kristol pushing for policies that might cause negotiations to wither and fail — it would allow hawks like him to tick-off diplomacy and sanctions from their pre-bombing checklist. If no deal is reached between Iran and the West, Kristol’s case for attacking Iran — which he thinks is likely to happen anyway — will be strengthened.