Hawks on Iran

In response to a worrying trend in U.S. politics, Lobe Log publishes “Hawks on Iran” every Friday. Our posts highlight militaristic commentary and confrontational policy recommendations about Iran from a variety of sources including news articles, think tanks and pundits.

Weekly Reads/Watch:

– News: Ex-national security adviser: No apologies to Israel over Iran’s nuke program
– News: U.S. lawmakers say Iran talks inadequate, urge more penalties
– New: Iran’s Parchin complex: Why are nuclear inspectors so focused on it?
– News: Israel Deputy PM: ‘An Attack On Iran Won’t Help Us’
– Opinion: Blame Saddam: Another Way of Seeing Iran’s Nuclear Program
– Opinion: Seven Steps on the Way Towards a Peaceful Resolution of the Conflict Over Iran’s Nuclear Activities
– Opinion: Congress should not sabotage Iran negotiations
– Opinion: Backed Into a Corner
– Opinion: Five Principles for a Nuclear Deal with Iran
– Opinion: Hostage Negotiator Reveals Secrets to Dealing With Iran
– Opinion: US and Iran Should Adopt Nixon’s Yellow-Pad Method

Jennifer Rubin, Daily Beast: The neoconservative Washington Post blogger‘s response to the question of “Do US Interests Ever Diverge From Israel’s?” boils down to the following on the issue of Iran (emphasis mine):

if military action is needed, America should be the power to take the lead. First of all we have the best military in the world with the greatest capabilities, but also it cements our role as leader of the West. If we are seen to be subcontracting out if you will our responsibilities, I think that diminishes the influence of the United States and suggests that we’re less than enthusiastic, that our allies are on their own so to speak and that’s a very bad precedent.

On the other hand, Israel has a very different take. When the Prime Minister came to the United States a couple months ago he held up two sheets of paper, they were the letters from the World Jewish Congress during WWII begging the President of the United States then to bomb the railroad lines to the death camps, that plea was rejected and it has been essentially a fundamental principle of Zionism and the Israeli State that Jews in Israel must defend themselves, that they must take their own national security into their own hands and in essence they shouldn’t be contracting out the survival of the Jewish State to another power.

So in one case we have the instance in which America may feel like it should take action and another case in which Israel should take action. Now those critics of the President’s policy such as myself think the problem can be solved either by coordination or acting sooner rather than later but that is not a dispute that is probably going to be resolved. And I think one or the other will go and I suspect given this administration’s disinclination to act forcefully on foreign policy before the election it will probably be the Israelis to feel compelled to act.

Also see a commenter’s response to Rubin’s answer about the Iraq vs. Iranian narratives here.

Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute (AEI): The AEI‘s vice president for foreign and defense policy studies (who declared a few months ago that “[t]he biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it. It’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it.”) says Israel’s bitter description of recent talks between Iran and the P5+1 was “too kind”. Pletka also expresses no qualms about an Israeli strike on Iran which she eagerly reminds us is still a possibility:

Israeli PM Netanyahu labeled the outcome of the talks a “freebie” for Iran. He was too kind. The talks were a victory for Iran, and a humiliation for the Obama administration, and its hapless “please meet with me” delegation. The thin-skinned president was angry and slapped back at Netanyahu, yet another sign he’s playing Iran’s game for them. But that doesn’t mean the Israelis have to play along: Today, Defense Minister Barak told Israeli Army Radio that Israel has made no commitment not to strike Iran while talks are going on.

Tom Ridge, General Hugh Shelton, Patrick Kennedy, Fox New: By now those who follow U.S.-Iran relations closely should be familiar with the Mujahideen-e-khalq (MEK aka NCRI, MKO, PMOI) and their massive lobbying campaign to get delisted from the U.S. foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) list. If not, see here. Part of the MEK’s efforts have reportedly involved spending millions in “speaking fees” for high-level former U.S. officials to sing their praises in one way or another as Ridge, Shelton and Kennedy did this week. This is not the first time that these public figures have advocated for the MEK and it’s unlikely to be the last. In any case, here they argue that the MEK, whom they inaccurately describe as the Iranian government’s “main opposition” (despite it’s efforts to appear otherwise the MEK has little support outside Iran and almost none inside it), is a “weapon” for bringing about U.S.-backed “regime change”. Oh, and don’t forget about the humanitarian reasons to support this Iranian exile U.S.-designated terrorist group, they say:

As President Obama struggles to find a solution to Iran’s increasingly threatening nuclear ambitions, he should realize that the most powerful weapon the US can deploy now is not the sanctions of diplomacy, or the missiles of war, but support for regime change in Iran.

In the meantime, one can only hope that Secretary Clinton means it when she says that the Iranian people deserve to be free of the mullahs. Unshackling the main Iranian opposition movement from an unwarranted State Department blacklist and honoring US promises to guarantee the safety of exiled Iranian dissidents would certainly be a good place to start.

Chuck Freilich, Jerusalem Post: A rather confusing argument came from the former deputy national security adviser to the Israeli government turned Harvard fellow this week. Diplomacy with Iran should be pursued and while going to war should be avoided, it should also be considered, Freilich claims, even if the best case scenario that “military action” will result in is a “few years” of favorable results. Then the same claims again (along with a half-baked argument for why Iranians would ultimately welcome foreign-waged war) along with the declaration that soon the only choices the U.S. will have are war or a nuclear-armed Iran regardless of what happens in the interim:

Military action is certainly not a panacea. Iran already has the know-how needed to reconstitute the program, if attacked, and could reach its current stage of development again within a few years. A gain of a few years, however, should also not be dismissed.

Some argue that an attack will merely rally the Iranian people around the regime, which is indeed a likely short-term result. There is, however, no reason to presume that this will be the case once the initial fury passes and Iranians truly consider their interests, especially if the international community continues to impose heavy costs. It should be remembered that the regional uprisings began with the demonstrations in Iran in June 2009.

Diplomacy and sanctions should be pursued during the coming months, while the window of opportunity for doing so still remains open.

Ultimately, however, the choice will come down to one of two danger-fraught alternatives: living with a nuclear Iran through containment and deterrence, or military action. Whichever approach one favors, we owe it to ourselves to face up to this painful choice honestly.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



  1. Both those women, Rubin and Pletka, need to be medicated. As to Freilich’s argument, another loss in bombing Iran would be the inspections and live feed closed circuit video surveillance would certainly not be renewed. So, live with perhaps a latent Iran, and live video feed of the facilities; or, roll the dice, drop some bombs. Hope the opposition who also support a nuclear program come to power and change their stance? Wholly affirm their paranoia, and utterly void the NPT? Great, good logic. Come to think of it, I think Freilich needs to be medicated too.

  2. RE: “Both those women, Rubin and Pletka, need to be medicated.” ~ Scottindallas

    MY COMMENT: Wrong Scott! Medication might work for Pletka, but Rubin is a hopeless case and needs to be involuntarily committed to a mental institution (probably for the rest of her life).
    Now, as to the editorial board of the ‘Washington Post’…

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