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: Iran Envoy: Tehran might sign NPT protocol allowing snap inspections of nuclear facilities
– News: Iran Considers Halting Nuclear Expansion to Avert EU Oil Ban
– News: Israel’s top general says Iran unlikely to make bomb
– Video: Amanpour interviews former Iranian nuclear negotiation insider about weaponization plans
– Report: What to do about U.S. Sanctions and Israeli Threats: Iran’s Muted Nuclear Debate
– Report: Iran and Israel: Comparing military machines
– Report: Iranian Hard-Liners Send Positive Signals on Talks
– Report: Netanyahu Iran Policies Rejected By Increasing Numbers in Israel
– Opinion: Iran, Istanbul and the future

Jennifer Rubin/Sen. Joe Lieberman, Washington Post: The militantly pro-Israel blogger who constantly criticizes President Obama for not going to war with Iran, paraphrases Senator Joe Lieberman‘s (I-CT) related comments from an interview:

He acknowledges the concern that if talks drag out Iran will conclude we are unserious and will continue full steam ahead with its nuclear weapons program. So how do we prevent the rope-a-dope game? Lieberman begins with the premise that if Iran “is approaching a nuclear weapons capability, then we have to act militarily” unless Iran in essence surrenders its program. “They should never feel we are turning down economic and diplomatic pressure” while talking,” he says.

In this he thinks Congress has a role. Either by passing a resolution explicitly opposing a “containment” strategy or by adding “another layer of sanctions,” he contends, it is vital for Congress to act before the May 23 talks. That, he believes, is the only way to convey American resolve.

A resolution opposing containment essentially commits the U.S. to war with Iran as Paul Pillar has pointed out and yet Lieberman wants Congress to act prior to the next round of talks. Why?

H.R.4485 and H.RES.630: Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now points out a new bill preparing the U.S. for a military attack on Iran and a resolution supporting an Israeli attack:

H.R.448: L Latest Title: To further the preparedness of the United States Armed Forces, in cooperation with regional allies, to prevent the Government of Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Conaway, K. Michael [TX-11] (introduced 4/24/2012)      Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 4/24/2012 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.RES.630Latest Title: Expressing support for Israel and its right to self-defense against the illegal nuclear program by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Sponsor: Rep Gosar, Paul A. [AZ-1] (introduced 4/24/2012)      Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 4/24/2012 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) fellow expresses his concern for Israel’s decreased chances of attacking Iran while talks are in process and advises the Israelis to nevertheless act unfettered:

There is certainly a risk that continuing these negotiations puts Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak into a real pickle, since it’s more difficult for the Israelis to make the case for bombing Iran’s nuclear sites while the negotiations are going on. Nonetheless, the Israelis need to decide whether a preventive attack on the Islamic Republic can work. Their internal deliberations should not be constrained by a false promise of a diplomatic solution. Moving forward with negotiations now is actually more likely to free the Israelis to act in the summer, if they choose to, than to entrap them.

Jeremy Gimpel, The Land of Israel: Think Progress’s Ali Gharib reports on the hawkish views of Jeremy Gimpel, one of the founders of a new pro-Israel advocacy group that’s spreading alarmist videos about Iran while pushing for an Israeli strike. “The Land of Israel” is funded by the Islamophobic Clarion Fund and features Mitt Romney adviser Walid Phares in one of its productions. Writes Gharib:

Confronted with the differences between stopping and delaying Iranian nuclear progress, Gimpel said he hoped an attack would result in a delay long enough for regime change in Tehran. If that didn’t work, he said, “Israel will do what it has to do. If it means (striking) every five years, they that’s what they’ll do.”

Gimpel rejected the notion that he was building a case for war. “What I’m doing is building a case for peace,” he said. “What I’m saying is that there will never be peace if Iran has a nuclear bomb.” But he rejected a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, declaring, “I think the negotiations are wasting our time.”

John Lehman, Wall Street Journal: While citing “rogue states like Iran” as a threat, the Mitt Romney senior adviser advocates for a ramped up U.S. navy:

So how is the Obama administration getting to a 300-ship Navy? It projects a huge increase in naval shipbuilding beginning years down the road, most of which would come after a second Obama term. In other words, the administration is radically cutting the size and strength of the Navy now, while trying to avoid accountability by assuming that a future president will find the means to fix the problem in the future.

This compromises our national security. The Navy is the foundation of America’s economic and political presence in the world. Other nations, like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, are watching what we do—and on the basis of the evidence, they are undoubtedly concluding that under Mr. Obama America is declining in power and resolution.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.