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, U.S. Need Direct Talks to Break Deadlock, Mousavian Says (Vienna)
– News: Israeli elections likely to postpone any deliberations on Iran strike
– News: Israel Formally Receives Fourth Nuclear-Capable Sub
– News: Iran Embargo Impossible to Meet as Ships Need Its Oil
– Opinion: Israeli Dissent May Create More Space for Iran Nuclear Deal
– Opinion: California Senator Takes a Stand for Political Solution in Iran
– Opinion: Iran: Ever-resilient but maybe more malleable
– Opinion: Election Year = No Iran Deal
– Opinion: Why Logic May Prevail on Iran
– Opinion: Dysfunctional Congress Threatens Iran Talks
– Video: Containment: A Viable Strategy for Iran?
– Research Publication: China and Iran: Economic, Political, and Military Relations

Jamie M. Fly/Robert Zarate, Weekly Standard: A common argument touted by hawks these days is that President Obama should seek regime change in Syria because Iran would be weakened from the loss of a major ally. The neoconservative-dominated Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) have led that call and this week FPI Executive Director Jamie M. Fly (an Iraq war hawk who has never been shy about his hopes for Iran) and Policy Director Robert Zarate claimed that if Obama doesn’t forcefully intervene in Syria, scary Iran will be emboldened by the U.S.’s refusal to force change in other countries:

If the United States still can’t bring itself to stop the mortally wounded Assad regime (which lacks nuclear weapons) from murdering its own people and destabilizing its neighbors, then how likely is it to deal with much harder cases in the Middle East—like a nuclear-armed Iran that starts inflicting Syria-like mass atrocities on its own people or menacing its own neighbors? Indeed, not only Damascus and Tehran, but also America’s allies and partners throughout the world, are waiting and watching to see whether the Obama administration and Congress will truly side with the Syrian people and show resolve against Assad.

Unabashed hawk Jennifer Rubin, who regularly argues that the U.S. should wage war on Iran for Israel and often regurgitates commentary from FPI and FDD staffers, was quick to feature Fly and Zarate’s article at her Washington Post perch.

Max Boot, Commentary: The Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Boot allied with neoconservatives as an early supporter of the U.S.’s war on Iraq and has agitated for war with Iran even while acknowledging that strikes would not set back its alleged nuclear ambitions by much. Last week he accordingly disapproved of a New York Times article about Obama’s foreign policy for giving too much credit to the President despite what Boot considers to be serious failures. Obama was not only insufficiently harsh with Iran writes Boot, he should also be criticized for trying to avoid an Israeli war on Iran:

There is also little or no mention in Bergen’s article…of Iran, where Obama opposed strong sanctions on the Central Bank that were ultimately passed by Congress, and where he has tried to pressure Israel not to strike while all but ruling out the use of American force against this dangerous nuclear program;

Michael Rubin, Commentary: Like Fly and Boot, the American Enterprise Institute‘s Michael Rubin (Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq during the first George W. Bush administration) advocates confrontational U.S. foreign policy particularly in the Middle East. While he has admitted during public forums that a military campaign on Iran should be avoided, he has no qualms about advocating Iranian “regime collapse” byway of U.S. “private decision-making” (whatever than means) and other methods:

Just as terrorism is a tactic, and it’s the ideology underlying its practitioners which should be the target of U.S. policy, the nuclear weapons are less of a problem than the regime which would wield them. The key to U.S. national security is simply regime collapse in Iran. How to hasten that collapse should be the guiding principle of U.S. policy.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.