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.
Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji, WINEP: Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji of the Israel-centric Washington Institute for Near East Policy (aka Washington Institute or WINEP) argue that Iran may need to be shocked into submission with more crippling measures including a military attack:
Ultimately, changing this mindset may require a profound shock of some sort, be it remarkably tough sanctions, more-complete political isolation, or military action.
While claiming that sanctions alone are not enough, the authors recommend piling more on anyway:
Washington has long advocated sanctions as the key to spurring Iranian compromise, and the announcement of the latest round of financial measures certainly seemed central in getting Iran back to the negotiating table. At the end of the day, however, such measures have not persuaded Tehran to make even the minimum compromises that would be acceptable to the P5+1. Expecting the new sanctions alone to spur Iran toward a more favorable position may therefore be unrealistic — Washington and its allies would be well advised to plan additional sanctions.
Michael Eisenstadt, WINEP: The director of WINEP’s Military and Security Studies Program argues that the US should aggressively harden its stance against Iran by implementing increased pressure tactics and ramping up the military option:
Successful diplomacy may well depend on the administration’s ability to convince Tehran that the price of failed negotiations could be armed conflict. To make this threat credible, Washington must first show Tehran that it is preparing for a possible military confrontation — whether initiated by Iran or a third country — and that it is willing and able to enforce its red lines regarding freedom of navigation in the Gulf and the regime’s nuclear program.
Jamie Fly, Lee Smith and William Kristol, Weekly Standard: While applauding a related bipartisan Senate letter that we noted last week, three of the most ardent neoconservative pushers of the Iraq War urge Congress to “seriously explore” an Authorization of Military Force against Iran:
Stephen Rademaker, one of the witnesses at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on June 20, testified that Iran has not been “sufficiently persuaded that military force really is in prospect should they fail to come to an acceptable agreement to the problem.”
The key to changing that is a serious debate about the military option. But even in the wake of the collapse of the talks, far too many otherwise serious people continue to hold out hope for a negotiated settlement brought about by increased economic pressure. All additional sanctions should be explored and enacted as soon as possible, but what the track record of more than a decade of negotiations with Iran tells us is that this is not a country about to concede. This is not a regime on the ropes or on the cusp of compromise, as many would have us believe.
This is a regime committed to developing nuclear weapons, despite the cost to the Iranian economy and the toll on the Iranian people. Time is running out and the consequences of inaction for the United States, Israel, and the free world will only increase in the weeks and months ahead. It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
Mark Dubowitz, Foreign Policy: The executive director of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies and influential sanctions-pusher Mark Dubowitz argues for more “economic warfare” to “to shake the Islamic Republic to its core” by “blacklisting Iran’s entire energy sector”, extending the sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, targeting other areas of the Iranian economy and:
…if that’s insufficient to get Khamenei to strike a deal — and there is unfortunately no evidence so far that it will — the president needs to unite the country in moving beyond sanctions and preparing for U.S. military strikes against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Mideast focused pundit Daniel Pipes has positively reviewed a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) that discusses “likely” Iranian responses to an Israeli “preventive strike”. Pipes, who in 2010 argued that President Obama should bomb Iran to “to salvage his tottering administration”, repeats Michael Eisenstadt and Michael Knights’ assessment of how Iran would react to an Israeli military attack before concluding that the consequences would be “unpleasant but not cataclysmic, manageable not devastating.” The underlying assumption in Pipes’ article is that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon rather than nuclear weapon capability, which is what the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) and US intelligence agencies have asserted. And according to Pipes’ line of reasoning, the consequences of striking Iran pale in comparison to the only alternative he provides: “apocalyptic Islamists controlling nuclear weapons“.