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Hawks on Iran
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.
John Bolton, Mark Wallace & Kristen Silverberg, Wall Street Journal: This week members of the hawkish American Enterprise Institute and United Against Nuclear Iran were given the stage by the Wall Street Journal to advocate for further isolating Iran by barring it from the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund. Curiously, the authors begin by claiming that “Many believe that only military force will stop Iran” without indicating who that “many” may be. In fact, Israeli officials are divided about the merits of attacking Iran. Meanwhile, hawks in the US who advocate for striking Iran are outnumbered by high-level current and former Western officials who maintain that diplomacy is the best tool for dealing with Iran. Facts aside, the authors argue that their recommendation, which is “one step short of force”, should be implemented because
Iran’s continued participation in the U.N. and the IMF affords it international legitimacy and platforms to advance its agenda—gutting economic sanctions, among them—and undermines important Western foreign-policy interests.
Michael Oren, Wall Street Journal: Israel’s ambassador to the US argues for imposing more “crippling sanctions” and a “credible military threat” against Iran:
At the same time, the president has affirmed Israel’s right “to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” and “to make its own decision about what is required to meet its security needs.” Historically, Israel has exercised that right only after exhausting all reasonable diplomatic means. But as the repeated attempts to negotiate with Iran have demonstrated, neither diplomacy nor sanctions has removed the threat.
A combination of truly crippling sanctions and a credible military threat—a threat that the ayatollahs still do not believe today—may yet convince Iran to relinquish its nuclear dreams. But time is dwindling and, with each passing day, the lives of eight million Israelis grow increasingly imperiled. The window that opened 20 years ago is now almost shut.
Read a response to Oren’s article by British diplomat and former IAEA representative Peter Jenkins, here.
David Feith, Wall Street Journal: An assistant editorial features editor at the Journal (the son of Douglas Feith) tells Americans that their government is “misleading” them about Iran and implies that the US should align its “red line” on Iran (a nuclear weapon) with Israel’s line (nuclear weapon capability) while questioning the President’s resolve to attack Iran:
Would this president, so dedicated to multilateralism (except where targeting al Qaeda is concerned), launch a major military campaign against Iran even without Russian and Chinese support at the U.N.? Do Iran’s leaders think he would? Or have they noticed that American officials often repeat the “all-options-on-the-table” mantra as mere throat clearing before they list all the reasons why attacking Iran is a terrifying prospect?
Those reasons are plain to see. An attack could lead to a major loss of life, to regional war, to Iranians rallying around their regime, to global economic pain. And it could fail.
But the question that counts is whether these risks outweigh the risks of a nuclear-capable Iran. That’s a hard question for any democratic government and its citizens to grapple with. The Obama administration’s rhetorical snow job only makes it harder.
Mark Dubowitz, Foreign Policy: The executive director of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who recently advocated for waging “economic warfare” against Iran (read a response here), warns institutions and individuals against doing business with Iran:
Would-be sanctions busters beware: Any and all profits derived from Iran’s lucrative energy sector are now officially illegal unless you have received a waiver from the Obama administration. Congress and the White House recently closed significant loopholes in Iran’s energy, finance, shipping, insurance, and nonproliferation-related sanctions. The bottom line: Anyone doing business with Iran is putting themselves and their businesses at risk.
While Dubowitz refers to himself as “humble” in his article, he is a self-styled Iran sanctions “expert” who has reportedly done much to shape the US’s Iran policy. Yet, after years of enthusiastically calling for crippling sanctions against Iran, Dubowitz still expresses doubts:
In the end, the success of the sanctions depends not on the sanctions busters, who may have little material impact on Iran’s ability to extend its economic day of reckoning, but rather on the one question that has yet to be answered about sanctions’ efficacy: whether the regime’s economic expiration date — when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s cash hoard falls low enough to set off a massive economic panic — occurs before it has developed the capability to cross the threshold to a nuclear weapon.