Hawks on Iran

Lobe Log publishes “Hawks on Iran” every Friday. Our posts highlight militaristic commentary, confrontational policy recommendations and alternative viewpoints about Iran from a variety of sources including news articles, think tanks and pundits.


*This week’s must-reads/watch:

Peter Crail & Daryl Kimball: February 2012 IAEA Report on Iran: An Initial ReviewU.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb

Schieffer Series: Iran: U.S. Policy Options

Inside Story Americas – Is Israel fueling fear not facts over Iran?

David Makovsky: Friendship Under Fire

Paul Pillar: A Dangerous Declaration

The Economist Takes a Stand Against Bombing Iran

Dalia Dassa Kaye: Israel’s risky option on Iran

Justin Logan: Would Haass and Levi Accept Their Own Proposed Deal?

Jim Lobe: Despite War Drums, Experts Insist Iran Nuclear Deal Possible

Jasmin Ramsey: Ex-IAEA Chief Urges Talks to Defuse Threat of Attack on Iran

Wall Street Journal: Another week, another venomous editorial from the Journal, all of which are likely penned by former Jerusalem Post editor, Bret Stephens (now the WSJ’s editorial pages deputy editor). This time Stephens accuses the Obama administration of favoring Iran over Israel and berates Gen. Martin Dempsey for displaying “weakness” when he reiterated U.S. assessments that Iran is “rational”, that an Israeli strike would be “destabilizing” and that Iran has not made a decision to make a nuclear weapon. Stephens concludes that an Israeli attack on Iran is accordingly more likely because U.S. officials are not engaging in warmongering:

Is the Obama Administration more concerned that Iran may get a nuclear weapon, or that Israel may use military force to prevent Iran from doing so? The answer is the latter, judging from comments on Sunday by Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.

If the U.S. really wanted its diplomacy to work in lieu of force, it would say and do whatever it can to increase Iran’s fear of an attack. It would say publicly that Israel must be able to protect itself and that it has the means to do so. America’s top military officer in particular should say that if Iran escalates in response to an Israeli attack, the U.S. would have no choice but to intervene on behalf of its ally. The point of coercive diplomacy is to make an adversary understand that the costs of its bad behavior will be very, very high.

Like most of Mr. Obama’s Iran policy, General Dempsey’s comments will have the effect of making war more likely, not less. They will increase Israel’s anxiety about U.S. support, especially if Mr. Obama is re-elected and he has a freer political hand. This may drive Israel’s leadership to strike sooner. Weakness invites war, and General Dempsey has helped the Administration send a message of weakness to Israel and Iran.

Michael Gerson, Washington Post: Around this time last year the former George W. Bush speechwriter criticized President Obama for failing to embrace the “overthrow” of the Iranian government. Now Gerson’s “Iran options” for Obama rule out containment and endorse a range of hawkish measures including assisting an Israeli war on Iran: (emphasis mine):

So the national security adviser, the defense secretary and intelligence officials need to provide their boss something better than this dismal, binary choice. They will need to identify a range of in-between options. A virtuous somebody has already been conducting cyberattacks on the Iranian nuclear program and targeting key scientists. Are there other ways — ranging from covert action to stealth bombers — to disable or destroy a few key facilities, including Iran’s two uranium enrichment sites?

An unattributable action would be best — giving groups and governments in the Middle East the excuse to respond in the minimal way. But deniability may not be possible in an operation on this scale. It is a military judgment no outsider can confidently make.

A limited strike, it is true, would only buy time. The message, however, would be clear enough: If you keep at it, we’ll do it again. In the meantime, an oppressive and increasingly desperate regime may lose its grip on power.

Close cooperation with Israel in designing a targeted strike against enrichment facilities would have an added benefit. If the Israelis are convinced that America — after a last diplomatic push — is serious about preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, Israel would be less likely to take quick action of its own. American resolve is the best guarantee of Israeli patience.

Obama wants to be known for winding down long wars. But he has shown no hesitance when it comes to shorter, Israel-style operations. He is a special ops hawk, a drone militarist.

Iran should take this fact seriously as it calculates its next move.


Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: The conservative blogger argues that a senate resolution described by analysts as severely limiting the President’s options on Iran and bringing the U.S. closer to war isn’t as strong as it could be. Like neoconservative Michael Ledeen who openly endorses U.S.-backed regime overthrow in Iran, Rubin says regime change should be part of the U.S.’s Iran policy and informs us how the senate resolution can shackle the president more effectively (emphasis mine):

Now therefore be it:

Resolved, that

1. The official U.S. policy toward Iran should be regime change and the full support of the Iranian people for human rights, the rule of law and democracy;

2:The U.S. in conjunction with its allies prepare military options and plans to be used in the event Iran does not cease to pursue its nuclear weapons capability; and

3. Any discussions that the U.S. and its allies conduct with the Iranian regime shall be conditioned on a) inclusion of opposition leaders; b) full access by the IAEA and verifiable cessation of Iran’s missile program and c) agreement to discuss the Iranian regime’s abrogation of human rights.

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: Rubin criticizes the Obama administration for not expressing explicit support for Israeli threats against Iran (while publicizing an anti-Obama advertisement) and argues that if Israel does attack Iran, it’s Obama’s fault:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet withPresident Obama in March. He will probably take the time to remind Obama that the president has staked his own credibility and that of the United States on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The only way to ensure that that pledge is fulfilled, and for the United States to remain relevant in the region, is to make clear that the United States is prepared — with the cooperation of states in the Mideast (surely the Saudis must be as nervous as Netanyahu about Obama’s fecklessness) — to take military action if needed to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In short, if the Unites States downgrades military assistance to Israel and seeks to diplomatically undermine the Jewish state, Iran will conclude (if it hasn’t already) that we can’t bring ourselves to use force. That, in turn, will make continued progress on Iran’s nuclear program, as well as Israel’s military action, all the more likely.


Steve Forbes, Forbes: The magazine mogul declares the inevitably of war with Iran and hopes for the best:

Make no mistake, the coming conflict will have a major global impact.

Wars always take unexpected turns and have unexpected consequences. May events unfold in such a way that will lead to the downfall of Iran’s ­fanatical Islamic regime.

Tucker Carlson, Fox News: Eli Clifton reports on comments made by the Fox News pundit and Daily Caller editor about Iran this week:

CARLSON: I think we are the only country with the moral authority […] sufficient to do that. [The U.S. is] the only country that doesn’t seek hegemony in the world. I do think, I’m sure I’m the lone voice in saying this, that Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil.

Find Clifton’s report on Carlson’s attempt at damage control here.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.