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.

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal: With “The Post-American Middle East”, the Journal’s editorial board informs us that if the United States had only maintained its occupation of Iraq, Iran would not be able to use Iraqi airbase to ship arms to Syria (a charge that Iraq denies):

The larger lesson is that withdrawal from Iraq was not the no-cost triumph the President keeps telling American voters it is. The Iranian overflights—of which there have been more than 100 so far—would not happen if the U.S. still had an airbase in Iraq to secure the country’s airspace. And Mr. Maliki would likely be more confident in his dealing with Iran if he had a division’s worth of American troops to serve as a deterrent to Iranian incursion. As for U.S. aid, the $1 billion is not all that meaningful for a government flush with oil revenues.

 Mitt Romney, Foreign Policy: Josh Rogin has the scoop on the changing of the Republican presidential candidate’s “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program — now aligned with Israel’s (for now):

“With regards to the red line, I would imagine Prime Minister Netanyahu is referring to a red line over which if Iran crossed it would take military action. And for me, it is unacceptable or Iran to have the capability of building a nuclear weapon, which they could use in the Middle East or elsewhere,” Romney said. “So for me, the red line is nuclear capability. We do not want them to have the capacity of building a bomb that threatens ourselves, our friends, and the world.”

Dubowitz, Wallace, Ros-Lehtinen, Washington Times: Well-known US neoconservatives and hawks (as well as Kurdish separatist sources) explain why more crippling sanctions are good and the administration needs to adopt a more hawkish policy toward Iran. According to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL):

Iran’s use of Iraqi airspace is only a small part of Tehran’s expanding influence over Baghdad, and yet nothing has been done to address this alarming situation,” she said. “For months, Iraq has been helping Iran skirt U.S. and international sanctions and increased cooperation on a variety of levels. Yet, despite this clear evidence, the administration has failed to act on this disturbing trend or hold Baghdad accountable.”

John McCain, CBS “Face the Nation”: The former Republican presidential candidate tells host Bob Schieffer that the US should further align its Iran policy with Israel’s:

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, it’s disengagement. Prior to 9/11, we had a policy of containment. Then after 9/11 it was confrontation with the terrorists and al Qaeda. Now it’s disengagement. Every time, you just saw the spokespersons, we’re leaving Iraq, we’re leaving Afghanistan, we’re leaving the area, the people in the area are having to adjust and they believe the United States is weak, and they are taking appropriate action. And in Israel now we have a looming situation. Is there anybody that doesn’t believe that Iran continues on the path to nuclear weapons, despite the sanctuary– the sanctions that have been harmful to them? And here we are in an open fight with the prime minister of– of Israel and they keep telling–

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let’s– let’s just talk about that.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: –could I just say, we keep telling the Israelis not to attack. Shouldn’t we be telling the Iranians that we are together and that there are boundaries that they can’t cross? Instead, we are in a continuous public dispute with our closest ally in the region.

Dan Senor, CBS “This Morning: The Romney-Ryan senior campaign adviser tells host Norah O’Donnell that Iranian nuclear capability (Israel’s red line on Iran) is “the biggest crisis facing the United States from a national security standpoint”. While stating that military action against Iran should be a “last resort”, Senor advocates for a harsher threat of military action, more sanctions for Iran’s strangulated economy and increased isolation:

The administration has been resistant to some of these sanctions, to not giving waivers to certain financial institutions around the world. So Congress has passed tough sanctions against Iran. There are waivers in those sanctions. The administration has used these waivers too much to let people get out of these sanctions. He would also—this is very important here—we do not advocate military action against Iran. It should be the option of last resort. However, what the administration has done is broadcast to Tehran, to the mullahs in Tehran, that the military option is the absolute one thing America doesn’t want anybody to do. So the threat of military action is not credible. We need to ramp up economic pressure, increase diplomatic isolation and make the threat of military action credible. But it’s not just Iran. We’re watching right now the whole region unravel. You look at 20,000 innocent civilians dead in Syria. You look at Iran getting closer to a nuclear bomb. You see Salafists and extremists storming our embassies. There’s a sense—

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.