Hawks retread seven-year-old talking points

MJ Rosenberg at Media Matters has written a great piece on how the “Israel Lobby” is pushing progressive politicians and organizations down the road to war with Iran.

He writes:

It’s happening again.

The same forces — with a few new additions and minus a few smart defectors — who pushed the United States into a needless and deadly war with Iraq are now organizing for the next war.

This time the target is Iran, which, just like Iraq, is said to be on the verge of creating weapons of mass destruction.

Also, just like Iraq, its president is a supposed madman determined to destroy Israel.

MJ points out that progressive organizations—namely the Union for Reform Judaism—have echoed the talking points which were in circulation in the buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 (See Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s op-ed in The Forward).

I would also draw attention to J Street‘s recent press release and official position on Iran.

The Obama administration’s blowoff of the Turkish-Brazilian breakthrough, argues MJ, indicates that the White House has closed itself off to any options except sanctions and/or war.

Indeed, this closing off of options and the recurring rhetoric of the “existential” threat posed to Israel by Iran’s nuclear program is eerily reminiscent of the Bush administration’s lead-up to the toppling of Saddam Hussein under the faulty–if not falsified–justification that the Iraqi leader was determined to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Seven years later, the same neoconservatives and war hawks are using the same talking points and strategies to control the discourse.

A disturbingly large number of progressives, so far, are taking the bait, hook, line and sinker.

As someone who has followed the aftermath of North Korea’s sinking of the Cheonan—a South Korean warship–I’m struck by the dangerous message which Washington and its allies send to Iran and other aspiring nuclear states.

No one has seriously discussed the possibility of a preemptive war against North Korea (of course, after having committed an act of war, a military response by South Korea wouldn’t even be preemptive) because the costs, partially due to Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons, would be unacceptably high.

Meanwhile, politicians and pundits in Washington continue to keep the option of preventive war–let alone preemptive war–against Iran “on the table”.

It doesn’t take a huge leap of reasoning to see how the mullahs might be getting the message that a nuclear weapon is the only way to take the threat of a U.S. or Israeli attack off the table.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. I wish the Turkish-Brazilian “breakthrough” truly constituted a breakthrough, but even on its own terms it doesn’t.

    A preemptive war against North Korea will never be on the cards because 1) the Chinese won’t have it; 2) there are 10,000 artillery tubes aimed at Seoul. War would mean the end of the North, but it would also entail massive destruction and civilian casualties in the South.

    I remain highly skeptical about Barack Obama ever ordering strikes on Iran. I would bet 10-1 against. The fact that “progressives” are swallowing propaganda hook, line and sinker does not mean that war is coming. The Neocons had to get into power before they could “do” Iraq, and they still needed a pliant (and clueless) president at the end of their puppet strings. Obama is not particularly pliant, and certainly not clueless.

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