In response to a worrying trend in U.S. politics Lobe Log is launching “Iran Hawk Watch”. Each Friday we will post on notable militaristic commentary about Iran from a variety of sources including news articles, think tanks and pundits.
Mainstream Media and Pundits:
Washington Post: Neoconservative media spokesman Charles Krauthammer (who argued that the U.S. had no option but to use “military force” against Iran during the middle of the Iraq War) likens the Obama Administration’s Iran policy to “appeasement”:
Obama imagined that his silver tongue and exquisite sensitivity to Islam would persuade the mullahs to give up their weapons program. Amazingly, they resisted his charms, choosing instead to become a nuclear power. The negotiations did nothing but confer legitimacy on the regime at its point of maximum vulnerability (and savagery), as well as give it time for further uranium enrichment and bomb development.
Matt Duss of the Center for American Progress explains why Krauthammer’s argument is absurd:
One can disagree with the Obama administration’s two track approach of engagement and pressure. But to describe that approach — which includes the adoption of some of the most stringent multilateral sanctions ever, successfully supporting the appointment of a special UN human rights monitor for Iran, and unprecedented defense cooperation with regional allies — as “appeasement” is to declare oneself desperately in need of a dictionary.
Even Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak disagrees with Krauthammer!
CNN: Pro-Israel Senate hawk Mark Kirk is called a “leader” by David Frum, the Iraq war-pusher who coined the infamous “axis of evil” phrase for George W. Bush. Frum applauds the Kirk-Menendez amendment to the defense authorization bill which includes sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank. The bill was approved by a 100-0 Senate vote after months of lobbying. Frum is a talented writer who knows how to sway public perception. By ending this piece with the argument that strangling sanctions are preferable to war or “nuclear terror”, he is making it seem like there are no other available options. In other words, the second to worst-case scenario is actually the best scenario. Here’s how he does it:
The utmost irony here is that detractors in the administration and in the foreign policy establishment criticize Menendez-Kirk as a form of confrontation with Iran. In reality, Menendez-Kirk is the last and best chance for regional peace: the last best hope to avoid the horrible choice of either using force to stop Iran — or acquiescing as Iran gains the power to wage nuclear terror against its neighbors and the world.
Notable analysts and former officials beg to differ, most recently evidenced by this.
Foreign Affairs: According to Matthew Kroenig, an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, going to war with Iran is the “Is the Least Bad Option”. Harvard’s Stephen Walt thoroughly debunks Kroenig’s appallingly bad analysis here.
Wall Street Journal: Emanuele Ottolenghi of the uber-hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies argues that the U.S. should wage war on Iran because Iranians are more likely to welcome foreign invasion than they they are to oppose it. Ottolenghi makes unsubstantiated assumptions such as the claim that Iran’s non-Persians would ally with their invaders over their nation. He doesn’t discuss how an attack should be carried out, or what kind of resources would be needed to maintain any supposed successes. He also ignores the financial costs for the U.S.’s economy and most importantly, the human costs for Iran, the U.S. and its allies:
American policy makers should factor in the possibility that a U.S. attack will actually accelerate regime change, not hinder it. And given that it would come on the heels of the destruction of Iran’s nuclear military program—an undeniable strategic gain—the Obama administration and its allies should have a second look.
Past and Present U.S. Officials:
Washington Times: Retired Navy Adm. James “Ace” Lyons advocates three positions on Iran. First, the U.S. should make “regime change in Iran the official policy of the United States Government.” Second, the U.S. should wage war on Iran. Third, the U.S. should delist the anti-Iranian cult, the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK) from its foreign terrorist organizations list.
This week Lyons advocated the first two positions while endorsing strangling sanctions against Iran. He also said the U.S. should support the Syrian opposition–not because massive human rights abuses are being committed against them–but because the overthrow of the Syrian government would eliminate a key Iranian ally.