Kristol: Obama must talk about attacking Iran before inevitable attack

On Fox News Sunday, a bellicose Bill Kristol predicted President Obama “will end up a year from now using force against Iran,” but Obama just doesn’t want to signal that now.

Kristol believes that during this phase of diplomacy and sanctions, President Barack Obama should be talking about a military strike on Iran in order to force the Islamic Republic to acquiesce to Western Demands.

Watch the Fox News clip, as captured by Think Progress:

Matt Duss, writing for Think Progress, points out that beyond Kristol’s certainty about the eventual use of force, his assertion that a public show of bluster by Obama will help bring Iranians to the negotiating table is built upon unsound reasoning.

He finds that Kristol, the co-founder and editor of the Weekly Standard, doesn’t take into account the evidence of many Iran experts considered President George W. Bush’s  belligerent rhetoric a massive failure, which led to a period where the Iranian nuclear program rapidly advanced.

Duss’s post — worth reading in full — notes that, as Jim Lobe also reported at the time, the Iranian dissident activist Akbar Ganji said that military threats hurt the opposition in Iran. Duss writes:

Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji was adamant in a May 2010 interview that talk of a U.S. military option was harmful. “If you do not have the threat of foreign invasion and you do not use the dialog of invasion and military intervention, the society itself has a huge potential to oppose and potentially topple the theocratic system,” Ganji said, adding:

“What I’m trying to get to is that jingoistic, militaristic language used by any foreign power would actually be detrimental to this natural evolution of Iranian society.”

“Unfortunately, the policies of the United States have fanned the flames of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East, particularly during the Bush administration,” Ganji said. “The belligerent rhetoric of Bush didn’t help us [the Iranian democracy movement], it actually harmed us.”

However, given his history of pushing for the Iraq war, it’s no surprise to see Kristol pushing for policies that might cause negotiations to wither and fail — it would allow hawks like him to tick-off diplomacy and sanctions from their pre-bombing checklist. If no deal is reached between Iran and the West, Kristol’s case for attacking Iran — which he thinks is likely to happen anyway — will be strengthened.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. I’ll bet my Christmas turkey that Obama will bever use force against Iran. Put up or shut up, Kristol.

    Remember that Kristol’s priority is not regime change in Iran, but rather reducing Iran to military insignificance. It’s about Israel first, last, and always. No Iranian regime can ever be “safe” enough for Kristol. He wants war no matter who’s running things in Tehran.


    “The Obama administration is about to propose the sale of more than $60 billion worth of advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia…
    …But my real question is this: if our primary goal is to discourage Iran from developing nuclear weapons, then might this new initiative be counter-productive? Doesn’t it just give Iran an even bigger incentive to get a nuclear deterrent of its own? Think about it: if you had a bad relationship with the world’s most powerful country, if you knew (or just suspected) that it was still backing anti-government forces in your country, if its president kept telling people that “all options were still on the table,” and if that same powerful country were now about to sell billions of dollars of weapons to your neighbors, wouldn’t you think seriously about obtaining some way to enhance your own security? And that’s hard to do with purely conventional means, because your economy is a lot smaller and is already constrained by economic sanctions. Hmmm….so what are your other options?…” – Stephen Walt

    SOURCE –

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