Neocons Call for War Against Iran In Syria After Israeli Strikes

by Ben Armbruster

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a little known but highly influential hawkish think tank in Washington that has made a name for itself over the past few years by opposing the Iran nuclear deal and its subsequent (and current) efforts to derail it.

Aside from its long tradition of opposing negotiations with Iran, FDD has also been known as a safe space for its staff—chief among them CEO Mark Dubowitz—to call for war against Iran and/or regime change.

And for some reason, FDD really doesn’t like it when it gets called out on it.

In a piece in the Weekly Standard last December, Dubowitz and FDD Senior Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht complained about being painted as warmongers for their opposition to the Iran deal. And Dubowitz himself regularly grumbles about this on Twitter, calling for a move away from what he calls “personal attacks” to instead focus on “honest discussion.”

But sometimes a hawk just can’t hide his thirst for war.

After news broke earlier this week that Israel downed an Iranian drone and subsequently attacked an Iranian base deep inside Syria, taking out a significant chunk of Bashar al Assad’s air defenses, FDD staffers got a bit … excited, and put their desire for war with Iran on full display.

First, FDD Research Fellow Tony Badran on Twitter re-upped a piece he wrote back in October about how the U.S. should attack Iran and Hezbollah assets in Syria—their “military infrastructure, arms shipments, logistical routes, and senior cadres.”

Dubowitz then shared Badran’s tweet, calling it “smart analysis on Syria & Lebanon problem & how the U.S. should target vulnerable Iranian forces.”

And if pushing for war with Iran on Twitter wasn’t enough, Richard Goldberg, FDD “senior advisor” and former staffer for hawkish former Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, then took FDD’s message to the megaphone of the New York Post.

“Now is the time for Trump to re-establish a robust military deterrent toward Iranian expansionism in close collaboration with regional allies,” Goldberg argued in a Post op-ed. And what if Iran responds in kind? Not to worry, says Goldberg:

Trump will certainly need to prepare for a range of potential responses from Iran, particularly via proxies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But these proxy threats aren’t new — and the benefits far outweigh potential costs. … Tehran’s strategic calculus would start to change, curtailing risk-taking in the region, enhancing security for US allies over the long run and potentially changing regime behavior in other illicit activities.

This proposal will sound familiar because we’ve been sold this magic potion before, for instance in Iraq.

But of course wars in the Middle East don’t always turn out so rosy.

Colin Kahl, former national security adviser to Vice President Biden during the Obama administration, had a wild idea about how to deal with the Iran problem in Syria: diplomacy. In a Twitter thread in June warning about the risk of “sliding into a big war” in Syria, Kahl said “[the b]iggest risks are in the southeast & along border,” referring to the southeast of Syria. “That requires talking to Iran.”

A handful of Trump officials have actually been pushing for the U.S. to confront Iran militarily in Syria. But Defense Secretary James Mattis—himself an Iran hawk who has described the regime in Tehran as the greatest threat the U.S. faces—and other officials brought out a big flashing red light.

“Mattis, military commanders, and top U.S. diplomats all oppose opening up a broader front against Iran and its proxies in southeastern Syria,” Foreign Policy reported last June, “viewing it as a risky move that could draw the United States into a dangerous confrontation with Iran.”

Another analyst who has in the past argued for an American military role similar to what FDD is proposing, wrote recently that in order for the U.S. to really curtail Iran’s expanding presence in Syria now, it would have to go all in militarily, and that “anything less than that will not achieve the worthy goals of containing or weakening Iran there.”

Journalists, and indeed, the American people, should have no illusions about what anti-Iran deal hawks like FDD and their allies are ultimately after. Despite their rhetoric about “fixing” the agreement or pushing for a “better deal,” their preferred policy outcome is probably the war they talk about so often.

Beyond FDD, the American Enterprise Institute—the DC think tank best known for helping George W. Bush sell the war with Iraq—is also all in, releasing a paper this week calling for a covert war against Iran in Syria.

But it’s not as if FDD merely barks in the wind. Its staff regularly appear on broadcast and print media and testify before Congress. If fact, members of the anti-Iran deal echo chamber, like the Israel Project, revved their engines this week in the wake of FDD’s calls for war.

Dubowitz and his staff at FDD can complain all they want about being painted as warmongers. But when they reflexively call for military action against Iran at every opportunity, it’s hard to see them as anything but.

Ben Armbruster is the communications director for Win Without War and previously served as National Security Editor at ThinkProgress.

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  1. Here we go again. A rose by any other name is a neo-con, especially when it smells like s__t. When did this new front for Israel and AIPAC actually birth. Is this guy dubitz a love child of wolfiwitz and bibi. These guys must drink the same thing as hillary because neither will just go away and leave us, literally and figuratively, in peace.

    If hillary had won we would already be in Tehran and dubitz would probably be being honored in israel at wolfiwitz’s birthday party. This crowd is just like Bibi. When European leaders are asked about Bibi, they all pretty much say the same thing. He is a liar. And that is how the neo-cons led the charge into Iraq II and authored the U.N. speech that Powell used to lie to the rest of the world about why we had to invade Iraq.

    These are dangerous people that have no business leading American opinion about anything except prison reform. They are free to write about that once they are safely behind bars. Which is where one should go if they lie to the American voters to go to war and unleash our irresistible military forces against countries with outdated technology and no chance of defending themselves against our bloated defense budget. These are not demonstrations of America’s might because they are against unworthy opponents. If these were first world armed forces our casualties and losses would be much greater in every area. We would be losing these over priced jets which look great on paper and perform great when there is no enemies or combat actually happening. When the guns and cannon start firing, these things have not proven to be reliable against first world defense. Witness the Israeli F-16 being shot down in Syria. We haven’t flown against that just yet. It will be expensive. But I digress.

    These are people that are so blatantly pro-israel that they should be registered as foreign agents. Yet we give them access to our best and latest technology which they just give to israel now, there is not even the fake loans that are never paid back anymore. Just free cash and a whole air force that cost hundreds of billions to develop. Free of charge. And don’t hesitate to use them in civilian areas with cluster munitions that kill so indiscriminately that the front line troops fear them as much as any weapons systems. In fact there is an almost racist attitude about attacking civilians in this conflict. Guess whose side we’re on. The neo-cons. We should rename them the “herpents”. They are just like the herpes virus. Incurable and just won’t go away.

  2. If we get involved in anti-Iran combat in Syria, our fighters will be up to their keesters in Iran-sponsored militias, with their IED’s and suicide squads. Let the Iranians fall more deeply into their Syrian quagmire where they will eventually have irritable relations with Russia and Turkey. Of all the named “Jihadists” who want to kill us, from Yemen, to Somalia, to the Sahel, to Niger, none are sponsored by Iran. Whabbism is the enemy, not Iran.

  3. I have no idea why they even call themselves the FDD. Whenever I hear any of their reps interviewed on FOX/CNN or read any of their articles, they talk about attacking countries like Iran or about the need for the U.S. to have a dominant military in order to suppress countries like China. Giving portions of the South China Sea to Vietnam or the Philippines is an interesting idea but what does that have to do with defending democracy?

    The FDD never actually talks about democracy.

  4. Great piece. Ceaseless warmongering, by Dubowitz and his FDD staff, is indeed highly dangerous. More idiotic wars in the Middle East, to benefit Israel, at fantastic cost to the American taxpayers, is the program promoted by Dubowitz.

  5. Great piece and thanks for exposing this unknown terrorist group! This FDD group like their older generation, the neocons, can eat shJt! These bozos sit behind their desks dreaming of the BS ideas manipulating the US governments to follow the footsteps of Israel in the ME for the past 4 decades! Someone ought to ask the US government “how is it working for us?”
    Ahmad Chalabi, the neocons, other think tank groups and media were cheerleading GWB/Cheney to attack Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria and have had not even a single positive outcome other than destruction in the ME/NA! If we keep pushing our luck in the ME, we may end up with our ending in Vietnam from where we had to exit with our heads between our legs!

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