Pipes: Bombing for Political Expediency

Islamophobe Daniel Pipes makes what has to be considered the strongest case ever (and in a manner entirely consistent with his and other hard-line neo-cons notoriously cavalier attitude toward violence and war) for bombing nuclear facilities in Iran in his op-ed on National Review Online Tuesday. Obama should do it for political expediency.

In a nutshell:

“He needs a dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him as a light-weight, bumbling ideologue, preferably in an arena where the stakes are high, where he can take charge, and where he can trump expectations.

Such an opportunity does exist: Obama can give orders for the U.S. military to destroy Iran’s nuclear-weapons capacity.

…Just as 9/11 caused voters to forget George W. Bush’s meandering early months, a strike on Iranian facilities would dispatch Obama’s feckless first year down the memory hole and transform the domestic political scene.”

Pipes argues that the present moment is especially propitious for an attack. In addition to averting the danger of an Iranian-delivered electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) “utterly devastating” the U.S., he claims that the intelligence community is about to reverse its main conclusion of its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran suspended part of its presumed nuclear-weapons programme in 2003; that recent polling shows that a majority of the U.S. public supports military strikes to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; and that “If the U.S. limited its strike to taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities and did not attempt any regime change, it would require few ‘boots on the ground’ and entail relatively few casualties, making an attack more politically palatable.”

Pipes’ is the latest contribution to a roiling debate among neo-conservatives about what to do in light of the ongoing post-election political turmoil within Iran, a circumstance of which Pipes in his article curiously takes no account.

Indeed, one of the movement’s chief — albeit more moderate — ideologues, Robert Kagan, warned in the Washington Post just last week against a military attack (by Israel anyway) against Iran precisely because it would destroy the best chances for “regime change” in the Islamic Republic’s 31-year history:

“It would be …tragic if Israel damaged the likelihood of political change by carrying out an airstrike against Iran’s nuclear facilities in the coming year. That would provide a huge boost to the Tehran regime just when it is on the ropes — and for what? The uncertain prospect of setting back the nuclear program for a couple of years?”

(To which hard-liner and former Jerusalem Post editor Bret Stephens implicitly replies in his weekly Wall Street Journal column Tuesday, “Seven Myths About Iran,” that setting back the nuclear program for a couple of years is eminently worthwhile. “(W)hat’s wrong with buying time?” he asks, adding that the notion that the Iranian public would react to an attack by rallying behind the regime was yet another “myth.” He goes on to suggest that the regime could suffer the same fate as the military junta — much loved by the neo-cons at the time — after Argentina’s defeat in the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War.)

In any event, the debate among the neo-cons is likely fleshed out at a conference here February 11 (not coincidentally, presumably, the IRI’s 31st anniversary for which the Green Movement leadership is calling for major public demonstrations) that will be put on by Kagan’s Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the successor to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Among those presenting will be Kagan himself, Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI); Reuel Gerecht, formerly of AEI, now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD); and ret. Air Force Gen. Chuck Wald of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), who, apart from John Bolton, has become perhaps the most influential bombing proponent. Other participants include Mehdi Khalaji (whose father was just released after being held for nearly three weeks in Evin Prison in Tehran) of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the ubiquitous Bill Kristol who will moderate the panels.

Unfortunately, Pipes is not on the agenda.

Here’s the entire program:

Iran: Prospects for Regime Change

Thursday, February 11, 2010
8:30 AM – 12:00 PM
1777 F Street NW

The ongoing turmoil in Iran almost nine months after 2009’s fraudulent presidential election raises questions about the continued viability of the Iranian regime. With a new round of protests expected in the coming weeks, the Foreign Policy Initiative will host a half-day conference on “Iran: Prospects for Regime Change,” on February 11th, the anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Leading Iran experts will examine the state of the opposition and discuss U.S. policy options. With a growing consensus in Washington that the actions of the Iranian regime make a negotiated settlement to the Iranian nuclear crisis unlikely, this timely conference will explore the prospects for change in Iran from within and what the United States should be doing to support Iran’s democrats and resolve the Iranian nuclear question once and for all.

Please RSVP by visiting here.

8:30 – 9:00 Registration and Breakfast

9:00 – 10:15 State of the Green Movement

Reuel Gerecht, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Ray Takeyh, Council on Foreign Relations

William Kristol, The Weekly Standard and The Foreign Policy Initiative

10:15 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – 12:00 U.S. Policy Options

Robert Kagan, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and
The Foreign Policy Initiative
Danielle Pletka, The American Enterprise Institute
Gen. Chuck Wald (ret.), Bipartisan Policy Center

William Kristol, The Weekly Standard and The Foreign Policy Initiative

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Obama is not that stupid he knows that action will be the end of america and Jacob [israel].Make no mistake Iran is not Iraq that was weakened by sanctions, and bombed for 12 years.Iran is strong enough to inflict major damage to americaisrael combined plus she has the” bomb”

  2. Thank you Mr Lobe for distilling Daniel Pipes thoughts (on bombing Iran) and encasing them in a “nutshell”. Very appropriate!

  3. I followed the hyperlink of your first word, “Islamophobe” and read the article that supplies your justification for the use of this term.

    That article does not mention these critical words from Pipes: “Although I disagree with Wilders about Islam (I respect the religion but fight Islamists with all I have)….”

    When your argument includes sticking false labels on people, it is greatly diminished.

    I do commend IPS for having this blog though; it enables us to clearly see the biases of the journalist contributors.

  4. John Bolton spoke to the Hudson Institute over the weekend, and all but predicted an Israeli strike on Iran in the near future. I would have liked to say more about this in a comment on Marsha Cohen’s piece, but for some reasons comments are not being accepted for that one.

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