Washington’s most unabashedly belligerent newspaper aggressively pushed an attack on Iranian nuclear sites on Monday, culling a long list of right-wing associated military and weapons experts, and even a member of Congress, to make the dual case that the U.S. should and can go to war with Iran.
A news article from reporter Rowan Scarborough speculates about which U.S. military hardware could best pull off an attack, while an opinion piece from Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and Peter Vincent Pry, president of the anti-proliferation advocacy group EMPact America, write that despite the dearth of evidence, Iran may actually already have a nuclear weapon. In the news piece, Scarborough, a former media fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institution, turns to some of the same sources he turned to in 2002 to build the case for the invasion of Iraq. Namely, Scarborough’s entire premise — that the B-2 bomber could destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities — relies on a lead-off quote from Ret. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerny.
McInerny has spent most of the past ten years advocating for bombing runs, invasions, and covert regime change just about everywhere you can imagine. Sticking closely to this program, the Fox News analyst and military committee member of the neo-conservative Center for Security Policy (CSP) told Scarborough that the U.S. would use the B-2 and cruise missiles to knock out the nuclear program while covert forces would ensure regime change by making sure that Iranians don’t rally to their embattled regime, which some Iran-experts (including, it seems, two neocons) and Iranian opposition activists think is exactly what will happen.
McInerny has displayed this kind of disregard for the consequences of U.S. military strikes on ostensible U.S. allies like the Green Movement or the South Koreans before: In a 2005 war game conducted for the Atlantic, McInerny said he was prepared to take massive Korean causalities in Seoul — hoping to “minimize” deaths to 100,000 — in order to take the long odds at destroying North Korea’s well-hidden nuclear program.
McInerny is no stranger to Scarborough, who featured the Air Force hawk in a January 20, 2003, front-page article in the Washington Times. In that article, McInerny insisted that it was target strikes against the country’s leadership and its weapons stockpiles that would create a quick, peaceful regime change in Iraq. “We ought to leave the lights on so every Iraqi knows the war is against Saddam, not against the people,” McInerny said at the time. “Go after regime-change targets, weapons of mass destruction, palaces, those troops that choose to fight.”
Scarborough also quoted John Pike, an expert from Global Security.org, a Jane’s-like website, who also gave rosy predictions for the Iraq War. “Almost all are in isolated areas where civilian casualties would not be much of a problem. Most of them have co-located staff housing. Bomb the housing, kill the staff, set back the program by a generation,” Pike said in the Washington Times piece. On October 5, 2002, Pike told the Quincy, Mass., Patriot Ledger that “it’s a given” that Saddam Hussein would use chemical and biological weapons against U.S. forces, which, of course, presumes that the existence of said weapons is also “a given.” If things went wrong, Pike said at the time, the conflict could last for “months.”
If Scarborough’s credulity (even with experts who have been wrong before) informs his piece, the opinion article by Rep. Bartlett and EMPact president Peter Vincent Pry is based on pure skepticism — which veers occasionally into conspiracy theory territory. Bartlett and Pry basically argue that no one can be sure that Iran doesn’t already have a nuclear weapon constructed, even suggesting that well-respected former International Atomic Nuclear Agency chief Mohamed El-Baradei may have covered up information about Iran’s nukes in order to curry favor with the public in his native Egypt, where El-Baradei is now apparently running for president and where apparently, “an Islamic bomb is popular on the Arab street.”
“Iran only needs a single nuclear weapon to destroy the United States,” Bartlett and Pry write to close their op-ed, striking an alarmist tone. Their theory relies on a nuclear electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapon. Hyping the EMP threat has long been a hobby horse for neocons like Frank Gaffney and his organization, the aforementioned CSP. Gaffney and Bartlett both spoke at last fall’s EMPact America-sponsored conference in Niagara, New York.
The Washington Times appears to be using the same playbook it employed in 2002 and 2003 to hype the Iraq threat. That adventure turned into a foreign policy disaster that, in fact, bettered Iran’s regional standing and has mired (and, even as of yesterday, continues to mire) tens of the thousands of U.S. troops, including thousands dead, and billions of dollars from U.S. coffers in a country that turns out to have been little threat the U.S. One wonders what sort of chutzpuh it takes to make similar (albeit scaled-up) over-statements about Iran.