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Iran hawks take wing

The Nation
23 September, 2008
Robert Dreyfuss
You've got to worry when bipartisan hawks flock together. And you've got to worry even more when those hawks are targeting Iran, and writing op-eds in the Wall Street Journal with titles like: "Everyone Needs To Worry About Iran." And when they form organizations with names like: "United Against Nuclear Iran." Yes, it has its own website.
The names of the hawks are familiar to us all. Some of them work for or advise John McCain, some of them do the same for Barack Obama. Some of them are outright neocons, and some of them are liberal interventionists. One of them is Karen Hughes, the former flack for President Bush, whose knowledge of Iran is close to zero. The rest include: Fouad Ajami, Richard Holbrooke, Leslie Gelb, Jim Woolsey, Henry Sokolski, and Dennis Ross. Its president is Mark Wallace, the deputy campaign chairman for Bush-Cheney '04.
The group says that it doesn't advocate war against Iran. But its entire purpose is to rally Americans against Iran, calling it a "danger to world peace." It says that it intends to "inform the public about the nature of the Iranian regime, including its desire and intent to possess nuclear weapons, as well as Iran's role as a state sponsor of global terrorism, and a major violator of human rights at home and abroad." If that isn't war propaganda, I don't know what it is.
Meanwhile, both the Times and the Post carry editorials today on Iran. The Post calls its editorial "Iran Slips Away." It worries that the sense of crisis about Iran is ebbing, and it tries desperately to rev it back up, suggesting aggressive, even war-like measures that the United States might try to ram through an unwilling UN Security Council:
The two most important would be an arms embargo -- which would prevent Russia from supplying Iran with the advanced air defense systems it has reportedly promised -- and a ban on the export to Iran of gasoline and other refined products, which could cripple Iranian transport.
The Times, for its part, carries an editorial called "Remember Iran?" Far more sensibly than the hawkish Post, they say clearly that there "are no good military options," and instead call for Condi Rice to go to Tehran with a grand bargain in her pocket:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had hoped to salvage at least part of President Bush's legacy, and her own, by brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before Mr. Bush leaves office. That's looking ever less likely. Ms. Rice could still make history if she got on a plane to Tehran to deliver an offer of a grand bargain.
She could prove that she was serious by proposing to immediately open an American interests section in Tehran -- an idea her aides floated a few months ago that seems to have disappeared.
We don't know if any mix of sanctions and rewards can persuade Iran's leaders to abandon their nuclear program. But without such an effort, we are certain that Tehran will keep pressing ahead, while the voices in the United States and Israel arguing for military action will only get louder.
There's little or no likelihood of military action against Iran now, or in the near future, either by the United States or by Iran. But sky-is-falling rhetoric about Iran isn't useful, and it certainly creates the groundwork for future military action. President McCain and his unblinking Vice President Palin wouldn't hesitate to use force sometime next year, and Prime Minisiter Bibi Netanyahu (were he to win elections in Israel early next year, which could happen) might do the same.
Copyright 2008 The Nation
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