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Beinart writes: "How can it be, less than a decade after the US invaded Iraq, that the Iran debate is breaking down along largely the same lines, and the people who were manifestly, painfully wrong about that war are driving the debate this time as well?"

NeoCon think-tank favorite John Bolton has led the PR push to attack Iran, and is an active supporter of Mitt Romney for president. (photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)
NeoCon think-tank favorite John Bolton has led the PR push to attack Iran, and is an active supporter of Mitt Romney for president. (photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

The Crazy Rush to Attack Iran

By Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast

21 February 12


From the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the head of Mossad, the experts are speaking out against attacking Iran over its nuclear program, but hawks like the GOP presidential candidates are drowning out the warnings.

he debate over whether Israel should attack Iran rests on three basic questions. First, if Iran's leaders got the bomb, would they use it or give it to people who might? Second, would a strike substantially retard Iran's nuclear program? Third, if Israel attacks, what will Iran do in response?

The vast majority of people opining on these questions - myself very much included - lack the expertise to answer. We've never directed a bombing campaign; we have no secret sources in Tehran; we don't spend our days studying the Iranian regime. So essentially, we decide which experts to trust.

As it happens, both the American and Israeli governments boast military and intelligence agencies charged with answering exactly these sorts of questions. And with striking consistency, the people who run, or ran, those agencies are warning - loudly - against an attack.

Start with the first question: whether Iran would be suicidal enough to use or transfer a nuke. In 2007, the U.S. intelligence community's National Intelligence Estimate on Iran argued that the Iranian regime - loathsome as it is - is "guided by a cost-benefit approach." In 2011, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress that "we continue to judge Iran's nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach." Last week, Gen. Ron Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress that "the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or provoke a conflict." Last weekend, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria: "We are of the opinion that Iran is a rational actor."

Most of the Israeli security officials who have commented publicly have said similar things. In December, Haaretz reported that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo had called Iran a threat, but not an existential one. Earlier this month, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy echoed that view, declaring that "it is not in the power of Iran to destroy the state of Israel." That same week, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said virtually the same thing: that "Iran poses a serious threat but not an existential one." In other words, Iran might use a nuclear weapon to put additional pressure on Israel, but not to wipe it off the map.

Then there's an attack's likelihood of success. In congressional testimony this week, Clapper warned that an Israeli strike would set back Iran's nuclear program by only one to two years. In January, Michael Hayden, who led the CIA from 2006 to 2009, said a successful strike was "beyond their [Israel's] capacity." This week in The New York Times, David Deptula, the Air Force general who planned the bombing campaigns against Iraq in 1991 and Afghanistan in 2001, mocked "the pundits who talk about, ‘Oh, yeah, bomb Iran'" and said that only the United States could launch a strike massive enough to seriously retard Iran's dispersed and hardened nuclear program.

Finally, there's the likely fallout. This week, Dempsey predicted that an attack would have a "destabilizing" influence on the region. Last month, Hayden warned that while the U.S. intelligence community does not currently know whether Iran has decided to build a bomb - as opposed to developing the capacity to build one - an attack would "guarantee that which we are trying to prevent: an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon." Meir Dagan, who ran Mossad from 2002 to 2011, warned last year that attacking Iran "would mean regional war, and in that case you would have given Iran the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program."

Can you find former military and intelligence officials who are more sympathetic to a strike? Sure. But in my lifetime, I've never seen a more lopsided debate among the experts paid to make these judgments. Yet it barely matters. So far, the Iran debate has been a rout, with the Republican presidential candidates loudly declaring their openness to war and President Obama unwilling to even echo the skepticism of his own security chiefs.

And who are the hawks who have so far marginalized the defense and intelligence establishments in both Israel and the U.S.? They're a collection of think-tankers and politicians, most absolutely sincere, in my experience. But from Rick Santorum to John McCain to Elliott Abrams to John Bolton, their defining characteristic is that they were equally apocalyptic about the threat from Iraq, and equally nonchalant about the difficulties of successfully attacking it. The story of the Iraq debate was, in large measure, the story of their triumph over the career military and intelligence officials - folks like Eric Shinseki and Joseph Wilson - whose successors are now warning against attacking Iran.

How can it be, less than a decade after the U.S. invaded Iraq, that the Iran debate is breaking down along largely the same lines, and the people who were manifestly, painfully wrong about that war are driving the debate this time as well? Culturally, it's a fascinating question - and too depressing for words. your social media marketing partner


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+175 # artful 2012-02-21 13:51
Maybe the scariest thing about Romney is his associates and supporters, in this case creeps like John Bolton, a man who loves war, as long as he doesn't have to go in front of the guns.
+78 # Onterryo 2012-02-21 14:38
Bolton is a smart, brave man. He should lead the assault!
+35 # noitall 2012-02-21 15:17
I agree, weasels are much under-rated in their war prowness. In a forum where one gets smacked for spouting arrogant and abrasive opinions, Bolton would have lost that 'stash long ago.
+58 # X Dane 2012-02-21 16:48
Onterryo, I imagine,... I hope... you are sarcastic, still, Bolton is a maniac and a crazy warmonger. If the worst should EVER happen, Bolton should not have a choice... he should BE SENT to the very front, and so should the rest of the war mongers.

No more sitting back and get fat off the money they make on starting wars. THEY HAVE to fight them.
+14 # Dukester 2012-02-21 19:08
And a very handsome man too. Is he related to Hitler?
+4 # Valleyboy 2012-02-23 06:28
Ha ha ha! I was thinking that myself!!
+26 # RLF 2012-02-21 15:43
He also just said he would be sure to put in supreme justices just like thomas and roberts and scalia (they don't deserve to be capitalized because they are such small, insignificant minds). But Obama put in the last and she is afraid of her own shadow...recusi ng herself all the time.
+34 # rhgreen 2012-02-21 15:53
People don't change. On his mission in France Mitt Romney was horrified by the French anti-Vietnam War attitude, and he was horrified by the students' street riots. When he got home he was horrified to find out that his dad George Romney had turned against the War. Then he went off to conservative Brigham Young University for several years.
+4 # GabbyHayes 2012-02-23 12:16
you could remove the top 90% of john bolton and no one would know the difference.
+52 # LeeBlack 2012-02-21 14:12
Presidential candidates campaign slogans are similar to Monday morning quaterbacking. It's easy to say what should be done when you don't have the responsibility or have the restraints of a Congress.

One would think that Iran's using a nuclear weapon would be a suicidal act. There may be a more valid concern about what they provide to others.

Also, we have to look at the possibility that our actions in the Middle East help push Iran into what it sees as a defensive position. From Reagan's "Evil Empire" to Bush's "Axis of Evil" to our occupation of Iraq - they must feel they are a target.

And finally, the consequences of an attack on Iraq by either the U.S. or Israel will have dire and probably unforeseen consequences.
+12 # X Dane 2012-02-21 16:51
+2 # tomo 2012-02-22 00:39
"they must feel they are a target"

LeeBlack: I am sure we are brothers on these matters. But your way of putting this complicates it. THEY ARE A TARGET.
+39 # DaveM 2012-02-21 14:17
"You've committed one of the classic blunders, another of which is: never get involved in a land war in Asia!"
+78 # marthature 2012-02-21 14:21
It is not correct to state that hawks like the GOP presidential candidates are drowning out the warnings. The television, both network and cable, are carrying the GOP presidential candidates' war drums and marginalizing or trivializing opposition. As our consensus is driven by television presentations, that is where the significant bias is found, and must be countered.
+46 # Billy Bob 2012-02-21 14:21
I think the point is to cause Armageddon before the Oct. 21st deadline, so the right-wing murderers can be "raptured" and watch the rest of us suffer for their sins.

Right now, that's the only repuglican strategy left.
+59 # Archie1954 2012-02-21 14:22
How can it be? Easy when you have a willfully ignorant public.
+110 # ganymede 2012-02-21 14:30
I'm an American Jew and I am getting sick and tired of the intransigent attitudes of the rightwingers who are running Israel and their neocon American Jewish supporters. Yitzhak Rabin was the last Israeli who made an attempt to ameliorate the situation and look what happened to him.
In my travels to Israel, especially when Sharon was running things, I found a complete unwillingness on the part of the Israeli leadership and, surprisingly, the leading Orthodox Rabbis, to work things out. Netanyahu is even worse than Sharon, especially as he is blackmailing the world with his insane threats to bomb Iran The Orthodox Rabbis I interviewed, including the head Rabbi of Jerusalem reminded me a bit of the Wahhabist religious leaders in Saudi Arabia in their racism and backwardness.
Israel has no choice but to seriously reach out to the West Bank Arabs and the Muslims in the surrounding countries. As things are going, the West Bank has already been chopped up into so many pieces that the "Two State" solution is probably not viable, and Israel will have no other option other than becoming a state for Jews and Arabs with full protection for everyone.
The reality is that Israel can become the Mecca of the Middle East in term of businesss, education and culture for all. Also, what's even more interesting is that the majority of Israeli's are for peace as are the majority of American Jews who will continue to give most of their votes to Obama and the Democrats.
+48 # AlWight 2012-02-21 14:47
We, and especially those who represent us in Washington, should hear from more Jews such as yourself, the voice of moderation and reason. Why can't you organize yourselves and get your message out?
+10 # noitall 2012-02-21 15:22
What would be the outcome if Israel didn't have the 'bomb'? If that was the situation, I'd say go to it and let the best war mongering, bloodthirsty, s.o.b. win. Either get rid of all the bombs or even it up. The litmus test of sanity is if you choose to opt out of having the bomb in the first place. Leaves us out so we should keep our thoughts (and troops and rockets and $$$$$$ to ourselves). Where then is Israel?
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-02-21 17:27
I essentially agree with you but for a detail:
Although I wholeheartedly agree that Yitzhak Rabin was a great man and the last real chance for peace to date, he and the Labor party are also at the root of the demonization of Iran by Israel.

Before he got elected in the early 90's, Israel was applying the classic "periphery" geo-strategic principle: make friends with the far neighbors of your nearby enemy. Hence Israel cosiness with Iran, India or South-Africa.
This was still true after the Islamic revolution - the Iran-gate arms shipments were going through Israel in the 80's. At that time, Iranian public rhetoric was already anti-US and anti-Israel especially when talking about the Palestinian issue. The point was to appeal to the Islamic world to try and become a beacon of Islam while non-sunni and non-Arab.

Rabin tried to solve the conflict (notably with the Oslo agreements in '93) both inside Israel and with its neighbors. But there was still palestinian terrorism and since the Arabs in general were the Israeli new best friends, it had to be pinned on someone else. Iran was the obvious culprit, ostentatiously supporting Hizballah at the time to appeal to the Arab street.

This does not remove a thing to the greatness of Yitzhak Rabin, but gives another good example of unintended consequences of the diplomatic game.
+15 # X Dane 2012-02-21 17:29
"The reality is that Israel can become the Mecca of the Middle East in term of businesss, education and culture for all." Democrats.


I just read a link connected to this article. An article by Dan Efron. I think it is from NewsWeek. And that is BAD news indeed.

The Haredim: ultra orthodox Jews, at present 10% of the population, School children 21%, because the Haredim have about two children per family. They really are a Jewish Taliban. Their schools resemble more, the Pakistani Madrassas: religious studies 70%, math, science, language (no English) 30%. After grade 8. ONLY religious studies.

The Hasidim are excused from military service. They do not work, only study the Tora, and they get public assistance. Their cities are dirt poor and there are no TVs or computers.

They are extremely right wing and hawkish....but they obviously will not FIGHT.

You are right ganymede, the Rabbis are very hawkish and they do NOT want a two state solution. A couple of the orthodox cities are on Palestinian land in the West Bank, and they are big and poor.

The secular population is getting very worried, for this will make the country poorer, and less secure because they will not be able to maintain the army they need, with so many people NOT working and contributing.
+1 # mjc 2012-02-23 09:46
And that is just the extreme right wing in Israel.
+18 # X Dane 2012-02-21 17:34
I urge you all to read this article. The Hasidim also demand that the women ride in the BACK of the bus LITERALLY.

Israel is in much bigger trouble than we realized. The Jewish Taliban is trying to take over. The secular citizens better get on the ball, or they will be outnumbered by the very fertile orthodox citizens.
+14 # X Dane 2012-02-21 18:38
In the first comment I made a BIG mistake the Hasidim families do not have two children. THEY HAVE TEN!!!
+8 # DoHickey 2012-02-21 23:35
Here's a scenario for you: The Republicans bypass their present clowns & nominate Petraeus/Bush or Cristy. Another false-flag gets the ball rolling on Iran just before our elections. Obama gets replaced by someone more dependable for the powers that be: Zionists & War Profiteers.
Our little votes don't matter.
You must have known a few hard-core assholes in your life. They don't know how to live in peace & will never learn. Unfortunately, they usually run things.
+2 # X Dane 2012-02-22 00:36
DoHickey, PLEASE, there is no need to whip up more hysteria, and paint the worst scenarios. There are to many crazies, who will by into it. We need to get some sanity in a difficult time for all of us.

I have a well developed sense of humor, but it has been bashed around so much lately with all the miserable news that I have a hard time finding something to laugh about.
+4 # tomo 2012-02-22 02:51
ganymede: What I like best in your comment was the "seriously reaching out...." As I ponder settlement of the American West by white men, it occurs to me American Indians often offered plans for sharing, but that the whites wanted total control. The Indians had learned from a history of jostling with each other, tribe by tribe, to be jealous of their own rights, but also that adjustments and accommodations were preferable to war-to-the-deat h. They were then open to some version of give-and-take with whites. That Jackson would unceremoniously wipe the Cherokee from their ancestral lands was something Cherokee Chief John Ross could hardly imagine till it actually happened. More westward Indians were likewise ill prepared for the concept of "total war" that Sherman and Sheridan brought to the "Winning of the West." The Plains Indians had fought and died in skirmishes among themselves, but a war-to-extincti on had an extravagance to it they were slow to take in.

Sharon and Netanyahu remind me of Jackson, Sherman, and Sheridan. With such men, there's no serious reaching out. Land, however, lends itself to mixed use rather than to absolutist claims. True, the sharing must be organized according to some rule--and if the parties aren't in good faith, they may employ the term "sharing" where they secretly intend encroachment. Hobbes said there's a risk in surrendering one's claim to own EVERYTHING. He said also, there comes a time when it's a risk worth taking.
+4 # mjc 2012-02-22 12:40
What is most galling is that Netanyahu and Barak really intend to influence American foreign policy and especially the policy toward Iran to Israel's advantage. Where the he// do they get off believing that they have such a right? But even more important is what is wrong with some in Congress and the John Boltons of the world who are ready to turn over decisions to going to war to another nation...ISRAEL ?? Even a non-nuclear war could spell disaster for the Middle East and for Israel itself but imagine if the war became a nuclear war with Israel using its nuclear weapons! Unbelievable.
0 # X Dane 2012-02-23 17:17
mjc, this is what we HEAR. What worries me a LOT, is the MONEY that may be POURED into defeating Obama, so the republicans and the NEOCONS can get going with the war they are itching to start together with Israel.

I remember last time Netanyahu was in Washington. I am sure, he and Obama had a very "frank talk", diplomatic for ...sparks were flying. The picture of the two of them in the Oval Office showed it clearly.
......and then Netanyahu marched straight over to congress and gave a very defiant speech to thundering applause. He was really sticking it to Obama, basically saying: YOU don't count, congress is with ME. DROP DEAD.
+24 # Merschrod 2012-02-21 14:35
Talking about being rational and scientific, hwere is the whole discussion of the low level of enrichment that Iran is capable of and just how many quantum leaps of more sophisticated technology there are between low level fuel and bomb grade refinement?

Al of these hypotheticals are what the war mongers play with. Get them down to earth
+68 # AlWight 2012-02-21 14:41
Advocating attacking Iran is pure insanity. John Bolton is insane, and should be institutionaliz ed. The Republican candidates either are stupid or think the American public is stupid and will elect them if they act tough. Obama is afraid to oppose AIPAC. We need a grassroots movement to inform our government the American public will not support another unjustifiable war.
+16 # noitall 2012-02-21 15:25
"We need a grassroots movement to inform our government the American public will not support another unjustifiable war."
I think that you over estimate the American public and under estimate the 'power of the press'.
+30 # MidwestTom 2012-02-21 14:47
Obama, not the Republicans, has sent U.S. troops into Israel, something no other President has ever done, to guarantee that we are involved if anything happens. When it comes to war neither party is dirtier than the other. Obama could stop all of this by simply removing our troops and announcing that we will not support Israel if they start a war. Be looking for a FALSE FLAG attack to start this was; just like the gulf of Tonkin started Vietnam where 55,000 U.S. troops died and four times that came home mauled. For what?
+18 # Cambridgemac 2012-02-21 20:15
Quoting MidwestTom:

For what?

For profits, glory and Empire. Simple.
And it hasn't changed.
As far as these guys are concerned, Bush's Iraq War was a success. Tons of dough for the military-indust rial complex and the last tiny pieces of the Bill of Rights - not to mention Magna Carta - were ground up and flushed down the toilet.
Mission Accomplished!!
+25 # lcarrier 2012-02-21 15:09
Santorum is a naïf, McCain should listen to his wife, Abrams is an ideologue, and Bolton is rotten scum.
+20 # angelfish 2012-02-21 15:11
NO MORE WAR! It's WAY past time for us to beat our swords into plow-shares and study War, NO MORE! How many more of our PRECIOUS youth must die for these sad, ignorant old men's insatiable thirst for OTHER people's Oil? Let our young people come home to work at rebuilding OUR Country. We have the intelligence and where-withal to find alternative forms of energy if these Greedy oil Barons would LET us! We MUST put an end to the murder and mayhem of the War they are so eager for... If it's War they want, let THEM fight it and PAY for it!
+21 # rsb1 2012-02-21 15:12
+10 # noitall 2012-02-21 16:11
What do Americans have to say about it? "Support the troops". "The Universal Soldier" written by Buffy Saint Marie says it all...again and again and again...
0 # ABen 2012-02-23 09:46
Well said rsb1! I am revolted by Chicken-Hawk war mongers such as Bolton and Cheney, and have little respect for people who think them wise.
+21 # WFO 2012-02-21 15:23
Ganymede, I was with you until the last sentence: :...the majority of American Jews who will continue to give most of their votes to Obama and the Democrats." Obama and the Democrats are just as much the War Party as the other part of the two-headed one party War Party.

We don't have a chance, people are either too brain-washed or intentionally playing the Hegelian mind fuk for duplicitous reasons.
+47 # Stephen 2012-02-21 15:24
"How can it be, less than a decade after the U.S. invaded Iraq, that the Iran debate is breaking down along largely the same lines, and the people who were manifestly, painfully wrong about that war are driving the debate this time as well?"

How can it be? How about the fact that no-one has been called to account for the Iraq lies and ensuing disaster.
+13 # angelfish 2012-02-21 16:20
Quoting Stephen:
"How can it be, less than a decade after the U.S. invaded Iraq, that the Iran debate is breaking down along largely the same lines, and the people who were manifestly, painfully wrong about that war are driving the debate this time as well?"

How can it be? How about the fact that no-one has been called to account for the Iraq lies and ensuing disaster.

Since they that are unable to learn from History, they are BOUND and DETERMINED to repeat it! Accountability is a quaint old concept out of the past. Only the "little people", as Leona Helmsley would say if she were alive today, are EVER accountable. Unless and UNTIL the responsible Parties are brought to the Bar to answer for their High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Justice will go begging!
+6 # Patriot 2012-02-21 17:09
+19 # cordleycoit 2012-02-21 15:25
Again Israel will have to nuke Iran. Pakistan will have to nuke Israel and the Egyptians will have to invade the stricken Israel. Israel will have to strike Cairo and Islamabad and there could well be eighty million dead in the first six hours of the pending war. All this happens without the major powers being involved. All this will happen because conservative rethugs want to make money off the Israeli Arab conflict. How does America's dumbest and most criminal get to go to Washington? We are in the last stages of World War Three.
+13 # Patriot 2012-02-21 17:10
How do they get to Washington? Because the voters send them, that's how. God, help us.
+32 # Vern Radul 2012-02-21 15:29
Iran has to be stopped. They are crazy. They keep attacking their neighbors like they attacked Russia just the other day. In 1826. After Russia attacked them.

They're nuts. They'll be especially scary if they manage to build a nuclear bomb, since Netanyahu only has a couple or three hundred and the US only has a few tens of thousands.

And since they are suicidal they'll probably use it right away to attack somebody, just like North Korea did the day after they built one.

Look, if they aren't stopped now by destroying their economy and starving millions of them to death like Poppy Bush and Clinton did to Iraq they might start supplying oppressive dictatorships with terror weapons and murdering millions of people all over the mideast and around the world and generally acting like the US Government does.
+21 # Patriot 2012-02-21 17:26
Alas, I'm afraid your satire was wasted. Far too many voices are saying what you said--only they mean every word, as you obviously did not.

I am much less worried about what the Iranians might do on their own, than I am about what the rest of the world might be about to *persuade* them they must do in self-defense. After all, if the [militarally] strongest power on earth--the United States--can get away with a pre-emptive strike on a power we now know the US KNEW was unarmed and helpless--Iraq- -why shouldn't Iran feel that their only hope was a pre-emptive strike against what they may well interpret as a nation, or nations, planning to launch a war against them?

In other words, we may we suceed in talking THEM into starting a war while we're over here trying to talk OURSELVES into doing so.

Sounds like a bunch of neighborhood kids, doesn't it?

Alas, the result could be the obliteration of millions of people and could render a sizable chunk of Earth uninhabitable for centuries.

SOMEBODY needs to persuade EVERYBODY to back away and cool down.
0 # Vern Radul 2012-02-21 19:55
It's going to happen, unfortunately.. .
+6 # X Dane 2012-02-21 17:55
Antemedius, please stop, and take a DEEP BREATH. Iran has NOT attacked any other country in many, many years. WE do not want more wars.

RSN. Please fix the buttons something is very wrong


There is nothing wrong with the thumbs count - it works like this:

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To see a more accurate reflection of your vote, refresh the page right before you vote.
+6 # X Dane 2012-02-21 19:43
I notice some of you disagree with me. Please tell us which country Iran attacked
+12 # Cambridgemac 2012-02-21 20:19
You misunderstood. Antemedius is being sarcastic. He knows well that Iran hasn't invaded another country in 200 years. Reread his comment.
+3 # X Dane 2012-02-21 21:12
Cambridgemac. OK. You are right, but some people have some incredible at are seriously wacky, so bear with me, for getting it wrong.
+6 # Activista 2012-02-21 23:50
Love sarcasm - and indeed - give it to some AIPAC politician/spee chwriter and masses will screem - NUKE them NUKE them.
+17 # RCW 2012-02-21 15:30
Thank you, Ganymede! It seems that the only Israeli voices we hear in the U.S. are those of Netanyahu and his kin. You remind Americans that not all Jews are ready to destroy Jericho once again. By the way, I am a Christian.
+22 # angryspittle 2012-02-21 15:36
These stupid bastards need to be banned from any policy making decisions for life.
+25 # reiverpacific 2012-02-21 15:53
May the Lawd ha' mercy on us!
Same old crew that never served a day in battle but are callously willing to send yet more young people to die for nothing (and who cynically sent the appalling Bolt-head to the UN as ambassador).
When will this military-worshi p Death culture find it's own timely end?
+42 # L mac 2012-02-21 16:01
All those years and lost lives in Iraq and Afganistan. Nothing learned.
+35 # WFO 2012-02-21 16:55
Quoting L mac:
All those years and lost lives in Iraq and Afganistan. Nothing learned.

Plenty has been learned.

Number 1 - The American people can be easily subdued.

Number 2 - Mass murder can be packaged as defending democracy and protecting civilians.

Number 3 - Everything can be done out in the open and the American people do nothing.

Number 4 - A President can talk peace and make war and all resistance is effectively neutralized.

Number 5 - The War can be turned internally (NDAA, Patriot Act, surveillance grid, police state, etc.) and people will cower in fear.
+10 # Billy Bob 2012-02-21 19:06
Those lessons were already learned in Europe in the '30s.
+18 # RMDC 2012-02-21 19:12
Good points, WFO. There's no people on earth stupider than Americans. They will swallow anything presented to them by their mass media. They don't even mind that a little nation like Israel has hijacked their government and orders it around as if it were an errand boy.
+16 # Cambridgemac 2012-02-21 20:20

The only question left: after the catastrophe we are working so hard to create finally happens, will Americans claim, like Germans, "We didn't know what was going on!"
+24 # Richard Raznikov 2012-02-21 16:08
The 'three basic questions' are wrong. They are NOT the basic questions at all. The basic question is this: what gives Israel or the U.S. or anybody the right to attack Iran? Never mind what will someone do or not do –– those are strategic or tactical questions. But before we get to those we have a moral question to answer.

The U.S. with thousands of nuclear warheads, and Israel with about 200, have no standing to complain about any other country seeking the same weaponry.

Not only that, of course, the evidence is quite strong that Iran is not seeking to build such a weapon; under the non-proliferati on treaty to which it is a signatory (Israel and Pakistan are not), Iran has a right to develop peaceful nuclear power.
+6 # X Dane 2012-02-22 01:13
You are right Richard, I sure don't see why WE should tell all other nations what they can, or cannot do. We are entirely too high and mighty.

I do not know if Iran is trying to make a nuclear weapon, but if they are, it is hard for me to blame them, for we have threatened them for years.

After 9-11, when we attacked the Taliban, Iran contacted us and offered to help train the Afghan soldiers. Rumsfeld never even bothered to send an answer. Shortly after, Bush made the asinine Axis of evil speech.

THEN we attacked Iraq,... which had no nukes..... North Korea had nukes,... no attack!! That message was crystal clear.
Hurry up and get nukes, before you are attacked..... AND WE BLAME IRAN?????
+6 # Stephen 2012-02-22 12:30
This is a crux of it. The nuclear weapon is not much use to the US, whose non-nuclear military can overwhelm any adversary. But it is enormously useful for a small power in discouraging an attack from, say, yes, the USA.
+18 # Peacedragon 2012-02-21 16:08
Then there is the fact that starting another war could lead to the end of human life on this planet.
+16 # walt 2012-02-21 16:11
A good read is Andrew Bacevich's book "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War." He is a West Point grad, retired colonel and now professor at Boston University.

Can we look at who is driving the USA to another war? The answer lies within!
+10 # X Dane 2012-02-21 18:43
walt, Andrew Bachewich is a very wise man. He often write in LA times. He also had the great sorrow to lose a son in the Iraq war. I am glad he now advocates AGAINST war
+12 # walt 2012-02-21 18:56
Yes, Bacevich sees the realities involved in the USA's love of war.

We all need to remember that we pay for "defense" and nothing else using our military. We have misused and abused them for a decade! We need to stop being the world cops and start seeking peace initiatives. I have not seen one yet in the Obama administration.
0 # X Dane 2012-02-23 17:35
mjc, this is what we HEAR. What worries me a LOT, is the MONEY that may be POURED into defeating Obama, so the republicans and the NEOCONS can get going with the war they are itching to start together with Israel.

I remember last time Netanyahu was in Washington. I am sure, he and Obama had a very "frank talk", diplomatic for ...sparks were flying. The picture of the two of them in the Oval Office showed it clearly.
......and then Netanyahu marched straight over to congress and gave a very defiant speech to thundering applause. He was really sticking it to Obama, basically saying: YOU don't count, congress is with ME. DROP DEAD.
0 # X Dane 2012-02-23 17:56
walt, there is no doubt in my mind that they are working hard diplomatically, in reaching some sort of agreement with Iran.
That HAS to be done behind the scene, We know that the Neocons would holler that Obama is WEAK. That is also why he HAS to say that, NOTHING is off the table.

Obama wants to make big social changes and improve our chances to compete with China and India. That would be IMPOSSIBLE if we ended up in yet another war. I wish people would understand that.
+13 # abdullahiedward 2012-02-21 16:18
Anyone who listens to John Bolton or even worse, pays him to give a speech, ought to have his head examined. I mena here's a guy who was so unpopular in Washington they shipped him off to the UN in NY. But, only after GW snuk him in with an appointment while Congress was on holiday.
Also, I took exception to the authors opinionated phrase "loathsome as it is" which he so cleverly couched into his article. Don't he realise that even that little phrase is the type of thing that the neo-con warmongers thrive on. Every little thing that appears in print or is said on TV against Iran will be used to beat the drums for war that much loudr. Besides, I find nothing loathsome in the Iranian regima at all and took offense to this comment.
+7 # wwway 2012-02-21 16:23
The GOP has been chomping at the bit to make John Bolton Secretary of State. If America can be engaged in a forever war with the Muslim world it will justify the advancement of the military industrial complex.
+3 # rom120 2012-02-21 16:35
Let the warmongers in the US and Israel start a war. It just might be the end of Israel and definitely will add to the US bankruptcy if this is possible. Certainly will it turn many countries against the war monger countries.
+13 # theshift33 2012-02-21 16:47
The GOP's war contractors must be feeling the pinch and need to ratchet things up a notch.
+24 # luvdoc 2012-02-21 16:50
The United States is the most powerful, the most dangerous, the most terrorist, the most destructive, the most paranoid, and the most murderous empire, to ever exist.

Empires are built upon the backs of the helpless.

It is also the most christian and has the most guns.

+16 # MylesJ 2012-02-21 17:07
The more the war drums beat the more the price of oil goes up. The more fuel expenses hit the average pocketbook, the fewer votes for Obama. Haven't you been listening to wha tthe GOP has been saying since Obama got elected? Their sole purpose is to insure a one term presidency, governance be damned.
0 # X Dane 2012-02-23 18:21
Yes Myles, and the gas prices are also shooting up, because of speculation over the worries concerning Iran. Some are buying up wast amounts of oil,... just in case....

It happened before, and also as you mentioned, the republicans will do all they can to make Obama look bad, to make him look weak. So he can be beaten.

Luckily for us they are so incredibly incompetent now. Most unusual, for the republicans are very smart campaigners, but they are rotten at governing.

I think they felt, that Obama could not be beaten, so the top contenders didn't want to throw their hat in the ring......Or they realize how incredibly hard it is to right the ship of state, and they don't even want to try.
+23 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-02-21 17:46
Santorum’s a zealot crackpot & Bolton is not merely a ‘hawk’ - he’s a rabid, berserker fascist just half a step short of a swastika. That’s the kind too many Americans hear uncritically. Depressing, indeed; & also sorry, maddening, & terminally dangerous.
+14 # RMDC 2012-02-21 19:14
You've got Bolton just right. Could not have said it better, though I might have added some profanity.
+8 # Daisy 2012-02-21 18:05
Is all this just because the Pentagon is actually having to cut it's budget?
+13 # Cambridgemac 2012-02-21 20:22
Umm, they're not cutting. They're cutting back on the planned growth. Very different.
+12 # handymandave 2012-02-21 18:37
Let's get real. The actual reason for the push to war is the domination of our government by Eisenhower's military industrial complex. Dollars drive the push to war and with the military loosing funding from budgetary cuts nd other wars ending the war profiteers see the writing on the wall. They recognise the "need" for a new war to keep the dollars flowing and this is the one for today. God help us!
+1 # Daisy 2012-02-22 02:00
Exactly, what I hinted at in my post above. Thnx.
+6 # ojkelly 2012-02-21 18:54
i never understood what john Bolton was about, I try to understand opponents' point of view, but come up with zero on this guy. His agenda is beyond Bibi's. Why intelligent people pay attention to him makes me think the role thing is fixed . What does Granny say? and Mr U Mass?
+4 # Ken Hall 2012-02-21 21:35
I agree. Can't see how any intelligent person could take him seriously.
+8 # X Dane 2012-02-22 01:25
Ken and ojkelly, there is nothing to understand about Bolton. He is a rabid dog, that should be caged and put FAR away from people. War hungry bastards like Bolton contaminate all they come in contact with. He is sick, sick, sick.
+15 # pres 2012-02-21 21:17
The Iranian nuclear "problem" is just a facade to justify an attack. The real problem is getting them to only trade in Petrodollars. It is essential to the US/IMF banking enterprise. If all Iranian oil trade is done in Yuan(China) or Rupee (India) then the US dollar will suffer. Like the facade of Iraqs WMD, the only real weapon Iraq had was a decision to trade oil for Euros instead of dollars.
When you control a countries banking then you control the country.
+13 # 22dragon 2012-02-21 22:32
for majority of americans war is a spectator sport....shocki ng is awesome...just look at football, computer games, and daily tv....don't know what motivates israeli majority...but do know americans will root for the farm club...too few living today know the horrors of war, now that it is a lton not the only one handing another a knife and saying "gut him"
+8 # DoctorDemocracy 2012-02-22 00:04
I am surprised the author did not mention the much more important fact that the November 2011 IAEA Report on nuclear facility inspections compliance by Iran makes very explicit that there CONTINUES TO BE ZERO EVIDENCE THAT IRAN IS WORKING ON A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM OF ANY KIND. It appears that Iran's assertion that they are developing nuclear capabilities for energy production only is TRUE. And people should realize that a quite different path is required to develop nuclear weapons. This entire episode is hype for reasons that are not yet entirely clear.
+4 # tomo 2012-02-22 00:29
We often think a wimp would not be likely to go to war, but a courageous man might. Such an analysis does not hold up if you look to Lyndon Johnson and Viet Nam. What made a failure of Johnson's term-and-a-quar ter in the White House was that he was too wimpy to stand up to hawks--many of whom despised everything about him. The proof that it was the wimp-in-him that led to escalation is the clear skepticism he expressed privately even as he committed to it. Corroborating this was his regret when he commented on the way the war was preempting the funds for the "war on poverty," along with the sense he exuded that "they" would not let him do his Great Society unless this included "not backing down" in Viet Nam. Johnson was willing to trade millions of Vietnamese lives in an effort to secure muscle for his domestic program. It was a devil's bargain. Watch him back at the ranch as he ponders a career beyond the reach of apology.

Now we have another wimpy President. Do not for a moment count on his cowardice to keep us out of war a with Iran. From all we can learn from the past three years, it is much more likely to lead us into one. And do not--unless you are fond of stupid mistakes with catastrophic consequences--b elieve that this is but one issue among many. There's only one prominent candidate out there who is sane--in the sense of "wholesome." Only one who is sane in the sense "still has some of his wits about him." Vote for him.
+4 # Coleen Rowley 2012-02-22 15:11
"I've always claimed that cowards want wars, they are always scared thus want someone to protect them by dropping bombs on "enemies". Many Israelis, for example, are itching to nuke Iran, to wipe her off the map; they are so scared. Peace, on the other hand, has always belonged to the brave. Thus a paradigm shift is needed regarding hawks and doves - it is just the opposite of the current convention. In particular, those who want to attack Iran are the cowards, and the antiwar people are the brave (and those who only support the good wars of humanitarian intervention are just stupid)." ---Joshua Ashenberg
+1 # X Dane 2012-02-23 19:03
Bravo Coleen. I completely agree. It was too easy for W to send people into war. He was so totally unprepared and ignorant, and didn't give a damned about all the people who had to die for his hubris.

Before he ever became president he said that you have to be a WAR president, to be considered great...YEAH RIGHT, Thank you W. We will be paying for your incredible vanity for many many years and so will Iraq and many others in the Middle East
W is a small minded man, who only knows how to destroy. He cannot build,
-2 # X Dane 2012-02-23 18:49
WOW tomo, I think you have not read enough about Johnson. He was tough as nails. He fought dirty in congress, and he won. He would grab somebody's "jewels" and squeeze till they complied, ...figuratively ,...of course.

They were all afraid of him. What did him in, was his desire to carry out all the programs, Kennedy started. He wanted to show, that HE could do it. Unfortunately the Vietnam war got in the way.

"Now we have another wimpy president"?? B S. He has way more courage than the cow boy. He has expanded the drone attacks many times over what was done by W and killed many more of the Al Queda top guys.

He made tough decisions that would have finished him, had they failed... In his term, many, many more illegals have been deported. (something that isn't touted, for obvious reasons) and the southern border is more secure. Of course it can NEVER be really secure. It is much too long. You need to be more informed tome.

Obama has made plenty of mistakes, but he sure is NO WIMP. BTW, Who is the sane prominent candidate??? I don't see any.
+1 # John Somebody 2012-02-22 05:58
All of the negatives above point to the need for everyone to evolove to the point of accepting personal autonomy/integr ity.
It's known as Anarchism
+4 # RJB 2012-02-22 11:36
"We are of the opinion that Iran is a rational actor."

I haven't looked in every nook and cranny, but I fail to see any rational actors at all. I subscribe to the notion that our problems in this age of globalism are far beyond the powers of politicians and economists to solve, and forget about the military as far as solving problems. It's time to gather all the psychiatrist and sociologists to address the greatest pathology the world has ever seen. Perhaps the earth really is the insane asylum of the Universe.
+1 # fresnoman4man 2012-02-22 22:47
Their war talk makes perfect sense if you hold stock in an oil company. The war mongers of both parties are converting words to gold. Obama is giving his corporate wealthy buds a huge tax break on top of all the filthy lucre they are getting from his attacks on Libya, Syria (covert ops), Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kah-ching!
+3 # Travlinlight 2012-02-23 03:40
Hey, Everyone,

Plese get real: ISRAEL HAS AT LEAST 200 NUCLEAR MISSILES READY TO GO IN AN INSTANT.This has been an open secret for years. Mordecai Vanunu went to jail for 18 years for blowing the whistle on the Israeli nuclear weapons capability. Sy Hersh wrote about it years ago, and JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY has written about the missile upgrades in the weapoms' system.

Israel has a number of fanatical religious groups who would likely pull the nuclear trigger if they ever got in power. ISRAEL IS THE GREATEST THREAT TO PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. QED.
0 # X Dane 2012-02-23 19:13
WRONG fresnoman. Obama wants to ELIMINATE the 4 BILLION dollar subsidy, the oil companies have been getting for years. That is THE OPPOSITE OF A TAX BRAKE.
Please follow what is ACTUALLY HAPPENING.
You may hate Obama, but you need to INFORMED before you write something
-1 # tomo 2012-02-24 14:36
Obama is like Hamlet. It's almost impossible to know what he wants. If you LISTEN to Obama, it sounds like he wants all the things any sane American committed to the common good would want. If you WATCH Obama (as an intelligent alternative to simply rebutting the stupid things Republicans say about him), you find that very nearly in EVERY case, dear as these good things are to his heart, he decides they are not appropriate just now.
0 # MsAnnaNOLA 2012-02-24 12:00
I read lots of opinions before the Kagan nomination that it was a bad idea because she had been solicitor general and would have to recuse herself wayy too much. Obama knew this and did not care. His is a DINO.

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