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Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Iran: Here We Go…

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When the International Atomic Energy Agency released its report this week claiming “credible” evidence that Iran has been seeking to develop a nuclear weapon since at least 2003, the responses of right-wing demagogues were predictable, if alarming.

 

The narrative was simple, echoing an old trope most recently rehashed after the United States claimed to have foiled an Iranian assassination plot in Washington: sanctions have failed, Iran will never “respond” to diplomacy, and war is the only option. “Diplomacy has never resolved problems with Iran,” writes Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. “Only overwhelming pain will convince the supreme leader that the Islamic Republic cannot shoulder the costs of his quest.” (Rubin once wrote to Right Web complaining that we unfairly accused him of wanting to attack Iran.)

 

Rubin’s apparent bloodlust might seem marginal in a less toxic diplomatic environment. But his comments come amid a flurry of anti-Iranian posturing in Washington as well as Tel Aviv, where factions of Netanyahu’s cabinet have reportedly been pressing for a unilateral strike on Iran. Defying the Israeli government’s official silence in response to the report, Defense Minister Ehud Barak insisted that Israel could attack Iran and suffer “not even 500” casualties, and President Simon Peres remarked earlier this week that "The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option.”

 

Meanwhile in Washington, while neoconservative commentators were preparing their remarks that diplomacy doesn’t work with Iran, members of Congress were setting about ensuring that it wouldn’t. Led by the hard-right Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced last week a harsh sanctions bill that would effectively criminalize most contact between U.S. diplomats and Iranian officials. Paul Pillar noted at the National Interest that the bill “would prevent any exploration of ways to resolve disagreement over that Iranian nuclear program that we are supposedly so intensely concerned about,” concluding that it “vividly illustrates how mindless the pressuring and isolation of Iran has become.” Another bill passed by the committee would impose stringent sanctions on Iran’s central bank, something Iran previously said it would consider an act of war.

 

Even the United Kingdom is reportedly preparing plans to attack Iran.

 

Although a few doubts have been raised about the report’s findings and implications, John Glaser has ventured a possible rationale for Iran’s nuclear ambitions: namely, the U.S. has invaded and occupied the countries to Iran’s east and west, continues to run warships in the Persian Gulf, has cultivated client states hostile to Iran, and has waged a covert campaign of assassination and cyber warfare against the country. “In such an environment,” Glaser asks, “why wouldn’t the Iranian government want a nuclear weapon?”

 

Still, Mark Dubowitz of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin that “no one can reasonably argue that countries threatened by Iran have not tried all peaceful alternatives.”

 

Well, by that measure of “peaceful,” all but one.

 

—Peter Certo

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Bret Stephens is a columnist for the New York Times who previously worked at the Wall Street Journal and the neoconservative flagship magazine Commentary.


Joe Lieberman, the neoconservative Democrat from Connecticut who retired from the Senate in 2013, co-chairs a foreign policy project at the American Enterprise Institute.


The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney has emerged as the most visible advocate of hardline security policies in the Cheney family.


Former attorney general Edwin Meese, regarded as one of President Ronald Reagan’s closest advisers despite persistent allegations of influence peddling and bribery during his tenure, has been a consummate campaigner on behalf of rightist U.S. foreign and domestic policies. He currently serves as a distinguished visiting fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.


The Heritage Foundation, a mainstay of the right-wing advocacy community, has long pressured the United States to adopt militaristic U.S. foreign policies


David Addington, who helped author the “torture memos” and other controversial legal documents while serving as an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, left the right-wing Heritage Foundation to become VP and general counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, a business lobby.


Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), a stalwart advocate of Pentagon spending now based at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, says he would have voted for the Iraq War even if he had known the Bush administration’s claims about WMDs were false.


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