A campaign for war with Iran begins
If neocons can't get Obama to attack Iran, they are creating a narrative so the next Republican president will
(Salon.com) -- by Trita Parsi --
Obama administration officials, as well as U.S. lawmakers and European diplomats, passionately made the argument this spring that tough sanctions on Iran were necessary to avoid war. But contrary to their predictions, the drumbeat for war -- particularly from Israel – has only increased since the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution against Tehran in June.
The latest in this crescendo of voices is Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic, "Point of No Return." As the title suggests, it essentially makes the case (though in an uncharacteristically subtle manner by neoconservative standards) that there are no choices left -- war is a fait accompli, and the only question is whether it will be initiated by Israel or by the United States.
"If the Israelis reach the firm conclusion that Obama will not, under any circumstances, launch a strike on Iran, then the countdown will begin for a unilateral Israeli attack," Goldberg writes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Goldberg’s description, is a man whose back is against the wall. He cannot accommodate the Obama administration on the Palestinian issue because that would upset his 100-year-old father, and he cannot afford to have faith in Obama’s strategy to prevent a nuclear Iran through peaceful means because the threat from Iran is "existential."
Goldberg interviewed roughly 40 former and current Israeli officials for his piece. Although his access to Israeli officials certainly doesn't seem to be lacking, the same cannot be said about his treatment of the assumptions behind the Israeli talking points.
The most critical assumption that Israeli officials have presented publicly for the past 18 years -- long before the firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepped on the scene -- is that the Iranian government is irrational and that Iran constitutes an existential threat to Israel.
These departing points in the Israeli analysis eliminate all options on Iran with the exception of preventive military action. An adversary who isn’t rational cannot be deterred or contained, because such an actor -- by definition -- does not make decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis. In addition, if the foe is presented as an existential threat, then preventive action is the sole rational response. These Israeli assumptions short-cut the entire policy process and skip all the steps that normally are taken before a state determines that force is necessary...
Goldberg’s lengthy essay fails to recognize that throughout the 1980s, in spite of the Iranian government’s venomous rhetoric against Israel and its anti-Israeli ideology, the Jewish state sought to retain relations with Iran and actively aided Iran in the Iraq-Iran war. Only three days after Iraqi troops entered Iranian territory, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan interrupted a private visit to Vienna to hold a press conference to urge the United States -- in the middle of the hostage crisis -- to forget the past and help Iran keep up its defenses.
From Israel’s perspective, an Iraqi victory would have been disastrous due to the boost it would give the Arab bloc against Israel. By aiding Iran, Israel hoped to prove to the new rulers in Iran the strategic utility of continuing the Iranian-Israeli security collaboration...
Two days after President Obama’s election victory in November 2008, then-Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni expressed her categorical opposition to U.S. engagement with Iran. "We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue -- in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue -- is liable to be interpreted as weakness," Livni told Israel Radio. Asked if she supported any U.S. dialogue with Iran, Livni replied in no uncertain terms: "The answer is no."...
Rather than a factual, critical presentation of where Israel currently stands on Iran and why, Goldberg’s article is perhaps better understood as the starting salvo in a long-term campaign to create the necessary conditions for a future war with Iran.
Whether characterizing it as "mainstreaming war with Iran" or "making aggression respectable," Goldberg’s article serves to create a false narrative that claims that the two failed meetings held between the U.S. and Iran last October constitute an exhaustion of diplomacy, that deems the Obama administration’s crippling, indiscriminate sanctions on Iran a failure only weeks after they've been imposed, and that then leaves only one option remaining on the table: an American or Israeli military strike. And on top of that, if President Obama doesn’t green light a bombing campaign, Israel will have no choice but to bomb itself, even though it isn’t well-equipped to do so, according to Goldberg.
It is important to note that the aim of this unfolding campaign may not be to pressure Obama into military action. It could just as much serve to portray Obama as weak and indecisive on national security issues that are of grave concern to the U.S. and that are of existential nature to Israel. This portrayal will give the Republicans valuable ammunition for the November congressional elections as well as for the 2012 presidential race.
Indeed, the likely political motivation for this unfolding campaign should not be underestimated. Just as much that the building blocks of the Iraq war were put into place under the Clinton years -- most importantly with the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 -- serious preparation for selling an Iran war to the American public under a Republican president (Palin?) in 2013 must be undertaken now, both to establish the narrative for that sell and to use the narrative to remove any obstacles in the White House along the way...MORE...LINK
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