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US-Iran War

  • 11 March 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions, US-Iran War

NYT Slams AIPAC Resolutions

Two recent measures introduced in Congress received some pretty harsh criticism from the New York Times this past weekend.  The first resolution, introduced in the Senate by Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, would essentially open a backdoor to war with Iran by pushing Israel to start it. The other bill will sharply ratchet up already tough sanctions imposed on Iran.

In a significant move, the New York Times ran an editorial article slamming the bills as harmful to ongoing negotiations and as making war more likely. “Last week, just as Iran and the major powers made some small progress in talks and agreed to meet again, two measures were introduced in Congress that could harm negotiations,” said the New York Times. “It could also hamper negotiations by playing into Iranian fears that America’s true intention is to promote regime change. “

It remains to be seen if this unique criticism from the New York Times will have any effect on Congress. Especially since, as the editorial notes, these bills are being promoted by AIPAC. Regardless, by taking on Congress’ latest Iran hijinks, the NYT is saying to Congress what NIAC has been saying for years: that ratcheting up sanctions and upping the war rhetoric, our elected officials in Washington are closing off political space for the Obama Administration to conduct serious diplomacy, and thereby making war more likely. The NYT piece ended with a stark message,” The best way to avert military conflict is by negotiating a credible, verifiable agreement. It is a very long shot. But Congress needs to give the talks time to play out and not make diplomatic efforts even harder.”

Blocking Iran talks is rerun of Iraq failure

This past weekend, with news that the U.S. and Iran may be planning direct talks soon to address the nuclear standoff, there were swift reactions by some to try to kill the initiative.  Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren warned that Iran should not be “rewarded” with direct talks, and Senator Lindsey Graham–who has pledged the U.S. will join Israel if they choose to bomb Iran–ominously said “the time for talking is over.”

For some, it seems that negotiations with Iran that could resolve the nuclear impasse are a bigger danger than Iran’s nuclear program.

Rolf Ekéus, who headed the UN team charged with eliminating Iraqi WMD infrastructure from 1991 to 1997, makes a compelling case in Foreign Affairs that the international community is indeed headed down the same path with Iran that we took with Iraq.  The piece, co-written with Målfrid Braut-Hegghammer, presents a timeline in which a U.S. policy aimed at regime change prevented sanctions from being removed and made war inevitable:

  • In 1991, after the Gulf War, the UN Security Council requires Iraq to destroy all WMD material and accept international inspections.  
  • From 1991 to 1997, Iraq procedes with disarmament in order to get the international community to honor its end of the deal: to lift UN financial and trade embargoes once Iraq has complied.
  • By 1997, Iraq completes disarmament and the UN has a monitoring system in place.  There are calls in the Security Council to begin lifting the sanctions.
  • But that spring, Secretary of State Madeline Albright announces the U.S. will not lift the sanctions until Saddam is removed.  
  • By the end of 1998, Congress passes the Iraq Liberation Act which makes regime change the official U.S. policy towards Iraq.  President Clinton signs the bill into law.
  • In 1998, with no chance of getting sanctions lifted through cooperation, Saddam obstructs and finally kicks out inspectors after a U.S.-British bombing campaign.
  • Citing the Iraq Liberation Act and allegations of Iraqi WMD programs and capabilities, Congress authorizes war with Iraq and the U.S. invades in 2003.
  • 16 October 2012
  • Posted By Dylan Zehr
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Israel, US-Iran War

Graham proposal pledges support for Israeli strike

Americans don’t want to be dragged into war with Iran by Israel.  According to recent polls:

  • 59% of Americans oppose the United States getting involved if Israel strikes Iran according to the 2012 Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey.
  • 55% of Americans say an Israeli strike on Iran would worsen the U.S. military and strategic position in the Middle East according to an October 8 poll released by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).
  • 53% of Americans say Washington should maintain a neutral stance if Israel strikes Iran according tothe PIPA poll.  29% said the U.S. should discourage such action and only 12% said the U.S. should encourage Israel to strike Iran.

But in the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has a different agenda.  This November he is planning to introduce a resolution providing unconditional backing for Israeli military actions against Iran.  As NIAC’s Jamal Abdi writes in the Huffington Post, “Graham’s planned measure would outsource the decision about whether the U.S. goes to war to the Israeli prime minister, pledging that if Bibi decides to act — regardless of the consequences and our own calculations — the U.S. will provide money, troops, and political leverage”

Graham, who already used a Congressional resolution to endorse Netanyahu’s redline for war over the President’s, is now attempting to undercut the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staffs, General Martin Dempsey, who has warned, “I don’t want to be complicit if [Israel] chooses to [bomb Iran.]”

But Graham’s not stopping there.  He has suggested that, in 2013, he is lining up plans to pass a formal authorization for the use of military force against Iran.  And the supporters of such action are already setting that plan in motion.  A September 27 Washington Post op-ed advocates that an “explicit congressional mandate authorizing the use of force unless Iran meets specified requirements would demonstrate to all our resolve to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.”  The twist? It was written by Jeffrey Smith and John Bellinger III, two lawyers who work for Arnold and Porter, a registered foreign agent serving as Israel’s largest and longest serving lobbying firm in United States. The firm received over $1.2 million from the Israeli government in 2010 alone.

Barely two weeks later, according to Philip Weiss, there is speculation that Israel’s U.S. embassy may have planted a false story suggesting that the U.S. and Israel had agreed on a plan for limited strikes on Iran.  In a recent piece for Foreign Policy, the magazine’s CEO David Rothkopf quotes an unnamed source describing collaborative discussions between the U.S. and Israeli governments regarding a possible joint strike on Iran. The source describes the discussed strike in detail, saying that it would last between “a couple of hours” and a “day or two,” and that it would have a “transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.”

But the “scoop” immediately triggered broad skepticism in Washington and accusations that it was planted by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.  According to the Philip Weiss, U.S. and Israeli military officials have denied the entire conversation about joint strikes.  Weiss notes that, following the publication of the story, Israel’s #2 diplomat in the U.S.–Baruch Bina, whom the White House preferred to deal with over Oren–was transferred to Denmark.  Weiss speculates that the “joint strikes” story was planted against Bina’s objections. Allegedly, Bina argued “that it was inappropriate of the ambassador to feed such a line to Rothkopf, because it could only damage U.S.-Israeli relations.”

  • 10 October 2012
  • Posted By Dylan Zehr
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file, Panel Discussion, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Why is the pro-war crowd lying about their own studies?

Within 45 minutes of the release of the Bipartisan Policy Committee’s (BPC) report, “The Price of Inaction: Analysis of Energy and Economic Effects of a Nuclear Iran,” pro-war pundits were  spinning its results.

The neoconservative Washington Free Beacon breathlessly announced, “REPORT: Nuclear Iran would ‘double’ oil prices, cost millions of U.S. jobs.”

The problem here is that the BPC report doesn’t say this.  It says that if there were a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran or Saudi Arabia and Iran, oil prices would double.  Yes, it is shocking–if a nuclear war broke out in the Middle East it would likely cost more to fill up your tank.

Given the Bipartisan Policy Committee’s track record of pro-war hyperbole on all things Iran, its stunning to see neoconservative rags spinning the BPC’s message even further.  But the Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo  ignores the report’s findings and instead fabricates his own conclusions in an attempt to rebut warnings about the significant economic costs of military strikes on Iran (including $7 gas).

*Update: Now the Drudge Report has gotten into the act, reposting the Free Beacon piece with the same erroneous headline*

  • 4 October 2012
  • Posted By Dylan Zehr
  • 0 Comments
  • Israel, Nuclear file, US-Iran War

Shredding the NPT

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty gets bandied about on both sides of the Iran negotiations. Iranian officials often use the fact that Israel is not a signatory of the treaty to question Israel’s nuclear arsenal while defending their own right to a civilian enrichment program.  At the same time, U.S. and Israeli politicians use it much like Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat did today, at an Atlantic Council event, Rethinking Policy Toward Iran:

“[If Iran obtained a nuclear weapon it] would shred what remains of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If a country can ignore a half-dozen UN resolutions with impunity and continue down this road then there is very little left of the Nonproliferation Treaty.”

This position is certainly not wrong. A treaty that continues to be left or broken on a regular basis will shortly lose its meaning. But there’s yet another side to this coin, which Ali Vaez, Senior Iran Analyst at the International Crisis Group, illuminated later in the event:

“I often hear this argument in Washington, that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, it would be disastrous for the integrity of the NPT. But another thing that would be disastrous for the NPT is actually attacking Iran. Because just imagine that a country that is not an NPT member, and has nuclear weapons attacking a country that is an NPT member and does not have nuclear weapons. I think that would equally undermine the NPT. And my biggest fear is the day that the Iranians, in the aftermath of an attack, just turn off the lights, and start building a nuclear weapon, and weld on it the same thing that the Israelis wrote on their first nuclear warhead, which is ‘Never Again.’”

These Are the Facts

Today marked the release of the first in a series of reports from an impressive group of former US ambassadors, retired generals and policy experts dubbed The Iran Project. The primary purpose of the paper, titled “Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran”, is to answer the tough questions and ensure that Americans are as informed as possible before the nation hurriedly decides to strike Iranian nuclear facilities: Can military strikes stop Iran’s nuclear program? What are the immediate and long-term impacts? Are strikes even possible?

The report has already made a splash with its frank assessment of the significant costs of military strikes and what it says are the limited gains.

First to the plate, the Washington Post:

The assessment said extended U.S. strikes could destroy Iran’s most important nuclear facilities and damage its military forces but would only delay — not stop — the Islamic republic’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

[The report] says achieving more than a temporary setback in Iran’s nuclear program would require a military operation — including a land occupation — more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

  • 11 September 2012
  • Posted By Dylan Zehr
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Israel, US-Iran War

Does Netanyahu have moral right to drag US into war?

In a not so-subtle jab at the United States, Bibi Netanyahu stridently announced today that “those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red line before Israel.”

Mr. Netanyahu made the claim following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public commitment to continuing sanctions and negotiations without setting a deadline.

Now, let’s unpack this. First, Mr. Netanyahu says he believes that were Iran to build a nuclear weapon–something that most agree is not possible within the next 12 months–it would pose an existential threat to Israel and thus the situation requirer a preventive military response.  Netanyahu insists no other entity–not Israel’s closest allies, not the Israeli and US national security establishments, not the Israeli people, nor international law–can place restrictions on his freedom to preventively deal with this threat.

But there’s a serious bit of Don Quixote, tilting at windmills, in Mr. Netanyahu’s lashing out at the US. The Obama administration has never placed red lines in front of Israel and has indeed placed redlines in front of Iran. Contrary to Netanyahu’s claim, when asked, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that “we respect their sovereignty and their ability to make decisions with their own security.”

US officials have, however, made statements discouraging Israeli military action, characterized by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dempsey’s comment that he “doesn’t want to be complicit” if Israel chooses unilateral military action against Iran.  But that is because Israel is not operating in a vacuum–Netanyahu’s decisions regarding Iran would have significant impact on US security, not to mention detrimental impacts on Israel’s security.

Without going into them in significant detail, several Israeli officials believe that military action would push Iran towards nuclear weapons. Additionally, Pentagon simulations predict that the US would be forced into a conflict with Iran very quickly following an Israeli strike.

  • 11 September 2012
  • Posted By Dylan Zehr
  • 0 Comments
  • Uncategorized, US-Iran War

Majority of Americans oppose Iran war in all circumstances, support direct talks

A new survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that Americans oppose war against Iran under just about every circumstance. This includes military action with UN support (51% against), unilateral U.S. attacks (70%), and even joining military action with Israel if Iran retaliated to unilateral Israeli strikes (59%). Given that Pentagon simulations predict that the US would be quickly drawn into such a conflict, noting public opposition is important.

Interestingly, support for direct talks between the US and Iran is on the rise, with 67% support, up from 61% support in the 2010 survey.

All of this is in spite of the survey’s findings of significant levels of misinformation about the status of Iran’s nuclear program:

In a new question respondents were asked what they thought was “the most recent assessment by the U.S. intelligence services, including the CIA,” of Iran’s nuclear program. When presented four options, only 25 percent of respondents choose the correct answer: “Iran is developing some of the technical ability necessary to build nuclear weapons, but has not decided whether to produce them or not.” The most common answer, chosen by 48 percent, is that, “Iran has decided to produce nuclear weapons and is actively working to do so, but does not yet have nuclear weapons.” Another 18 percent go even further, choosing the position that “Iran now has nuclear weapons.” Just 4 percent say intelligence sources think that “Iran is producing nuclear energy strictly for its energy needs.

Even so, a majority of Americans would support a bargain allowing Iran to enrich for peaceful uses if inspectors were allowed permanent and full access to facilities (52%).

The majority favoring such a bargain is greater among participants who are accurately informed about the status of Iran’s current program (64%).  The numbers against military action are similarly affected–with those who have correct information opposing military action in greater numbers:

Not surprisingly, those who say that intelligence sources think Iran has nuclear weapons or that Iran is actively working to build them are more likely to see Iran’s nuclear program as a critical threat (72% and 68%, respectively) and to support authorization of a military strike through the UN Security Council (each 52%). Among those who say intelligence sources think Iran is gaining the technical ability but has not decided whether to produce nuclear weapons, many fewer see Iran’s program as a critical threat (53%) or support UN authorization of a military strike (35%).

This is perhaps the most important message of the survey: when people have accurate information, they tend to oppose war with Iran and support diplomacy.

  • 6 September 2012
  • Posted By Stacy Hubert
  • 0 Comments
  • Election 2012, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Will Obama go on offensive about loose war talk?

On the eve of Barack Obama’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, it’s an open question as to how the President plans to frame the Iran debate.

At the Republican Convention last week, we heard loud and clear how Mitt Romney plans to differentiate himself from Obama: less talking to Iran, more talk about bombing Iran.

In his acceptance speech, he said of the President’s policy:

“…every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat. In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We are still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning.”

Romney’s website continues down the same path:

U.S. policy toward Iran must begin with an understanding on Iran’s part that a military option to deal with their nuclear program remains on the table. This message should not only be delivered through words, but through actions.

And although as Romney states that “time has shown that existing sanctions have not led the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear aspirations,” he still believes more sanctions are the answer (which does not necessarily separate him much from Obama):

As for Iran in particular, I will take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs. Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must. I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents who are fighting for their freedom. I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute.

So Romney is covering his bases.  Axis of Evil reference: check. Claiming to support the Iranian people: check. Calling for another round of sanctions that punish those very same people: check. Attacking diplomacy: check.  But if  his intentions truly reflect some of his rhetoric, Romney would take talks of the table–which only leaves war.

  • 6 September 2012
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Israel, Let's Talk Iran, US-Iran War

Ronny & the “Israel Loves Iran” Campaign

Ronny Edry - Let's Talk Iran PodcastIn this episode, we chat with Ronny Edry, an Israeli graphic designer, teacher, father, husband, and, most recently, known world-wide as the founder of the “Israel Loves Iran” campaign which later grew to become the “We Love You” community. The “We Love You” movement began on March 14 of this year when Ronny uploaded a poster of him and his daughter holding an Israeli flag. The poster said: “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.” Attached to the poster was also a letter that Ronny penned to the people of Iran. In it, he expressed his desire to prevent war and better understand his Iranian counterparts. Within hours, the poster and letter became viral and return messages started pouring in from Iran. The “We Love You” movement now has a loyal following all over 63 countries and its presence on the web and on Facebook is growing daily, with millions having viewed its videos and heard its message.

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