• 19 November 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Diplomacy, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file, US-Iran War

The Washington Post Editorial board has called out US Defense Secretary Robert Gates for “undercutting the message” that the US may attack Iran.  The Post criticizes the Defense Secretary for defending the Administration’s Iran policy against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pressure for the US to publicly threaten Iran with military force.

Netanyahu advised that “If the international community, led by the U.S., wants to stop Iran without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action.”  This Orwellian “war is peace” calculation would only endanger US national security and drive the US closer to war with Iran.  The Defense Secretary who is responsible for the lives of American troops was right to stand firm in the face of Netanyahu’s callous, pernicious war rhetoric.

The Washington Post calls Secretary Gate’s assessment that military strikes would bring together a divided Iranian nation “speculative”.  But the Post asserts that “what we do know for sure” is that Iran curbed its nuclear program in 2003 as a result of the US invasion of Iraq.  We absolutely do not know this for sure.  The Washington Post Editorial board that helped champion the Iraq war on the basis of false intelligence should be more careful when passing off its own speculation as certainty, particularly when it comes to advancing another case for war.

The Post pits its own speculation against the assessments of not just the Defense Secretary, but also those of military leaders like General David Petraeus – who warned that an attack on Iran could be used by hardliners to galvanize support – and Iranian human rights and democracy advocates, such as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, who said an attack “would give the government an excuse to kill all of its political opponents,” and that the Iranian people would resist any military action.

But if the judgment of US civilian and military leadership and Iranian activists is not enough for the Washington Post, there are plenty more reasons why saber rattling is disastrous idea.  Threats of war only help validate arguments that Iran requires a nuclear weapon as a suitable deterrent against US force.  As the US Institute of Peace and the Stimson Center recently stated in its report on engagement with Iran, “Even veiled allusions to the ‘military option’ reinforce those Iranian hardliners who argue that Iran requires nuclear weapons to deter the US, and protect Tehran’s security and freedom of action.”  The report also finds that “Official references to ‘military options’ only undermine those in Tehran who might otherwise argue for negotiated solutions to the nuclear issue.”

Furthermore, threats of military force will help unravel all of the work President Obama has invested in successfully undoing the damage of the Bush Administration and uniting the world in its Iran approach.  Our close allies have expressed serious concern about potential US saber rattling, and pursuing such a track will also alienate Russia and China, who are integral in multilateral efforts regarding Iran.

The call for saber rattling against Iran harkens back to the failed George W. Bush era in which the US looked on defiantly as Iran mastered the nuclear fuel cycle, while the US talked tough, spewed war rhetoric, and emboldened those in Iran who thrive on confrontation.  These threats undercut opportunities for peaceful, diplomatic resolutions to the US-Iran dispute by injecting significant uncertainty about US intentions on the Iranian side.  Preventing successful engagement may very well be the intended goal of those who advise that the US threaten war, as this is likewise the probable motivation of hardliners in Iran who offer similar rhetoric.  The Washington Post should not be in the business of empowering those on either side who seek to undermine engagement and eliminate options for the US to resolve its concerns with Iran through peaceful means.  With the prospect of yet third disastrous US war in the Middle East, the stakes could not be higher.

Posted By Jamal Abdi

    10 Responses to “Washington Post Blasts Defense Secretary Gates, Endorses Netanyahu’s War Rhetoric”

  1. Pirouz says:

    “As the US Institute of Peace and the Stimson Center recently stated in its report on engagement with Iran, “Even veiled allusions to the ‘military option’ reinforce those Iranian hardliners who argue that Iran requires nuclear weapons to deter the US, and protect Tehran’s security and freedom of action.”



    Every meaningful Iranian leader has publicly stated that they do NOT want nuclear weapons. In the past week, both Khamanei and Ahmadinejad have publicly stated this again on separate occasions for the umpteenth time. Yet, we continue to hear this baloney.

  2. Iranian-American says:


    It seems that US administration, as well as the US military and Institute of Peace don’t trust the words of Khamanei, Ahmadinejad and Larijani as freely as you do. Weird- I know. After all, you know as well as (well … you), that those are some stand-up guys. I’m pretty sure Khamanei, Ahmadinejad and Larijani don’t trust each other as much as you trust each of them.

    The fact is Iran is developing technology that can be used for weapons. While they have clearly claimed (and no one is disputing what they claim), that they don’t want it for weapons, some people seem to suspect otherwise. In general, I can’t blame anyone for not trusting the likes of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and Larijani. Furthermore, it would be incredibly naive to think that there are not Iranian officials who are considering what it would mean for Iran to have the bomb, given that Israel has nuclear weapons.

    So long story short, as painfully obvious as it is to anyone with any critical thinking skills whatsoever: It seems the US does not believe the official statements from the Iranian government.

  3. Pirouz says:

    I-A, well you have to base these assertions on evidence. Where is the evidence that so-called hardliners are advocating the building of a nuclear weapon? Can you point to any evidence of such a political debate taking place in Iran?

    Now I can see evidence that Iran may wish to establish itself with a similar technological posture to that of Japan and Brazil, and a host of other nations possessing nuclear technology.

    But an actual political debate in Iran with so-called hardliners calling for the construction of a nuclear weapon? Show me the evidence, I-A.

    And by the way, while you’re at it, you’ll also have to refute the findings of the 2007 NIE.

    So yeah, looking forward to your evidence, I-A.

  4. Iranian-American says:


    You seem confused. I did not say I don’t believe the official Iranian position on the nuclear issue. I answered a simple question that you repeatedly asked on the last three or four posts, culminating in this post where you asked the same question in ALL CAPS, like a frustrated child. This question was continually ignored by others, because of its simplicity. The answer is obvious, and yet you still seem to not understand it.

    Everyone knows the evidence that these entities which doubt the sincerity of the official statements by the Iranian government regarding the nuclear issue commonly point to. It is not surprising you do not accept these as valid evidence, but you have a tendency to be unreasonably biased, and dismiss facts to defend the Iranian government. Similarly, many of the people and entities that advocate war against Iran (e.g. AIPAC) are equally biased, and equally delusional in their claims, and are equally good at dismissing the evidence that you stated (e.g. the findings of the 2007 NIE). Both positions are useless and deserve the response you have gotten from everyone but me.

    You seem very interested in my opinion. I don’t know the Iranian government’s intentions regarding nuclear weapons. It does not concern me that much, because to be honest, I think the Iranian government is too incompetent to develop such technology even if they wanted to. Furthermore, even if they do want nuclear weapons, and even if they did develop them, I do not believe they are so stupid or crazy to use them as AIPAC would have us believe. I’m much more concerned with the human rights abuses of the Iranian government.

    One concern I do have regarding the nuclear issue is that it is being used to advocate war against Iran, but on that note, I believe that the Iranian government’s irresponsibility is making it way too easy for the likes of AIPAC to advocate war. So, even there, I think the real problem is the Iranian government’s actions (and it’s defenders). It is a shame they are willing to play games with Iranian lives, but if there is a war, the blood of the people will be on their hands as well as the pro-Israeli war mongers.

  5. Pirouz says:

    I-A, the assertion is “Iranian hardliners who argue that Iran requires nuclear weapons to deter the US, and protect Tehran’s security and freedom of action.”

    I keep asking, who exactly are these so-called hardliners that are arguing for such? Name them. You can’t. Admit it. There is no evidence of such a debate among Iranian leaders of any significance. None.

    In fact, Fareed Zakaria just interviewed Javad Larijani. Larijani categorically denied Iran required a nuclear weapon and stated the logical reasons for such.

    Your personal opinions and preferences concerning the IRIG are irrelevant to this discussion. You either have the evidence to support your contention or you don’t.

  6. Iranian-American says:


    Amazing. Perhaps this is a reoccurrence of a common problem you have, and that is not reading responses, and repeating irrelevant statements. Let me paste you some of my response in hope that you will read it this time:

    “While they have clearly claimed (and no one is disputing what they claim), that they don’t want it for weapons, some people seem to suspect otherwise.”

    So, I can not name the hardliners that are arguing for nuclear weapons, because as I have a stated they “clearly claim that they don’t want weapons”. If you would read my response, you would see that I already admitted that all Iranian officials have denied categorically that they want nuclear weapons.

    Also, regarding my contention, you seem to not have read my response. Here it is again:

    “I did not say I don’t believe the official Iranian position on the nuclear issue.”

    In other words, this is not *my* contention.

    The evidence the US administration points to is well-known. More importantly, it is clearly useless having a discussion with someone that does not read responses. So you can go back to not reading and POSTING IN ALL CAPS TO NO RESPONSE, until you are ready to post less and read more.

  7. Pirouz says:

    I-A, we’re talking past each other.

    I’m referring to actual evidence of so-called hardliners arguing that Iran requires a nuclear weapon, and you’re referring to some kind of “suspected” position or activity (that is to say, a “flying spaghetti monster” of sorts).

    You simply can’t identify ANY so-called hardliners arguing that Iran requires a nuclear weapon. That’s what my comments refers to, period. I think we can leave it at that.

  8. Iranian-American says:


    Except I think most people would find the “because they said so” evidence as a little silly.

  9. Jack says:

    Eh, OK let me say this. US/Israel doesnt want dialogue to succed, they want to use this nuclear “issue” as a pretext to invade Iran, to bomb it, to maim it, to make it into a US puppet. Lets be serious, Iran have agreed to stop its enrichment back in 2003 which they kept for 2 yrs, what did they get back from the EU3/USA? NOTHING!
    Remember the “Grand Bargain” laid out in 2003 by Iran? What happend? NOTHING!
    The same warmongering hawks that pushed for war against Iraq is the same damn fools that try to force us in to another useless, illegal and totally wrong war against Iran. You guys better wake up, NIAC, you should criticise the US more than you criticise the current gov of Iran. Because the US are about to bomb your nation! WAKE UP!

  10. u tell em jack says:

    I realize that in order to get your point across it’s best to be a mehraban about it, but some of us are getting tired of the propaganda and self critical approach. I-A, take a lesson from Pirouz and stick to the facts. I already don’t care to hear anymore from you so don’t bother.

    2 pts:
    1. I attended a lecture at a University where a member of the inner circle of the Islamic Rev. was being handled. After the show, I approached to have a real question answered. I asked how much this person witnessed direct assistance being given to the Revolution by U.S./Israeli government related entities while they were based in Paris(?). [I thought that if this guy was ~1/5 of the original group and is now claiming that the principles of the Rev. were not being followed and that he should quit and defect, then what is he still doing being handled by CIA types to give Iran-bashing University lectures . . . Aren’t you pushing your luck?] I did not receive an answer to my question, rather more rhetoric about how bad the regime is and a vague description of how they are allegedly meddling in Afghanistan. Again I posed my question and mentioned that there are some facts suggesting that U.S. Presidents early in the Revolution had assisted the regime and in my eyes it can not be seen as a purely indigenous revolution. The answer was never reached, however, what I learned was worth sharing. He then said, let’s put it this way, if you think the CIA wants the People’s Movement to succeed (then he paused and glanced at some CIA affiliates in the room) they don’t . . . They are not supporting the democratic movement of Iran and would like to see it fail.
    2. I watched PBS NewsHour the other day and listened to Foreign Secretary R. Gates talk about Iran building Weapons of Mass Destruction and associate Iran’s name with N. Korea. Of all the people to have zero credibility regarding WMD’s isn’t it him? This guy was part of the Iran Contra Affair, worked for “W” and found no such WMD’s after killing millions for generations, and now he’s pretending so conveniently that his 1-2 year absence from government entitles him to slander and defame a country with unsubstantiated allegations that might cause another war??? Would someone get tooth and nail on this crooked killer, or what? I don’t know if I’m off, but it really seems this whole thing goes back to the Shah warning the U.S. about the Israeli lobby. For me it’s easy, Islam must accept the pseudepigrapha of the earlier religions and that’s what we should expect from money hungry fanatics. A big production was created and we still haven’t gotten past it. Either the second generation fanatics needed to get in bed with foreign crooks like the early revolutionaries, or they’re really being honest (not at all likely). It’s always the people and not the crooks that get hurt.
    Pirouz, keep on baradar. We’re gonna call the liars and confusers out and get past this.

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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