Tag Archives: nuclear

Behind the ‘Phony War’ on Iran

This from my new op ed in the National:

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s rocketeers – helped by its Photoshop mujahideen – managed last week to set off a wave of hysteria by test-firing four medium-range missiles to underscore its capacity to retaliate against any US-Israeli air strikes. (Well, three actually, the photo retouching was needed to disguise the failure to launch of the fourth.) But the hysteria seemed more like going through the motions of pre-existing agendas than a sign of impending combat.

The piece touches on what I believe is the significant debate in Washington, which is not that usually reported pitting those who actually want to attack Iran against those who want to pursue diplomacy; instead, it is being fought between those who believe diplomacy will only succeed if the Iranians believe they’re facing a real military threat, and those who believe that creating that such a belief would retard rather than enhance diplomacy and risk unintended escalation.

In other words, all Bush’s talk about the military option remaining “on the table” is an increasingly transparent bluff. But the real diplomacy will begin only after a new U.S. president is seated.
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The Wrong Questions on Iran – Again

Neither Sy Hersh’s reports of stepped up proxy warfare nor the tit for tat saber-rattling (Israeli practice mass long-distance bombing raids and Iranian medium-range missile testing) suggest that anything has changed in the basic equation that says neither Israel nor the U.S. will attack Iran.

Besides the backlash that the U.S. military isn’t prepared to risk by initiating a new war of aggression in the Middle East; besides the fact that the U.S. economy could not absorb the shock of oil shooting past $200 a barrel; besides the difficulties in eliminating a nuclear infrastructure dispersed in hardened facilities, no all of which may be known; there is a simple truth: It’s already too late. The objective, remember, according to Bush, was to prevent Iran mastering the “know-how” to make weapons-grade material. The bad news, then, is that Iran has already mastered that know-how, and it can’t be reversed by bombing. Time for some grownup diplomacy then, eh? Continue reading

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Biggie Smalls Says Israel Won’t Bomb Iran

About 13 years ago, while working on a British TV magazine program, I found myself spending a couple of days with Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls/the Notorious B.I.G. (I swear, I still have the tape, but it’s analog.) This extended interview took place at the time when Tupac Shakur was yelling from the rooftops that he was going to kill Brooklyn’s greatest rapper, and getting plenty of publicity and selling records by doing so. Biggie wasn’t particularly alarmed. He’d been a hustler in Bed-Stuy for too long to take seriously threats that are broadcast. In far more colorful language, he said words to the effect of “On the streets, when someone is telling anyone who’ll listen that they’re going to kill you, you don’t have to lose any sleep over it. You’re not going to hear about beforehand when the real killer comes.”

Exactly. (Yes, I know, Biggie was eventually, tragically, murdered — but his point is proven by the fact that his killers had nothing to do with Tupac.)

And that’s why it’s hard to take seriously last week’s New York Times report about an Israeli military exercise in the Mediterranean being a “dry run” for an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Well, you can take it seriously as a PR stunt, aimed at sweating the Europeans into imposing more sanctions on Iran for fear that Israel will “do something crazy.” But when Israel bombed Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981, and when it struck what it claimed was a Syrian nuclear facility late last year, there was no coverage of the preparations for those missions in the New York Times. Continue reading

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