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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Deadeye Taunts -- Iran Threatens

Deadeye Dick on Iran: All bluster, no bullets
"I think that provocative statements and actions only further isolate Iran from the rest of the world," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with President Bush to hurricane-affected states in the Gulf Coast. "And the international community has spelled out to Iran what it needs to do." Iran Threatens U.S. With 'Harm and Pain'
Finally, something George W. Bush and the Republicans know something about, isolation.

Because no president has done more to isolate this country than George W. Bush. The president's incompetence on the war in Iraq has put the failures of Republican foreign policy out in the open for everyone in the world to see.

And while we were dallying in the Iraqi desert, Iran continued their nationalistic dreams of becoming a nuclear nation.

The reality is that, whether the wingnut neocons want to admit it or not, we need Iran. Former General Wesley Clark believes we need to make some sort of deal with Iran because of where we stand in Iraq. Without Iran working with us, on some level, what we end up getting in Iraq is a mess made even worse. With the reality that Iran is almost certainly stoking the insurgency, not to mention helping Iraq move right, we truly can't afford to ratchet up the Iranian reaction, but Bush and Cheney aren't dealing with that reality or any reality at all.

One point that needs to be stressed, which has been made by experts, is that the issue on Iran is not about nuclear bombs, but a nuclear regime. Most people believe Iran is years away from the technology needed for bombing. However, the fierce nationalism of Iranian citizens can be stirred to inspire President Ahmadinejad to amass real legitimacy where he actually has none. The only way he can get it is if we give it to him, something Vice President Dick Cheney seems to be working hard to do.

Unfortunately, the “international community” has a tendency “to only react to crisis,” Goldschmidt said, which puts him in an “uncomfortable” position trying to “solve one specific case, which is Iran.” He offered two solutions that, by involving the UN Security Council, would make Iran’s current voluntary commitments legally binding:

“The minimum for me is to report [Iran] to the Security Council to request Iran to immediately resume the suspension of all enrichment-related activities, and, second, [for the Security Council] to provide the IAEA with a significantly increased verification mandate and authority. Once more, this has nothing to do with sanctions.”

George Perkovich elaborated on Goldschmidt’s account of Iranian noncompliance:

“[There were centrifuges in Iran that] were contaminated with uranium particles, but then when the inspectors went to the place where they were stored–which is an unnamed country by the IAEA, but which I know is Dubai–and did environmental samplings in the storage facility, there were no isotopes found in the facility….If the machines in Iran were contaminated and they had been in the facility in Dubai, the facility should have had some of this contamination as well.”

Perkovich, in response to a question on Iran’s “shift in their negotiating behavior,” said:

“The president of Iran says…Iran was either mistaken to engage in the suspension and the negotiations or at least was way too accommodating, and that the President Ahmadinejad and perhaps others have a view that the way the world works is you act tough, you make clear what your bottom lines are and you pursue it, and you don’t act as if people have the strength or will to stop you and you create facts on the ground and eventually the rest of the world has to adapt to this.”

Perkovich drove this point home by noting that during the UN Summit in New York he was told that President Ahmadinejad “turned to one of his agents and said, you know, these Europeans are like barking dogs, if you kick them they’ll run away.” Iran’s recent negotiating tactics, Perkovich said, “suggests that logic.”

Carnegie Endowment - Proliferation News

Did you notice above that the "unnamed country" mentioned is none other than Bush's port buddies?

Of course, Ahmadinejad's threat today comes the day after Deadeye resurfaced, warning of "meaningful consequences" if Iran fails to cooperate with the U.N. Security Council. Cheney didn't stop there, offering the fantastic fantasy that we are "keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime." Oh, and one more thing, the U.S. is sending "a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

That comes as news to some of us, since just last week Bush traded nuclear rods for mangos.

President Bush and his Dick have the passive-aggressive game down, but what kind of message are they really sending?

Does anyone honestly believe that our military can turn on a dime and strike in Iran? It's a preposterous threat, saber rattling at its wingnuttiest, which Rep. John Murtha and others have said is making matters worse.

The U.S. military has been stretched to the breaking point, with 45% of the troops on their 2nd rotation, 29% on their third tour or more, 26% on their first, with no end in sight. Divorces have skyrocketed, with "battle fatigue" a growing epidemic. The U.S. military is always willing and able to make the fight and they certainly don't want our pity or sympathy, because they relish their job. But if a terrorist incident really does happen, because of Iraq, the U.S. will be caught with our offenses obliterated, which is something we must realize and fight against, because the Republicans are obviously clueless.

We're in another escalating war of words that does not serve this country, but instead isolates us more from allies we need on the war on terror, which has been forgotten in Bush's incompetent campaign to spread democracy in the Middle East. Threatening Iran with some mythical military action won't bring allies to our side and it won't solve the escalation game.

Imagine the carnage if Bush and Cheney decide to take their neocon threats into action. Seriously, who would join us in such folly after Iraq, with the Iraq war devolving into civil carnage?

In the end, we need alliances in the world to make us all safer. You don't make friends by trading nukes for fruit in India one week, then turning around and making threats to a nation we cannot afford to strike the next.

There is no need for military strikes against Iran. The country is five to ten years away from the ability to enrich uranium for fuel or bombs. Even that estimate, shared by the Defense Intelligence Agency and experts at IISS, ISIS, and University of Maryland assumes Iran goes full-speed ahead and does not encounter any of the technical problems that typically plague such programs.

This is not a nuclear bomb crisis, it is a nuclear regime crisis. US Ambassador John Bolton has correctly pointed out that this is a key test for the Security Council. If Iran is not stopped the entire nonproliferation regime will be weakened, and with it the UN system.

But it will have to be diplomats, not F-15s that stop the mullahs. An air strike against a soft target, such as the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan (which this author visited in 2005) would inflame Muslim anger, rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular government and jeopardize further the US position in Iraq. Finally, the strike would not, as is often said, delay the Iranian program. It would almost certainly speed it up. That is what happened when the Israelis struck at the Iraq program in 1981.

No Military Options

So, I ask you, just what is Vice President Dick Cheney talking about with regards to Iran? It's frightening in the extreme to say it, but I don't think he knows.

cross-posted at Taylor Marsh