Pushing war with Iran: ramped-up rhetoric favoring a pre-emptive strike points to a coordinated campaign by the Bush administration and neoconservative war hawks.
In recent months there has been a marked escalation of calls--by neoconservative think tanks, radio talk shows, and media organs closely allied to the Bush administration--for a massive pre-emptive U.S. military strike on Iran. Some prominent spokesmen are openly calling for the U.S. to use tactical nuclear missiles. Is this a spontaneous crescendo of popular support or a huge propaganda campaign initiated by White House spinmeisters?
On September 30, the Israeli internet news site, IsraelNationalNews.com, reported on the comments of two of the leading neoconservative war hawks, John Bolton and Norman Podhoretz. The story by Gil Ronen, entitled "Bolton, Podhoretz Say: Bomb Iranian Nuclear Plants." reports:
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told Conservative Party delegates in Britain on Sunday that UN efforts to negotiate with Iran had failed and that he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country. Influential conservative thinker Norman Podhoretz told a British paper that he has advised U.S. President George W. Bush to do just that.
AS THE NEW AMERICAN reported in its April 2 cover story, "'Engineering War," the Bush administration has been strongly signaling for months that it is preparing militarily for a massive attack on Iran. It also has been trying to prepare the public psyche to accept this aggression as a course of action that is unavoidable: there is, supposedly, no other alternative.
Neocon War Drums
That is the unmistakable message that is being sent repeatedly through the neoconservative transmission belts in the blogosphere, the lecture circuits, talk radio, television news, and the political campaign trails. The building crescendo has the sound and smell of a government-orchestrated propaganda campaign. Back on August 31, the New Yorker posted an online report from Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin who cited an unnamed Washington neoconservative source who says the current warmongering upsurge has come specifically at the behest of Vice President Dick Cheney. According to Mr. Rubin:
They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day: it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be a heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."
We cannot confirm whether or not the above-mentioned news organs are taking direction from Mr. Cheney. We don't need to: all of them are, in point of fact, carrying out a "'heavy sustained assault" for an imminent preemptive attack on Iran. And their voices are being amplified by the usual war-hawk choristers that have usurped the conservative label.
But Bolton's speech in England shows that the propaganda line has a built-in mission-creep message. Although the initial selling point to the party faithful is that Iran's WMD capabilities must be taken out because of the potential threat posed to Israel and America, the war plans are morphing into much grander objectives, starting with "regime change." (Where have we heard that before: and where has it ever ended with that, once regime change was effected?)
Mr. Bolton told his British audience that any strike should be followed by an attempt to remove "the source of the problem," namely, Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Here's how IsraelNationalNews.com reported it:
"If we were to strike Iran," Bolton said, "it should be accompanied by an effort at regime change as well, because I think that really sends the signal that we are not attacking the people, [but rather] the nuclear weapons program. The U.S. once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments. I wish we could get it back." His words were met with applause and cheers.
Of course, if Ahmadinejad were removed (and even executed), we would soon find (as we found in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq when Milosevich, the Taliban and Saddam, respectively, were removed) that the mission had "evolved" from regime change to nation building. Which, naturally, means perpetual occupation of Iran by U.S. military forces (already spread deadly thin) or UN "coalition-of-the-willing" military forces paid for by the American taxpayers (already bled thin).
Mr. Podhoretz is now a senior foreign-policy adviser to GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who seems to revel in his image as the most hawkish of the Republican hopefuls. Giuliani has publicly stated his position in favor of a pre-emptive military strike and doesn't rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain are also keeping the nuclear option on the table.
The Sunday Times of London reported on September 2 that the Pentagon had already drawn up plans for a "three day blitz" on over one thousand targets to take out Iran's entire military:
The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians' military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for "pinprick strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities. "They're about taking out the entire Iranian military," he said. Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: "Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same." It was, he added, a "very legitimate strategic calculus."
Alexis Debat, the French terrorism and security "expert" cited by the Times, has been a major neocon cheerleader for widening the Iraq War policies and for a pre-emptive attack on Iran. He has been presented as an expert on terrorism and/or national security, not only by the Sunday Times (an organ of Rupert Murdoch's hawkish media empire), but also by ABC News, PBS, the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Time, the International Herald Tribune, and the National Interest. He was until recently a reporter and consultant for ABC News and a senior fellow at the prestigious Nixon Center. However, it turns out that Monsieur Debat is a complete fraud. "Dr." Debat's Ph.D. from the Sorbonne doesn't exist. The interviews he supposedly conducted with Alan Greenspan, Bill Gates, Barak Obama, Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, and others were totally fabricated. ABC News and the Nixon Center have quietly announced that he "resigned" recently from their employ.
However, the one story the now-toxic and discredited Alexis Debat very likely did not fabricate out of thin air is his report on the administration's plans for an upcoming "shock and awe" assault on Iran. Debat's claim of an imminent massive strike against the Tehran regime tracks very closely with the stories that the Bush spin doctors have been feeding to other trusted sources--such as Bolton, Podhoretz, and other neocons. Even more importantly, it tracks with the concentrated deployment of U.S. carrier groups and other military assets to the Persian Gulf over the past year and the escalating saber-rattling by Bush war hawks in the Pentagon, the State Department, and on Capitol Hill.