Bipartisanship and Threats of War Toward Iran

Two former Senators -- conservative Democrat Chuck Robb
and conservative Republican Dan Coats (that's what "bipartisan"
means) -- have a jointly authored Op-Ed in The Washington Post
today decreeing what the U.S.

Two former Senators -- conservative Democrat Chuck Robb
and conservative Republican Dan Coats (that's what "bipartisan"
means) -- have a jointly authored Op-Ed in The Washington Post
today decreeing what the U.S. must do towards Iran. The essence: Iran
must be prevented, using any means necessary, from not only obtaining
nuclear weapons, but also denied even "the ability to quickly assemble
a nuclear weapon," which means "the complete cessation of enrichment
activities inside Iran," even for civilian purposes.

To achieve
that, the Patriot Act should be used to block all Iranian banks from
any involvement in the U.S. economy and "our European allies [must]
sever commercial relations with Tehran." And this is what we should
immediately prepare for:

The U.S. military is capable of launching a devastating strike on Iran's nuclear and military infrastructure -- probably with more decisive results than the Iranian leadership realizes.

An initial air campaign would probably last up to several weeks and would require vigilance for years to come.
Military action would incur significant risks, including the
possibility of U.S. and allied losses, wide-scale terrorist reprisals
against Israel and other nations, and heightened unrest in the region.

to increase our leverage over Iran and to prepare for a military
strike, if one were required, the next president will need to begin building up military assets in the region from day one.

conclude with this grave warning: "Time may be shorter than many
imagine, and failure could carry a catastrophic cost to the national

So here we have, yet again, our glorious Foreign
Policy Community threatening another country -- one which hasn't
attacked us and can't attack us -- with war, threatening to bomb them
with "devastating strikes" that "would probably last up to several
weeks and would require vigilance for years to come." And they want
the next President, beginning this January, to "build up military
assets in the region" in order to threaten and prepare for those

It's just objectively true that there is no country in
the world -- anywhere -- that threatens to attack and bomb other
countries as routinely and blithely as the U.S. does. What rational
leader wouldn't want to obtain nuclear weapons in a world where the
"superpower" is run by people like Dan Coates and Chuck Robb who
threaten to attack and bomb whatever countries they want? Even the
Coats/Robb Op-Ed argues that Iranian proliferation would be so
threatening to the U.S. because "the ability to quickly assemble a
nuclear weapon would effectively give Iran a nuclear deterrent" -- in other words, they'd have the ability to deter a U.S. attack on their country, and we can't have that.

then there is the supreme irony that Coats, Robb and their
war-threatening comrades justify an attack on Iran by referencing U.N.
Resolutions which Iran is putatively violating, even though Article 2 of the U.N. Charter explicitly provides that "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat
or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any state." Yet Supremely Serious Bipartisan Leaders
like Coats and Robb who shape U.S. foreign policy -- along with the rest of our political establishment
-- routinely violate that provision more than any other country in the
world, by constantly threatening to invade and bomb a whole roster of
other nations.

Not only does this war advocacy reflect the reckless militarism of our
Foreign Policy Community, it also illustrates how deceptive is the
Beltway concept of "bipartisanship." In their Op-Ed, Coats and Robb
are summarizing the "findings" of a new report (.pdf) from what they call a "high-level task force, a politically diverse task force," and which The Post calls "the Bipartisan Policy Center's national security task force on Iran." That task force was convened by the "Bipartisan Policy Center"
-- an organization founded in 2007 by former Senator Majority Leaders
George Mitchell, Howard Baker, Tom Daschele and Bob Dole which "seeks to develop policy solutions that make sense for the nation and can be embraced by both parties."

The Center is basically a trite Broderian dream. You see, as they piously trumpet,
these Serious Leaders rise above the "partisanship [that] poisons our
national dialogue" and instead engage in "respectful discourse across
party lines" in order to "develop policy solutions that make sense for
the nation and can be embraced by both parties" -- such as bombing Iran
for weeks (at least) and, if necessary, unilaterally starting a war
that requires "years of vigilance." Their Serious, pretty logo of a
converging blue and red arc demonstrates how civil and harmonious they
are. Let's look at what this elevated "bipartisanship" really means in
the case of the Iran report:

The Serious bipartisan task force
that produced this war-threatening report employed two "consultants"
which it described as "two leading Iran experts: Dr. Michael Rubin, and
Mr. Ken Katzman." "Dr. Michael Rubin" is the supremely crazed neocon of National Review and the American Enterprise Institute, a former Giuliani advisor who has a single-minded obsession with urging American war on Iran. Katzman is a less ideological D.C. bureaucrat who covers Iran for the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service -- a competent expert by all appearances but hardly a counterweight to the extremist Rubin.

those are the two "experts" -- a raving neocon and a neutral technocrat
-- on whom they relied. And the conservative co-Chairmen -- Coats and
Robb -- were joined on the 11-member panel by such disinterested
beacons of bipartisan objectivity as:

The rest of the panel was composed of several retired military officials, such as McCain supporter Ret. Admiral Gregory "Grog" Johnson, and former Clinton administration Pentagon official Ashton Carter.
In other words, it was the very embodiment of Glorious Beltway
"bipartisan" foreign policy tribunals -- numerous hard-core, right-wing
ideologues sprinkled with a couple of like-minded right-wing Democrats
and a neutral establishment technocrat or two, all endorsing a
pre-ordained, flagrantly extremist, war-loving policy which is then
deemed "the harmonious mainstream Center" which no Serious Person

Much is made of the vague and distorted "threats" issued
by a rogue Iranian official, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But here you have --
yet again -- the predominant, bipartisan faction inside the U.S.
composed of leading political and military figures, announcing, in one
of the country's most mainstream and influential media outlets, very
specific plans to threaten, attack and bomb Iran, and to do so quickly
and decisively, regardless of whether there is U.N. approval and
regardless of whether Iran intends to attack the U.S.

Meanwhile, both presidential candidates, at least rhetorically, affirm the central premise (one must "do everything" to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including the use of force), and leading right-wing journals
publish plans for bombing and invading Iran and seizing its oil assets
until they agree to change its governnment to one that we approve.
There is a prevailing perception that the bipartisan Foreign Policy
Community has learned its lesson from the Iraq debacle, but threats of
war and endless war itself are their primary, indiscriminately used
weapon and that has not changed.

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