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Half Of US Senate Calls On Obama To Cancel Iran Talks, Prepare Military Option – OpEd


If it were left to the U.S. Senate, Israeli and American air power would already be winging its way to Tehran to destroy Iran’s nuclear plants.  44 senators, including a considerable number of Democrats, wrote to the president that he should abandon the nuclear talks which recently concluded their second failed meeting in Moscow.  These ‘peacemakers’ suggest three demands that we impose upon the Iranians:

The senators wrote that the “absolute minimum” Iran must do immediately to justify further talks is to shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility near Qom, freeze all uranium enrichment above 5 percent, and ship all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country.

If they fail, we might as well put on our helmets and Kevlar and fire up the F-16s and cruise missiles.  The senators know that Iran will not agree to any such conditions.  Thus in effect they are calling for a virtual declaration of war against Iran (though they couched it in more subtle language than that):

…We urge you to reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists,” they wrote.  ”As you have rightly noted, ‘the window for diplomacy is closing.’  Iran’s leaders must realize that you mean precisely that.”

Former Sen. Charles Robb is another member of the war party, who testified before the House today that Iranians only understand a big fat fist waving in their face as it’s about to be crammed down their throat:

…Judging by past behavior of Iran, the best chance to induce it to concessions is when it [faces]…a dire…military threat.”

Robb too believes War is the Answer:

Charles Robb of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) called in his testimony that “the dual approach of diplomacy and sanctions simply have not proved to be enough. We need the third track, and that is credible and visible preparations for a military option.”

What exactly does that mean?  It means sending Israel our most lethal bunker busters and refueling tankers allowing Israeli planes to travel thousands of miles to and from their Iranian targets.  It also means whatever missile defense systems will protect Israel from Iranian counterattack:

“…Augmenting the 5th Fleet’s capacity by procuring and deploying force protection munitions; defend U.S. naval forces against potential Iranian retaliation by pre- positioning military supplies across the region, including strategic bombers, bunker buster munitions and fuel; by exploring strategic partnerships with countries on Iran’s northern perimeter such as Azerbaijan; by conducting broad military exercises with regional allies.”

Another suggestion was “augmenting Israeli offensive and defensive capabilities, including the sale to Israel of three KC-135 aerial refueling tankers and 200 GBU-31 bunker-busting munitions needed in whatever missile defense systems are needed.”

Sounds to me a bit like the Nixon-Kissinger resupply of Israel during the 1973 War in which we had flights of cargo transports landing almost by the minute to replenish Israel’s declining military stocks.  As far as Robb is concerned, we should open the weapons tap and let the guns, bullets and missiles flow.  What irks me about Robb’s posturing is that all this crowing about the existential danger posed by Iran gins up ever more interest in his own career as a military and security consultant (aka lobbyist).  What really does Charles Robb know about Iran?

If we take a look at Robb’s comrades in arms on this Bipartisan Policy Center it will tell us a great deal which side its bread is buttered on.  His co-chair is far-right Republican former Sen. Dan Coats.  Another committee member is Dennis Ross.  The staff director of this outfit is David Makovsky’s brother, David.  The AEI’s Michael Rubin is their “special consultant.”  You see where this is going?

The operative phrase seems to be you’ve got to be prepared to make war to make peace.  God forbid, Robb warns, anyone should think the U.S. wants Israel to attack Iran:

We are not urging Israel to take unilateral military action against Iran nuclear facilities, but we need to make their capability to do stronger so that Iran will take that threat more seriously.  We are not advocating another war in this region. We’d like to see this perilous situation resolved peacefully.

If you were an Israeli diplomat in the DC embassy you’d be in hog (sorry for the treif reference) heaven.  This is what Israel’s massive presence in this country and the intense lobbying of Aipac is designed for: maximum pliancy on the part of U.S. lawmaker when it comes to opening the armories for offensive war in the Middle East.  If you were a truly cynical neocon you’d say hell, we’ve been shedding too much American blood in the Middle East.  If we can get Israeli boys taking the bullets while taking out our mutual enemies, all the better.  We’ll just give ‘em the ammo so they can do the job.

Israelis like Shaul Mofaz, who met with Hillary Clinton today, are saying just the opposite: you should take the lead, Madam Secretary, and your friends in Israel will gladly follow.  The former IDF chief of staff and new dance partner of Bibi Netanyahu also told Hillary a few meisehs about how the new coalition he’s just formed will bring Peace in Our Time.  That and a little fairy dust will turn all of us into pixies.

The question is: is Obama vacillating enough to, in one of his many weak political moments, give in to all this saber-rattling and offer Israel a green-light?  Does he understand that there’s a quantitative difference between killing Muslims with U.S. drones and dropping bunker busters on Iran?  Or will he truly become the national security president and go “all the way” to war?

It’s ironic that even George Bush said we weren’t at war with Islam.  Barack Obama seems hellbent on turning that statement on its head.  From his Cairo speech to the current shambles of our relations with the Arab world.  It’s ugly how things have gone for him and us.

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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