U.S.-Iran: Small Voice of Optimism, Deafening Chorus of Dread

Israel Air ForceAt Arms Control Wonk, Jeffrey Lewis linked to an article that provides a glimmer of hope in U.S.-Iran relations. Stephanie Cooke is the editor of Uranium Intelligence Weekly. (Right beside Entertainment Weekly on my night table.) In a piece sporting the tantalizing tltle, US May Drop Insistence That Iranians Shut Down Natanz — Eventually, she points out: “A little-noticed modification in its [new] National Security Strategy (NSS) document allows the US more flexibility in negotiations over Iran’s enrichment activities.”

The new NSS “no longer states, as did the 2006 NSS, that a key US nonproliferation objective is ‘to keep states from acquiring the capability to produce fissile material suitable for making nuclear weapons.’ The new document . . . says only that: ‘The United States will pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and work to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.’” Iran “need only meet its ‘international obligations on its nuclear program’ to enjoy ‘greater political and economic integration with the international community.’” Meanwhile, it’s already “proposing discussion questions for talks, rather than setting conditions.”

Elsewhere, though, prognostications have turned as dire as they were at the peak of the Bush administration. For example, Foreign Policy in Focus’s own Conn Hallinan writes at Focal Points (and at AlterNet):

“According to the [Jerusalem] Post, [Israeli] supplies were unloaded June 18 and 19 outside the Saudi city of Tabuk, and. … an ‘anonymous American defense official’ claimed that Mossad chief Meir Dagan was the contact man with Saudi Arabia and had briefed Netanyahu on the plans.

“The Gulf Daily News reported June 26 that Israel has moved warplanes to Georgia and Azerbaijan, which would greatly shorten the distance Israeli planes would have to fly to attack targets in northern Iran. The U.S currently has two aircraft carriers . . . plus more than a dozen support vessels in the Gulf of Hormuz. … The rhetoric is getting steamy, the weapons are moving into position, and it is beginning to feel like ‘The Guns of August’ in the Middle East.”

As usual, along with Israel, U.S. hawks are largely responsible for turning up the temperature on said rhetoric. Jim Lobe reports at Asia Times Online that “a familiar clutch of Iraq war hawks appear to be preparing the ground for a major new campaign to rally public opinion behind military action against the Islamic Republic.” If ever a bunch deserved the term “the usual suspects,” they include aging neocons like Stephen Hadley, John Bolton, and William Kristol. The hawks, Lobe writes . . .

“. . . also pounced on reported remarks made by United Arab Emirates ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba at a retreat sponsored by The Atlantic magazine in Colorado last week to nullify another obstacle to military action — the widespread belief that Washington’s Arab allies oppose a military attack on Iran by the US or Israel as too risky for their own security and regional stability. ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran,’ Otaiba was quoted as saying.”

Special shout-out to the Atlantic for the nobility it showed by sacrificing its good name for a cause it (apparently) believes in! Meanwhile, let’s not forget the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, which, Lobe reports, declared that most Arab officials “desperately want someone, and that means the US or Israel, to stop [Iran], using force if need be.”

But how could the Israeli Air Force reach Iran without being intercepted or shot down? Also at ATimes, David Moon explains in a widely read piece.

“Overflight of Iraq on a direct bearing to Iran is out of the question. Such a path would cause friction between the US, responsible for Iraq’s aerial sovereignty, and the next Iraqi government. … The likely route to Iran . . . is to fly a great circle around Iraq. … For this route, almost every applicable IAF logistics and support asset would be utilized.

The first leg for [IAF] fighter bombers is a low-level run up the Mediterranean [when tankers would] top up the tanks of the strike group. … To skirt Turkish airspace and the ability of the Turkish military to raise an alarm [to NATO], the strike group [would be accompanied by an aircraft [that] ferrets out air defense radars. [Another] beams a data stream containing . . . a ‘worm’ into air defense radars with the capability of incapacitating an entire air defense network.”

You get the idea — the highest of high-tech.

In a third ATimes article, Victor Kotsev agrees that, “By most accounts, a cataclysm is approaching. The situation, according to analyst Tony Badran, is ‘arguably similar to the one immediately preceding the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.’” But how could an attack not end badly for the West? Kotsev explains.

“. . . the Iranian regime could be quickly humiliated and weakened, its nuclear program set back by many years, and its international isolation deepened. In this case, seething internal tensions would eventually lead to regime change in the Islamic Republic. … such a development would [give] Obama much needed leverage to push through an Arab-Israeli peace agreement [which] would make Netanyahu more prone to compromise. Hamas would be left adrift.”

From neocon wish list to wishful thinking . . . do you ever get the feeling that nations go to war just because they can’t stand the suspense of having an incipient war hanging over their heads? They just want the tension to cease and desist. What better way to remove the ongoing pressure of what also amounts to temptation than to give in to it?