Obama Resists Israeli Pressure on Iran

With the Republican presidential nominee likely to favor war with Iran and Congress seeking to cripple Iran’s economy, Israel is well positioned to pressure President Obama into backing its threatened bombing campaign of Iran’s alleged nuclear sites, Gareth Porter wrote for Inter Press Service.

By Gareth Porter

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are engaged in intense maneuvering over Netanyahu’s aim of entangling the United States in an Israeli war against Iran.

Netanyahu is exploiting the extraordinary influence his right-wing Likud Party exercises over the Republican Party and the U.S. Congress on matters related to Israel in order to maximize the likelihood that the United States would participate in an attack on Iran. Obama, meanwhile, appears to be hoping that he can avoid being caught up in a regional war started by Israel if he distances the United States from any Israeli attack.

Former Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan

New evidence surfaced in 2011 that Netanyahu has been serious about dealing a military blow to the Iranian nuclear program. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who left his job in September 2010, revealed in his first public post-Mossad appearance last June 2 that he, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) chief Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin had been able to “block any dangerous adventure” by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The Hebrew language daily Maariv reported that those three, along with President Shimon Peres and IDF Senior Commander Gadi Eisenkrot, had vetoed a 2010 proposal by Netanyahu to attack Iran.

Dagan said he was going public because he was “afraid there is no one to stop Bibi [Netanyahu] and [Ehud] Barak.” Dagan also said an Israeli attack on Iran could trigger a war that would “endanger the (Israeli) state’s existence,” indicating that his revelation was not part of a psywar campaign.

It is generally agreed that an Israeli attack can only temporarily set back the Iranian nuclear program, at significant risk to Israel. But Netanyahu and Barak hope to draw the United States into the war to create much greater destruction and perhaps the overthrow of the Islamic regime.

In a sign that the Obama administration is worried that Netanyahu is contemplating an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tried and failed in early October to get a commitment from Netanyahu and Barak that Israel would not launch an attack on Iran without consulting Washington first, according to both Israeli and U.S. sources cited by The Telegraph and by veteran intelligence reporter Richard Sale.

At a meeting with Obama a few weeks later, the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and the new head of CENTCOM, Gen. James N. Mattis, expressed their disappointment that Obama had not been firm enough in opposing an Israeli attack, according to Sale. Obama responded that he “had no say over Israel” because “it is a sovereign country.”

Obama’s remark seemed to indicate a desire to distance his administration from an Israeli attack on Iran. But it also made it clear that he was not going to tell Netanyahu that he would not countenance such an attack.

Trita Parsi, executive director of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), who has analyzed the history of the triangular relationship involving the United States, Israel and Iran in his book Treacherous Alliance, says knowledgeable sources tell him Obama believes he can credibly distance himself from an Israeli attack.

In a Dec. 2 talk at the Brookings Institution, while discussing the dangers of the regional conflict that would result from such an attack, Panetta said the United States “would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, sinking our ships, striking our military bases.”

Panetta’s statement could be interpreted as an effort to convince Iran that the Obama administration is opposed to an Israeli strike and should not be targeted by Iran in retaliation if Israel does launch an attack. Parsi believes Obama’s calculation that he can convince Iran that the United States has no leverage on Israel without being much tougher with Israel is not realistic.

“Iran most likely would decide not to target U.S. forces in the region in retaliation for an Israeli strike only if the damage from the strike were relatively limited,” Parsi told IPS in an e-mail.

The Obama administration considers the newest phase of sanctions against Iran, aimed at reducing global imports of Iranian crude oil, as an alternative to an unprovoked attack by Israel. But what Netanyahu had in mind in proposing such an initiative was much more radical than the Obama administration or the European Union could accept.

When Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies which is closely aligned with Netanyahu’s Likud Party, pushed the idea of sanctions against any financial institution that did business with Iran’s Central Bank, the aim was to make it impossible for countries that import Iranian crude to continue to be able to make payments for the oil.

Dubowitz wanted virtually every country importing Iranian crude except China and India to cut off their imports. He argued that reducing the number of buyers to mainly China and India would not result in a rise in the price of oil, because Iran would have to offer discounted prices to the remaining buyers.

Global oil analysts warned, however, that such a sanctions regime could not avoid creating a spike in oil prices. U.S. officials told Reuters on Nov. 8 that sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank were “not on the table.” The Obama administration was warning that such sanctions would risk a steep rise in oil prices worldwide and a worsening global recession, while actually increasing Iranian oil revenues.

But Netanyahu used the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) over congressional action related to Israel to override Obama’s opposition. The Senate unanimously passed an amendment representing Netanyahu’s position on sanctions focused on Iran’s oil sector and the Central Bank, despite a letter from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner opposing it. A similar amendment was passed by the House on Dec. 15.

The Obama administration acquiesced and entered into negotiations with its European allies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on reducing imports of Iranian crude oil while trying to fill the gaps with other sources. But a number of countries, including Japan and Korea, are begging off, and the EU is insisting on protecting Greece and other vulnerable economies.

The result is likely to be a sanctions regime that reduces Iranian exports only marginally – not the “crippling sanctions” demanded by Netanyahu and Barak. Any hike in oil prices generated by sanctions against Iran’s oil sector, moreover, would only hurt Obama’s re-election chances.

In an interview with CNN in November, Israel Defense Secretary Barak warned the international community that Israel might have to make a decision on war within as little as six months, because Iran’s efforts to “disperse and fortify” its nuclear facilities would soon render a strike against facilities ineffective.

Barak said he “couldn’t predict” whether that point would be reached in “two quarters or three quarters or a year.” The new Israeli “red line” would place the timing of an Israeli decision on whether to strike Iran right in the middle of the U.S. presidential election campaign.

Netanyahu, who makes no secret of his dislike and distrust of Obama, may hope to put Obama under maximum pressure to support Israel militarily in a war with Iran by striking during a campaign in which the Republican candidate would be accusing him of being soft on the Iranian nuclear threat.

If the Republican candidate is in a strong position to win the election, on the other hand, Netanyahu would want to wait for a new administration aligned with his belligerent posture toward Iran.

Meanwhile, the end of U.S. Air Force control over Iraqi airspace with the final U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq has eliminated what had long been regarded as a significant deterrent to Israeli attack on Iran using the shortest route.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006. [This story first appeared at Inter Press Service.]

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31 comments on “Obama Resists Israeli Pressure on Iran

  1. Opinion: Bring more pressure on dangerous Iran

    Published: Sunday, December 18, 2011, 6:32 AM

    By Times of Trenton guest opinion column
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    5

    By Kim J. Pimley

    Iran seems bent on confirming that it is the world’s chief bully and outlaw and the greatest threat to world peace. Its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability, support for international terrorism and disregard for international law are indisputable. The international community has used a mix of diplomacy and economic sanctions to try to modify Iranian behavior, but Iranian defiance demands stronger measures.

    The terrorist traits of the Iranian regime were exposed again in October, when American officials revealed an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. The crime was to have taken place in a crowded, upscale Washington, D.C., restaurant, and had it come off, many more would have been killed.

    The assassination plot was “directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government, specifically senior members of the Quds Force,” declared Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who added that “high-up officials” in agencies that are “an integral part of the Iranian government were responsible for this plot” to strike in the heart of Washington.

    According to government informants, attacks were also planned on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington and in Buenos Aires — recalling the 1994 bombing of the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) Center in Argentina’s capital that killed 85 people and was also carried out on Iranian orders. Indeed, Iran’s defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, is wanted by Interpol in connection with the AMIA bombing.

    Then, on Nov. 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report stating that while it has not yet produced a bomb, “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” This is not nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, as Iran’s government claims, but mechanisms “specific to nuclear weapons.”

    This information came from the IAEA, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, not from the intelligence branch of any particular nation, as had been the case with the allegations about Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s nuclear plans that led to the second war in Iraq. The U.S. State Department called the report “comprehensive, credible, quite damning, and alarming.” An Iranian nuclear weapon carried by missiles would endanger Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Israel and even Europe — not to mention wreak havoc with the world’s oil supplies.

    Most recently, on Nov. 29, after Great Britain ratcheted up its own sanctions by banning all dealings with Iran’s Central Bank — on which the country’s oil exports depend — dozens of Iranians stormed two British embassy locations in Tehran while several hundred more Iranians demonstrated outside, chanting “Death to Britain!” For anyone old enough to remember what happened to the U.S. embassy there in 1979, and the 444-day hostage ordeal of its occupants, this latest attack brought back nightmarish memories. Certain that Iranian authorities were behind this breach of international law, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned of “serious consequences.”

    The British shut their embassy and expelled all Iranian diplomats from London. Several European governments joined by withdrawing their ambassadors from Iran in protest. While Russia and China are unlikely to follow suit, surely the European Union as a unit should call its ambassadors home, just as it did in 2009 to protest a coup that ousted the lawful government of Honduras. (The U.S. does not have a diplomatic mission in Iran.)

    The other industrialized nations must emulate the British by adopting more stringent measures against Iran’s banking system and oil industry. There is reason to believe this will have an impact. The most recent poll of Iranian opinion, the December 2010 survey released by the International Peace Institute, notes that while most Iranians support the nuclear program, they consider the existing economic sanctions the country’s No. 1 external problem, and by 65 percent to 32 percent, think that Iran should focus on solving its domestic problems rather than on becoming the leading power in the region.

    The Menendez-Kirk Iran Sanctions Amendment, approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate, would restrict American financial institutions from dealings with any foreign financial institution that knowingly does significant business with Iran’s Central Bank. It also freezes Iranian assets in the U.S. and requires the president to engage in diplomacy to convince other nations to cease importing oil from Iran. The U.S. does not import Iranian oil, but the E.U. accounts for 18 percent of Iranian oil exports. While the House of Representatives has passed a version of the bill, the administration is apparently trying to weaken the sanctions before it becomes law.

    That would be a mistake. Menendez-Kirk, with tough sanctions and vigorous enforcement, will signal to the Iranian regime that violation of treaty obligations and U.N. Security Council sanctions in pursuit of nuclear weapons will come at a heavy, unsustainable price. And U.S. leadership will encourage European and other nations to act similarly. With each passing day, Iran makes further progress in its nuclear weapons program. Strong diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions can stop the momentum

    • F. G. Sanford on said:

      Hogwash.

    • FranktheMc on said:

      What bully? Maybe, if you believe the number about the assassinations, which sounds bogus to me. Please remember that Netanyahu is one of the 21st century’s great liars.

      Personally, I think it’s foolish for Iran to try to get a reactor going to produce power, since Japan has shown everyone that nuclear power isn’t safe (unless one listens to the nuclear industry (then it’s perfectly safe)). If Iran wants a nuclear weapon (and I don’t think it’s aiming to get one), how would the world be less safe? Israel, Pakistan, and the ever-stable North Korea have them.

    • What world do you live in? Just curious

    • Pimley’s effort is like a blind man’s trying to convince the world his path is the right path.

    • What you wrote is completely none sense. Use your brain and write the facts.

    • Here is your first paragraph:
      Iran seems bent on confirming that it is the world’s chief bully and outlaw and the greatest threat to world peace. Its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability, support for international terrorism and disregard for international law are indisputable. The international community has used a mix of diplomacy and economic sanctions to try to modify Iranian behavior, but Iranian defiance demands stronger measures.

      Now corrected it should read:
      Israel seems bent on confirming that it is the world’s chief bully and outlaw and the greatest threat to world peace. Its current nuclear weapons capability, support for international terrorism and disregard for international law are indisputable.

      • Regina Schulte on said:

        I fully agree with jc’s corrections of Pimley’s posting.
        It appears that we are now provoking Iran to do something that we can rationalize as a cause for war. John Sheehan, a Jesuit priest, said it well. “Everytime anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.”

    • Hillary on said:

      Calling it not just an “exercise”, but a “deployment”, the Jerusalem Post quotes US Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc, Commander of the US Third Air Force based in Germany. The US Commander visited Israel two weeks ago to confirm details for “the deployment of several thousand American soldiers to Israel.”

      In an effort to respond to recent Iranian threats and counter-threats, Israel announced the largest ever missile defense exercise in its history.

      Now, it’s reported that the US military, including the US Navy, will be stationed throughout Israel, also taking part.

      http://www.whiteoutpress.com/articles/q12012/us-troops-going-to-israel483/

      All this after President Obama was humiliated profoundly by the overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech in the US Congress.

      Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth.

      The people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism.

      The whacko belief that God favors and protects Israel as a chosen people is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America and that a Judeo/Christian crusade is divinely ordained.

    • Where do you get all that stuff?
      “Iran seems bent on confirming that it is the world’s chief bully and outlaw and the greatest threat to world peace.”
      The world’s chief bully? Even the US would not agree with you.

      You are just spouting nonsense.

    • Just a bunch of eloquently stated “Bullshit”.
      Cherry picking a few “suspect” intelligent leaks by Neocons and attempt to weave a tangled web to convince, albeit poorly, to justify a military action against Iran.
      The fact is, and will remain to be: “IRAN IS NOT A THREAT TO US IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM; WITH OR WITHOUT NUKES!). PERIODE.

    • WekwaMuswere on said:

      Who is the world bully USA, Isreal, Iran, Cuba? Who ordained USA to be the world’s watchdog? Why does the USA have military bases in other nations yet there are no foreign military bases in USA? How many states are under USA impose embargoes(sanctions) this will only tell us who is the bully not that propaganda against Iran, Cuba, Zimbabwe, N Korea, and many more states that are being bullied by the so called super powers. Isreal is not a peace with its Arab states because it disregards international law same as the USA which support its policies against Arab states. Isreal must stop the constructions of settlements in Palistinian territories. The USA must support the Palistinian UN application to be a independent state without conditions, it must pressure Bibi to halt the Palistinian blockade. The USA and its Allies must remove santions it imposed on other nations then only then the world will know peace

    • Hossein on said:

      Kim J. Pimley
      You are a traitor to your own country with this Bulshit you are pedaling. Did you even read the article above before opening your trap. You are in denial and you are the terrorist by the fear mongering lies you push. But thankfuly the readers here actualy desifer what they read and can smell you from behind the screen.

  2. pessimist on said:

    Kim Pimley’s article could easily have been written by AIPAC, JINSA, or one of Dick Cheney’s many acolytes or neoconservatives still embedded the Administration. Whatever the case, Pimley’s article is no more than another illusionist brief that either intentionally misinterprets, or, at the very least, is inconsistent with the facts on the ground. Regardless of Congress’s psychotic folly in passing the recent Iran sanctions legislation, it is nonsense to distort IAEA reports in order to continue to demonize Iran and pretend that Likud-led Israel is an “existential victim”. Moreover, it should mean something that the most important intelligence and military experts in Israel- clearly, none of whom are doves- are, for purely pragmatic reasons, urging the U.S. and Israel, and doing whatever else they can, to avoid war- and that while our press is silent about it, it has been widely reported in Israel.

    With the exception of only a few legislators, Congress has been shameless in this process. To date, it has let itself be hectored and manipulated by Netanyahu, to become a pawn of his extremist Likud policies, and let itself be bought off and bullied by a highly organized and ubiquitous Likud Lobby. (As Nancy Reagan said about drugs, ‘Just say no’.) And, the mainstream media are also responsible for misinforming the public about it.

    Perhaps one way to begin to change the process, is to do what Consortium news has been doing- namely, get in the trenches and do careful fact-based research and continue to bear witness and hold each of the offending legislators accountable- e.g., with their voting records, public statements, etc., and to become more assertive in challenging their record in all forms of the media and public fora. The same should go for challenging the mainstream media itself, and its owners, when they are distorting or withholding the facts to satisfy their political agenda.

    Furthermore, lobbying organizations that hold the U.S. government hostage to the policies of foreign governments- especially, where those policies are detrimental to U.S. interests- are no longer domestic organizations advocating policy but instead another arm of a foreign government, and, as such, should also be made transparent and held accountable- e.g., by having to register as foreign agents.

  3. pessimist on said:

    Just a followup. I did not mean to suggest that your journal is itself involved in politiking, but rather that I have found it to be carefully researched, honest, and hardhitting in its reporting of the facts, and that it does not hesitate to speak truth to power.

  4. Israel has a complex that the world wants their destruction. Maybe they
    should look at what they are doing to their neighbors and ask why other
    countries, aka Iran may take them seriously with their threats.
    It angers me that we do not respond to Israel’s attacks on the U.S. For
    instance, The U.S.S. Liberty; The peaceful Floatilla in 2011 where an American/Turkisk student was brutally murdered for taking pictures as well as
    many other people aboard taking supplies to Palestinians. The ship was in
    International Waters when an Israeli ship’s military police boarded the Floatilla, which was unarmed in a peaceful mission. Israelis LIED that the
    ship’s people were armed and they had to defend themselves.

    My question is: WHAT DOES ISRAEL HAVE ON THE UNITED STATES THAY WE NEVER
    DEFEND OUR CITIZENS WHEN ATTACKED BY ISRAELIS?

  5. To Cassy’s comment, I would add the Lavon Affair (Operation Susanna—google it) and the Goldstone Report. As for Israel’s leverage in America, she has a great ally in the Christian Zionist camp. They read neither the OT prophecies nor the NT fulfillment of those prophecies correctly. They believe Israel has a divine right to the entire territory under King David’s expansion. Christian Zionists have a varied number of end time scenarios.

    All of that said, during one of his conversations, Bill Clinton had Netanyahu over a barrel on the expansion of settlements. Then one of his aides whispered something in his ear. Clinton turned beat red and ended the discussion leaving Netanyahu wondering what was up. He found out it was about Monica Lewinski’s semen spotted dress. He later quipped to Jerry Falwell that Israel was saved by Monica Lewinski. Falwell responded that he had no worry when it came to Clinton. If push came to shove, Falwell would put the word out to 200.000 evangelical ministers who would galvanize their flocks into flooding the White House with a hands off message. And these Christian Zionists are militant backers of the military also. (See Craig Unger’s, “Fall of the House of Bush.”)

    When Joe Biden was in Israel to dissuade Israel from building settlements, Israel literally thumbed their noses at the US and began constructing new settlements while Biden was there. Any president worth his salt would have recalled Biden immediately with orders to make no comment to any reporter. Then get on the phone to Netanyahu and say that his settlements would cost one a $billion reduction in foreign aid for the year and thereafter until you pull back to the 1967 borders. And don’t take our support in the UN for granted anymore. Obama should announce publicly that Israel will not attack Iran with US blessing, and if she does, she is on her own to face the consequences.

    Netanyahu is polling worse in Israel than Obama here in the States, and more people are leaving Israel than arriving. Israel has a legal right to exist within the 1967 borders. Anything beyond that is excessive.

    • Sorry your pipedream is offbase. The 67 borders assured Israel’s destruction which was thwarted by Israel when attacked by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

  6. Flat, you do understand, do you not, that more Israelis are emigrating than imigrating? Why is that? I’m for Israel, not against them, but their current course is taking them over a cliff (just as our own foreign and domestic policies is taking America over a cliff). Israelis know that, and that is why they are leaving.

  7. Hi
    The world leaders irrespective of cast creed must stop thinking of making one more war in Gulf.All peace minded persons must think what the world gain with Wars with Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan. Millions of human life, Billions worth of properties and a hell of a lot money wasted just for some personnel gain of few individuals. Let not repeat the same mistake again. Keep this world a safe place, the money spend in destruction’s can be use in constructions.Muslim and Gulf countries must rethink before dancing on the tune of west.

  8. The Northern Army And its Allies Will Punish The English Speaking World & Israel
    http://www.peterjamesx.com/Docs%202008/The%20Northern%20Army.htm

  9. “I certainly do not see Iran as a threat.”

    David Harris

    January 8, 2012

    These words are destined for the history books.

    They were uttered by Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, during a recent visit to Tehran.

    Other than such brilliant luminaries as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, and North Korea’s new strongman, Kim Jong Un, few world leaders today would echo Davutoglu’s views.

    But then again, as chief architect of Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” foreign policy, he also got Syria wrong. With his encouragement, and as a 2010 Congressional Research Service report documented, the Turkish government moved closer to Assad, conducting joint military exercises, lifting visa requirements, and creating a bilateral strategic council, led by its prime ministers.

    Only after Assad brutalized protesters, killing, imprisoning, and torturing with abandon, did Turkey reverse course. That the Syrian leader’s true nature should never have been in doubt obviously escaped Davutoglu.

    Pace Davutoglu, Iran is a serious threat – and getting more so.

    It has declared a readiness to close the Strait of Hormuz, which, in 2011, accounted for an estimated 35 percent of oil worldwide transported by tankers, demanding the U.S. naval fleet not reenter the waterway.

    It openly defies the UN Security Council, not to mention the International Atomic Energy Agency, with its nuclear program.

    It menaces neighboring Arab countries, some of which have bluntly called for an iron-fist response to Iran’s belligerence.

    It has been accused by the Obama administration of collaborating with Mexican drug cartels to plan the assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

    It calls for a world without Israel.

    Its defense minister is wanted by Argentine authorities, and the subject of an Interpol “red notice,” for his complicity in terrorist attacks in Buenos Aires that killed 115 people and injured hundreds.

    It supports Assad’s crackdown in Syria that has resulted in well over 5,000 deaths to date, and arms Hezbollah, which undermines Lebanese sovereignty by creating a state within a state.

    And it stomps on the rights of its own people, as evidenced by the massive repression of those challenging the rigged June 2009 elections.

    Now imagine this regime with nuclear-weapons capability. And remember that the power of the bomb comes not just from its use, but also from its mere possession.

    The looming question is what to do about the Iranian threat.

    Well, it would be nice to think that talks could dissuade Tehran from moving ahead, and, yes, the door should always be ajar, but, frankly, a serious deal is hardly in the offing.

    For one thing, negotiations have been tried before by the major countries, to no avail, while Iran has bought precious time for its nuclear program.

    And for another, Iran has doubtless learned something from two countries in particular.

    The first is North Korea.

    Having the bomb and keeping everyone guessing about what it’s capable of doing has gained Pyongyang negotiating room. Despite critical statements from Western capitals, the fact is that everyone is tiptoeing, at times kowtowing, for fear that the North Koreans might actually unleash havoc against Japan, South Korea, or U.S. troops stationed in the area.

    The lesson for Tehran? Having the bomb offers unique leverage and power.

    The second is Libya.

    If Muammar Gaddafi had not yielded to the Bush administration in 2003 and abandoned its nuclear program, he might still be in control today. Would NATO forces have attacked Libya in 2011 were he in possession of a fearsome retaliatory capacity? Doubtful.

    The lesson for Tehran? Give up your nuclear program and you may end up like Gaddafi.

    So what to do?

    First, keep all options on the table – and mean it.

    Iran must be convinced that when the U.S. and others say it, they’re not bluffing. Indeed, it’s the very possibility of conflict that may be the most effective recipe for avoiding it.

    Second, continue to ratchet up the sanctions against Iran, especially where it hurts most – banking and energy. And keep pressing major nations like China, India, and Russia to exercise global responsibility by not undercutting the measures adopted by the U.S., Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, and others.

    Yes, we may feel some economic pinch as sanctions increase and energy prices temporarily rise, but if we’re not prepared to pay any price for stopping the Iranian bomb, how serious are we?

    (Apropos, if the Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz is not a wake-up call to Americans to get really serious – and fast – about our own energy security, what is?)

    Meanwhile, the impact of existing sanctions is already being felt by the Iranian economy, as the precipitous drop in the value of the Iranian rial suggests.

    Third, whoever is engaged in the stealth campaign to slow down the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programs, please don’t stop.

    You have had some spectacular successes, and I’m sure we don’t know the half of it. Iran has had to deal with repeated mysterious industrial accidents, faulty equipment, disappearing scientists, and computer viruses. It has also had to shift more of its finite resources simply to protecting its assets, while some may be wondering if it’s worth the risk to life and limb to continue their nuclear work.

    Fourth, let’s recall that the “Arab Spring” began in a non-Arab country, Iran, in 2009.

    Though the regime may have suppressed popular protests, there remains widespread opposition to a government that has delivered little on the “promise” of the Iranian revolution.

    Tapping into the regime’s lack of legitimacy should be an element in the effort to stop Iran in its tracks.

    And fifth, turn Iran into a political pariah.

    Its leaders shouldn’t have the luxury of traveling abroad so easily. Why aren’t more countries downgrading their diplomatic ties with Iran? Let’s shout from the rooftops those countries and companies continuing to conduct business as usual with Iran, exactly the kind of publicity they don’t want.

    There may be no foolproof way of stopping Iran, but more can be done.

    Surely history has taught us that when repressive regimes believe they have the tide of history, airtight ideology, and higher authority on their side, they shouldn’t be underestimated.

    The Turkish foreign minister might, but the rest of us must not.

    • Whole article is based on shamelessly dishonest opinions and has all the hallmarks of “Made in Israel”. Writer seems to be profoundly jalous about why Iran has acquired some of the qualities uniquely pertinent to Israel and wants to punish Iran for doing so. My advice: Instead of dying everyday with fear of Iran why don’t you commit suicide and relieve yourself from the agony of confronting a powerful Iran???

  10. Why Anti-Semitism Is Moving Toward the Mainstream

    by Alan M. Dershowitz
    January 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    For the first time since the end of World War II, classic anti-Semitic tropes—”the Jews” control the world and are to blame for everything that goes wrong, including the financial crisis; “The Jews killed Christian children in order to use the blood to bake Matzo; the Holocaust never happened—are becoming acceptable and legitimate subjects for academic and political discussion. To understand why these absurd and reprehensible views, once reserved for the racist fringes of academia and politics, are now moving closer to the mainstream, consider the attitudes of two men, one an academic, the other a politician, toward those who express or endorse such bigotry. The academic is Professor Brian Leiter. The politician is Ron Paul.

    You’ve probably never heard of Leiter. He’s a relatively obscure professor of jurisprudence, who is trying to elevate his profile by publishing a gossipy blog about law school professors. He is a colleague of John Mearsheimer, a prominent and world famous professor at the University of Chicago.

    Several months ago Mearsheimer enthusiastically endorsed a book, really a pamphlet, that included all the classic anti-Semitic tropes. It was entitled “The Wandering Who” and written by Gilad Atzmon, a British version of David Duke, who plays the saxophone and has no academic connections. Atzmon writes that we must take “very seriously” the claim that “the Jewish people are trying to control the world.” He calls the recent credit crunch “the Zio punch.” He says “the Holocaust narrative” doesn’t make “historical sense” and expresses doubt that Auschwitz was a death camp. He invites students to accept the “accusations of Jews making Matzo out of young Goyim’s blood.”

    Books and pamphlets of this sort are written every day by obscure anti-Semites and published by disreputable presses that specialize in this kind of garbage. No one ever takes notice, except for neo-Nazis around the world who welcome any additions to the literature of hate.

    What is remarkable about the publication of this hateful piece of anti-Semitic trash, is that it was enthusiastically endorsed by two prominent American professors, John Mearsheimer and Richard Falk, who urged readers, including students, to read, “reflect upon” and “discuss widely” the themes of Atzmon’s book. Never before has any such book received the imprimatur of such established academics.

    I was not shocked by these endorsements, because I knew that both of these academics had previously crossed “red lines,” separating legitimate criticism of Israel from subtle anti-Semitism. Mearsheimer has accused American Jews of dual loyalty, and Falk has repeatedly compared Israel to Nazi Germany. Both were so enthusiastic about Atzmon’s anti-Zionism—he has written that Israel is “worse” than the Nazis—that they were prepared to give him a pass on his classic “blood libel” anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. No great surprise there.

    What was surprising—indeed shocking—was the fact that Mearsheimer’s relatively apolitical colleague, Brian Leiter, rushed to Mearsheimer’s defense. Without bothering even to read Atzmon’s book, Leiter pronounced that Atzmon’s “positions [do not mark him] as an anti-Semite [but rather as] cosmopolitan.” Leiter also certified that Atzmon “does not deny the Holocaust or the gas chambers.” Had Leiter read the book, he could not have made either statement.

    Atzmon himself credits “a man who…was an anti-Semite” for “many of [his] insights” and calls himself a “self-hating Jew” who has contempt for “the Jew in me.” If that’s not an admission of anti-Semitism, rather than “cosmopolitanism,” I don’t know what is. As far as the Holocaust is concerned, Atzmon asserts that it is not “an historical narrative.” And as to the gas chambers, he doubts that the “Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Berkanau.”

    Leiter went so far as to condemn those who dared to criticize Mearsheimer for endorsing Atzmon’s book, calling their criticism “hysterical” and not “advance[ing] honest intellectual discourse.” And he defended Mearsheimer’s endorsement as “straight forward.”

    The Brian Leiters of the world are an important part of the reason why anti-Semitic tropes are creeping back to legitimacy in academia. His knee-jerk defense of an admitted Jew hater—who, according to Leiter is not a despicable anti-Semite but an acceptable “cosmopolitan”—contributes to the legitimization of anti-Semitism.

    The same can be said of Ron Paul, who everyone has heard of. Paul has, according to The New York Times, refused to “disavow” the “support” of “white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy.” (These “anti-Zionists” believe that “Zionists”—Jews—control the world, were responsible for the bombing of the Oklahoma federal building, and caused the economic downturn, because “most of the leaders involved in the federal and international banking system are Jews.”) He allowed his “Ron Paul survival report” to espouse David Duke type racism and anti-Semitism for years during the 1990s, claiming he was unaware that they were being promoted under his name. Edward H. Crane, the founder of the libertarian CATO Institute, has said, “I wish Ron would condemn those fringe things that float around” his campaign, but he refuses to reject the support of these anti-Semites who form a significant part of his base. The New York Times has criticized Paul for his failure to “convincingly repudiate racist remarks that were published under his name for years—or the enthusiastic support he is getting from racist groups,” including those that espouse “anti-Semitism and far right paranoia.”

    Even now, Paul continues to accept contributions from Holocaust deniers, from those who blame the Jews for everything and from other bigots, thus lending some degree of legitimacy to their hateful views.

    When Nazi anti-Semitism began to achieve mainstream legitimacy in Germany and Austria in the 1930′s, it was not because Hitler, Goebbels and Goering were espousing it. Their repulsive views had been known for years. It was because non Nazis—especially prominent academics, politicians and artists—were refusing to condemn anti-Semitism and those who espoused it.

    It has been said that “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Leiter and Paul may or may not be good men, but they are guilty of more than merely doing nothing. They are, by their actions, helping to legitimate the oldest of bigotries. Shame on them!

  11. The Intrigues of Persia

    Humanitarian gestures and covert actions won’t stop Iran’s bomb..

    As a supervisor at the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was engaged in building a nuclear bomb in violation of four binding U.N. Security Council resolutions. On Wednesday he was assassinated after a bomb was attached to his car, making him the fifth senior Iranian nuclear scientist known to have been killed in recent years.

    His death will serve a useful purpose if it convinces a critical mass of his colleagues to cease pursuing an atomic critical mass. That wouldn’t be a bad way to bring the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program to a peaceful conclusion. But don’t count on it.

    Opponents of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions have been attempting for years to use a combination of diplomacy, sanctions and covert action to persuade the mullahs that they have more to lose than gain from building a bomb. So far, none of it has worked: Diplomacy has mostly allowed the Iranians to play for time. Sanctions so far have been too narrowly targeted to have much effect, though that may change now that the U.S. and Europe are finally targeting Iran’s oil trade.

    As for covert activity, we may someday learn the full story of who did what, how they did it, and what effect it all had. But to judge by last November’s report on Iran’s nuclear programs by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran is closer than ever to a bomb. That’s despite the Stuxnet computer worm, the assassinations, and last year’s mysterious explosion at a missile factory.

    What goes in the cloak-and-dagger world also goes for public diplomacy. Americans can take pride in last week’s dramatic rescue by the destroyer USS Kidd of 13 Iranian sailors who had spent 40 days as hostages of Somali pirates. But if the Administration thought that would break the tension following Iran’s threats over the Strait of Hormuz, Tehran had other ideas.

    Days after the Kidd rescue, Iran imposed a death sentence on 28-year-old Amir Hekmati, an Arizona-born Iranian-American and former U.S. Marine. Mr. Hekmati was charged with spying for the CIA and convicted of being moharebe, or an enemy of God, the worst offense in the Iranian penal code. The U.S. government categorically denies that Mr. Hekmati worked as a spy. His family says he was in Iran on his first visit to see his grandmothers when he was arrested last August.

    The Islamic Republic has a long history of detaining foreigners on dubious espionage charges and then trying to use them as diplomatic bargaining chips. But if Mr. Hekmati is simply their latest victim, the death sentence is unprecedented for an American citizen. It is also a reminder of how little U.S. gestures like Thursday’s rescue count in Tehran’s calculus. An evil regime will not be swayed by the conspicuous performance of good deeds.

    Much of the world wants to believe that force won’t be necessary to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the explosions and killings show that a covert war involving deadly force is already underway. The Obama Administration says Iran plotted to kill a Saudi ambassador in a Washington, D.C. restaurant, and Iran is trying to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan as it previously did in Iraq. Many more people will die if the world doesn’t get serious about stopping this rogue regime.
    Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page 16