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Monday, February 23, 2009

New Envoy to Iran Advocated "Military Strike"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just announced the appointment of Dennis Ross as special envoy to Iran. Ross, who co-founded AIPAC, wrote much of Barack Obama's address to AIPAC last June, in which the candidate said that in its dealings with Iran the U.S. "should take no option, including military action, off the table." Three months after that speech, Ross co-authored a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center, which, according to Jim Lobe, the Washington Bureau Chief of the Inter Press Service, "amounts to a roadmap to war with Iran." Here is Lobe's summary and analysis of the report:

– A strategy of deterrence, if Iran became a “nuclear-capable” state, would not necessarily work because of the “Islamic Republic’s extremist ideology.”

— No agreement can be reached that would permit Iran to enrich uranium on its own territory under any circumstances, including even under the strictest international inspections regime.

— A “grand bargain” with Iran cannot be worked out in the time that remains before Iran builds a stockpile of 20 kgs of highly enriched uranium 6 kgs of plutonium which would make it technically “nuclear weapons-capable” and which thus must be unacceptable to the U.S.

— The U.S. should be willing to suspend all bilateral nuclear co-operation with Russia in order to pressure it to cooperate on Iran; that is, lending Washington full diplomatic support and refusing to provide additional assistance to Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs or to sell it advanced conventional-weapons systems.

— The U.S. should maintain a constant dialogue with Israel because “…(o)nly if Israeli policymakers believe that U.S. and European policymakers will ensure that the Islamic Republic does not gain nuclear weapons will the Israelis be unlikely to strike Iran independently.” In other words, unless the U.S. is prepared to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities, Israel will likely do so without seeking a green light from Washington.

— If the next administration agrees to enter into direct talks with Iran without insisting on its suspension of enrichment, it must set a pre-determined deadline for compliance with its demands, after which it should be prepared to enforce a blockade of Iranian gasoline imports, followed, if Iran still does not agree, by a blockade of its oil exports. If that does not have the desired effect or if Iran retaliated in some way, the U.S. should be prepared to launch a military strike that would “have to target not only Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but also its conventional military infrastructure in order to suppress an Iranian response.” Such an attack would be followed immediately by “providing food and medical assistance within Iran…” [!!!]

— To convey his seriousness both to Iran and to the international community, the new president should begin building up the U.S. military presence in the region “the first day (he) enters office…” Specifically this would involve “pre-positioning additional U.S. and allied forces, deploying additional aircraft carrier battle groups and minesweepers, emplacing other war material in the region, including additional missile defense batteries, upgrading both regional facilities and allied militaries, and expanding strategic partnerships with countries such as Azerbaijan and Georgia [!!!] in order to maintain operational pressure from all directions.” The report goes on to note that “the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan offers distinct advantages in any possible confrontation with Iran. The United States can bring in troops and material to the region under the cover of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, thus maintaining a degree of strategic and tactical surprise.” [Emphasis added in light of recent concerns raised in Iraq about the Status of Forces Agreement.]

In other words, if Tehran is not eventually prepared to permanently abandon its enrichment of uranium on its own soil — a position that is certain to be rejected by Iran ab initio — then war becomes inevitable, and all intermediate steps, even including direct talks if the new president chooses to pursue them, will amount to going through the motions (presumably to gather international support for when push comes to shove). While I would certainly not be surprised if such an approach were adopted by a McCain administration, what is a top Obama adviser doing signing on to it?

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