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Posted by on Oct 22, 2012 in Politics | 9 comments

The Republican Push for War with Iran

Yesterday on Fox News, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, once John McCain’s sidekick and still for some reason considered a serious foreign policy mind by the media, said that with respect to talking to Iran about its nuclear program (with Iran now agreeing to talks), “the time for talking is over.”

Okay, but what then? If there shouldn’t be any talking, doesn’t that mean the only way to stop Iran is war? And that can’t just mean a few strategic air strikes. What it must mean is boots on the ground, a long, drawn-out campaign to destroy Iran’s nuclear program (and, needless to say, much of Iran with it).

Oh, Graham is too slippery to say that, of course. He talks instead about “demanding transparency and access to their nuclear program,” and about “talking to the Israelis” (as if that isn’t happening).

But why would Iran just give the U.S. unfettered access? And what exactly should we be discussing with Israel, in Graham’s view, if not military action?

This is the point Vice President Biden kept making in his debate with Ryan: You say you disagree with our policies towards Iran and yet you agree with everything we’ve done. So where’s the disagreement? What should we be doing instead?

The implication is clear: war. What else is there?

All this reckless Republican saber-rattling amounts to warmongering — except Romney and Ryan, like Graham and others, know they can’t come clean because war with Iran, and war in general given the Iraq debacle and the ongoing Afghan mission, wars started and grossly mismanaged by a Republican president with Republicans cheerleading at every step, is hugely unpopular with voters.

So they say, like Romney and Ryan in the debates, that Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon, when that’s a gross oversimplification of Iran’s nuclear program*, and so blame Obama for not doing enough apparently to stop Iran. (What’s more, dispite all the bluster, Iran and its nuclear program do not pose an existential threat to the U.S., nor even to Israel, at this point. Not even close.) And yet because Obama rebuilt America’s alliances he was able to put in place a severe sanctions program that, while not perfect (Iranians suffering when humanitarian aid can’t get through, for example), has essentially forced Tehran into talks with the U.S. without putting boots on the ground in Iran.

In that sense, Iran’s agreement to sitting down with the U.S. is a clear signal that current U.S. policy is working. Yes, of course, there is every reason to doubt the Iranians’ sincerity, but what exactly is the alternative at this point?

Again, Republicans won’t say, but it’s war.

There’s no doubt this will come up in tonight’s debate. The president, like the vice president, must not let Romney get away with spewing the same old rhetoric unchallenged.

In case after case, Obama’s foreign policy is working, with Republicans begrudgingly agreeing with it. Both Romney and Ryan are talking about the unravelling of that policy and yet offer nothing at all in its place, hoping simply that their reckless jingoism will be enough get them throught the election, with the details coming later.

President Obama must show clearly the alternative Romney, along with Republicans generally, offers. In Iran, as elsewhere, that alternative is war, more war, endless war.

* Think Progress: “Graham is right that Iran continues to enrich uranium, which is in violation of United Nations resolutions calling on the Islamic Republic to suspend enrichment. Iran is currently enriching uranium to up to 20 percent purity. But uranium needs to be enriched to 90 percent purity to be used in a nuclear weapon, and according to U.S. and Israeli intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran’s leaders have yet to make the decision to build a nuclear weapon. Moreover, as experts and U.S. officials have said, the international community would know if Iran decides to enrich uranium to bomb-grade purity because its nuclear program is continuously monitored by the IAEA.”

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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  • rudi

    The republican hawks are batshi$ crazy. If there’s a ground war, let Israelis boots help on the ground. Then watch the ME blow up worse than anything the Iranians could do…

  • StockBoyLA

    I always said that Romney would need to start a war if he wants to increase military spending. He also wants to keep troops in Iraq, which came out in the same taped meeting that the 47% comments were made (not on that portion of the tape, but a taped portion released later).

    In 2008 Republicans thought Obama was the false prophet, but if you believe in those things perhaps it’s Romney starting a conflagration in the ME.

  • merkin

    How can anyone vote for these people? It was plain from the beginning that the neocons would use any excuse to invade Iraq when George W. Bush was elected in 2000. It is plain that following the election of W. Mitt Romney the neocons will want to invade Iran to fulfill some fantasy of world hegemony by the US. Trust me, invading Iran will be an order of magnitude more difficult than the invasion of Iraq was that they so thoroughly screwed up in 2003.

  • david_wavey

    Israel creates the Iran crisis because it is compelled to keep creating reasons for the West to care about it. During the Cold War, Israel billed itself as a stopgap to communist expansion in the ME. With the end of the Cold War, Israel had to invent the “War on Terror” and now, the push for war with Iran, the focus on Iran as a nuclear threat, is entirely the doing of Israel. It is not motivated by fear of Iranian nukes, except to the extent that a nuclear Iran would balance off Israeli power in the region, but it is really about being important to the West. The US cooperated with this propaganda primarily to appease the Zionist Fifth Column in the US. Eventually, however, Americans will figure out that Iran is not the issue at all. Israel is the issue. Israel, with a population less than NYC, is the source of these crises.

  • The American Conservative ran an article about this very issue. More and more people need to understand that a Romney presidency will mean war with Iran. They are already setting the stage, and Romney has put G.W. Bush’s advisors who pushed for the Iraq war on his foreign relations team.

    I read an article that older, white men are turning to Obama and people don’t understand why. I think it’s simple. Older white men are usually fathers and grandfathers. They don’t want to see their children and grandchildren bilked out of Social Security and Medicare and shipped off to die in another war in the Middle East.

  • Rcoutme

    Having watched the debate, I was surprised (to say the least) that Romney basically endorsed Obama’s international positions. It makes me wonder if Romney will have alienated his base with all the pandering to the president’s views.

  • If you really want to understand why the sudden push to bully Iran, check out
    If you want to understand why Iran is so anti-American, check out
    This last war against Iran is just one more stage in our attempt to keep oil cheap, in complete contempt of the people there.

  • ShannonLeee

    hi Prof!

  • zephyr

    Yo! It’s the Prof! 🙂

    The republican hawks are batshi$ crazy. – rudi

    Well, yes they are and it’s a condition that doesn’t seem to respond to the lessons of recent history either.

    What merkin said. (I was just wondering where you’ve been lately) So.. how does another war sound? Again on credit and even more costly than the other one.

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