On Monday in the Financial Times of London, Gideon Rachman added to the long list of statements (including UFPPC's own statement) concluding that the idea of bombing Iran on account of its nuclear program is folly.[1]  --  Rachman called attention to the "ravings" of Joshua Muravchik in the November/December 2006 number of Foreign Policy, reproduced below, where a piece billed as "advice for global leaders" contains a section called "Prepare to Bomb Iran."[2]   --  Muravchik, a neoconservative at the American Enterprise Institute, took his ravings into the mainstream press on Sunday, dropping the notion of preparation (after all, the Bush administration has been preparing for years) and publishing an outrageous piece titled "Bomb Iran" in the Los Angeles Times (which should never have printed such a hateful incitement to crime).[3]  --  Anti-Iran hysteria in the columns of a major American newspaper has rarely attained such levels.  --  Muravchik's piece begins:  "We must bomb Iran," and concludes, absurdly:  "Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him."  --  "[T]he completion of Iran's bomb grows nearer every day," Muravchik warns, though there is in fact no concrete evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program and Iran has scrupulously obeyed the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  --  Like many neoconservatives, Muravchik is a migrant from the fringe left, having been national chairman of the Young People's Socialist League from 1968 to 1973.  For the past twenty years he has been cultivating a career in the intellectual stables of the U.S. national security state apparatus....



By Gideon Rachman

Financial Times (UK)
November 20, 2006

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/10403630-78c6-11db-8743-0000779e2340.html (subscribers only)

James Baker will have heard many views as he prepares his much awaited report on Iraq. But he is unlikely to have heard anything as strikingly original as the suggestions offered to him by Ali G. when Mr. Baker gave the comedian an interview a couple of years ago.

The self-styled spokesman for youth suggested to Mr. Baker that it might be problematic that Iran and Iraq had such similar names. Wasn’t there a real danger, he asked, that an order might be issued to an American pilot and “the geezer don’t hear it properly and bomb Iran not Iraq”? “No danger,” replied the former secretary of state evenly.

But now, as he settles down to draft his report, Mr. Baker might reflect that perhaps Mr. G. was on to something. It turns out that there is a country in the Middle East that is bent on developing nuclear weapons, which is funding terrorism, and de-stabilizing the region and which has a dangerously erratic president. But that country’s name is Iran -- not Iraq. Maybe America and its allies invaded the wrong place by mistake?

Some of the neo-conservatives who pressed hardest for the invasion of Iraq seem to have reached this conclusion. In an article for Foreign Policy magazine that is almost as surreal as an Ali G. interview, Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute acknowledges a whole string of errors and misapprehensions that lay behind the decision to invade Iraq. But then -- with scarcely a pause for breath -- he urges President George W. Bush “to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office.”

It would be easy to dismiss these views as ravings from a discredited ideological sect. But that would be a mistake. In recent months, I have heard senior British and French diplomats also discuss the possibility that Iran’s nuclear ambitions might ultimately have to be dealt with by military action. The problem is that most people who follow the issue closely believe that Iran is, indeed, intent on developing nuclear weapons -- and some argue that it is only a year or so away from crossing the threshold at which possession of the bomb becomes inevitable.

America could well make a big new effort to negotiate with Iran in the wake of the Baker report. If that fails, sanctions could be wheeled out. But, realistically, neither course is likely to divert Iran away from its nuclear ambitions.

The rise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also darkened the outlook. Even Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary-general, was unsettled by a meeting with the Iranian president in Tehran last August. According to one person present at the meeting, Mr. Ahmadinejad explained that the U.S. and Britain were still enjoying the benefits of winning the Second World War and then added: “We will cut them down to size.”

By combining Holocaust denial with talk of a world without Israel or the U.S. and a determination to develop nuclear weapons, Iran’s president has put his country into considerable danger. President Bush has said that: “You have got to assume that leader, when he says he would like to destroy Israel, means what he says.” Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has compared Mr Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric to that of Hitler, adding that: “In the early 1930s, many people said that it is only rhetoric.”

But there is a problem with the oft-stated argument that the Iranian president must be taken at his word. For if you were to take Mr. Ahmadinejad literally, you would have to believe that Iran does not have a nuclear-weapons program -- for that is what he says. The Iranian president can hardly be accused of explicitly threatening to nuke Israel, given that Iran denies having a nuclear-weapons program in the first place.

So we are back to the balance of probabilities. The *Atlantic Monthly* recently ran a poll of 38 of America’s leading foreign policy experts, ranging from neo-cons to liberals. One of their questions was whether they “thought it likely that Iran would use its nuclear weapons offensively, either by directly attacking other countries or by passing the weapons to terrorist groups”? The majority -- 86 per cent of the sample -- said they thought this unlikely.

But even if the risk that Iran would actually use a nuclear weapon is very small, some argue that it cannot be lived with. This argument is what Dick Cheney, vice-president, has called “the 1 per cent doctrine.” If there is a 1 per cent chance that America’s enemies might use a nuclear weapon, the U.S. must act as if it was a 100 per cent certainty.

It sounds like a tough-minded way of preventing the very worst from happening. But on many occasions in the past 60 years, the U.S. and its allies have had to live with a more than 1 per cent chance that their adversaries might use nuclear weapons -- the Cuba missile crisis for example. On all these occasions, the Americans wisely steered away from preventive war. Even Winston Churchill, the neo-cons’ hero, spent the 1930s arguing for re-armament -- not for a first strike on Nazi Germany.

One influential advocate of bombing Iran accepts that it is very improbable that the Iranians would actually use nuclear weapons. His concern is that, once Iran had nuclear weapons, it would embark on an uninhibited pursuit of regional hegemony -- supporting terrorism and insurgencies across the Middle East and seeking to control the global oil market.

These are all serious and worrying possibilities. If they could be averted by the fabled “surgical strike” on Iranian nuclear facilities, modelled on the Israeli raid on Iraq’s nuclear program in 1981, such a course would be worth considering. But almost nobody thinks that it would be possible to dispose of Iran’s nuclear facilities so easily. They are thought to be dispersed widely around the country and buried underground. Military experts talk of the need for hundreds or thousands of bombing raids, stretched over many days -- and even that might merely set back Iran’s nuclear program a few years.

Iran would also certainly retaliate. It could unleash Shia militias on allied troops in Iraq, encourage Hezbollah and Hamas to stage new attacks on Israel and block the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world’s oil flows. So military strikes that were launched because of the fear of the destabilising effects of a nuclear Iran would have created the very instability and bloodshed that they were meant to avert. If Iraq has taught America and its allies anything, it is that it is much easier to start a war in the Middle East than to finish one.


The FP Memo

Advice for global leaders

By Joshua Muravchik

** Neoconservatives have the president’s ear, but they also have lots of baggage. To stay relevant, they must admit mistakes, embrace public diplomacy, and start making the case for bombing Iran. **

Foreign Policy
November/December 2006

TO: My Fellow Neoconservatives
FROM: Joshua Muravchik
RE: How to Save the Neocons

We neoconservatives have been through a startling few years. Who could have imagined six years ago that wild stories about our influence over U.S. foreign policy would reach the far corners of the globe? The loose group of us who felt impelled by the antics of the 1960s to migrate from the political left to right must have numbered fewer than 100. And we were proven losers at Washington’s power game: The left had driven us from the Democratic Party, stolen the “liberal” label, and successfully affixed to us the name “neoconservative.” In reality, of course, we don’t wield any of the power that contemporary legend attributes to us. Most of us don’t rise at the crack of dawn to report to powerful jobs in government. But it is true that our ideas have influenced the policies of President George W. Bush, as they did those of President Ronald Reagan. That does feel good. Our intellectual contributions helped to defeat communism in the last century and, God willing, they will help to defeat jihadism in this one. It also feels good to see that a number of young people and older converts are swelling our ranks.

The price of this success is that we are subjected to relentless obloquy. “Neocon” is now widely synonymous with “ultraconservative” or, for some, “dirty Jew.” A young Egyptian once said to me, “‘Neoconservative’ sounds to our ears like ‘terrorist’ sounds to yours.” I am shocked to hear that some among us, wearying of these attacks, are sidling away from the neocon label. Where is the *joie de combat*? The essential tenets of neoconservatism -- belief that world peace is indivisible, that ideas are powerful, that freedom and democracy are universally valid, and that evil exists and must be confronted -- are as valid today as when we first began. That is why we must continue to fight. But we need to sharpen our game. Here are some thoughts on how to do it:

Learn from Our Mistakes. We are guilty of poorly explaining neoconservatism. How, for example, did the canard spread that the roots of neoconservative foreign policy can be traced back to Leo Strauss and Leon Trotsky? The first of these false connections was cooked up by Lyndon LaRouche, the same convicted scam artist who spends his days alerting humanity to the Zionist-Henry Kissinger-Queen Elizabeth conspiracy. The second probably originated with insufficiently reconstructed Stalinists. To say that our core beliefs remain true is not to counsel self-satisfaction. We got lucky with Reagan. He took the path we wanted, and the policies succeeded brilliantly. He left office highly popular. Bush is a different story. He, too, took the path we wanted, but the policies are achieving uncertain success. His popularity has plummeted. It would be pigheaded not to reflect and rethink.

But we ought to do this without backbiting or abandoning Bush. All policies are perfect on paper, none in execution. All politicians are, well, politicians. Bush has embraced so much of what we believe that it would be silly to begrudge his deviations. He has recognized the terrorist campaign against the United States that had mushroomed over 30 years for what it is -- a war that must be fought with the same determination, sacrifice, and perseverance that we demonstrated during the Cold War. And he has perceived that the only way to win this war in the end is to transform the political culture of the Middle East from one of absolutism and violence to one of tolerance and compromise.

The administration made its share of mistakes, and so did we. We were glib about how Iraqis would greet liberation. Did we fail to appreciate sufficiently the depth of Arab bitterness over colonial memories? Did we underestimate the human and societal damage wreaked by decades of totalitarian rule in Iraq? Could things have unfolded differently had our occupation force been large enough to provide security?

One area of neoconservative thought that needs urgent reconsideration is the revolution in military strategy that our neocon hero, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has championed. This love affair with technology has left our armed forces short on troops and resources, just as our execrable intelligence in Iraq seems traceable, at least in part, to the reliance on machines rather than humans. Our forte is political ideas, not physics or mechanics. We may have seized on a technological fix to spare ourselves the hard slog of fighting for higher defense budgets. Let’s now take up the burden of campaigning for a military force that is large enough and sufficiently well provisioned -- however “redundant” -- to assure that we will never again get stretched so thin. Let the wonder weapons be the icing on the cake.

Deploy More Than the Military. Recent elections in the Palestinian territories and Egypt have brought disconcerting results that suggest democratizing the Middle East may be more difficult than we imagined. That parties unappealing to us have done well should not in itself be a surprise. (After all, it happens in France no matter who wins.) But there is plenty of reason to wonder whether Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, once empowered by democracy, will simply turn around and crush it.

We need to give more thought to how we aid Middle Eastern moderates. They are woefully unequipped to compete with Islamists. When the U.S. government tries to help them, they stand accused of being American stooges. We can do more through private-sector groups, such as Freedom House, and partially private ones, like the National Endowment for Democracy and its affiliates. They could use appreciably more resources to train journalists, independent broadcasters, women’s advocates, human rights investigators, watchdog groups, and for civic education for various audiences, including imams. In relatively open countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and many of the Gulf states, funding from the Middle East Partnership Initiative should make it possible for a range of American nongovernmental organizations to maintain a presence on the ground. And we should develop and fund training programs back at home that allow Middle Eastern democrats to come to the United States -- free of charge -- to hone their electoral, organizational, and public relations skills. James Carville and Karl Rove should be the titular heads of this program.

Fix the Public Diplomacy Mess. The Bush administration deserves criticism for its failure to repair America’s public diplomacy apparatus. No group other than neocons is likely to figure out how to do that. We are, after all, a movement whose raison d’être was combating anti-Americanism in the United States. Who better, then, to combat it abroad?

The silver lining in the cloud of anti-Americanism is that every stuffy orthodoxy inspires some bright, independent-minded people to rebel. Like many of you, I receive a steady stream of messages from behind enemy lines, so to speak -- from France, Germany, Arab countries, and even the BBC -- saying, “The people all around me hate America, but I love America.” These people, strengthened and inspired, are our best defense against anti-Americanism. We need representatives on the ground in every country whose mission is to find and develop such friends, to let them know we appreciate them, to put them in contact with others of like mind, and to arm them with information and talking points.

Today, no one in the U.S. Foreign Service is trained for this mission. The best model for such a program are the “Lovestonites” of the 1940s and 1950s, who, often employed as attachés in U.S. embassies, waged ideological warfare against communism in Europe and Russia. They learned their political skills back in the United States fighting commies in the labor unions. There is no way to reproduce the ideological mother’s milk on which Jay Lovestone nourished his acolytes, but we need to invent a synthetic formula. Some Foreign Service officers should be offered specialized training in the war of ideas, and a bunch of us neocons ought to volunteer to help teach it. There should be at least one graduate assigned to every major U.S. overseas post.

Prepare to Bomb Iran. Make no mistake, President Bush will need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office. It is all but inconceivable that Iran will accept any peaceful inducements to abandon its drive for the bomb. Its rulers are religio-ideological fanatics who will not trade what they believe is their birthright to great power status for a mess of pottage. Even if things in Iraq get better, a nuclear-armed Iran will negate any progress there. Nothing will embolden terrorists and jihadists more than a nuclear-armed Iran.

The global thunder against Bush when he pulls the trigger will be deafening, and it will have many echoes at home. It will be an injection of steroids for organizations such as MoveOn.org. We need to pave the way intellectually now and be prepared to defend the action when it comes. In particular, we need to help people envision what the world would look like with a nuclear-armed Iran. Apart from the dangers of a direct attack on Israel or a suitcase bomb in Washington, it would mean the end of the global nonproliferation regime and the beginning of Iranian dominance in the Middle East.

This defense should be global in scope. There is a crying need in today’s ideological wars for something akin to the Congress for Cultural Freedom of the Cold War, a global circle of intellectuals and public figures who share a devotion to democracy. The leaders of this movement might include Tony Blair, Vaclav Havel, and Anwar Ibrahim.

Recruit Joe Lieberman for 2008. Twice in the last quarter-century we had the good fortune to see presidents elected who were sympathetic to our understanding of the world. In 2008, we will have a lot on the line. The policies that we have championed will remain unfinished. The war on terror will still have a long way to go. The Democrats have already shown that they are incurably addicted to appeasement, while the “realists” among the GOP are hoping to undo the legacy of George W. Bush. Sen. John McCain and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani both look like the kind of leaders who could prosecute the war on terror vigorously and with the kind of innovative thought that realists hate and our country needs. As for vice presidential candidates, how about Condoleezza Rice or even Joe Lieberman? Lieberman says he’s still a Democrat. But there is no place for him in that party. Like every one of us, he is a refugee. He’s already endured the rigors of running for the White House. In 2008, he deserves another chance -- this time with a worthier running mate than Al Gore.

--Joshua Muravchik is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.



Confronting Iran

By Joshua Muravchik

** Diplomacy is doing nothing to stop the Iranian nuclear threat; a show of force is the only answer. **

Los Angeles Times
By Joshua Muravchik
November 19, 2006


We must bomb Iran.

It has been four years since that country's secret nuclear program was brought to light, and the path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere.

First, we agreed to our allies' requests that we offer Tehran a string of concessions, which it spurned. Then, Britain, France, and Germany wanted to impose a batch of extremely weak sanctions. For instance, Iranians known to be involved in nuclear activities would have been barred from foreign travel -- except for humanitarian or religious reasons -- and outside countries would have been required to refrain from aiding some, but not all, Iranian nuclear projects.

But even this was too much for the U.N. Security Council. Russia promptly announced that these sanctions were much too strong. "We cannot support measures . . . aimed at isolating Iran," declared Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov.

It is now clear that neither Moscow nor Beijing will ever agree to tough sanctions. What's more, even if they were to do so, it would not stop Iran, which is a country on a mission. As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put it: "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen. . . . The era of oppression, hegemonic regimes, and tyranny and injustice has reached its end. . . . The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world." There is simply no possibility that Iran's clerical rulers will trade this ecstatic vision for a mess of Western pottage in the form of economic bribes or penalties.

So if sanctions won't work, what's left? The overthrow of the current Iranian regime might offer a silver bullet, but with hard-liners firmly in the saddle in Tehran, any such prospect seems even more remote today than it did a decade ago, when students were demonstrating and reformers were ascendant. Meanwhile, the completion of Iran's bomb grows nearer every day.

Our options therefore are narrowed to two: We can prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, or we can use force to prevent it. Former ABC newsman Ted Koppel argues for the former, saying that "if Iran is bound and determined to have nuclear weapons, let it." We should rely, he says, on the threat of retaliation to keep Iran from using its bomb. Similarly, Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria points out that we have succeeded in deterring other hostile nuclear states, such as the Soviet Union and China.

And in these pages, William Langewiesche summed up the what-me-worry attitude when he wrote that "the spread of nuclear weapons is, and always has been, inevitable," and that the important thing is "learning how to live with it after it occurs."

But that's whistling past the graveyard. The reality is that we cannot live safely with a nuclear-armed Iran. One reason is terrorism, of which Iran has long been the world's premier state sponsor, through groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Now, according to a report last week in London's Daily Telegraph, Iran is trying to take over Al Qaeda by positioning its own man, Saif Adel, to become the successor to the ailing Osama bin Laden. How could we possibly trust Iran not to slip nuclear material to terrorists?

Koppel says that we could prevent this by issuing a blanket warning that if a nuclear device is detonated anywhere in the United States, we will assume Iran is responsible. But would any U.S. president really order a retaliatory nuclear strike based on an assumption?

Another reason is that an Iranian bomb would constitute a dire threat to Israel's 6 million-plus citizens. Sure, Israel could strike back, but Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who was Ahmadinejad's "moderate" electoral opponent, once pointed out smugly that "the use of an atomic bomb against Israel would totally destroy Israel, while [the same] against the Islamic world would only cause damage. Such a scenario is not inconceivable." If that is the voice of pragmatism in Iran, would you trust deterrence against the messianic Ahmadinejad?

Even if Iran did not drop a bomb on Israel or hand one to terrorists, its mere possession of such a device would have devastating consequences. Coming on top of North Korea's nuclear test, it would spell finis to the entire nonproliferation system.

And then there is a consequence that seems to have been thought about much less but could be the most harmful of all: Tehran could achieve its goal of regional supremacy. Jordan's King Abdullah II, for instance, has warned of an emerging Shiite "crescent." But Abdullah's comment understates the danger. If Iran's reach were limited to Shiites, it would be constrained by their minority status in the Muslim world as well as by the divisions between Persians and Arabs.

But such ethnic-based analysis fails to take into account Iran's charisma as the archenemy of the United States and Israel and the leverage it achieves as the patron of radicals and rejectionists. Given that, the old assumptions about Shiites and Sunnis may not hold any longer. Iran's closest ally today is Syria, which is mostly Sunni. The link between Tehran and Damascus is ideological, not theological. Similarly, Iran supports the Palestinian groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which are overwhelmingly Sunni (and as a result, Iran has grown popular in the eyes of Palestinians).

During the Lebanon war this summer, we saw how readily Muslims closed ranks across the Sunni-Shiite divide against a common foe (even as the two groups continued killing each other in Iraq). In Sunni Egypt, newborns were named "Hezbollah" after the Lebanese Shiite organization and "Nasrallah" after its leader. As Muslim scholar Vali Nasr put it: "A flurry of anti-Hezbollah [i.e., anti-Shiite] fatwas by radical Sunni clerics have not diverted the admiring gaze of Arabs everywhere toward Hezbollah."

In short, Tehran can build influence on a mix of ethnicity and ideology, underwritten by the region's largest economy. Nuclear weapons would bring regional hegemony within its reach by intimidating neighbors and rivals and stirring the admiration of many other Muslims.

This would thrust us into a new global struggle akin to the one we waged so painfully with the Soviet Union for 40-odd years. It would be the "clash of civilizations" that has been so much talked about but so little defined.

Iran might seem little match for the United States, but that is not how Ahmadinejad sees it. He and his fellow jihadists believe that the Muslim world has already defeated one infidel superpower (the Soviet Union) and will in time defeat the other.

Russia was poor and weak in 1917 when Lenin took power, as was Germany in 1933 when Hitler came in. Neither, in the end, was able to defeat the United States, but each of them unleashed unimaginable suffering before they succumbed. And despite its weakness, Iran commands an asset that neither of them had: a natural advantage in appealing to the world's billion-plus Muslims.

If Tehran establishes dominance in the region, then the battlefield might move to Southeast Asia or Africa or even parts of Europe, as the mullahs would try to extend their sway over other Muslim peoples. In the end, we would no doubt win, but how long this contest might last and what toll it might take are anyone's guess.

The only way to forestall these frightening developments is by the use of force. Not by invading Iran as we did Iraq, but by an air campaign against Tehran's nuclear facilities. We have considerable information about these facilities; by some estimates they comprise about 1,500 targets. If we hit a large fraction of them in a bombing campaign that might last from a few days to a couple of weeks, we would inflict severe damage. This would not end Iran's weapons program, but it would certainly delay it.

What should be the timing of such an attack? If we did it next year, that would give time for U.N. diplomacy to further reveal its bankruptcy yet would come before Iran will have a bomb in hand (and also before our own presidential campaign). In time, if Tehran persisted, we might have to do it again.

Can President Bush take such action after being humiliated in the congressional elections and with the Iraq war having grown so unpopular? Bush has said that history's judgment on his conduct of the war against terror is more important than the polls. If Ahmadinejad gets his finger on a nuclear trigger, everything Bush has done will be rendered hollow. We will be a lot less safe than we were when Bush took office.

Finally, wouldn't such a U.S. air attack on Iran inflame global anti-Americanism? Wouldn't Iran retaliate in Iraq or by terrorism? Yes, probably. That is the price we would pay. But the alternative is worse.

After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, a single member of Britain's Cabinet, Winston Churchill, appealed for robust military intervention to crush the new regime. His colleagues weighed the costs -- the loss of soldiers, international derision, revenge by Lenin -- and rejected the idea.

The costs were avoided, and instead the world was subjected to the greatest man-made calamities ever. Communism itself was to claim perhaps 100 million lives, and it also gave rise to fascism and Nazism, leading to World War II. Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him.

--Joshua Muravchik is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.