As news about Iran has faded from television and the print media in all the hub-bub about the death of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, as well as the resignation of Sarah Palin, the Washington Post's Op-Ed publication Thursday of yet another neo-conservative's view about Iran has gone pretty much unnoticed. That view is nothing new. It's bomb, bomb, bomb.
Why the Washington Post's editors think this perspective deserves repeating is, of course, not a difficult question to answer given who runs the editorial pages and given the alter-the-debate, pay-for-a-seat salons recently proposed by the newspaper.
This time, the bomb, bomb, bomb barker is John Bolton. One of the founding crew at the Project for a New American Century, he's been at his noxious efforts in various government posts since the Reagan administration. He capped his career as America's public face at the United Nations for five months in 2005 until Congress refused to extend his recess appointment from Mister Bush. One of the few times in eight years that we saw some spine from moderate Democrats in matters of foreign policy.
Give Bolton and the other PNACkers credit. They never shied away from the term "imperialism"; they embraced it as eagerly as a previous generation embraced Manifest Destiny, without shame or irony or the least modicum of restraint. And they have, as we know too well, not been shy about proposing invasions and bombings in support of the empire.
Like many of his kind - from Bill Kristol to Newt Gingrich - Bolton has been pushing to bomb Iran for years. He wanted the U.S. to bomb alleged training camps, to bomb it during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and always, always, always to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. This call for illegal pre-emptive action is made all the more disgusting in light of the neo-conservatives' recent support for the protesters in the streets of Tehran, Isfahan and other Iranian cities. Had they gotten their way during the Cheney-Bush administration, a lot of those protesters would have been blown to bits long before the mullahs' militias clashed with them over rigged elections.
But the prospect of a few thousand dead civilians has never before been a barrier to such proposals.
The nuclear facilities are Bolton's target in his Op-Ed, only this time it is Israel he is urging to take action, rather than having the United States do so. This is not innovative. Others have made the same proposal repeatedly. But now the time is urgent because the Obama administration is going to let Tehran do what it wants, Bolton claims.
Specifically, he wrote:
Accordingly, with no other timely option, the already compelling logic for an Israeli strike is nearly inexorable. Israel is undoubtedly ratcheting forward its decision-making process. President Obama is almost certainly not. ...Where is the talk of cakewalk? Where are the images of strewn flowers? Perhaps the best day for Israel to take this action would be August 19, the 56th anniversary of the CIA coup that installed the playboy shah as Iran's U.S. puppet.
Those who oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons are left in the near term with only the option of targeted military force against its weapons facilities. Significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that such an attack is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people. This was always true, but it has become even more important to make this case emphatically, when the gulf between the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the citizens of Iran has never been clearer or wider. Military action against Iran's nuclear program and the ultimate goal of regime change can be worked together consistently.
Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent, one of the few to take notice of Bolton's chest-thumping, wrote:
Yes, the Israeli bombs will only kill the bad Iranians. When patriotic Iranians of the opposition see Israeli F-16s raining death from above on Iranian targets, Bolton actually expects them to think, “Boom shack-a-lacka! Here come our Israeli liberators! Let them bomb whatever they like, since even though Mir Hussein Moussavi supports a nuclear program as part of a consensus opinion, I believe Israeli propaganda that says it has our best interests at heart! That’ll show Mahmoud Ahmadinejad! Did you hear that, Aunt Marjam? Aunt Marjam...?”There are those in Israel who would certainly like to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, just as Israel struck the French-built Osirak nuke in Iraq in 1981. But Iran's facilities are much more distant, they are scattered, and, at least some of them are hardened against air assaults. Any attack would, at best, merely delay the building of nuclear weapons if that is what Iran has in mind, something for which no evidence has proven. If Iran doesn't have that purpose currently, the choice Bolton is urging would surely push Tehran to move in that direction. Saddam Hussein sped up Iraq's nuclear program after the Osirak attack until it was permanently blasted in several air raids during the first Gulf War.
If there’s one thing that a Bush official should understand, it’s that people under attack from a foreign enemy don’t rush to embrace their more moderate leaders.
What an attack broad enough to strike key Iranian nuclear installations would do is kill large numbers of civilians. Despite justifiably decrying the savagery of terrorists who kill civilians as a primary method of warfare, both the United States and Israel have shown no compunction about killing civilians themselves, finding it better to express sorrow for the dead babies after the fact than choosing not to make them dead in the first place. Is this what Bolton thinks will make Iranians love us and lead to "regime change"?
Again, one need not ask why John Bolton and his pals still get their words into print at the Post. Fred Hiatt made it clear long ago that he is a shameless warmonger, willing to promote bloody lies and bloody policy if that is what it takes to keep the empire intact.