From the same people who sold you the American calamity in Iraq comes a new offer. At no cost to you, Israel will bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. But the special promotion ends this week, after which a regional war with Tehran and its proxies returns to its suggested retail price of an American military quagmire and devastating foreign policy blowback.
That's the deal former American ambassador to the UN John Bolton was pitching on the Fox Business channel Monday. With Russia set to install nuclear fuel into Iran's Bushehr power plant beginning on August 21, Bolton insisted now is the time for the Israelis to strike:
"Well, unless the Israelis move within the next eight days. Once that uranium, once those fuel rods are very close to the reactor, certainly once they're in the reactor as you say, attacking it means a release of radiation, no question about it. So if Israel's going to do anything against Bushehr it has to move in the next eight days. If they don't, then as I say something Saddam Hussein wanted but couldn't get, a functioning nuclear reactor -- because the Israelis bombed it in 1981 -- something that Bashar al-Assad in Syria wanted, a functioning nuclear reactor -- until the Israelis bombed it -- couldn't get, the Iranians, sworn enemies of Israel, will have."
Forget for the moment that, as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Senior U.S. officials said the White House consented in recent months to Russia pushing forward with Bushehr in order to gain Moscow's support for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran, which passed in June." Forget, too, as State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley did, that Bushehr "does not represent a proliferation risk" and "the fact that Russia is providing fuel is the very model the international community has offered Iran" And put aside growing evidence, as Joe Klein noted in Time on July 30, that the global sanctions regime imposed on Tehran is having a real impact in Iran. ("As a result," Klein wrote, "the Administration has been receiving all sorts of feelers--public and, for the first time, private--from the Iranians about resuming the negotiations on the nuclear program.")
Those details won't get in the way of the sweet deal from the men George W. Bush called "the Bomber Boys." In June, Iraq war cheerleader Bill Kristol argued the blowback from a targeted American strike on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure is "just as likely to be limited," as opposed to the catastrophe envisioned by most analysts. And now, with the Bushehr plant coming online, his Weekly Standard on Saturday suggestively asked, "Bomb Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Reactor?" For his part, Kristol's fellow bombardier Charles Krauthammer delighted that "Iran starts feeling heat" just three weeks after proclaiming "the myth of Iran's isolation."
As it turns out, the pace of the neoconservative drumbeat for war has quickened dramatically over the last few weeks. In his recent cover piece for The Atlantic ("The Point of No Return"), Jeffrey Goldberg wrote:
I have interviewed roughly 40 current and past Israeli decision makers about a military strike, as well as many American and Arab officials. In most of these interviews, I have asked a simple question: what is the percentage chance that Israel will attack the Iranian nuclear program in the near future? Not everyone would answer this question, but a consensus emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by next July.
Ratcheting up the rhetoric, columnist George Will last week favorably compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Winston Churchill and echoed Bibi's warning to American policymakers, "You live in Chevy Chase. Don't play with our future." Then on Sunday, Will parroted Netanyahu's lament that "Israel is not allowed to exercise self-defense" and cautioned:
"If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned."
Of course, the likes of Kristol and Bolton have been warning that Israel and/or the United States should or would strike Iran at any time. In June 2008, Bill Kristol and Daniel Pipes each suggested President Bush might bomb Tehran's nuclear facilities if he thought Barack Obama was going to win the White House. That same month, John Bolton predicted the Israelis would "have to make a judgment whether to go during the remainder of President Bush's term in office or wait for his successor." Then as Israel was bombing Gaza during the fighting in December 2008, Bolton hoped the U.S. would finally hit Tehran, which he said, "I would have done it before this."
In August 2002, President Bush's chief-of-staff Andrew Card explained why the administration was waiting to press its case for war with Iraq. "From a marketing point of view," the former corporate pitchman insisted, "you don't introduce new products in August." But for the likes of John Bolton and Bill Kristol, when it comes to Israel actually starting a war against Iran, August is just fine. What a deal, they argue. And besides, what could possibly go wrong?