Skip to main content

07.02.2009 - Elliot Abrams,former deputy national security adviser to president George W. Bush,..currently Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.....Photo:Ariel Jerozolimski....
Ultra-hawk Elliott Abrams wants Congress to give Iran a great big warning.
The odds that Elliott Abrams would get some foreign policy slot in a Romney-Ryan administration are certainly better than 50-50. Since switching from Democratic hawk to Republican ultrahawk, this charter member of the neo-conservative wing of the GOP has served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. His intimate involvement in crafting bloodthirsty policy in Central America in the 1980s and in the Middle East in the 2000s (including criminal behavior in the Iran-Contra affair) ought to be enough to make him as toxic as any emeritus death-squad commander. Instead, he keeps getting a forum for his poisonous views in the media, the lecture circuit and the classroom.

A leading warmonger—for the purpose of spreading democracy and peace, of course—Abrams's latest argument is that tough talk on Iran coming from tough talkers like fellow neo-conservative Dennis Ross and former Israeli military intelligence Gen. Amos Yadlin just isn't tough enough.

Abrams isn't suggesting the United States bomb-bomb-bomb Iran tomorrow. He just wants Congress to pass an authorization to use military force resolution. You may recall two recent AUMFs and what's been done with them. There was (and is) the AUMF passed on Sept. 18, 2001, for the president to use force against the terrorists of Sept. 11 and those who aided or harbor them, and the AUMF passed Oct. 16, 2002, for the president to use force to "defend" the United States from Iraq.

An AUMF laid out against Iran, Abrams says, is the only way, short of an actual attack, to prove to both the Tehran government and the Israeli government that the United States will definitely stop Iran from gaining the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Negotiations and sanctions have not accomplished that, he says. Israeli officials, who have stepped up their talk of striking Iran's nuclear facilities—possibly before the November election, but certainly before mid-2013—will only be persuaded of U.S. seriousness by passage of an AUMF. And Iran, too, will only be persuaded by such a move.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Anything less—such as more statements from President Obama that "I don't bluff" and "all options are on the table" or, as Yadlin has suggested, a visit by Obama to Israel right before the election along with a letter to Congress saying he reserves the right to use force against Iran—won't cut it, Abrams says. What's needed, in his view, is an AUMF along these lines:

“The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” to achieve the goal. In this case, that goal would not be to counter “the continuing threat posed by Iraq” or “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001…in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.” It would be to prevent Iran—the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, in violation of countless U.N. Security Council and IAEA board of governors resolutions, and under international sanctions—from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Abrams concedes that many Democrats would oppose such a resolution. But he says, if it failed, it would prove to everyone, particularly the Israelis, that the United States is not going to act against Iran, so Tel Aviv can stop delaying and take action on its own under what has been predicted to be an "imminent" strike for nearly 10 years. Israel wants the U.S. to take that action because its own attack would put it at the edge of its military capability and to at least soften the blowback to Israel that such an attack would bring diplomatically and militarily.

Abrams, of course, accepts the view that Iran is on a path either to build nuclear weapons or to create the intellectual and physical infrastructure—the capacity—to build such weapons. Whether Iran is actually doing either has been much in dispute for a long time. Iran denies it and often points to the fatwa of Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, which says nuclear weapons are "unIslamic."

The view of intelligence officials who put together the 2007 National Intelligence Estimates on Iran concluded that Tehran was working on nuclear weapons up until 2003, but that it halted such work and has not, based on the evidence obtained, restarted it. A still-classified update of the 2007 NIE in 2011 did not change those conclusions. Israeli intelligence sources have claimed in past three weeks that the Obama administration now has in hand a fresh NIE "which shares Israel's view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability." But U.S. officials disputed this report a week later, with a National Security Council spokesman saying: "We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government. We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon."

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said in numerous reports that it has no evidence pointing at a nuclear weapons program, but its inspectors continue to complain that they have not received full cooperation. The Institute for Science and International Security, which provides detailed and useful reports and analysis on the subject, leans heavily toward the view that Iran is pursuing a dual-purpose nuclear industry that would be at least capable of building a nuclear weapon a few months after a decision was made to do so.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have stood together on one matter: Iran should not be allowed to get the Bomb. And while the Bush administration was, to say the least, reluctant to negotiate with Iran, its leading neo-conservative supporter of bombing Iran's nuclear facilities, Vice President Dick Cheney, could never persuade President Bush to take that step.

President Obama has pushed negotiations and heavier sanctions, getting the Europeans to join in those. And he hasn't rattled any sabers. But he has also said, repeatedly, that all options, including the military ones, are on the table to stop Iran if it's firmly believed that Tehran is on the verge of being able to build a Bomb.

That option continues to be considered even though every analysis since 2004 indicates that taking out the known nuclear facilities in Iran would be no simple matter, generate thousands of Iranian casualties and unite Iranians against the U.S., including the large portion who despise their authoritarian theocracy and want to see it ousted. Most Iranians believe that they have the sovereign right to operate the full nuclear-fuel cycle (including uranium enrichment), which is a key sticking point with the United States and Europe and one of the sources of current sanctions. Many Iranians also believe they have every right to have the Bomb, at least as long as Israel does.

Whether the Obama administration would actually opt for an attack is unclear. It has not been shy about taking military action elsewhere, as proved by its escalation of the armed drone program and two troop surges in Afghanistan. That gives credence to the president's statement that he doesn't bluff. Given the administration's moves so far on Iran, however, it seems apparent that if a military attack were chosen, it would be done reluctantly.

Since the Team Romney campaign's cabal of neoconservative ultra-hawks are already calling the foreign policy shots, what is clear is that a Romney-Ryan administration could be expected to move quickly to "deal with Iran." That would make for another prodigious addition to the pile of skulls credited to the moral ledger over the past three decades of their prominence.    

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 04:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

grytpype, Bob Johnson, Pat K California, GainesT1958, Alumbrados, paradox, Angie in WA State, Garrett, PrahaPartizan, filkertom, teacherken, glitterscale, Detlef, native, mickT, tiggers thotful spot, Gooserock, TrueBlueMajority, mimi, PeterHug, Shockwave, eeff, willyr, RFK Lives, expatjourno, rasbobbo, alain2112, nicki37, concernedamerican, bronte17, Zinman, cskendrick, highacidity, chuckvw, Bensdad, Aquarius40, khloemi, Ignacio Magaloni, Nate Roberts, navajo, dksbook, ksuwildkat, emmasnacker, TexDem, pat bunny, hoolia, cosette, betson08, riverlover, outragedinSF, JayBat, ybruti, Sembtex, KayCeSF, tomjones, Marianne Benz, lyvwyr101, valadon, eztempo, xxdr zombiexx, Longwing, joanneleon, marina, 3goldens, Jeffersonian Democrat, Ckntfld, qofdisks, caul, SherwoodB, offred, truong son traveler, stagemom, Brooke In Seattle, Dobber, Laurence Lewis, reflectionsv37, ratzo, Burned, sofia, lotlizard, Little Lulu, Steve in Urbana, LucyandByron, coolbreeze, Ekaterin, Land of Enchantment, elliott, Sanuk, LeighAnn, tommymet, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, tung sol, dharmafarmer, tonyahky, Gorette, mooshter, koNko, Patriot4peace, KenBee, Son of a Cat, raincrow, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, TalkieToaster, MJ via Chicago, gpoutney, NearlyNormal, boatsie, CA Nana, Persiflage, kurt, Statusquomustgo, ms badger, Little, cpresley, BentLiberal, DBunn, One Pissed Off Liberal, old wobbly, pgm 01, dotdot, out of left field, devis1, terabytes, dclawyer06, certainot, Uncle Moji, newpioneer, bnasley, Aunt Martha, letsgetreal, bobswern, jnhobbs, Rumarhazzit, uciguy30, Assaf, TomP, Empower Ink, jwinIL14, wayoutinthestix, OleHippieChick, bythesea, Sharon Wraight, VL Baker, TomFromNJ, dewley notid, Mike Taylor, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, maggiejean, enemy of the people, Rhysling, dharmasyd, tari, shopkeeper, dRefractor, sanglug, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, sfarkash, Flyswatterbanjo, citisven, collardgreens, Larsstephens, Just Bob, smileycreek, Christy1947, coppercelt, FogCityJohn, flitedocnm, gramofsam1, jethrock, Hoosier Al, FrankCornish, renzo capetti, samanthab, paradise50, Mariken, Johnny Q, elengul, ericlewis0, ZedMont, cany, Actbriniel, no way lack of brain, kerflooey, allenjo, spooks51, slowbutsure, lady blair, sostos, La Gitane, BlueJessamine, Ebby, molunkusmol, Cinnamon Rollover, IllanoyGal, thomask, Claudius Bombarnac, BarackStarObama, createpeace, downsouth, Fire bad tree pretty, peregrine kate, bluedust, MKDAWUSS, Vatexia, ratcityreprobate, DRo, Auriandra, Davui, No one gets out alive, MNGrandma, anodnhajo, angry marmot, Trotskyrepublican, Lorinda Pike, This old man, InAntalya, peachcreek, radical simplicity, pittie70, Buckeye54, arizonablue, Kinak, FrY10cK, Glen The Plumber, Portlaw, Sue B, GoGoGoEverton, Shawn Russell, nomandates, onceasgt, Southcoast Luna, QDMacaw, OjaiValleyCali, blue91, pipercity1

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site