It’s Anti-Semitic To Be Opposed To Bombing Iran

Robert Naiman has a theory about conservative objections to Hagel as Obama’s pick for Defense.

Since the Bush Administration, there’s been a kind of stalemate in Iran policy. Diplomacy advocates have worked to block war to force a turn to serious diplomacy. The necons have worked to block serious diplomacy to force a turn towards war. As a result, so far we have neither war nor serious diplomacy. Instead, we have a “compromise”: escalating sanctions on Iran, which have begun to “succeed” in producing a lot of civilian suffering in Iran, but haven’t succeeded at all, as yet, in producing progress towards a diplomatic agreement.

The problem – as most analysts, including Hagel, acknowledge – is that whatever one thinks about sanctions from a humanitarian point of view, they can’t work to help achieve a diplomatic agreement unless they are accompanied by a serious diplomatic track. And a serious diplomatic track means putting serious offers on the table – offers that the other side could plausibly be expected to give serious consideration to accepting.

So far, the neocon lobby has been largely successful in obstructing the Obama Administration from putting serious offers on the table. Now, with Obama re-elected, with Joe Lieberman leaving the Senate, with the influence of the McCain/Graham faction ebbing, a little bit of optimism was starting to emerge that the Obama Administration could start putting serious offers on the table.

And this is the backstory of the neocon lobby’s pre-emptive strike on Chuck Hagel. Their real target isn’t Hagel. Their real target is Obama. They want to bully Obama into backing off of any plans to engage in serious diplomacy with Iran, and to effect this bullying they want to make an example of Hagel.

And this is why the neocon lobby can’t be allowed to win. We have a window in the next few months to pursue serious diplomacy with Iran before the impending Iranian elections make compromise with the U.S. next to impossible, just as impending U.S. elections made compromise with Iran next to impossible. If the neocon lobby is allowed to blow up the Obama Administration in this window, then the window for serious diplomacy will be gone, and all we’ll be left with is more escalation towards war.

Maybe so.

But I had a cynical laugh at this: “So far, the neocon lobby has been largely successful in obstructing the Obama Administration from putting serious offers on the table.”

I really don’t think the neocons had to try too hard, given the influence of Hillary ‘Madame AIPAC” Clinton and other neolib hawks (including, let’s be honest, Obama) within the administration. In fact, I think that latter faction is the real reason we’ve seen no “serious offers on the table”. They wouldn’t even back Lula’s initiative, which would have solved the enrichment problem definitively and for more nations than just Iran.

The real battle here, if it is more than just the usual political scalphunting, is about whether to try to cripple Iran with sanctions and offer no deals which might give relief from them, or just go straight to Bibi’s plan for bombing the shit out of Tehran.

There were some echoes of the “anti-semitic” argument against anyone offering objections to war from the neocon Israel First lobby back in 2003 too, over Iraq, if I remember correctly. Apparently, nowadays it is anti-semitic to be even mildly opposed to bombing Muslims.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I feel a gush of relief to know that other people like Hynd are on Planet Blog and get it. Sometimes you feel like the guy at the end of the movie “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” running down the road screaming “They’re here!!” and everyone looks at you like you’re mad.

  • Apparently, nowadays it is anti-semitic to be even mildly opposed to bombing Muslims.

    opposed to bombing Muslims = pro-Semitic, I believe. Anti-zionist more accurately perhaps? 🙂

  • Don’t you find it peculiar that in discussion of the primary driver to the piece (policy towards Iran) there’s absolutely no discussion that even attempts to look at the Iranian role in the failure to come to accommodation? I mean, there’s absolutely zip. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Lots of discussion of domestic American politics but absolutely nothing with regards to Iranian. One could slot “Belgium” in instead of “Iran” and it would still make roughly about as much sense. From where I’m sitting, this isn’t even exceptional – it’s the norm for the parties to the public discussions around what the broad outlines of American foreign policy to devote basically zero effort to exploring or elucidating what roles the other couple hundred countries in the world might have in shaping the option set Americans will face. That’s just whack (someone please correct me if I don’t have the vernacular correct).

    If one wants to have any significant understanding of the issue at all one needs to understand that the fact that “serious offers” have not been put on the table is due to more than neocon influence. Yes neocon influence has a role and yes it is a large role – probably the biggest domestic factor – but it is not, as one might presuppose from this article, the only role. What goes unstated is that “serious offers” in great power negotiations frequently tend to happen pretty late in the game. There’s a reason why we repeatedly talk about the importance of Track II diplomacy and like constructs. They really matter and they are part of preparing the ground so that something like an offer can go forward. In the Iranian-American context things simply have failed to develop (that may be a very mild way of putting things) – for a whole range of reasons that both nations are deeply, deeply implicated in – and that goes a very long way to explaining the absence of “serious offers” and a lot further than neocon domestic influence as a unicausal explanation. I would certainly not say ignore it (particularly if things get to the point that offers become more viable – look to them to make a huge press to scuppering), but if one is going to explain foreign policy, it does seem to me that we should give pride of place to causes that have to do with, well, actual foreigners.

    If, in these negotiations, the Americans are playing poker and the Iranians are playing chess, what game are those shaping the debate on American grand strategy playing? From where I’m sitting it looks an awful lot like solitaire.

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