STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Lieberman: U.S. Must Plan to Attack Iran
By Staff News & Analysis - April 14, 2010

Sen. Joe Lieberman (pictured left with John McCain) says the world is at a "turning point in history," and the United States should begin preparing plans to attack Iran's nuclear program – and use that option if all diplomatic and other means fail. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax … Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler noted that a recent CIA report said Iran is capable of starting the development of nuclear weapons at any moment, and asked if the time has come to use military force to halt that development. "I don't think it's time to use military force against Iran, but I certainly think it's time for the United States to have plans that will enable us to use force to stop the Iranian nuclear program if the president orders such an attack," says Sen. Lieberman, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. – NewsMax

Dominant Social Theme: Perhaps the bombs must fall …

Free-Market Analysis: So it has come to this. The chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, one of the most powerful men in Washington DC – and therefore the world – has declared that the "world is at turning point" and that the US must make plans to attack Iran. Here's some more from this startling interview (also excerpted above):

"I think it's deeply important that the fanatical leadership in Iran understands that we are very serious about their nuclear weapons program, and when we say it's unacceptable for Iran to go nuclear, we mean it – that we can and will do everything to stop Iran from going nuclear.

"The next step is tough sanctions, economic sanctions. Frankly it's a last chance for Iran to avoid giving the rest of the world, including the United States, a hard choice between allowing Iran to go nuclear and using military power to stop them from doing that.

"I cannot stress enough that this is a turning point in history. If we allow Iran to become a nuclear power, the world becomes terribly more unsafe for everybody. It's the end of the global nuclear nonproliferation attempts. All the work that President Obama's doing on the START treaty, trying to keep nukes from terrorists – if Iran goes nuclear, that's over."

Chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians would also be over, Lieberman adds, "because the clients of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, strengthened by an Iranian nuclear umbrella, will turn more ferocious, not just against Israel but first against their enemies among the Palestinians, which is the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

"We're going to be tested here. All the world is going to be tested, and it's a test that will affect the future of our children and grandchildren and everybody all around the world."

This is pretty clear-cut to us. The question then becomes whether Lieberman is speaking for the administration and the Pentagon or is he in some sense setting parameters for a larger debate on the subject. It is possibly a negotiating tactic, with Lieberman enunciating the hardest line, but to state publicly that the US ought to plan for war against Iran moves beyond rhetoric in our opinion.

We recall the rabid, murderous animosity of the Bush administration and how, after two wars, there was toward the end of his term a discussion of a third – Iran. We think two issues delayed an attack, one that conceivably could have been nuclear. First, Bush was blessedly very unpopular personally by the end of his term and had little political capital to expend on yet another war. Second, we believe – and this is admittedly hard to corroborate – that there was significant pushback from the Pentagon itself, or at least certain factions of it.

But now there is a new cool dude in the White House. He has committed tens of thousands of additional troops to the futile war in Afghanistan. He has pressured Pakistan to more actively fight the Taliban. He has consistently ratcheted up the pressure on Iran, to try to ensure its leaders do not attempt to build a nuclear weapon. Who knows what Obama is capable of? Probably more, unfortunately, than most allow.

Leaving aside the legal issues involved, one does wonder at America's insistence that Iran remain nuke-free. Back in the 1950s, America participated in a regime change in Iran and there is considerable evidence that America might have destabilized Iran again in the late 1970s. And despite mistranslations, Iran has never directly threatened Israel with nuclear weapons – even if it had them. Israel on the other hand is said to have up to 400 nuclear missiles or more, though Israel has never confirmed their existence.

States, in fact, usually do not commit suicide. The idea that a nuclear Iran would suddenly start lobbing nukes at Israel strikes us as preposterous. Even if Israel did not strike back, the US has enough firepower to turn all of Iran into molten slag. The regime would not survive the first missile. But none of this seems to matter. The US is the de facto policeman of the new global "Power Elite" order. It is harrying nations around the world into falling in line with the US position that so long as there is any hint of a possibility that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, Iran ought to be severely boycotted, its economy squeezed and its businesses barred.

It is a serious situation. Boycotts are not inevitably a prelude to war, but they are often destabilizing and can well be a cynical prelude to action. In this case, we believe that certain US leaders seem to want to ratchet up the pressure on Iran to a point that is positively dangerous. Why would the US put world peace at risk over an atomic program that has not yet been proven to exist? The Bell recently reported on a prescient article by Patrick Buchanan in Human Events:

"Diplomacy has failed," Sen. Chuck Schumer D-N.Y., told AIPAC, "Iran is on the verge of becoming nuclear and we cannot afford that." … "We have to contemplate the final option," said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., "the use of force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." War is a "terrible thing," said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., but "sometimes it is better to go to war than to allow the Holocaust to develop a second time." Graham then describes the war we Americans should fight: "If military force is ever employed, it should be done in a decisive fashion. The Iran government's ability to wage conventional war against its neighbors and our troops in the region should not exist. They should not have one plane that can fly or one ship that can float." Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, Neocon Central, writes, "The only questions remaining, one Washington politico tells me, are who starts it, and how it ends." As to who starts it, we know the answer. Teheran has not started a war in memory and is not going to launch a suicide attack on a superpower with thousands of nuclear weapons. As with Iraq in 2003, the war will be launched by the United States against a nation that did not attack us – to strip it of weapons it does not have.

Click here for full story: Fear-Rises-as-Iran-War-Looms

Buchanan gets it right. But Lieberman, unfortunately, seems representative of a trend, and not a pleasant one. Can we envision the results of a "first strike" on Iran – especially a nuclear one, as we think Lieberman implies? What was left of Iran would likely attempt to strike American interests around the world. The Muslim community itself would be left polarized and horrified. Gold would probably go through US$3,000-5,000 an ounce or thereabouts (and promptly be confiscated). Oil would go to God-knows-how-much a barrel. Whatever small "recovery" Western governments are now promoting would be shattered for years to come.

From the standpoint of the power elite, there is likely an upside to the chaos and ruination that a strike (especially a nuclear one) on Iran would create. War is always "the health of the state" and an active war waged against Iran would put turn a series of regional conflicts into a kind of mini-world war. Certainly both Europe and America would end up on some kind of war-footing with all the further curtailments of humans rights that such "emergency" measures imply.

US and European economies are a mess. The EU itself is gradually unraveling over the Greek debt crisis. In the US, The Tea Party is agitated over the terrible health care legislation that Obama just rammed through Congress and, generally, a series of increasingly unconstitutional acts taken by the Obama administration. In fact, Obama's agenda however is pretty much stalled at this point because he has made so many missteps. His approval rating has tumbled to 45 percent and his negatives exceed 45 percent. This is a steep, though deserved fall from grace. Does an expanded war loom as a promising distraction from all of this?

After Thoughts

As this article was going to press, Reuters reported that Iran would not be "nuclear weapons capable for at least a year" – as per US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. We're not sure if this is a direct response to Lieberman's statements, but even so it is not exactly a soothing rejoinder. It seems obvious that there is some sort of orchestrated campaign in place to escalate military threats against Iran. One might be pleased to discount the rhetoric but the US has been continually at war in the Middle East (or thereabouts) for a decade now. It's not clear that those with the ability to wage war would pull back from the precipice – were it to be reached. We have a suspicion that some might welcome the view.

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