And the Drums Get Louder . . .

I noted a couple of weeks ago the urgency of the condemnations being levelled at Iran (what The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss called the beginning of “the stupid season”).

The hysteria appears to be mounting.

Just a few of the latest incidents:

  • We’ve been leaked the news that Barack Obama is almost powerless to stop Israel from attacking Iran, should it choose to do so;
  • Yet more supposedly secret and hitherto overlooked documents have surfaced, purporting to contain evidence of a weapons programme in Iran;
  • And, most significantly, the US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Iran.  (The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act was co-authored by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a representative with apparently very flexible parameters when it comes to condemning “terrorism”.)

I raise the subject again now because of a nagging suspicion, deep down, that all this is rather more than just a random collection of discrete incidents.  True, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bolton are no longer in a position to act, but it still seems as if this conversation is heading right back to the same conclusions that those gentlemen were advocating back in 2007.

So it was no surprise to open the New York Times this week and find this blunt op-ed by Alan J. Kuperman, director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin, in which he guides us firmly back to the Cheney option:

[H]istory suggests that military strikes could work. . . .  [T]he wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the United States military can oust regimes in weeks if it wants to.

In a long and often contradictory essay (after all, not many historians would conclude that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been rousing successes), Kuperman constructs an elaborate web of arguments and conspiracy theories to support his contention that “there’s only one way to stop Iran.”

Indeed, there’s only one thing that he’s not quite made up his mind about yet:

The final question is, who should launch the air strikes?

Now many will say this direct and unequivocal position is not shared in Washington DC.  Indeed, even some of the more hawkish members of the US commentariat have criticised Kuperman’s logic, and his attitude:

Kuperman is a serious guy, and I’m surprised he would write that something so momentous and consequential as the aerial bombardment of Persia is “worth a try”.

But it’s this very glibness, and the fear that there are many others in Washington DC who view the situation through the same lens as Kuperman, that makes me uneasy.

President Obama’s deadline to Iran is upon us, and history tells us that the New York Times can be relied upon to line up behind the hawks at times like these, so I’ll be looking for more calls to arms in the coming weeks.

Teymoor Nabili is an award-winning presenter and correspondent based in Kuala Lumpur.  This article was first published in The Middle East Blog, a blog sponsored by Al Jazeera, on 25 December 2009 under a Creative Commons license.

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