Glenn Greenwald Tears Apart the Propaganda Driving the Insane Push for War With Iran
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So Ahmadinejad, although he tends to be more flamboyant, obnoxious and offensive in his political rhetoric -- it's just the kind of politician that he is -- is basically reciting what is standard political doctrine among many of these extremist Muslim states. Which is that Israel is not a legitimate state and that the policy goal of these Muslim states is to remove it from that map, to eliminate it.
But that is universes away from suggesting that they would militarily attack Israel in order to eradicate it, and it’s even more universes away from the idea that they would be able to do so without destroying themselves. So one of the things that a smart, civilized and strong power does is it looks at the political rhetoric and decides what it needs to take seriously and what it doesn’t. The idea that simply because Iran doesn’t believe in Israel’s right to exist means that they need to attack, or that there’s an existential threat to Israel is absurd, given how common that sentiment is in that part of the world.
JH: I certainly don’t want to defend Ahmadinejad, but Juan Cole, a Middle East scholar, does say that this was a quote from Ayatollah Khomeini. That it was something he said in the '70s and it was taken out of context.
I want to talk a little about the US position. You wrote this week that in his interview with Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Barack Obama, “issued his most absolute and inflexible threat yet to attack Iran — not if Iran attacks or is about to attack another country, but merely if it appears to be developing a nuclear weapon.” I wonder isn’t that quite a bit of difference? A significant difference from the Israeli position, which is that the attempt to reach breakout capacity is itself unacceptable? Here we have Obama saying that only when they attempt to make a weapon will the US find that that’s a red line that’s being crossed.
GG: Well, there have been some mixed signals on this from the Obama administration in terms of what the “red line” is, which means basically the point beyond which Iran cannot go without prompting a US attack. There have been statements from Hillary Clinton and others in the administration that have used the Israeli formulation that it is “unacceptable for Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability,” meaning the ability to develop a nuclear weapon in some short period of time, the breakout capacity that you have talked about.
President Obama, however, has been careful to define the red line as being the pursuit of a nuclear weapon. The decision to build a nuclear weapon, and then the action taken toward its construction. Now that’s the reason that Israel and the United States are currently at loggerheads. It’s because Israel is arguing that if a certain point in time passes it will then become impossible for them to attack Iran themselves any longer, because Iran will have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon and will be sufficiently fortified from Israeli military capabilities to prevent an Israeli attack. They would essentially be dependent on the United States, and Israel is saying we don’t want to be in a position where we’re dependent upon the United States to do this for us. We don’t want to wait.
And Obama is saying you shouldn’t be worried about that because I’m giving you my absolute word, I’m issuing this threat, that if Iran ever starts developing a nuclear weapon we will attack. In that interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, he said, "I think I’ve proven that as president I don’t bluff."