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Addicted to War Mongering: Anti-Iran Hawks Maintain PR Offensive Despite Israel Backing Down

Even as the Obama administration and its European allies prepare a new round of sanctions on Iran, the war drums keep beating.

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When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly last month that Iran’s nuclear programme was unlikely to breach his “red line” for presumed military action until next spring or summer, many observers here looked forward to some relief from the nearly incessant drumbeat for war by U.S. neo-conservatives and other hawks.

But even as the Barack Obama administration and its Western European allies prepare a new round of sanctions to add to what already is perhaps the harshest sanctions regime imposed against a U.N. member state, the war drums keep beating.

Earlier this week, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham said he is working on a new Congressional resolution he hopes to pass in any lame-duck session after the Nov. 6 elections that would promise Israel U.S. support, including military assistance, if it attacks Iran.

And after the new Congress convenes in January, he suggested he would push yet another resolution that would give the president – whether the incumbent, Obama, or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney – broad authority to take military action if sanctions don’t curb Iran’s nuclear programme.

“The 30,000-foot view of Iran is very bipartisan,” he told the Capitol Hill newspaper, ‘Roll Call’.

“This regime is crazy, they’re up to no good, they are a cancer spreading in the Mideast. …Almost all of the Democrats and Republicans buy into the idea that we can’t give them a nuclear capability,” he said.

While Graham, who succeeded last month in pushing through the Senate – by a 90-1 margin – a resolution ruling out “containment” as an option for dealing with a nuclear weapons-capable Iran, disclosed his new plans, the CEO of the influential website published an article in which he claimed that the U.S. and Israel were actively considering a joint “surgical strike” against Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities.

Citing an unnamed source “close to the discussions”, David Rothkopf, a well-connected former national security official under President Bill Clinton, claimed that such a strike “might take only ‘a couple of hours’ in the best case and only would involve a ‘day or two’ overall,” using primarily bombers and drones.

Such an attack, according to “advocates for this approach” cited by Rothkopf, could set back Iran’s nuclear programme “many years, and doing so “without civilian casualties”.

In an echo of the extravagant claims by neo-conservatives that preceded the attack on Iraq, one “advocate” told Rothkopf such an attack would have “transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.”

Rothkopf’s article spurred a flurry of speculation about his source – at least one keen observer pointed to Israeli Amb. Michael Oren, a long-time personal friend who has kept up his own drumbeat against Iran on the op-ed pages of U.S. newspapers.

It also caused consternation among most informed analysts, if only because of the Obama administration’s not-so-thinly-veiled opposition to any military strike in the short- to medium term and the Pentagon’s preference, if it were ordered to attack, for a broad offensive likely to stretch over many weeks.

“The idea that the American military would agree to any quick single strike seems fantastical to me,” said Jon Wolfsthal, a non-proliferation expert who served in the Obama White House until earlier this year. “Should we decide to go, I believe U.S. military planners will – rightly – want to go big and start with air defence and communication suppression. This means many hundreds of
strikes and a lot of casualties.”

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