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Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Real Aim of Israel’s Bomb Iran Campaign: Gareth Porter

(This is a cross post from The Seminal)                                               

Reuel Marc Gerecht’s screed justifying an Israeli bombing attack on Iran coincides with the opening the new Israel lobby campaign marked by the introduction of  House resolution 1553 expressing full support for such an Israeli attack.
What is important to understand about this campaign is that the aim of Gerecht and of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is to support an attack by Israel so that the United States can be drawn into direct, full-scale war with Iran.
That has long been the Israeli strategy for Iran, because Israel cannot fight a war with Iran without full U.S. involvement. Israel needs to know that the United States will finish the war that Israel wants to start.
Gerecht openly expresses the hope that any Iranian response to the Israeli attack would trigger full-scale U.S. war against Iran. “If Khamenei has a death-wish, he’ll let the Revolutionary Guards mine the strait, the entrance to the Persian Gulf,” writes Gerecht. “It might be the only thing that would push President Obama to strike Iran militarily….”
Gerecht suggest that the same logic would apply to any Iranian “terrorism against the United States after an Israeli strike,” by which he really means any attack on a U.S. target in the Middle East.  Gerecht writes that Obama might be “obliged” to threaten major retaliation “immediately after an Israeli surprise attack.”
That’s the key sentence in this very long Gerecht argument. Obama is not going to be “obliged” to joint an Israeli aggression against Iran unless he feels that domestic political pressures to do so are too strong to resist. That’s why the Israelis are determined to line up a strong majority in Congress and public opinion for war to foreclose Obama’s options.
In the absence of confidence that Obama would be ready to come into the war fully behind Israel, there cannot be an Israeli strike.
Gerecht’s argument for war relies on a fanciful nightmare scenario of Iran doling out nuclear weapons to Islamic extremists all over the Middle East. But the real concern of the Israelis and their lobbyists, as Gerecht’s past writing has explicitly stated, is to destroy Iran’s Islamic regime in a paroxysm of U.S. military violence.
Gerecht first revealed this Israeli-neocon fantasy as early as 2000, before the Iranian nuclear program was even taken seriously, in an essay for a book published by the Project for a New American Century.  Gerecht argued that, if Iran could be caught in a “terrorist act,” the U.S. Navy should “retaliate with fury”. The purpose of such a military response, he wrote, should be to “strike with truly devastating effect against the ruling mullahs and the repressive institutions that maintain them.”
And lest anyone fail to understand what he meant by that, Gerecht was more explicit: “That is, no cruise missiles at midnight to minimize the body count. The clerics will almost certainly strike back unless Washington uses overwhelming, paralyzing force."
In 2006-07, the Israeli war party had reason to believed that it could hijack U.S. policy long enough to get the war it wanted, because it had placed one of its most militant agents, David Wurmser, in a strategic position to influence that policy.
We now know that Wurmser, formerly a close adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu and during that period Vice President Dick Cheney’s main adviser on the Middle East, urged a policy of overwhelming U.S. military force against Iran.  After leaving the administration in 2007, Wurmser revealed that he had advocated a U.S. war on Iran, not to set back the nuclear program but to achieve regime change.
"Only if what we do is placed in the framework of a fundamental assault on the survival of the regime will it have a pick-up among ordinary Iranians,” Wurmser told The Telegraph.  The U.S. attack was not to be limited to nuclear targets but was to be quite thorough and massively destructive. “If we start shooting, we must be prepared to fire the last shot. Don’t shoot a bear if you’re not going to kill it."
Of course, that kind of war could not be launched out of the blue.  It would have required a casus belli to justify a limited initial attack that would then allow a rapid escalation of U.S. military force.  In 2007, Cheney acted on Wurmser’s advice and tried to get Bush to provoke a war with Iran over Iraq, but it was foiled by the Pentagon.
As Wurmser was beginning to whisper that advice in Cheney’s ear in 2006, Gerecht was making the same argument in The Weekly Standard:
Bombing the nuclear facilities once would mean we were declaring war on the clerical regime. We shouldn’t have any illusions about that. We could not stand idly by and watch the mullahs build other sites. If the ruling mullahs were to go forward with rebuilding what they’d lost–and it would be surprising to discover the clerical regime knuckling after an initial bombing run–we’d have to strike until they stopped. And if we had any doubt about where their new facilities were (and it’s a good bet the clerical regime would try to bury new sites deep under heavily populated areas), and we were reasonably suspicious they were building again, we’d have to consider, at a minimum, using special-operations forces to penetrate suspected sites.
The idea of waging a U.S. war of destruction against Iran is obvious lunacy, which is why U.S. military leaders have strongly resisted it both during the Bush and Obama administrations.  But  Gerecht makes it clear that Israel believes it can use its control of Congress to pound Obama into submission. Democrats in Congress, he boasts, “are mentally in a different galaxy than they were under President Bush.” Even though Israel has increasingly been regarded around the world as a rogue state after its Gaza atrocities and the commando killings of unarmed civilians on board the Mavi Marmara, its grip on the U.S. Congress appears as strong as ever.
Moreover, polling data for 2010 show that a majority of Americans have already been manipulated into supporting war against Iran – in large part because more than two-thirds of those polled have gotten the impression that Iran already has nuclear weapons.  The Israelis are apparently hoping to exploit that advantage. “If the Israelis bomb now, American public opinion will probably be with them,” writes Gerecht. “Perhaps decisively so.”
Netanyahu must be feeling good about the prospects for pressuring Barack Obama to join an Israeli war of aggression against Iran.  It was Netanyahu, after all, who declared in 2001, “I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in the way.”

(Dr. Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on U.S. national security policy .He has written regularly for Inter Press Service on U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran since 2005).


  1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran "the ultimate terrorist threat."

  2. How can the public be manipulated to support the war on Iran? Have not they had had enough of wars?Have they not learnt a lesson enough in Afghanistan?USA forces need an exit from two countries and the Americans have been convinced to open a 3rd front??????
    This is Greek to me Mr Porter. Or maybe,way past my bedtime!

  3. dr. gareth has been very thorough.

    just confirms our thoughts about the "lunacy" (i believe is the word also used by mr. porter) of the israeli government knows no bounds.

    imagine the present scenario..........
    more harsh sanctions against iran are put forward in the UN.
    the israeli government turns a deaf ear to world's cries as they keep on expanding the settlement plans in jerusalem.
    a rocket from gaza (with no life loss) is responded with an air strike by IOF killing hamas activists as well as innocent civilians. (as of 31st july)
    with pressure from general public on Obama to pull back from afganistan,...............

    all these things make up a very good case of the line dr. porter has suggested. the all out attack on Iran.

    only problem for them is, their plans have always been thwarted, sometimes by Hezb'Allah, or by Pakistan or by Talibans in afganistan.

    unless they are rid of these "thorns" in their side, isreali government should forget about any attack on iran.

  4. A sure recipe for world war III. Can one imagine the annihilation that would come to the state of Israel? Iran can at least destroy Israel in her dying phase, if not contend with US military prowess. However, in the first place why should America jump to such a lunatic adventure: only to oblige Israel which is already at war with the entire Middle East?

  5. There is wide support in Congress for using all means to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
    Iran’s nuclear program was launched in the 1950’s as part of the Atoms for Peace program promoted by the United States. Western governments supported Iran’s nuclear program until the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Shah.
    An Israeli attack—even if operationally successful—would pose immediate risks to U.S. interests:
    First, regardless of perceptions of U.S. complicity in the attack, the United States would probably become embroiled militarily in any Iranian retaliation against Israel or other countries in the region. Given uncertainties about the future of Iraq and a deepening commitment to Afghanistan, hostilities with Iran would stretch U.S. military capabilities at a particularly difficult time while potentially derailing domestic priorities.
    Second, an Israeli strike would cause oil prices to spike and heighten concerns that energy supplies through the Persian Gulf may become disrupted.
    Third, since the United States would be viewed as having assisted Israel, U.S. efforts to foster better relations with the Muslim world would almost certainly suffer.
    Fourth,although progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian final status accord remains elusive, an Israeli strike, especially one that overflew Jordan or Saudi Arabia, would delay fruitful renewed negotiation indefinitely.
    Finally, the United States has an abiding interest in the safety and security of Israel. Depending on the circumstances surrounding an Israeli attack, the political-military relationship between Jerusalem and Washington could fray, which could erode unity among Democrats and embolden Republicans, thereby complicating the administration’s political situation, and weaken Israel’s deterrent. Even if an Israeli move on Iran did not dislocate the bilateral relationship, it could instead produce diplomatic rifts between the United States and its European and regional allies, reminiscent of tensions over the Iraq war.

  6. Attack on Iran is very much on boards of planners in Israel and USA.At the moment Americans have more on their plates than their stomachs can take.It is question of time when attack takes place but it will certainly take place ;no doubt about it.Pakistan shd take a stand against it now,before the wolf comes to its door.

  7. reading the above comments one can safely presume that there is NOT going to be an attack on Iran as devastative as suggested in the article.


    there is no denying the fact that the region full of conflicts, the most immediate threat to both US and Israel, is Iran.

    there has got to be a reason as to y the US is pulling its forces out of Afganistan, and at times seems like they are in WAY TOO MUCH OF A HURRY to do so.

    that is y, all the pressure on both India and Pakistan to build better ties with each other.

    the US cant wait till 2014 or 2015 till the nuclear Pakistan is sidelined with either break up (God forbidden) or something else. as the program of Uranium enrichment in Iran is progressing in leaps and bounds.

    they dont want to have to deal with not one but two islamic countries with nuclear arsenal to level the beams somewhat in the global politics.

  8. in response to inam66..........

    the wolf is already not only AT the door, but INSIDE the door.

    we have no doubts in our minds that it is indeed the militants from either blackwater or their trained OR R.A.W trained that are participating in the large scale disturbances in Pakistan from up north to the very south in Karachi.

  9. The nefarious policy of Americans to dismember Pakistan has been put under wraps as Americans have realised that it is not in their interest to do so and it could destabalise India even.And Americans will be standing face to face with Cina with no buffer state.Imagine what will happen if Russians side with Chinese:end of American hegemony in the world for ever,CHANGE OF CIVILISATION.

  10. oh the tides are turning thats for sure........but the agenda remains the same........

    i wonder how long can the american economy take from these stretched wars......even with the constant jewish funding.

  11. There will never be peace in Afghanistan and in turn in Pakistan,
    Is it true that Peace is not the aim of USA?

  12. Rizwan,extremely well thought out comment there, though I would tend to agree with Mr Porter here. The EFFORT of Israel is to have USA back them all the way on attacking Iran. But will Obama be mature enough to withstand that? If his mishandling of Afghanistan is anything to go by, I would not like to bet my money on an untrained filly.
    The world leaders, believe absolutely" that Israel may decide to take military action against Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring nuclear weapons, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is on record for saying this.The leaders of the G-8, which comprises Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada and the United States, devoted much of their two-day session to discussion of the contentious nuclear programs unfolding in North Korea and Iran.

    The leaders issued a statement calling on Iran to "respect the rule of law" and to "hold a "transparent dialogue" over its nuclear ambitions.
    The international opinion is pretty much being whipped up!

  13. Israel has a special relationship with America. Any statement that is a criticism of Israel is considered Anti Zionist & frowned upon.
    The sense of urgency to read a decision of whether or not to strike Iran, is growing because of increasing levels of uranium enrichment Iran is achieving, bringing the state closer to having a nuclear weapon.So when an argument for more time to resolve the issue is put on the table, comments like Berlusconi’s indicate time is neither a luxury nor a neutral factor at this juncture.
    As for me,I'm frightened enough by having Pakistan as a nuclear state as my neighbor, who wants Iran's Mullahs throwing around nuclear bombs?And if you feel that's an Indian's perception:Every one has a right to gaurd their interests Dr Gareth.

  14. Mr Shehkar
    The shoe is on the other foot. It is India that is creating terrorism. Recall Kashmir. Recall violation of Indus Water Treaty 1960. Recall RAW involvement in FATA. Recall Indian support of Baluch separatist movement here. So let us not talk of YOU being frightened of US.
    Regarding Iran, of course Israel wants to attack for a while now. The question is will Obama bite? Mr Gareth ?

  15. Gareth,
    Your article worries me. You state 2 points here:
    1-Gerecht's grip on the U.S. Congress appears as strong as ever.
    QUESTION: How is this grip defined?
    2-Moreover, polling data for 2010 show that a majority of Americans have already been manipulated into supporting war against Iran .
    QUESTION: Can you state which org. conducted this? Having first hand knowledge of how the researches are done,many a time,figures are fudged to reach at pre conceived conclusions.

  16. I agree with Mark as regards as polls are concerned. If the polls are conducted from people of a particular school of thought only, they wont show the true sentiments of the general public as a whole.

    Another question that comes to mind is, will the people of US, already wary of a war that majority of them think is fruitless and useless, keep mum on a large scale attack on Iran?

    We have to keep in mind the longer a nation stays in another country, however much you try to lead your people to a particular thinking, the frustration kicks in sooner or later.

  17. another question..........the US government knows of growing anti US sentiments in the muslim world today. and ofcourse i am not talking about the rulers in the muslim countries. Will such an attack on Iranian soil not turn the ashes into a full grown volcano???

    imo, the US government CAN NOT take the risk. as the war between US and IRAN will not stay between these two countries for long. they must keep in mind, that Pakistan will not sit quietly just like it did when Iraq was invaded. THEN there was a dictator ruling here, now its a democracy. sham democracy but still a democracy.

    pakistan's involvement will trigger India mobilizing its forces against Pakistan, which in turn will make China jump in the conflict.

    All I am saying, the US government and its people should realize this, that another catastrophe is in the making at their hands just like it did in '45 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. IF they follow through this.

  18. US waited for quite a long time for an invasion on Iraq after the sanctions against it were imposed. they sanctions against Iran are relatively new. similarly the Iranian republican guards are different than their counterparts in Iraq. their weapons pose a more serious threat to the US and ISRAEL.

    Will it be that easy to take a risk, a BIG risk at that, to destroy whatever little "supremacy" they have left after their you-know-what handed to them in Afganistan??

  19. I agree with your statement Faisal. Frusteration will kick in sooner or later. The problem with these polls is not just school of thought,but age,area of living,level of income,education ,POLITICAL AFFINITIES etc.
    The focus is not how much Afghan War has eaten up USA, Faisal, US/Israel are ONE since a long time.There is a clear understanding that anything that is against the Israel interest is against the US interests.Dr Gareth plz correct me if I am wrong in my perception.

  20. as far as i am concerned Ubaid, i agree with both the US and Israel being one.

    but i am strictly talking about the government's relations. which even though deteriorated somewhat after expansion plans in the occupied territory or the attack on freedom flotilla, are still strong enough.

    a question to mr. gareth. how do you think Israe and the US plan to cope with the Hezb'Allah and Hamas IF any such attack occurs???

    What assurances does Israel have that Hezb has not already acquired what they call as the "dity bombs"????

  21. Israeli Meddling shall never Cease,they aspire to become the Policemen of the whole Middle East,While Sitting on the shoulders of the USA.While the Wish of their Buddies on our East is to do same,FOR the whole of South Asia.Irrespective of the Consequences or the Death of Millions,When the drums of war shall Roll,the reprecussions will follow.

  22. The Last Wise man amongst the Jews was King Solomon,on his death wisdom left the Jews.

  23. American defense contractors want to try out the latest gimmicks of war, in these wars,it will not be an easy task to locate the owners of these companies,But some banks run by the Jewish brotherhood would be owning them too.And the Circle will lead to the owners of the Defense Companies,Poor Uncle Sam, pays for the Adventures,who cares how many die.

  24. It really disappoints me how Pakistanis keep wanting to get mixed in Middle Eastern affairs. This Islamic Ummah ideology exists only in the minds of Pakistanis. Most Arabs and Iranians are too proud to associate with us 'Pakis'.

    Pakistanis also refuse to accept how anti-Pakistan this Shia Ayatollah regime is. These crackpot Mullahs with nuclear weapons is unthinkable. Next thing we'll be defending the Saudis and the Taliban gaining nuclear weapons.

    You guys really need to stop defending people who don't give a damn about us. Not only that but they look down upon us. Please stop.

    If it takes Jews and Americans to defeat the Ayatollahs, just stay quiet and let them sort their own problems.

  25. we cant just stop caring for the brotherhood if they dont care about us.

    who cared for muhammad peace be upon him when he was spreading the word of Allah? still he did his job which he was assigned.

    the brotherhood is one of the BASIC PRINCIPLES of islam. if one fails to see even this, then perhaps he/she should revisit the word of Allah as written in the Holy Book.

    good deeds shall NOT stop if we dont get anything in return. the only judge in this regard is the all seeing Allah.

  26. Thanks to call for your comments. The answers to the specific questions raised by Mark are found in the hyperlinks in my blog. There a two different polls, one of which is associated with Fox News but the other with CNN. Both use reputable polling organizations, but of course the responses depend on what question is asked. The two sets of results are consistent, however.

    As for the Israeli control over Congress, my colleague Jim Lobe's story cites the fact that 87 of the 100 U.S. Senators endorsed a letter obviously written by the Israeli government's proxies in the United States on what happened on the Mavi Maramara.

    As to Summaya's question about how the U.S. public could be manipulated on war against Iran, the answer is simple: fear tactics not completely dissimilar to that used by Bush on Iraq in terms of U.S. government rhetoric, plus abysmal ignorance of the actual facts on the part of the vast majority of Americans, plus a climate of opinion created by news coverage that is completely one-sided.

  27. Gareth,thank you for replying.I am so honored.
    You are stating exactly the same point. Once bitten, should not the American public be twice shy? One sided story or not, would not the Afghan war exposure have put them wise to be taken for a ride yet again?

  28. USA is already going down the hill due to their policy of Israel. If they commit the mistake of attacking will be last nail in their coffin.I hope they dare not.