"Cole in Salon: The GOP’s Iran option is off the table

My column in Salon.com, “The GOP’s Iran option is off the table.” The subhead is: “Rudy Giuliani was counting on Iran as a weapon of mass distraction in the ’08 race. But the flailing Republican right has just been disarmed.” Excerpt:

‘ Republicans have used the alleged nuclear threat posed by Iran to scare the American public and to turn attention away from Iraq, economic troubles and Republican scandals. But the NIE findings have pulled the rug out from under the Grand Old Party.

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani initially dismissed the NIE, but on Sunday he backtracked substantially on “Meet the Press.” He said of Iran, “And of course we don’t … want to use the military option. It would be dangerous; it would be risky.” . . .

This is, of course, the same Rudy Giuliani who while campaigning has all but pledged to bomb Iran if elected. It is a “promise” and not a “threat,” he has said, that if Tehran appears close to getting a bomb, he will “set them back eight or 10 years.” While Giuliani hasn’t specified how he would do so, he likely means launching military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities such as the one at Natanz. That message has been accompanied by bluster from Giuliani worthy of a World Wrestling Federation ham in spandex: “We will not beg to negotiate with them. We’re going to make them beg to negotiate with us.” Such Hulk Hogan-style boasts may play to the Republican base, but Giuliani now seems more aware of the possibility that the war-weary public may not embrace his reckless bravado if he wins his party’s nomination for the general election. ‘

Read the whole thing.

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