Netanyahu Imported by GOP to ensure Iran War

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) —

Republican House Majority leader John Boehner secretly invited Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Washington to address Congress and then once it was set up he let Barack Obama know about it.

The reason for bringing Netanyahu is that Boehner wants to craft a super-majority in Congress that can over-ride Obama’s veto of new sanctions on Iran. He doesn’t have enough Republican votes to do so, but if he can get Democrats beholden to the Israel lobbies of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to join the veto over-ride effort, he might succeed.

Obama has spent a great deal of time and effort trying to negotiate with Iran over its civilian nuclear enrichment program, intended to allow Iran to replicate the success of France and South Korea in supplying electicity. (That would allow Iran to save gas and oil exports for earning foreign exchange).

Because nowadays producing enriched uranium for fuel via centrifuges is always potentially double use, this program has alarmed the US, Europe, and Israel. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has given several fatwas (akin to encyclicals) orally in which he forbids making, storing or using nuclear weapons as incompatible with Islamic law (a position also taken by his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini). So maintaining that Iran is committed to making a nuclear bomb is sort of like holding that the Pope has a huge condom factory in the basement of the Vatican.

But, there are no doubt Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders and maybe some engineers and scientists who really wish Khamenei would change his mind (he won’t).

So if you wanted a compromise between Iranian nuclear doves (the hard line leadership) and Iranian nuclear hawks (the subordinates who have to take orders from the doves), what would you do? You’d keep options open. And keeping options open also has a deterrent effect, so it is almost as good as having a nuclear bomb. That is, if Iran has all the infrastructure that would be needed for a nuclear weapons program but didn’t actually initiate such a program, you’d put enemies on notice that if they try to get up a war on you the way Bush-Cheney got one up on Iraq, they could force you into going for broke and abruptly making a bomb for self-defense. This posture is called in the security literature “nuclear latency” or colloquially “the Japan Option” (we all know Tokyo could produce a bomb in short order if they felt sufficiently threatened).

I started arguing that this policy was what Iran was up to some 7 or 8 years ago, and I think it is now widely accepted in policy circles.

So the point of the UNSC plus Germany negotiations with Iran is really about how long Iran would take to break out and produce a bomb. Will it be 3 months or one year? Iran wants a shorter timeline (for maximum deterrence, since they already saw what happened to Baghdad). The P5 + 1 want a much longer timeline. They would also like to spike the centrifuges and make sure there is no heavy water reactor (plutonium builds up on the rods).

If the two sides can reach an acceptable compromise, sanctions would be lifted, Iran would run its Russian-built reactors to produce electricity (though likely within a decade they will be undercut in price by solar panels; still, solar doesn’t have deterrent properties ), and there would be thorough frequent UN inspections of its enrichment facilities (plutonium leaves a signature). It isn’t really possible to have a big nuclear facility hidden from US satellites; the US spotted Fordo immediately. You need a lot of water, truck traffic, etc.

But Iran would have latency and therefore deterrence and I suppose might be emboldened that Israel wouldn’t dare nuke it because it might well be able to nuke back some months later.

US hawks in both parties and the Israeli political right wing want to prevent Iran from having any nuclear enrichment program at all, so as to prevent Iran from having the security that comes from the deterrence Lite produced by latency.

The US Joint Chiefs of Staff looked at this issue and have decided that only an Iraq-style invasion, occupation and regime change could hope to abolish the nuclear enrichment program.

If that is what it takes, the US and Israeli hawks are perfectly all right with it. It would be good times for the military-industrial complex, and Israel’s last major conventional enemy (though a toothless one) would be destroyed. An irritant to US policy and a threat to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, our big volatile Gasoline Station in the Sky, would also be removed.

Iran is three times as populous and three times as large as Iraq. So I figure this enterprise would cost at least 15,000 troops dead, 90,000 seriously wounded, and altogether $15- 24 trillion dollars over time (including health care for the 90,000 wounded vets). Given the size of the country and the nationalism of the population, it could be much more like the US war in Vietnam than Iraq was, i.e. it could end in absolute defeat. Russia and China would almost certainly aid insurgencies to weaken the US.

And that is what the right wing psychopaths in Washington DC and Tel Aviv have planned for us. If they can over-ride Obama’s veto and scuttle the negotiations, they set us up for a war down the line, as Obama warned in the SOTU.

In contrast, professional Israeli intelligence analysts are warning against new sanctions and any torpedoing of the Iran talks. Because they deal in the coin of pragmatism and the real world.

Readers should please let their congressional representatives know they would prefer not to be subjected to this disaster.

That Netanyahu is an unreliable narrator should be obvious by now:

I wrote in 2012 :

Israeli PM Binyamin “Chicken Little” Netanyahu tried to scaremonger about Iraq in 2002, as his contribution to the Anglo-American war of aggression on that country. “there is no question whatsoever,” Netanyahu said, “that Saddam” was seeking nuclear weapons. He said that Israeli intelligence reported to him that Russian scientists and North Korea were on site and actively aiding this phantom nuclear weapons program.

There was no Iraqi nuclear weapons program in 2002; it was dismantled in the early 1990s by United Nations inspectors. There were none of the chemical or biological weapons Netanyahu spoke of. No Russians. No North Koreans. Bupkes.

h/t Washington’s blog

Netanyahu also warned that Iraq would give nuclear warheads (which it did not have) to “terrorist groups.”

He also argued that no inspections could possibly find “mobile weapons sites” (which are impossible), implying that invasion and occupation was the only course open.

Netanyahu proved that neither he nor the Israeli intelligence organization, Mossad, had the slightest actual intelligence on Iraq, and that neither should be trusted to provide such intelligence to the US. Clearly, some right wing Israeli leaders always want the US entangled in regional wars in the Middle East, insofar as they are seeking US support in a hostile region. They therefore habitually exaggerate the dangers, and are little more than bullshit artists.

Netanyahu’s comments on Iraq are almost verbatim what he is now saying about Iran.

The Mainstream Media never calls Netanyahu on his bull crap.


Related video:

AP: “Boehner Invites Netanyahu to Address Congress”

67 Responses

  1. Discussions of a nuclear Iran seem to focus on its potential for creating a bomb, i.e., a blast weapon a la Hiroshima. But from a military standpoint would Iran be able to contaminate significant areas of Israel via weapons that simply distribute radioactive particles, e.g., dust, that would create serious health hazards, disrupt the economy, and provoke mass exodus from the affected areas? Such a capability would not require the complexities of a nuclear explosion. In a more general sense would not an Iran threatened by an Israeli-American attack have a motive to deploy a range of chemical-biological-radioactive agents against aggressors? First use would mean awful retaliation but a lethal counter-strike, possibly including oil installations in the region, might be a deterrent at least to American involvement.

    • Iran already has the capacity to make most of Israel a pile of rubble with just conventional HE (high explosives). Per the IDF, there are over 100,000 reasonably accurate HE missiles pointed at Israel right this minute. That is more than enough to end the Israeli economy. Note that Israeli anti-missile technology can only stop about 5% of that.

      Iran is playing a chess game where they will not be the first to strike, but will make life terrible for those that strike Iran. Not even the US veto in the UN will protect the US and Israel if either or both strike Iran – it will be the US and Israel against the other 7 billion people on earth.

      Any strike on Iran will NOT end well for the US and Israel – Iran is a lot stronger militarily than American and Israelis politicians give it credit for (on the other hand US and Israeli military leadership know just how dangerous Iran is and are working hard to rein in the politicians).

      • Without taking the time to try to explore this myself, do you have a source handy for the assertion of 100,000 medium range missiles in Iran?

        • Sorry, I did not mean to imply the missiles pointed at Israel are all in Iran. Per the IDF as reported in Jpost, Haaretz and Ynet, ther are a total of 100,000 missiles pointed at Israel from the areas surrounding Israel. I generally discount that number by 50% because it was published during budget negotiations.

  2. Well, there’s Obama’s tag-line, right there….

    Obama shouldn’t waste his time getting “unnamed officials” to mutter “chickenshit” to Jeff Goldberg. That would simpy be water off a duck’s back to any Israeli politician.

    Obama has to call a press-conference, stand up in front of the press, and there call it as it really is: Boehner is an idiot for inviting a professional bullshit artist to address the Congress, and if any Congressman listens to a word that bullshit artist says then They Are Boehner-Dumb.

    And if anyone tries to call him on it he should immediately show a montage of that habitual bullshit artist screaming about an Iranian nuke in 1996, 1997, 1998, and every year since then, and then turn to the press and say “that, ladies and gentlemen, is a bullshit artist at work”.

    Honestly, do it, dude. It’s not as if you have any more need for campaign contributions, and if your political career is coming to and end (as, indeed, it does to all two-term Presidents) then you may as well take Bibi down with you.

    • No way he’ll do this; he would destroy Hillary Clinton’s credit with pro-Zionist Jewish donors in the United States.

      • “No way he’ll do this; he would destroy Hillary Clinton’s credit with pro-Zionist Jewish donors in the United States.”

        Well, with pro-Netanyahu Jewish donors, certainly, but those are rusted onto the Republicans anyway.

        That there is a gigantic amount of “Pro-Israel” money sloshing around is not something that I dispute, but I would like to point out that picking a fight with Netanyahu is not the same thing as being anti-Israel, since the last time I looked he wasn’t Leader For Life.

        And, regardless, I have to ask the question: why should Obama care about “Hillary Clinton’s credit” with Israel Lobby money-bags?

  3. It’s hard to grasp that there are world leaders who are actually pushing for war. No thought for the human cost, the financial cost, or the destruction of environment and heritage – just their own narrow interests. I know it’s all true, but I find it impossible to understand this type of person.

  4. When Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican senator, goes to Jerusalem and tells the leader of another country with an illegal nuclear arsenal: “I’m here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead…” [on Iran] , link to then it is no surprise that Republican Majority leader asks Netanyahu to address a join session of Congress to issue his marching orders, with probably another 29 standing ovations as he received the last time he addressed Congress.

    It would be interesting to see how the majority of Americans feel towards such humiliating subservience to the leader of a client state that receives billions of dollars of American taxpayers money every year to engage in illegal expansion in occupied territories and the oppression of the Palestinians, thus making countless enemies for America throughout the world.

    • When Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican senator, goes to Jerusalem and tells the leader of another country with an illegal nuclear arsenal: “I’m here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead…” [on Iran] , link to then it is no surprise that Republican Majority leader asks Netanyahu to address a join session of Congress to issue his marching orders, with probably another 29 standing ovations as he received the last time he addressed Congress.

      There in one short paragraph is unequivocal evidence of severe moral and political decline of Congress and the American people who keep reelecting these wretches.

    • When Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican senator, goes to Jerusalem and tells the leader of another country with an illegal nuclear arsenal: “I’m here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead…”

      And when almost everyone in Congress gives the Israeli Prime Minister 29 standing ovations and endorses the recent mass slaughter on Gaza it looks like we now have a fourth branch of government.

  5. Seriously? That has to be the last straw. And how should the president respond? Since the ICC will most probably investigate some very high ranking Israelis for war crimes committed in Gaza, order the State Department to declare Bibi persona non grata and deny him entry to the US.

  6. John

    I really hope he brings another one of his “red line” drawings by Boris Badenoff. Boehner is fanboy of Boris. #BOGUS


    @cerebell the shortcut to WW3, morons inviting the chief idiot for him to issue their orders in person

  8. Dr. Cole said:
    “So I figure this enterprise would cost at least 15,000 troops dead, 90,000 seriously wounded, and altogether $15- 24 trillion dollars over time (including health care for the 90,000 wounded vets).”
    WOW, these are huge numbers! They would be pooh-poohed by the hawks.
    There is no doubt that war is costly. However, even in the absence of war, health care costs for veterans continue to rise. All veterans are entitled to V.A. health care, and the government continues to build V.A. clinics all across America, in all manner of small towns. Disability payments for veterans, including their dependents may be a bigger whopper liability for the government. And these payments continue until the death of the veteran.
    An Iran war could be a fatal blow to the American economy. Hello tea party?! You listening?

    • @Jay: Nobody that matters is listening. As a disabled vet of an earlier $4 trillion-and-growing war, I’ve watched and experienced the treatment given to veterans by a__w___es in all three branch3es of the “constitutional government” and all the branches of the “service,” who mouth “thank you for your service” while sneak-cutting benefits, discharging damaged soldiers to avoid having to treat them, throwing claim files in the shredder, dumping damaged GIs in hellhole buildings just a couple of miles from the effing Pentagram and Capitol, all part of making us fight another kind of urban and 4th generation war, treated like “insurgents,” to get even the pittance that 100% total and permanent disability entitles you to under the War Corporation’s “workers compensation program.” The VA disability schedules pay out about $30-35,000 a year, for all the people who rail at lazy worthless useless eater damaged vets. And as to a veteran’s “right” to medical care, that’s not universal to vets but based on a tiering structure. Even a lazy person could poke around in their favorite search engine to find tons of facts and episodes of abuse and dishonesty and cheaping out and dishonoring particularly lower-ranking veterans, link to, and here, link to, and link to, and so much more.

      Of course, as with the rest of the Elite, the colonels and generals, like Congress and the Administration, are doing just fine. link to Interesting that the Israelites treat their veterans (and themselves) a whole lot better than around here: link to

      Better hope that the divide-and-conquer politics continues to keep a significant number of war-trained vets from “getting” what is being done to them in a subtle and organized fashion — some of them are a little short-tempered and tired of eating crap and living under cardboard and like others at the bottom end of the upward-sucking wealth-stealing pipeline, likely to eventually engage in the “social unrest” that Forbes has warned the Elite about several times recently. link to

  9. JCG ن

    . Iran could simply write down it’s “non mil – nuclear status” in its constitution. Would that be enough for Israël? I doubt it

  10. Very simple to counter this. Obama can declare AIPAC a foreign agency and all Congresspersons who receive money from it must register as paid foreign agents. 2ndly, the State Department can DENY Netanyahu a VISA for entry, as he is a state terrorist attacking civilian populations in GAZA. Then the real debate can begin about support of State Terrorism.

  11. I really hope that Netanyahu’s dis of the President of the United States means that Obama, now a lame duck, plans to recognise Palestine as a nation state — as so many European countries have done — but I doubt it. That would mean generating the wrath of AIPAC against Hillary or whomever is the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. But the reality is that Bibi, should he win in two weeks and become PM again (G-d help us), is already committed to destroying the chances of ANY Democratic candidate so I say, “Do the right thing and go for it, Mr. President. Don’t veto in the UN efforts to finally recognize the Palestinians’ right to secure a state of their own.” Plus, think how satisfying it would be to finally stick it to the bastard who has actively campaigned against you at every turn as he endorsed Romney and actively interfered in our election system (as Bermer has, in contravention of Israeli Civil Service regs). Bibiton (Bibi and US paymaster Adelson, who made his money praying on the gambling addictions of millions) is committed to a Republican victory in 2016 and is already exploiting Citizens United and McCutcheon (the work of the highly partisan Republican-ruled SCOTUS) to ensure this happens. Hey, Mr. President: the Rs have already taken the gloves off. That strange sensation you’re feeling on your face is their punches! Fight back or this foreign power and their allies in Congress (already largely owned by AIPAC and King Adelson) may steal the US Presidential election in 2016 notwithstanding favorable demographics and the Democratic plurality in this country. For G-d’s sake, man, fight back! It is not just our party that is at stake in 2016. It is the freedom and political integrity of our country.

  12. Dr Cole, the Idea that Iran seeks “nuclear breakout capability” is simply not tenable. First, having the capability to make bombs is an inevitable part of having a civilian nuclear program. That is why it is calculated that up to 40 nations can quickly make a bomb today. Note that only 11 nations enrich uranium. Furthermore, a country that wanted to “keep options open” would not have agreed to suspend enrichment for years, twice now, nor would it have agreed to impose long-term limits on its enrichment facilities. The assumption that the current negotiation are motivated by genuine concern over the proliferation potential of enrichment in Iran, is simply not backed by any evidence. A much more convincing argument can be made that the real motivations are to try to limit enrichment to a “cartel” of a few nations, something that many other developing nations have objected to, and why the Non-Aligned Movement consistently backs Iran on the right to enrich. link to Furthermore, it simply provides a convenient pretext for Israel and the US to continue to pressure Iran, in the hopes of regime change. IAEA Director Elbaradei himself concluded that to be the case.

  13. Good article Professor Cole. I think you understate the catastrophe that invading Iran would entail however. I doubt it could even be done. Iran is just as proud as the Viets are. During the Vietnam War the viet population was around 38 million. Recent research has shown that they lost about 13% of their population fighting the war, which they eventually won. Iran now has over twice the population of Vietnam during that war, and a more advanced military. It would take time to gear up for an invasion of Iran, something that could not be hidden. Russia and China would pour weapons into the country. In my opinion I think Russia would even give Iran some tactical nukes to prevent an invasion. What would stop them? They are so upset with us right now they would love to stick it to us and our puppet state. The US has made a terrible faux pas in its handling of the Ukraine situation. Screwing around with Iran militarily would have even a worse result.

    • Iran has over 25 MILLION military capable men and women who will kill every American that reaches their soil. The country would become one big kill zone for Americans. People that have to defend themselves against American invasions have learned a lot from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and the US military has run out of ways to avoid getting killed.

      It is important to note that Iran has been paranoid about a US invasion for over 35 years and has carefully prepared many deadly traps for the Americans.And since the US supplied Saddam with chemical weapons and no country would help Iran defend themselves against Saddam, Iranians have become super paranoid and redoubled their ability to defeat any invasion. Iran has completely re-thought the whole concept of war and found many ways to defeat the US (for a lot less than the US spends).

      The American public is NOT going to like this war or the results in the US (but it could ensure that no republican ever gets elected again).

      • In ’88, during the Reagan Era, some 20,000 Iranian soldiers were killed by Saddam Hussein’s mustard and nerve gases provided with the help of the CIA… So the Iranians’ high human cost must have told them to prepare for different eventualities by now… Besides, they could sink ships and block the Straight of Hormuz, besides destroying the Saudis oil facilities, thus creating havoc throughout the world with dramatic oil shortages.

    • Trying repetitiously to corner Putin with sanctions and various accusations had Putin remind the US that Russia has nuclear weapons… Besides, lately, the bombing of Syrian regions by the US and friends is another point that Putin dislikes, considering Russia has its only Mediterranean naval base in Syria, in Tartus…

  14. The argument put forth is sound,except that the US or even Israel could put back The Iranians nuke program for years without an invasion using air power or failing that ,small tactical invasion should not be needed…if Iran thought this was a true option they would make a deal that can be lived with

    • Israel has no way to affect the Iranian civilian nuclear program (the CIA and Mossad have said there is no military program). Israel aircraft and missiles could do nothing more than make the Iranians angry.

      Even US B-52s dropping so-called “bunker busters” would do little damage to the Iranian civilian nuclear program. Note that only HEAVY bombers can lift the bunker busters – fighter bombers wouldn’t even make it off the ground.


      All nuclear bombs function in the same manner. they produce a thermonuclear explosion in the air above a target causing massive death and destruction from the blast, heat and radiation as well as sweeping tens of thousands of tons of radioactive dust particle into the upper atmosphere which will eventually rain down over the entire earth (INCLUDING the USA food production areas), contaminating every human on earth as well as all food production. There is a very good reason why ALL nations on earth stopped above ground nuclear blast testing – the global food contamination levels were increasing rapidly.

      Note also that current atmospheric modeling shows that nuking as few as FIVE medium to large cities could trigger nuclear winter where you will have the choice of whether to die of radiation poisoning, freezing to death or starvation because there would be no food production.

      Any person that advocates for any nuclear weapons is basically advocating for suicide.

  15. Attacking Iran at the behest of a tiny little country with a population of less the 8 million people (pop. Los Angeles County 10 million+) will be the most incredible blunder since the psychotic over-reaction to 9/11 and the subsequent Invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Efforts to incite such a conflict is tantamount to treason.

    Which is why the extreme right will go for it.

  16. The reason for bringing Netanyahu is that Boehner wants to craft a super-majority in Congress that can over-ride Obama’s veto of new sanctions on Iran. He doesn’t have enough Republican votes to do so, but if he can get Democrats beholden to the Israel lobbies of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to join the veto over-ride effort, he might succeed.

    Getting those Democratic (not democratic) votes shouldn’t be a problem for Boehner when we consider how every senator and all but very few representatives endorsed Israel’s latest slaughter on Gaza.

  17. Great article as usual, Professor! I just hope eventually that the MSM and the American people realize the price we’re paying for our blind support for Israel. Our interests don’t always coincide. Fairness in support of the peoples of the ME is a much better goal than support for this bellicose, land-grabbing ‘ally’.

  18. Americans need to turn on their over-the-air TV and stomach a sampling of the Fundamentalist Christian channels. Many are all out pushing for the “end-times” — their self fulfilling prophecy(sic) (and of course cash cow). How frightening to think of the number in the present Congress who agree. I’m sorry to harp on this so often, but it seems no one pays attention. This cognitive filter is a psychosis, a distortion of reality, not religion.

  19. Obama has less than a year before the 2016 presidential campaign really heats up and he fades away. So, Netanyahu and the war hawks in Congress can wait and slowly ratchet up the propaganda campaign aimed at war with Iran. All Netanyahu has to do is win reelection. But even if Bibi loses, plenty of powerful people here and in Israel will still have their sights set on war with Iran.

  20. Several disparate points:
    1. Like father, like son.
    In a speech at the Wyman Institute awhile back, Rafael Medoff recounted how Bibi’s father Benzion Netanyahu, then-assistant to Vladimir Jabotinsky, conceived the idea of pitting Republicans against Democrats in a US presidential election in order to gain immigration benefits for Jews. link to
    FDR caved.

    2. Further along in the video, Bibi tells the House subcommittee that after Iraq is invaded and democracy established, “Iran can be dealt with” by beaming into Iran via that nation’s thousands of satellite dishes “TV programming like Beverly Hills 90210 … Show Iranian young people the big houses and swimming pools and clothes and make them want those things. ‘That’s subversive,’ ” Bibi chortled.
    The subcommittee and the audience laughed too — including Ron Dermer, right behind BN’s left ear.

    Did it register with the representatives on the committee that American children are being “subverted” by those very tv productions, or were they just as dense then as Boehner is now in inviting a serial liar to once again subvert the American people and their children in order to wage a war to benefit Israeli interests.

  21. I think there are conservatives just as bothered by endless war (and other stuff) as liberals who didn’t vote for Dems the last time. I’m thinking voter disaffection isn’t a left or right thing or soon won’t be. I hope so anyway.
    Let Bibi speak so it’s all in the open that Republicans want war. Maybe it’ll get the price of oil up. If oil spikes, someone takes him seriously.
    You know how it works though sometimes: When they do it it’s bad. When your team does it it’s good. That being said, I don’t think the spectre of war with Iran will help Republicans much. Voters have bills to pay and kids to feed. They hear “War with Iran” and drop their lunch.
    Bibi made such a great impression last time. Wonderful entertainment with that bomb picture and all. Bring in the clowns. We could use a laugh.

    • Let Bibi speak so it’s all in the open that Republicans want war.

      And they will be aided and abetted by enough Democrats subservient to Israel’s Mephistopheles.

    • The problem is that the modern “conservative” movement is really a cult worshiping inequality via a fantasy about how things were better in the past, when conveniently inequality meant white Christian property owning men on top. People who want to believe they’re the Master Race at home are easy suckers for the idea that they should rule the world too. So no matter how sick of the wars conservatives might be, they have been trained to accept that Losing Wars Abroad = giving our minorities at home dangerous ideas. That’s the sort of stupid lesson they drew from the events of the 1960s, the foundation for their vengeance cult.

      Besides, they probably are pretty conscious by now that wars are an unbeatable excuse to cut government spending on the citizens that they hate. Billions for bombing ni**er babies, not one cent for feeding ni**er babies.

  22. SO the House Majority Leader insults the President of the United States and serves a foreign power? There’s a word for that – TRAITOR!

    • Now, just imagine what the Israeli media and their US counterparts would publish if Obama went to Israel to sink the nutàyahoo’s last chances for re-election…

  23. As we saw in the war in Iraq, putting right wingers in charge of starting a war is a brain-dead proposition. In Iraq, they began with fraudulent reasons for the war, based largely on capacities and connections Saddam Hussein did not have. Their Plan A effectively brought about the collapse of the Iraqi army but was useless for years in the chaotic aftermath (Rumsfeld saw to that, while ignoring the advice of the military). The belief of Bush administration officials that the war would somehow provide benefits to the Iraqis as well as ourselves was largely unfounded. Worse of all, terrorists multiplied under Bush’s policies, and the enormous money spent — often recklessly — was surely a factor in the 2008 economic meltdown.

    At least we have an answer to a question I have had for several years: have right wing Republicans learned anything from the fiasco in Iraq?

    Apparently not.

    But there is another problem and somehow it needs to be addressed. Despite their many blunders, today’s right wing Republican politicians have an exaggerated level of confidence in themselves that has little to do with reality, and that is often based on knowledge years out of date.

    Iraq was a large blunder. The current crowd is capable of even bigger blunders.

    • “[H]ave right wing Republicans learned anything from the fiasco in Iraq?”
      Yes! They have learned that there were no personal or individual consequences for support of the hostilities in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. So far as I know, no officeholder has lost her or his seat as a result of military, Iraq and GWOT. This is America. Support the American war force.

  24. The neocons learned one lesson from Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld’s Shock and Awe didn’t put near enough boots on the ground. They think that was the ONLY blunder and they blame Rumsfeld for not heeding the warning of”several hundred thousand” troops being needed for long term occupation. Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz immediately attacked Gen. Shinseki’s comments. They believe with a few HUNDRED THOUSAND MORE BOOTS we can do Iran and Syria too.

    Their dream will never die.

    • Per the US military own planning manual, for “hostile” areas they need to have one US soldier for every ten people they want to oppress over an extended period of time. For Iran that would men the US would need to have 7 MILLION US soldiers on the ground. There is the possibility that Iranians may be more subservient and the US could get by with ONLY 3.5 MILLION, but I suspect that Iranians don’t do subservient very well. Note that all of the US military is less than 0.5 million, so there would need to be some sort of conscription.

      • Bibi Netanyahu would be more than happy if we just started dropping bombs. Boots later, Bombs NOW.

        The war will take off from there.

        • Bombing only works when your aircraft and cruise missiles can stay in the air and your carriers are still floating. Iran is currently making Chinese/Iranian engineered anti-aircraft systems (Bavar 373) that are equivalent to the newer Russian S-400/500 systems. These systems even find “stealth” aircraft. Not only that, but it is very probable that Iran has Chinese DF21D “carrier killers” that force US carriers to stay at least 800 miles from Iran forcing the aircraft to be refueled before they can even reach Iran, but well within the range of the Bavar 373/S-400. In addition to the Bavar 373, Iran has a second layer of medium range Raad anti-aircraft systems based on the Russian Buk (the system that shot down multiple aircraft over Ukraine). All in all, any pilots flying toward Iran have a very high probability of not making it home. BTW – Iran can build one heck of a lot of anti-aircraft missiles for the cost of ONE US Navy fighter, so they can easily afford to target two or three on each incoming aircraft, making it highly probable that none make it top their bomb run. BTW – all of the antiaircraft systems are portable and quickly set-up so the satellite photos will not be accurate. The bottom line is Iranian technology is just as good as US technology, but costs a whole lot less.

        • Spyguy, are you claiming Netanyahu doesn’t want war with Iran? If that is true, why is he coming and what do you think he will tell Congress?

          Are you claiming the neocons do not blame Donald Rumsfeld for failing to send enough troops to Iraq? If so, then who do you think the neocons blame for the disaster and why was it a failure?

          Today, wars don’t have to be won like in WWII. Perpetual war makes a lot of money for people connected to Washington and the military-industrial complex. Starting a war that creates new enemies is the real goal. That’s how they win.

        • @Jack

          – Bibi definitely wants the US to go to war with Iran because his military has already told him it would be an unmitigated disaster for Israel to go to war with Iran. Any Israeli war on Iran would just get lots of Israeli killed and destroy the Israeli economy. Since Bibi wants to be “king” forever, he has to get someone else to pick a fight with Iran, so he can cheer-lead but not damage the Israeli economy too much.

          – Neocons do indeed fault Rummy for not having enough boots on the ground, but Rummy was constrained by the fact that he did not have any more boots to send. To get more boots on the ground, Rummy would have had to have congress restart conscription which would have stopped the war dead in its tracks.

          – Actually “modern” wars have the same constraints all wars have. (1) There is a limited amount of cannon fodder and when one side runs out, they lose. This is a big problem for the USA especially as the economy improves. Without conscription, the amount of cannon fodder is very low. (2) the amount of “stuff” that can be destroyed in the process is limited. Sure the US war production machine can produce a lot, but because of the way the US makes war toys (complex and expensive) the production is slow and costly. Note that Iran is different in that they have gone for “good enough” low cost technology and can make lots of “good enough” stuff for what it costs for one US aircraft. (3) wars cost money and all waring states eventually run out of money, even the USA. Whether the congress critters put the war “on the books” or hide the cost in fake bookkeeping, the actual cost of wars eventually sinks the state. Over the last last 10000 years more states have lost war because of lack of resources than for any other reason. Wars ALWAYS drain resources from a state causing the eventual collapse of the state.

          There can NOT be a perpetual war because the USA simply does not have the resources, especially with global political power and economic power shifting away form the USA. There is NOTHING the USA can do about the shift, but it can minimize the costs of the shift by spending its resources wisely (that is, internally rather than on war).

        • spyguy, everything you said about the state exhausting their resources in continuing wars was true and has been repeated throughout history. However, the neoconservatives follow the philosophy of Leo Strauss and don’t think history applies to them. The neoconservatives believe they are superior beings.

  25. Excellent article as usual professor. A question: Why are you so sure that Khamenei won’t change his mind regarding nuclear weapons.

    • Iran will not change their mind about their legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. There is no hard proof they have a nuclear weapons program…although one could not blame them with a fully nuclear weapons armed Israel after them. You know Israel the very nation that refuses to sign the IAEA’s Non Proliferation Treaty as well as the Chemical Weapons convention agreement. Israel the very nation pushing for a U.s. military confrontation with Iran. Enough!

    • This counterpunch article really is superb, mainly in how quickly Fantina takes apart the thoroughly predictable Israeli lines.

      Far too often commentators go overlong, out of outraged exasperation and inadvertently hurt their cause. The truth here is far simpler, and more effectively addressed by brevity. In addition to their use of an increasingly transparent bundle of “Big Lies,” Netanyahu etal have two other major tactics, emotional ad homimen smears and dust-kicking. Both tactics are designed to obfuscate what they are up to, and to allow their “substantive” arguments to work.

      The lesson for those commentators with the better soap boxes is to keep very calm and patiently, and focus on the real issues and their underlying simplicity. The answers to this conflict may not be easy or apparent, but at least it should be possible to get past the lies and draw attention to the truths involved

  26. Lest anyone forget that our “staunch ally Israel” includes a whole lot of hypocrites and ‘gonifs’, a couple of reminders:

    From the current account, from people who get angry about “Muslim bombers,” there’s other stuff going on — “Ben Hartman @Benhartman Man killed in Hod Hasharon car bomb was a state witness against Avi Ruhan’s crime family, one of the main targets of the #Israel Police”

    More broadly, “Thou shalt not be a ‘freier,'” link to, and “Israel among most corrupt of OECD countries,” link to

    From that “liberal” Newsweek, “Israel Flagged as Top Spy Threat to U.S. in New Snowden/NSA Document,” link to

    We all talk about Israel as an “it,” but it’s not a monolith or a hypostatization (or a democracy, for that matter): ” 47 years a slave: A new perspective on the occupation
    Very few struggles in history have centered on how a nation should treat a third group of people, but there are strong parallels between black slavery and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.” link to

    And let’s remember another episode of “ally” behavior: The Israeli attack and attempted sinking of the USS Liberty in 1967: two brief selections with “color” — link to, and link to

    Yah, it’s all complicated all right…. Unless one just follows the money… Which is of course completely detached from moral and ethical or even (from the ordinary person’s standpoint), common sense…

  27. Folks should be contacting their Reps and repeating no new sanctions against Iran. Document what they say. Make it public. This has gotten very ugly and so dangerous.

  28. Is it just me, or is Congress acting more and more like a crazy Cult, with Netanyahu as the object of their Cult of Personality?

    The next time the American leadership start slagging off about how loony-tunes-crazy North Korea’s government is it might be a salutary lesson to replay the Congress giving standing ovation after standing ovation to The Great And Powerful Netanyahu and then ask “What do you mean? Kinda’ like that, perhaps?”

  29. Mr. Cole as a fellow Michigander & a Spartan fan all I can say is you ignore history & events yet speak in terms of matter of fact. In brief history does repeat itself. Just like UN inspectors couldn’t get into Iraq when Clinton was President now in Iran the same thing is happening. Obama has drawn the redline timeline twice and balked. Meanwhile Iran is in the drivers seat. Now with the fall of Yemen Iran controls that country. As far as Bush Iraq war your comment is typical of someone in Ann Arbor. History has proven he was right had we stayed and kept Iraq secure no different then South Korea the mid East would not be in the shape it is now. But the Democrats & Obama believe in negotiations of no substance & retreat. Alexander the Great once said ” you don’t negotiate from a position of weakness. I guess Obama never read history.

    • Although Mr. Cole can speak for himself, I thought you might like some help on correcting your basic (but huge) misunderstanding of history.

      – UN inspectors have total, complete and unrestrained access to EVERY nuclear facility in Iran. And just like the USA, Russia and China, Iran does restrict access to their NON-nuclear sites. There is NOTHING in anything Iran has signed that means they have to provide access to every place in Iran. Therefore you are FACTUALLY WRONG.

      – People draw lines all the time and then later change their minds. This is just part of being realistic about goal setting. Note that throughout history, people that “drew lines” and foolishly refused to re-think those lines when reality changed have proven to be losers. If you are saying that Obama should not have drawn lines, you would be correct, but to fault him for dealing with reality on a rational basis, you are FACTUALLY WRONG.

      – Whether Iran is in the “driver seat” remains to be negotiated, but keep in mind that Iran is just trying to protect their country from massive oppression by the USA. The USA is the historical “bad guy” here.

      – No one “controls” Yemen, not even the locals. While Iran may have some influence over some of the locals, it remains to be seen how the whole civil war plays out. What is highly probable is the US will have no influence in Yemen, which is what should happen Only people of Yemen and the surrounding countries should determine what structure the country takes.

      – As far as Iraq, can you please explain just how 10,000 (or even 50,000) US troops could have prevented Iraqi political leadership from being fools? and how the US troops could have prevented massive cowardliness of thousands of Iraq troops? and how US troops could actually do anything but try to keep themselves alive? Your rant about staying in Iraq is based on nothing but FICTION. As shown in Vietnam and many other wars the US has LOST, the US can not achieve what the locals can not (or will not) achieve. If the locals want to live under ISIL, there is absolutely NOTHING the US can do about that and trying just gets Americans killed for no good reason.

      You do NOT get to tell others how to live and they have every right to kill you for interfering.

      It is long past time for the US to shut up and sit down and let others sort out their lives however they want to.

      You may not like Iran, but you have no right to do anything but voice that opinion and then go away.

  30. If you want to stop Rep. Boner, Senators, Kirk and Menendez along with their slithery friends in AIPAC dead in their tracks, you just get the DOJ to announce that they are starting investigations against all three elected officials for subversion and you force AIPAC to register with the State Department as a foreign agent. Something they should have done along time ago, but were never forced to!

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