Hawks from the Start

Jonathan Alter, being a good liberal, knows many things which aren’t so.

Here’s at least one:

Last week’s news was hardly reassuring: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran may have recently increased its nuclear stockpiles by as much as 20 percent since the 2013 Interim Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Whether that’s a late bargaining chip, a show of bad faith (though not a technical violation of the agreement) or both, it complicates the final deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his neocon friends in the U.S.
insist that talk of inevitable war if there’s no agreement is just an Obama scare tactic. And they insist that there’s evidence of nuclear materials at an Iranian military base in Parchin. That’s a further deal-breaker for them and at least another complication for the U.S. negotiating team.

But after eight years in which President Bush largely neglected Iran’s rapidly-growing nuclear program, these neocons (who chose to attack Iraq rather than confront Iran) still aren’t on strong logical ground when arguing that no deal is the best option now.


“Scary neocons!” being the thrust of Alter’s argument, I think we can safely dismiss it out of hand.

But some history needs some clearing up, because poor Mr. Alter seems to be a bit confused.

Those scary neocons were generally far more hawkish than Bush was. A quick Google search for “neocons want war with iran” yields nearly half a million hits — not bad for something which never happened. There was a lot of frustration augments us scary neocons beginning around 2004-05, when it became clear that Iran was surreptitiously waging war against us in Iraq, that we ought to at least engage in some serious tit-for-tat against Tehran. In fact, one of the scary neocon justifications for the Iraq War was to put us in position to act, if necessary, against Iran for exporting terror and developing nukes.

We were frustrated by Bush’s apparent lack of resolve, and we’re terrified by Obama’s resolve to throw away our gains, our position, and to cement Tehran’s strengthened position.

Alter can criticize us all he likes for being too hawkish — and I’m willing to stipulate, pending an honest deal with Iran, that he could be right. But he can’t fault us for lacking “strong logical grounds” when we’ve been arguing all along for a much harder line against Iran.


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