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Thursday, April 17, 2008


The big lie about Iran

To the surprise of few, last night's Democratic debate featured yet another repetition of the big lie about Iran, this one delivered by questioner George Stephanopoulos and not only not rebutted, but reinforced by Clinton and Obama:
"Iran continues to pursue a nuclear option. Those weapons, if they got them, would probably pose the greatest threat to Israel."
The words "nuclear option" are ambiguous, but since they are followed by the words "those weapons," it's 100% clear that what Stephanopoulos wasn't just talking about nuclear power, but was saying was "Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons."

Obama or Clinton could have taken the opportunity, as Dennis Kucinich did at one of the early Democratic debates*, to point out that this was a complete fabrication, rebutted by the total lack of evidence, the repeated positive statements by Iran's leaders disavowing any desire for nuclear weapons, a fatwa issued by Iran's supreme leader, and, last but not least, the U.S. government itself in the form of a National Intelligence Estimate.

Needless to say, not only did they not do that, they both took the opportunity to issue threats against Iran. Clinton vowed "massive retaliation" should Iran attack Israel, and has been portrayed as having issued the more "aggressive" response to the non-existent threat. Obama vowed only "appropriate action" in the event of such a hypothetical (and highly improbable) attack, which has been portrayed as more "diplomatic," but surely everyone (everyone in the leadership of the United States) thinks that an "appropriate action" in the event of an Iranian attack on Israel would be "massive retaliation." But Obama went even further, claiming that "no options [would be] off the table when it comes to preventing them from using nuclear weapons or obtaining nuclear weapons, and that would include any threats directed at Israel or any of our allies in the region." "No options" is code for anything up to and including nuclear weapons, and Obama would be taking this action not just in the event of an attack on Israel, but if Iran obtained nuclear weapons or even if it "threatened" Israel or other "allies" (which would include Iraq), and in fact American politicians and media all pretty much agree that Iran has regularly "threatened" Israel and is doing more than "threatening" Iraq, but actively helping to attack its "government." Which means "all options are on the table" right now according to Obama.

By the way, doesn't the U.S. have to have a treaty with Israel in order to justify such a response, and even if it does, doesn't the President have to get a vote from Congress before launching a war? Or do Obama and Clinton think the law means as little as Bush does?

Update: *As a reminder, here's what Obama had to say at that debate a year ago about Iran's nuclear weapons:

Obama: I understand that, but they're in the process of developing it. And I don't think that's disputed by any expert.
Presumably he wouldn't say today that he doesn't think it's "disputed by any expert," since the NIE has rather forcefully "disputed" it. But the fact that he was willing to make that statement a year ago, based on about as much evidence as George Bush had for invading Iraq, is telling.

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