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Wednesday, July 02, 2008


The liberal assault on Iran

Joseph Cirincione, the former head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (I should probably put a "sic" after that) and now the head of the equally peaceful sounding "Plowshares Fund," has been consistent on Iran. Twice in 2006 (here and here), I wrote about his taking the "not if, but when" attitude toward Iran developing nuclear weapons. You might think the National Intelligence Estimate in late 2007 might have given him pause, but no, there he was on Democracy Now this morning, pushing the same line still, with statements like
"The major nation in the world we’re concerned about at all is Iran with its civilian nuclear program that could be used for military purposes."
"If we don’t stop Iran...then it’s almost inevitable that these stockpiles will spread."
Those were bad enough, albeit typical. But then he resorted to outright lying. Here's his explanation for why nations want nuclear weapons:
Historically, the three major reasons are security, number one—that’s why we got them; we thought Hitler was developing a nuclear weapon, we wanted to offset that potential threat—the second is prestige—...But never underestimate the third: the role of domestic politics. You see that happening in Iran now, where President Ahmadinejad is using the nuclear issue to consolidate his otherwise shaky presidency.
His assertion that the U.S. developed nuclear weapons because we thought that Germany was developing them is dubious at best, but it's the last part that concerns me. The unwary listener wouldn't have a clue that, far from advocating nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad has been outspoken in his opposition to nuclear weapons, so implying he is trying to gain domestic political advantage from their development is just preposterous.

To her utter discredit, none of these statements were challenged by host Amy Goodman.

Perhaps the most preposterous thing Cirincione said, also unchallenged, was in this exchange:

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Israel is the only country that refuses to acknowledge its nuclear status, nor does it deny it. Everyone else has sort of seen these weapons as a source of national pride and prestige.

AMY GOODMAN: Why doesn’t Israel admit it?

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: It actually works out fairly well for US policy. They don’t want to acknowledge that they have nuclear weapons, because they don’t want other countries in the region to be under pressure to imitate or to match their nuclear stockpile.

AMY GOODMAN: Like India and Pakistan?

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Well, no, like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt.
Excuse me? Other countries aren't under any pressure to "imitate or match" Israel's nuclear weapons because Israel "officially denies it," even though the entire world knows that they not only have nuclear weapons but, more or less, how many? You must be kidding.

Why did I put the word "assault" in the title of this post? After all, neither Cirincione nor Goodman were advocating attacking Iran, or even imposing sanctions on them (though it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Cirincione, or even Goodman, supports them). But this is precisely the role that liberals like Cirincione serve. Even while opposing the methods used to attack regimes the U.S. opposes, be it Iraq, Iran, Cuba, etc., they lay the groundwork in the public mind by providing the justification for such attacks. After all, once you agree that "we" have to "stop them," you're only arguing about the most effective means of doing so.

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