Iran hawks step up pressure on Obama — some see echoes of Iraq
(Yahoo News) -- by Zachary Roth --
Emboldened by President Obama's political struggles, foreign-policy hard-liners are stepping up efforts to press the administration to take a tougher stance -- and perhaps even launch an attack -- on Iran.
Some observers see parallels with the successful multiyear campaign for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "The theoreticians who called for war in Iraq as a way to stop Saddam acquiring weapons of mass destruction are at it again, with the same playbook," Joel Rubin of the liberal National Security Network told The Upshot.
Of course, advocates of an aggressive foreign policy have long talked up the notion of an attack on Iran as a means of preventing the Islamic republic from acquiring a nuclear weapon -- remember Sen. John McCain's "Bomb Iran" performance from the 2008 presidential campaign? But with a weakened president, the effort to promote a military strike is "definitely going into a higher gear" of late, Matthew Duss of the liberal Center for American Progress told The Upshot.
On Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a prominent Republican voice for an aggressive foreign policy, floated the idea of an all-out offensive against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime -- "not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard. In other words, neuter that regime. Destroy their ability to fight back."
Speaking at an international conference in Halifax, Canada, Graham held out the prospect of Republican support if President Obama goes beyond the administration's current policy of tough economic sanctions.
Graham is not alone. At the same event, his close ally McCain (R-Ariz.) urged Obama to "do something dramatically different" on Iran, by publicly "advocating regime change."
In late September, more than 50 House Republicans, including Minority Leader John Boehner, signed a letter to the president: "We urge you to take whatever action is necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. All options should be on the table in curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions."
Just days before last week's midterms, Washington Post columnist David Broder raised eyebrows by arguing that Obama should ramp up arms production and create "a showdown with the mullahs" in order to kick-start the U.S. economy and boost his political standing. Versions of Broder's argument had already been made this year two separate times, by neoconservative foreign policy thinkers Elliott Abrams and Daniel Pipes. Abrams was a staffer on President George W. Bush's National Security Council, where he had strongly advocated for the invasion of Iraq. And Pipes, as the founder and director of the conservative Middle East Forum think tank, was also a staunch supporter of the Iraq war.
Obama has consistently advocated a diplomatic approach to dealing with Iran, and he's unlikely to do an about-face. But advocates of a military strike may be playing a longer game. Here again, critics point to the precedent of the Iraq invasion. During the 1990s, a well-connected group of neoconservative foreign policy thinkers, including Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol and Richard Perle, who would later chair the Defense Policy Advisory Board in the George W. Bush administration, worked with Republicans in Congress to pass the Iraq Liberation Act, making regime change in Iraq the official policy of the U.S. government. The legislation wasn't aimed at spurring then-President Clinton to launch an invasion -- there was little chance of that. Instead, the idea was to give the goal of regime change long-term momentum and a bipartisan veneer, since the law was signed by a Democratic president. That helped pave the way once the country had a Republican president more likely to sign off on an invasion...MORE...LINK
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