"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Bolting on Iran

Thu Dec 16,10:34 AM ET
Ari Berman
A reliance on dubious intelligence and contempt for international diplomacy has marked the Bush Administration's policy (or lack thereof) on Iran to date. And, in certain neoconservative circles, calls for military aggression are slowly surfacing.

"The clock is ticking for Iran," writes Michael Rubin, a former advisor to the Office of Special Plans--the outfit responsible for much of the US's faulty pre-war intelligence on Iraq (news - web sites). "Bush may have no choice but to order a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities." Neocon academics and policy advisors such as Reuel Marc Gerecht, Orde Kittrie and Norman Podhoretz have also called for decisive action.
Washington seems responsive. On a recent visit to the region, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith--Rumsfeld's number three man--told the Jerusalem Post that even the nuclear strike option remains on the table.
The de facto leader of the right's hawkish philosophy on Iran is John Bolton, a longtime hard-liner and current Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms called his protege, "the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, or what the Bible describes as the final battle between good and evil."
Under Bolton's watch, North Korea (news - web sites) rapidly accelerated its nuclear weapons production (building as many as six new nukes), Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan sold nuclear secrets on the black market, and Iran may be closer to developing the bomb than ever before. Apparently, Bolton takes issue with the "Arms Control" part of his job title.
In recent meetings with the Europeans--who have taken the lead in pushing for a negotiated settlement with Iran--Bolton read a US position paper criticizing negotiations and calling on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the Islamic Republic. When the shocked Europeans inquired as to why Bolton wanted to engage the Security Council when he knew the US lacked votes and popular support, Bolton simply read another prepared US position paper. "He was not willing to discuss anything," one participant told the Los Angeles Times. (Asked about the possibility of military action at a recent conference at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs--a key neocon think tank--Bolton replied, "No options are off the table," before smiling broadly, The New Republic's Franklin Foer reports.)
In addition to becoming the Administration's bullying point-man on Iran, Bolton is frequently named as the possible second-in-command for Condi Rice's State Department. As the LA Times reported, a hawkish #2 at State could prompt a massive purge of moderate dissenters, modeled on Porter Goss's recent strong-arming at the CIA (news - web sites), or even the disastrous "de-Baathification" process in Iraq.
In a week in which Bush bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the likes of Paul Bremer and George Tenet, a Bolton promotion would be the latest example of incompetence rewarded.

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Milton Frihetsson, 04:30


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