The Upside of Evidence-Free Nuke Accusations Against Iran? We Can Declare Victory!

One would think that, within a month of the US finally withdrawing its troops (leaving behind a vast mercenary force) from the nearly nine year nightmare in Iraq that was launched on the basis of evidence-free accusations, and only days after President Obama signed into permanency his ability to detain citizens forever without providing a shred of evidence, the Washington Post would refrain from giving Joby Warrick a chance to yammer again from the basis of unsupportable allegations that Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons. But this is the Post we’re talking about, and the same bill that gave Obama indefinite detention powers also tightened the screws on Iran, so it was necessary to bring Warrick out to put forth the latest transcribed version of US spin.

Warrick’s piece, at the time of this writing, is occupying the most prominent position on the home page of the Post’s website, where it has the teaser headline “Iran fears worst as West steps up pressure”. Clicking through to the article gives the headline “As currency crisis and feud with West deepen, Iranians brace for war”. The overall spin that the US is projecting through this transcription is that both the Iranian government and Iranian citizens are feeling the almighty power of the US sanctions and that they are in a state of depressed resignation to the inevitability of war, while the US government is seeing that its brilliant moves are paying off and we just might not need to proceed to the point of an overt attack. I guess that is the upside of moving forward with public sanctions (and covert actions that already constitute a full-on war) based on manufactured evidence: it is also possible to manufacture evidence that allows us to declare victory and (hopefully) move on.

There is, of course, a flip side to that same argument. As commenter Dan succinctly put it in my post from yesterday where we were discussing the risk of all-out war stemming from the US sanctions:

All this risk to punish a country for something no one has proven it has done.

With that as background, here is how the Post article opens:

TEHRAN — At a time when U.S. officials are increasingly confident that economic and political pressure alone may succeed in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the mood here has turned bleak and belligerent as Iranians prepare grimly for a period of prolonged hardship and, they fear, war.

A bit further along, we get the US gloating on its “successful” approach:

The sense of impending confrontation is not shared in Washington and other Western capitals, where government officials and analysts expressed cautious satisfaction that their policies are working.

Former and current U.S. government officials did not dismiss the possibility of a military confrontation but said they saw recent threats by Iranian leaders — including warning a U.S. aircraft carrier this week not to return to the crucial Strait of Hormuz — mainly as signs of rising frustration. U.S. officials say this amounts to vindication of a years-long policy of increasing pressure, including through clandestine operations, on Iran’s clerical rulers without provoking war.

Yes, Iran did threaten the US not to put a carrier back into the Persian Gulf yesterday and also even announced that now the Revolutionary Guard will hold wargames in the Gulf, but Warrick’s administration controllers did not pass on to him the fact that Iran also is offering to return to the multinational talks aimed at diffusing the nuclear issue:

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says Tehran is ready to resume talks with the six world powers as soon as both sides agree on a venue and date for negotiation.

“We are prepared for negotiations and we hope talks would be held in a venue agreed upon by both sides,” Salehi said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday.


Tehran says it is ready to continue negotiations based on common ground, adding, however, that it has no intention of backing down from its nuclear rights.

The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used this pretext to impose four rounds of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iran has refuted the allegations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran has a right to use nuclear technology for peaceful use.

Warrick’s article would have us believe that the new sanctions (which, as I pointed out in yesterday’s post, have not yet been fully implemented) are a tremendous breakthrough:

“The reasons you’re seeing the bluster now is because they’re feeling it,” said Dennis Ross, who was one of the White House’s chief advisers on Iran before stepping down late last year. With even tougher sanctions poised to take effect in weeks, the White House had succeeded in dramatically raising the costs of Iran’s nuclear program, he said.

And then we have the most important bit of transcription of all in the very next paragraph:

“The measure, in the end, is, ‘Do they change their behavior?’ ” Ross said.

Remember, the “behavior” on which all of this posturing and counter-posturing is based has not been proven with evidence that can withstand public scrutiny. Despite that, we now are told that the key development will be whether Iran changes this “behavior”. Presumably, since the behavior itself is not based on evidence, the US now is free to claim the behavior has improved and is no longer a threat. Let us hope that will be the outcome and that the multinational talks will resume, producing an outcome that allows the US and Iran to achieve a level of mutual transparency that diffuses tensions.

Note, I did say “hope”…

14 replies
  1. Bob Schacht says:

    Could this all be a charade designed to head off Republican claims that Obama isn’t doing enough about Iran? Since this is all shadow-theater anyway, can’t Obama pick any time of its choosing to announce this “victory”? Say, maybe, in October?

    Bob in AZ

  2. Jim White says:

    @Bob Schacht: That would be interesting timing. And wouldn’t it be divine theater watching the GOP attack Obama for using evidence-free assertions? If this is the tack being taken, he may finally have actually achieved some multidimensional strategy here.

  3. MadDog says:

    And now after the completion of Iran’s war games in the Persian Gulf by Iran’s regular military forces, now it’s the turn of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces:

    “Iran to hold new naval drill near strait of Hormuz

    Iran is planning new military exercises near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, according to a naval commander, after threatening to close the strait and completing another set of maneuvers…


    …The semiofficial Fars news agency late Thursday quoted the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s naval commander, Adm. Ali Fadavi, as saying that the upcoming exercise would be the seventh staging of an annual drill called “The Great Prophet.”

    Fadavi said the next round of war games would be “different” from previous ones. He did not elaborate. The admiral said the drill would take place in the Iranian month of Bahman, which roughly corresponds to February…”

  4. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And the ratcheting duel continues with a joint US/Israel response:

    “Israel and US to stage major defense drill

    The Israeli military is gearing up together with U.S. forces for a major missile defense exercise, the Israeli military announced Thursday, as tension between Iran and the international community escalates.

    The drill is called “Austere Challenge 12” and is designed to improve defense systems and cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli forces. It follows a 10-day Iranian naval exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz…


    …The Israeli military spokesman did not give a date for the drill Thursday, but a senior military official said it would be in the next few weeks…

    …The Israeli official said thousands of American and Israeli soldiers from different units would take part. He said the drill would test multiple Israeli and U.S. air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets. Israel has deployed the “Arrow” system, jointly developed and funded with the U.S., designed to intercept Iranian missiles in the stratosphere, far from Israel…”

  5. Jim White says:

    Well now, this is going to complicate Iran and the US calling each other bad guys:

    Casting aside current tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the U.S. Navy on Friday rescued 13 Iranian seamen who were being held captive by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Oman.

    A Navy helicopter from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, responding to a distress call from a merchant ship under attack by pirates, chased the pirates to their “mother ship,” an Iranian-flagged dhow that had earlier been hijacked.

    A heavily-armed counter-piracy team from the Navy destroyer USS Kidd met little resistance when they boarded the dhow where they found 15 armed pirates and the 13 Iranians who were being held hostage. The pirates were taken into custody. The Iranians were set free in their dhow.

    Yes, that would be the same Carrier John C. Stennis that Iran has warned not to go back into the Persian Gulf. Beautiful irony for both sides here.

  6. Greg Brown says:

    Seems that the U.S., Iran and Israel are following the same script that resulted in the invasion and occupation of Iraq which lasted for more than eight years. Total fiction created by all parties that resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 people. War crimes and mass murder to follow this piece of theater as well.

    Nauseatingly familiar, no?

  7. eCAHNomics says:

    This is all about U.S. provoking Iran into a belligerent move that will create a fig leaf for Israel/U.S. bombing attack.

    This has NOTHING to do with U.S. declaring victory.

    If anything happens in October it will be O announcing the beginning of the bombing.

  8. scribe says:

    Well, for policymakers and thugs the world over, the ascendency of fact-free politics has been a real boon. The whole concept of “the big lie” no longer has any currency, and the concept of truth, likewise. They’re now free to say anything they want, any time they want, and no one can call them on it anymore.

    The last indisputable thing seems to be the balance in their respective bank accounts but, as MF Global seems to have shown, even that is now becoming subject to debate.

    BTW, OT, but the reason Corzine was so forthcoming in his recent Senate testimony – “I have no idea where the money is” – is that he, as both a MOTU and a prominent politician, has absolutely no fear of ever being prosecuted for all that money going missing. In case you might have been wondering.

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    I have been reading about the difficulties in refining oversight of international trade in multipurpose commodities such as petroleum refining constituents which have dual application potential to serve for the sorts of uranium enrichment which the UN security council has resolved is excessively rogue for some countries’ enterprising proponents of nuclear power generation, medical isotope fabrication, and bomb precursor materials, if that kind of trade is conducted deceptively and left unreported and nontransparent to the international community. There is a multinational interest in keeping IRI a participant in world commerce of many sorts and maintaining civilized peace in the region, which includes several nuclear bomb equipped countries which are not among the members of either NSG nor are those countries and wannabes signatories to the nonproliferation treaty. However, there is always going to be a hyperbole or two available to capture the already captive press within some of those countries, and saber rattling has a salacious timbre to it. Not that these are easy problems to solve.

  10. William Ockham says:

    I’m pretty convinced that both sides are ratcheting up the tension for domestic political reasons and neither side has any intention of going to war, but that is often true right before war breaks out.

  11. Bill Michtom says:

    Saw this: “semiofficial Fars news agency” and was wondering if foreign media refer to the “semiofficial Washington Post newspaper.”

  12. Jim White says:

    @Bill Michtom: I’m not sure how accurate that would be. To me, there hasn’t been much of anything in the WaPoo that wasn’t a direct transcription of what the gummint wanted to say since the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate series of articles, so I’d call it completely official.

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