U.S. Citing Conservative Calls To Bomb Iran To Pressure Diplomats

Calls for a U.S. military strike on Iran have grown in recent weeks. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) notably called for Americans “to be prepared to take aggressive military action” against Iran. Norman Podhoretz wrote “The Case for Bombing Iran,” the cover story in the latest Commentary magazine, “widely regarded as the leading outlet for neoconservative writing.” Other prominent neoconservatives, including William Kristol, Fred Kagan, and John Bolton have echoed this line.

The calls have apparently become serious enough that Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, “the chief American strategist on Iran,” has begun using them to pressure foreign diplomats. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Burns and officials from the Treasury Department have been trying to use the mounting conservative calls for a military strike to press Europe and Russia to expand economic sanctions against Iran. Just last week, Israel’s transportation minister and former defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, visited Washington and told Ms. Rice that sanctions must be strong enough to get the Iranians to stop enriching uranium by the end of 2007.

While Mr. Mofaz did not threaten a military strike, Israeli officials said he told Ms. Rice that by the end of the year, Israel “would have to reassess where we are.”

The Times reports that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has “increasingly moved toward” the position that “a military strike would be disastrous.” But Vice President Cheney’s office is well known to feel very differently. In February, the Washington Post reported that John Hannah, Cheney’s national security adviser, said during a meeting that the administration considers 2007 “the year of Iran” and “indicated that a U.S. attack was a real possibility.”