Talk of Iran’s nuclear program has heated up in recent weeks with reports that the IAEA will soon release details showing that the Islamic Republic is developing an atomic weapons capability. And this week, Israeli media outlets have been reporting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is mobilizing support for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilites. The news prompted Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to ask the show’s weekly panel for reaction. While leading neocon Bill Kristol usually fires off about attacking Iran, today he was a bit measured. “It seems to me the United States has an obligation to act and not leave it to Israel to stop this threat,” he said.
The real warmongering was left to former Democratic senator and member of the war charging Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, Evan Bayh, who boosted the right-wing claim that the Iranians are suicidal maniacs incapable of being deterred and added that, ultimately, the United States will have to attack Iran:
BAYH: The Israelis may be able to launch a one off strike on Iran but they don’t have the ability for the kind of sustained bombing campaign that it would really take to degrade their nuclear arsenal. … You’d have to bomb them for several weeks in a row. There’s only one country that has that kind of capability and that’s the United States. For Israelis it is an existential question. For us it raises the issue, is the Iranian nation a normal nation-state that’s belligerent and does things we don’t like but ultimately is not suicidal and can be deterred. Or are they really a suicidal theocracy that might actually use nuclear weapons even if it meant a nuclear retaliation against them. That’s a different case. … The odds are that they are not a suicidal theocracy. But the question is if you’re Israel can you afford to run that risk? Probably not. …
For us it may be better to try and stop that [proliferation] before it gets started by using limited force to prevent Iran from going nuclear when it gets right down to it. … We have to ask ourselves, is a nuclear Iran acceptable? If the answer is no, there’s really only one way to keep that from coming about and that’s the use of force.
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While Bayh claimed that for Israelis, the Iran issue “is an existential question,” ex-Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy pushed back on this narrative last week, saying Iran is “far from posing an existential threat to Israel.”
And the claim that Iran is ruled by suicidal maniacs hell bent on blowing up Europe, the United States and Israel with nuclear weapons is an alarmist charge that the right trots out when advocating for military strikes to stop Iran from weaponizing its nuclear program. CAP’s Matt Duss recently outlined this “martyr state myth” over at Foreign Policy and notes that it is based on ” flawed assumptions.”
Thus, Bayh’s warmongering is also based on flawed assumptions. Perhaps he has yet to learn any lessons from his days hawking war with Iraq.