Quote of the Day: The War Party Is Working Hard to Make Iran Look Like a Victim


Jeffrey Goldberg:

It would be quite an achievement to allow Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, to play the role of injured party in this drama. But the Senate is poised to do just that.

Goldberg is talking about the possibility that the Senate will pass a sanctions bill against Iran just as the Iranians have finally agreed to come to the table and negotiate an agreement to dismantle their nuclear program. As Goldberg says, this makes sense only if you’re hellbent on a military strike against Iran and flatly eager to sabotage anything that might lead to a peaceful settlement. It’s hard to believe that this is the position of the entire Republican Party as well as a pretty good chunk of the Democratic Party, but apparently it is. It’s especially hard to believe given the realities of what it would accomplish:

While it could set back (though not destroy) Iran’s nuclear program, it could also lead to the complete collapse of whatever sanctions remained in place. In addition, it could unify the Iranian people behind their country’s unelected leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — a particularly perverse outcome. And in some ways, an attack would justify Iran’s paranoia and pursuit of nuclear weapons: After all, the regime could somewhat plausibly argue, post-attack, that it needs to defend itself against further aggression. A military campaign should be considered only when everything else has failed, and Iran is at the very cusp of gaining a deliverable nuclear weapon.

….So why support negotiations? First: They just might work. I haven’t met many experts who put the chance of success at zero. Second: If the U.S. decides one day that it must destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, it must do so with broad international support. The only way to build that support is to absolutely exhaust all other options. Which means pursuing, in a time-limited, sober-minded, but earnest and assiduous way, a peaceful settlement.

This is exactly right. As it happens, I doubt that we’ll be able to reach a final deal with the Iranians. In the end, I think Iran’s hawks have too much influence and just won’t be willing to give up their nuclear ambitions. What we’ll do then is anyone’s guess. But as Goldberg says, even if you’re a hawk who favors a military strike, surely you’re also in favor of demonstrating to the world that we did everything humanly possible to avoid it. What possible reason could you have for feeling differently?

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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