Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: Top Obama Adviser Signs
on to Roadmap to War with Iran via by admin on 10/23/08
If you haven’t see it already, check out the op-ed by former Sens.
Daniel Coats and Charles Robb in the Washington Post today, entitled
“Stopping a Nuclear Tehran.” It is the summary of a report issued last
month by an organization called The Bipartisan Policy Center (at whose
website you can find the full report), and it amounts to a roadmap to
war with Iran to which a senior Middle East adviser in the Obama
campaign — namely, Dennis Ross — has apparently signed on.

While Coats and Robb were the co-chairs of the task force that produced
the report, “Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear
Development,” the main authors appear to have been the Center’s project
director, Michael Makovsky, and Michael Rubin of the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI), who listed the report as his work on the
AEI website earlier this month. Makovsky, of course, is the younger
brother of David Makovsky, the former head and currently senior fellow
at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which has
acted more or less as a “think tank” for the so-called “Israel Lobby”
over the 20-some years since it was created as a spin-off of the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Michael, who
reportedly emigrated to Israel in 1989, served under Doug Feith at the
Pentagon where he was part of the team that helped manipulate the
intelligence to facilitate the path to war in Iraq. Rubin, of course,
also worked in Rumsfeld’s office at the same time.

Now, you would expect a report like this, which is clearly aimed at the
transition team of an incoming president, from hard-line neo-cons with
a distinctly Likudist bent like Makovsky and Rubin, or, for that
matter, task force member Steve Rademaker, the spouse of AEI’s Danielle
Pletka, who also worked under John Bolton in the State Department. But
what really drew my attention to the report when I first heard about it
two or three weeks ago, was the fact that Dennis Ross, who is a senior
foreign-policy to Barack Obama, also signed on to the report as a
task-force member. Ross, who previously served as the chief
Israel-Palestinian negotiator for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill
Clinton, has been associated with WINEP in various positions since he
left public service, although, unlike Makovsky or Rubin, his sympathies
have leaned more to Labour than to Likud, at least in the Israeli

According to a variety of sources, Ross was the main drafter of Obama’s
pander (except on the settlers) to AIPAC’s annual convention here in
May and has since raised his hopes for a top post in an Obama
administration, possibly even secretary of state. Frankly, I doubt that
the latter prospect is realistic, but — and here’s the main point — I
have it from several sources close to the campaign that he is more
eager to gain control over the Iran portfolio (possibly special envoy)
than to work on the problem that he knows best from his long
experience, the Israel-Palestinian conflict. If he succeeds in his
quest and if this report is any reflection of his views, then the U.S.
could very well find itself at war with Iran within a remarkably short
period of time.

I leave it to you to read the column or, better, the executive summary
of the report. But I would highlight just a few of its major points on
which Ross should be closely questioned if Obama should win the
election and considers Ross for any post that would have anything to do
with Iran policy:

– A strategy of deterrence, if Iran became a “nuclear-capable” state,
would not necessarily work because of the “Islamic Republic’s extremist

— No agreement can be reached that would permit Iran to enrich uranium
on its own territory under any circumstances, including even under the
strictest international inspections regime.

— A “grand bargain” with Iran cannot be worked out in the time that
remains before Iran builds a stockpile of 20 kgs of highly enriched
uranium 6 kgs of plutonium which would make it technically “nuclear
weapons-capable” and which thus must be unacceptable to the U.S.

— The U.S. should be willing to suspend all bilateral nuclear
co-operation with Russia in order to pressure it to cooperate on Iran;
that is, lending Washington full diplomatic support and refusing to
provide additional assistance to Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs
or to sell it advanced conventional-weapons systems.

— The U.S. should maintain a constant dialogue with Israel because
“…(o)nly if Israeli policymakers believe that U.S. and European
policymakers will ensure that the Islamic Republic does not gain
nuclear weapons will the Israelis be unlikely to strike Iran
independently.” In other words, unless the U.S. is prepared to take out
Iran’s nuclear facilities, Israel will likely do so without seeking a
green light from Washington.

— If the next administration agrees to enter into direct talks with
Iran without insisting on its suspension of enrichment, it must set a
pre-determined deadline for compliance with its demands, after which it
should be prepared to enforce a blockade of Iranian gasoline imports,
followed, if Iran still does not agree, by a blockade of its oil
exports. If that does not have the desired effect or if Iran retaliated
in some way, the U.S. should be prepared to launch a military strike
that would “have to target not only Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but
also its conventional military infrastructure in order to suppress an
Iranian response.” Such an attack would be followed immediately by
“providing food and medical assistance within Iran…” [!!!]

— To convey his seriousness both to Iran and to the international
community, the new president should begin building up the U.S. military
presence in the region “the first day (he) enters office…” Specifically
this would involve “pre-positioning additional U.S. and allied forces,
deploying additional aircraft carrier battle groups and minesweepers,
emplacing other war material in the region, including additional
missile defense batteries, upgrading both regional facilities and
allied militaries, and expanding strategic partnerships with countries
such as Azerbaijan and Georgia [!!!] in order to maintain operational
pressure from all directions.” The report goes on to note that “the
presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan offers distinct
advantages in any possible confrontation with Iran. The United States
can bring in troops and material to the region under the cover of the
Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, thus maintaining a degree of strategic
and tactical surprise.” [Emphasis added in light of recent concerns
raised in Iraq about the Status of Forces Agreement.]

In other words, if Tehran is not eventually prepared to permanently
abandon its enrichment of uranium on its own soil — a position that is
certain to be rejected by Iran ab initio — then war becomes inevitable,
and all intermediate steps, even including direct talks if the new
president chooses to pursue them, will amount to going through the
motions (presumably to gather international support for when push comes
to shove). While I would certainly not be surprised if such an approach
were adopted by a McCain administration, what is a top Obama adviser
doing signing on to it?

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