Jim Lobe: There are serious strategic differences between US and Israel, but they share the aim of weakening Iran as a regional power.
UPDATE: The key to the neoconservatives disproportionate influence despite their small numbers has always been coordination. As Lobe reveals (and had predicted), Kristol has now been joined by Robert Kagan in calling for escalation against Iran.
The common neoconservative position back in 2003 was that the road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad. Today they are gunning for Tehran, yet another stop on way to the ‘promised land’. But since the Washington establishment isn’t that keen to invade Iran, the neocons have figured the only way they could keep the possibility of destroying Iran alive is to push hawkish policies on Afghanistan. Withdrawal from Afghanistan will diminish the chances of action against Iran, so it becomes imperative to attack any sign of realism as ‘appeasing the terrorists’, who we are told are a threat on par with Nazi Germany. In his eagerness not to be seen as ‘idealistic’ by the likes of William Kristol, Thomas Friedman and George Packer, Obama has duly indulged in the same rhetoric (most recently in his Nobel speech). Now that he has delivered, the neoconservatives are already trying to steer the military juggernaut westward. In the following post, Jim Lobe, one of the world’s best investigative journalists, sheds light on this evolving neoconservative strategy.
(I have long maintained that had people been following Jim’s exceptional reportage in the lead up to the Iraq war rather than Chomsky’s deterministic, contranalytical, and ultimately demoralizing views, with their inevitable demobilizing effect, they may have actually done something to check the march to war).
Kristol Pivots from Afghanistan to Iran
by Jim Lobe
Now that he and presumably his friends at the Foreign Policy Initiative got a lot of what they wanted from Obama on Afghanistan, Bill Kristol is once again pivoting westward — this time to Iran, rather than Iraq — as he did eight years ago with the infamous September 20 PNAC letter. Look for more of this to come from Kristol and the neo-cons in the coming weeks, as they re-align themselves with AIPAC and like-minded groups after their three-month campaign on behalf of Gen. McChrystal and the COINistas.
Jim Lobe interviewed by Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio. His analysis in this particular interview is rather unimpressive. While Lobe’s reporting over the years has been indispensable, he is too optimistic in his analysis. Since at least the autumn of 2003 he has been announcing the demise of the neocons. Here as well his reading of the Obama-Netanyahu summit is overly positive. For a reality check see this interview with Jeff Blankfort.
Jim Lobe on Antiwar Radio (26:11): MP3
Jim Lobe, Washington Bureau Chief for Inter Press Service, discusses Hillary Clinton’s emphatic rejection of any kind of Israeli settlement growth, the Obama administration’s (first in a generation) hard-line on Israel, the low probability of a Palestine/Israel 2-state solution even with a settlement freeze and allegations that Netanyahu sees Iran as Amalek – eternal biblical persecutor of Jews.
Here’s Jim Lobe’s (IPS) analysis of yesterday’s meeting between Obama and Netanyahu:
While reaffirming the “special relationship” between their two countries, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared unable to bridge major differences in their approaches to Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts following their White House meeting here Monday.
And while Obama repeatedly stressed the importance of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu never uttered the phrase or alluded to the possibility of a Palestinian state during a 30-minute press appearance with the U.S. president after their meeting in the Oval Office.
While Obama said he may be prepared to impose additional sanctions against Iran early next year if diplomatic efforts to persuade it to curb its nuclear programme fail to make progress, he refused to set what he called “an arbitrary deadline.” Israeli officials had pressed Washington for an early October deadline.
Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service give an insightful analysis of events in Washington over the past week. At the AIPAC conference Israel hawks espoused hyperbole towards the “existential threat” that Iran poses towards Israel in the fight to secure foreign policy agenda ahead of the more pressing ‘Af-Pak’ issue, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari conducted summit talks with President Obama.
WASHINGTON, May 10 (IPS) – A potentially major clash appears to be developing between powerful factions inside and outside the U.S. government, pitting those who see the Afghanistan/Pakistan (“AfPak”) theatre as the greatest potential threat to U.S. national security against those who believe that the danger posed by a nuclear Iran must be given priority.
The Iran hawks, concentrated within the Israeli government and its U.S. supporters in the so-called “Israel lobby” here, want to take aggressive action against Iran’s nuclear programme by moving quickly to a stepped-up sanctions regime. (more…)
Jim Lobe‘s prognosis for the Obama presidency’s upcoming 100 days:
While Barack Obama has clearly improved Washington’s image abroad during his first 100 days in office, the next 100 will almost certainly prove much more challenging for the new president’s foreign policy.
Putting aside the possibility that the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression could become much more severe than the White House currently anticipates, or that the swine flu currently spreading out of Mexico explodes into a modern-day version of the 1918 epidemic over the coming months, Obama will face a series of difficult decisions on how to deal with a plethora of actual and potential geo-strategic crises.
And another excellent analysis of the US-Israel-Iran triangle and the machinations within the new Obama administration concerning a possible Israeli ‘pre-emptive’ strike against Iran by Jim Lobe and Gareth Porter
A recent statement by the chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, that Israel may decide to attack Iranian nuclear sites has been followed by indications of a debate within the Barack Obama administration on whether Israel’s repeated threats to carry out such a strike should be used to gain leverage in future negotiations with Tehran.
In the latest twist, Vice President Joseph Biden, who has been put in charge of the administration’s non-proliferation agenda, appeared to reject the idea. “I don’t believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu would [launch a strike],” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday. “I think he would be ill-advised to do that.”