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War with Iran: Focusing on the end-game - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Washington, DC - Talk of war is in the air. In the US, one can hardly pick up a newspaper or magazine, or tune in to a public affairs show without encountering speculation about hostilities with Iran. The conservative right is fairly clambering for conflict, and even parties not normally associated with them - the Washington Post comes to mind - are just a step or two behind in demanding clear "red lines" to trigger the first salvo.

Those to the left of centre are notable for their hand-wringing passivity. They whine about the daunting risks and pallid potential gains of a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, but lack the moral conviction to make any compelling counter-argument.

Most prominent in the latter ranks is the Obama administration itself. It clearly has no taste for war with Iran, and just as clearly fears what the Israelis might do, but cannot say so, for fear of crippling itself politically. And so it assumes a seemingly safe middle ground, posturing, in coded language, that "all options are on the table", while hoping against hope that increasingly stringent sanctions and the thinly veiled threat of a conventional military strike will induce Iran to change course before Israel acts.

One reads the stories of firm messages supposedly being passed in private to the Israeli government, warning them against precipitate action - most recently, we are told, by General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What precise messages General Dempsey or others may have delivered we do not know, but it is implausible that anyone in the Netanyahu government, caught up in geo-political hysteria, would heed them. Why should they? What possible credibility can Obama have in making an argument in private that he fears to make in public?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:21:58 PM EST
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