Through the neocon looking glass, my latest at LobeLog

I’m just watching what’s happening in Gaza, where Benjamin Netanyahu is talking about somehow “widening” a war that’s already killed nearly 300 Palestinians and counting, and don’t even really know what’s left to say. If Israel hasn’t already been dissuaded from its pathway to self-destruction, paved with the bodies of dead Palestinian kids, then I’m not sure what will actually convince them to stop what they’re doing. It certainly won’t be the United States government, whose State Department has responded to the massacre of Gazan civilians by repeatedly asking them “why are you punching yourselves?” It won’t be the American media, either, given that any reporter who deviates from the conventional script is immediately shipped out of the conflict zone and muzzled (though it looks like NBC has now changed its mind and will send Mohyeldin back to Gaza this weekend).

But anyway, that’s not the point. What is the point is that I think you should go read my report about a major neocon/Iran hawk forum held on Capitol Hill on Thursday. The ostensible topic was “what an acceptable nuclear deal with Iran would look like,” and the answer was “haha, you pansy liberal, no nuclear deal with Iran could ever be acceptable!” Nobody at these kinds of events is willing to come right out and say it, but the hardline American position on Iran has never really deviated from regime change since 1979. The nuclear issue is just the latest cudgel to wield against Tehran, so any deal that doesn’t completely pants the clerics is much worse than no deal, which these guys figure would lead to a war that magically topples the regime and puts a stable, secular, pro-Western democracy in its place. Then everybody gets to collect their pony and go home to live happily ever after.

Going to one of these events really is like being through the looking glass. Iran’s nuclear program is a nuclear weapons program, whether there’s any evidence of that or not. Iran has “religious” reasons for wanting a bomb, despite the Supreme Leader’s religious edict rejecting nuclear weapons. Then there’s the ever-present assumption that toppling the regime by force would leave everything in much better shape in the future, which probably comes as a surprise to any Iranian who was alive when we ousted Mossadegh in 1953 and reinstalled the Shah, or to any Iraqi above the age of 10. But one speaker topped all the others for sheer zaniness:

One of the legislators who spoke at the forum was Brad Sherman (D-CA), who has endorsed the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahadeen-e Khalq, (aka MEK, MKO, PMOI and NCRI), which lobbied itself off the US terrorist organizations list in 2012 and whose desire for regime change is quite explicit.

Congressman Sherman offered some of the most colorful (or maybe “terrifying” is the better word) remarks. For example, he declared that Iran’s “breakout” period must be “years,” which would presumably involve subjecting all of Iran’s nuclear scientists to some kind of amnesia ray to make them unlearn what they already know about enriching uranium. He then argued that Iran’s ultimate goal was not a nuclear missile, but a device that could be smuggled into a major city and detonated without directly implicating Tehran. Most Iran hawks assume (based on questionable evidence) that Iran’s nuclear program is ipso facto a nuclear weapons program. But Sherman apparently also believes that in addition to craving a bomb, Iran wants to bring destruction upon the world. He closed by proposing that the United States arm Israel with advanced “bunker buster” bombs and surplus B-52 bombers, which would obviously ensure peace in that region.

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