First Published: 2008-12-06

 
Despair Among the Neocons
 

John Bolton – the neocons’ neocon – laments that Bush (and Israel) did not have the gumption to confront Iran militarily - yet a third war in Asia. Bolton pontificates – with, of course, no evidence – that Iran will now become a nuclear military power, says Robert Dreyfuss.

 

Middle East Online

It was an extraordinary scene at the American Enterprise Institute on December 2, when John Bolton read 'em and wept. There is, he said, no way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.



His conclusion, stunning in its finality: "We are going to have to deal with a nuclear Iran."



In so saying, Bolton -- among the hawkiest of hawks from the now neoconservative-movement-in-exile -- broke ranks with many of his neocon colleagues. Most of them haven't given up on stopping Iran, as evidenced by a raft of new reports from neocon-linked thinktanks. And they're busily calling for stepped-up sanctions, making bellicose threats, and warning of military action by the United States and Israel. But Bolton is folding his cards.



"Iran's going to get nuclear weapons," said Bolton, to an audience at AEI that seemed shocked into silence. "We have lost this race."



If you don't believe me, you can watch the video: (http://www.aei.org/events/f.video,eventID.1850,filter.all/event_detail.asp)



According to Bolton, the idea that Iran can be deterred from going forward by applying economic sanctions won't work. Had it been tried earlier, he said, it might have worked. "Sanctions could have dissuaded Iran," he said/ "But that time is past." Europe doesn't have the will to impose tough sanctions, he said. He lamented his encounters with the German ambassador to the United Nations, during Bolton's tenure as US ambassador there, and he said that the Germans and other European countries won't take action to cut off their lucrative trade with Tehran.



But Bolton also said that neither the United States nor Israel will attack Iran to stop its nuclear program. "Neither one is willing to use military force," he said. Until recently, Bolton said that until recently he believed that there was a small chance that Israel, on its own, might attack Iran before January 20, when Barack Obama becomes president. But Israel is mired in political confusion in advance of its coming elections, and there is no political will in Israel to go to war against Iran, he said.



Bolton also said that the likelihood of a US attack on Iran under Obama is nil. "Under an Obama administration, that possibility is essentially zero," he said. "After January 20, the chances are zero."



If strong action had been taken in the past, say, starting five years ago, Iran could have been stopped, Bolton said. Tough sanctions then would be biting now, he said. Alternately, the United States could have adopted a policy of "regime change," supporting ethnic minorities, disaffected youth, and Iran's youth, to create revolutionary unrest, even though nearly all experts on Iran have argued that regime change was never a viable option. Said Bolton: "If we had started it five years ago, we might be in a different place. It was a good policy option. We should have pursued it. We didn't pursue it."



After Bolton spoke, I encountered a very senior neoconservative strategist, who'd served in the Department of Defense, and who was quietly observing the proceedings at the back of the AEI meeting room. I asked him if agreed with Bolton's assessment. Preferring not to speak on the record, he said:



"Well, I think what he said is basically true. We're going to find ourselves in a position not unlike the one we faced with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. We will have to contain them and deter them. The problem is, that Iran will feel empowered, and we'll have an increasing level of tension in the Persian Gulf."



What does that mean? I asked. According to this former official, it looks ominous. "Eventually, we'll probably have to do something. But doing it later will be a lot harder than doing it now." And by doing something, what do you mean, I asked.



"It might come to a war."





Robert Dreyfuss is a contributing editor of The Nation magazine, and the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Metropolitan).



Copyright © 2008 The Nation

(Distributed by Agence Global)

 

Saudi warns of 'disastrous consequences' over US 9/11 law

3,800 Syrian civilians killed by Russian strikes in one year

World leaders attend Shimon Peres’ funeral

UN warns 100,000 people trapped in South Sudan town

Bulgaria approves full-face Islamic veil ban

Jordanians rally against gas deal with Israel

Israel pays Turkey $20 million compensation for Gaza flotilla raid

Egypt MP suggests university virginity tests

Morocco to speed repatriation of citizens in Germany illegally

Turkey opposition leader condemns Erdogan’s ‘coup against democracy’

French jets set off to join action as battle for Mosul looms

Moroccan left hopes to offer 'third way' at polls

Renault signs Iran auto venture

Saudi border guard killed, 3 civilians hurt by shelling from Yemen

Turkey issues warrants for judicial, prison staff

MSF warns Syria, Russia to stop ‘bloodbath’ in Aleppo

Russia waiting to see OPEC freeze deal details

Police raid Casablanca market after rumours of sex dolls

UN warns 700,000 will need aid once Mosul offensive starts

Saudi seeks oil leadership in economic pinch

Egypt court suspends block on island transfer to Saudi

Bid for international Yemen war probe fails at UN

UN warns 'hundreds' in Aleppo need medical evacuation

Palestinian president to attend Peres funeral

King Abdullah visits home of murdered writer

Amnesty accuses Sudan of using chemical arms against Darfur civilians

Bahrain says 9/11 bill will harm US

9/11 bill puts US, Saudi cooperation in question

UN envoy says Syria talks 'very difficult with bombs falling'

Erdogan says Moody's was 'bought' after downgrade

Erdogan: Turkey may need state of emergency for more than a year

Iraqi activist wins Norway rights prize

Kidnapped German woman, baby freed in Syria

Turkey stops Kurdish TV broadcasts

A year of bombing in Syria triggers limited interest in Russia

Obama defends refusal to use military force to end Syria civil war

US Congress overrides Obama's veto of Saudi 9/11 bill

OPEC agrees deal to cut oil output

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump