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)

 

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail

Israeli police arrest 33 in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Turkish lira at new low against US dollar

Islamic republic declares end of Islamic State

Assad in Russia for talks with Putin

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup