Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 14, 2015

Neocons Probably Going Wobbly On Bombing Iran

Fred Hiatt's funny pages again and again come up with ever same demand "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran". But the neocon crew now seem a little bit unsure about the issue.

Today's funny page "Bomb Iran" piece is by the notorious neocon Joshua Muravchik. It has astonishingly a somewhat qualified headline: War with Iran is probably our best option.

One wonders why this is qualified. Why only probably? Why not the guaranteed best option? Why not for sure?

Joshua Muravchik, a one trick bomb Iran pony, is usually much more assertive when calling for bombing Iran. Here he is straight out and unqualified in a 2006 op-ed in a LA Times headlined simply as Bomb Iran. In 2007 he is quoted in The Guardian with no reservations: Target Iran: US able to strike in the spring. In a 2009 in a Foreign Policy letter to his fellow neoconservatives: Operation Come back. 2011 in an American Enterprise piece: TWO CHEERS - Second Thoughts on the Bush Doctrine. 2014 in Hoover Institute paper: Time to Combat the Spreading Virus of Radical Islam

[W]e must stop Iran’s nuclear program, and the only likely way to achieve this is by military means.

It was always "bomb Iran" demanded as response to the ever false claim that Iran is striving for nukes. Bombing Iran was not "probably" the best option but "the only likely way". "Bomb Iran!" straight away, fully lunatic and unqualified.

Why is it now only probably good to bomb Iran?

Posted by b on March 14, 2015 at 17:35 UTC | Permalink


He saw the light on his way to Damascus and is now not so sure. Lol

Posted by: notlurking | Mar 14 2015 17:45 utc | 1

He's preaching to a wider audience than to his usual choir? It was OK to be crazy with them, but now that the neo-cons are really pressing for delivery instead of just sounding off, he has to make a show of an argument to the as yet 'unconvinced?

Posted by: jfl | Mar 14 2015 17:55 utc | 2

Hedging his bets. Netanyahu isn't too popular in Washington right now.

Posted by: dh | Mar 14 2015 18:12 utc | 3

Good article about the nutty professor Dr Muravchik.....

Posted by: notlurking | Mar 14 2015 18:26 utc | 4

Is it really surprising? Netanyahu's speech was a disaster. Even the most right-wing patriotic anti-Obama GOP politician must hesitate at enfeebling the US presidency as an institution. Once the presidency delegitimised, future Republican presidents may also find their authority weakened.

Netanyahu's speech has also led to a weakening of his support in Israel, and he may lose in the election. There the thinking is different - has Netanyahu put the vital US alliance in question? That associated with Netanyahu's incompetence on the Israeli economy.

It was a weak speech. He didn't come up with any new definitive justification against Iran. That failure was vital, as he effectively bet a high stake in deciding to go ahead.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 14 2015 19:22 utc | 5

@ not lurking

Nah, he thought like Paul Wolfowitz that "The road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad." (supporting the invasion of Iraq)

Posted by: Yul | Mar 14 2015 19:26 utc | 6

Petition: No weapons to Ukraine!

Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 14 2015 19:52 utc | 7

@5 Netanyahu's speech did not go well. The standing ovations were just for show. He thought he could make Obama look stupid. In fact it is people like Boehner and Cotton who look stupid.

Posted by: dh | Mar 14 2015 20:06 utc | 8

Muravchik can safely ply his mental product, because no military will heed it, unless its leadership is profoundly retarded. As we discussed, there was a rehearsal of what may happen: the war of Israel with Hezbollah. Countermeasures of Iran:

Plan A. Bombing causes superficial damage, victory declared, US humiliated.

Plan B. Bombing causes major damage, Iran declares waters near its shore close to maritime traffic on the account of hostilities. Even now, with oil glut, that would be a major blow to the world economy (check Strait of Hormuz and its significance for oil trade).

Follow-up to Plan B. American response: bombing near Strait of Hormuz to stop Iranian missile batteries. Here is where the experience of 2006 comes in: the countermeasure has the form of hundreds or thousands of plausible outlets of tunnels where the missile launchers and missile can survive the bombing. Follow-up: send Marines. Iran is familiar with effective tactics for that alternative, again, lots of tunnel and short range missiles. Follow-up: Dahiya doctrine, slam population centers.

Would that happen, China and Russia will go "ballistic" and European support is far, far from certain. We are talking about prelude to WWIII in all its thermonuclear glory. At the very least, China and Russia will declare all sanctions on Iran null and void, and Russia will offer supplies of most advanced anti-aircraft systems, and perhaps anti-naval systems to boot, and perhaps nuclear umbrella to secure those supplies from preventative bombing (Diego Garcia is the best retaliatory target, being free of civilian casualties).

What will follow is probably multilateral mediation with Iran offering re-opening the waters to maritime trade in exchange for reparations and non-aggression guarantees.

This scenario is speculative, but there were various signals that China and Russia have "red lines". For example, why USA backed down so easily from the idea of attacking Syria? Other example include various remarks in speeches, and concrete actions so far. Moreover, this scenario is so disastrous that one has to ask: what percentage of probability that it would happen is "worth it"?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 14 2015 20:14 utc | 9

I read Porter's article, and I differ on one point: there is a divorce between AIPAC and neocons on Iran issue.

AIPAC is still a force in D.C., but divided AIPAC, not so much. Democratic part of AIPAC derided the letter of 47, perhaps not through the mouths of AIPAC officials, but various commentators who are connected to the "liberal part" of the Establishment, like Tom Friedman. Basically, powerful donors of Democrats where fully in synch with Administration on that one. Keep in mind that Obama is bold ONLY after checking the support.

Porter attributed the support of the letter of 47 to AIPAC, but his links are going back to his story, and details all point to Adelson's wing of AIPAC (more precisely, ZOA, EIC etc.) Basically, the establishment sometimes works in concert (e.g. when any sanctions on Israeli behavior have to be thwarted, or in respect to the policy on Ukraine), but sometimes it splits into cliques of "wimps" and "morons" (Realists and Exceptionalists? there are many labels).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 14 2015 20:33 utc | 10

~70% of Americans are OK with a ME war now, today. Think about that. Then consider any one of the current crop of clowns running for president sitting in the White House with a Rethuglican House and Senate. These guys mean it. They aren't joking. Just the other day "Lindsey Graham: As president I would deploy the military against Congress" to force the Congress to fund war... Think about it hard.

Posted by: hans | Mar 14 2015 20:46 utc | 11

Even under a GOP administration which claims to be ready to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, I'd be surprised if there's an attack on Iran. It would be a long battle. An engagement of many years, which would divert the US from their interests.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 14 2015 21:00 utc | 12

I hate to burst everyone's power bubble but Russia, Iran, Syria, have a mutual defense pact. So in essence Iran and Syria have offensive nukes in their arsenals. And an existential attack on either brings Russia into the conflict. Like Johnny Rotten said "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

Posted by: Alberto | Mar 14 2015 22:24 utc | 13

"'Mistrust Is Growing': European Leaders Blast GOP Senators for Letter to Iran"

Posted by: Willy2 | Mar 14 2015 23:44 utc | 14

Was a revival of chatter surrounding Russia's sale of the S-300 to Iran in Jan. 2015, as well of Iran showing off their own DIY system. Both probably another result of Idiot Netanyahu's war-mongering. Since Ukraine, I really don't see any reason for Russia to hold back.

Russia and Iran sign defense deal, 'may resolve' S300 missile delivery issue RT
Russia may send S-300 missile system to Iran JPost
Russia may send S-300 missile system to Iran - media Reuters

Debka, that old rag, even mentioned the S-400.

"TWO CHEERS - Second Thoughts on the Bush Doctrine"
He seems to have failed to distinguish between "second thoughts" and "wet dreams".

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 14 2015 23:59 utc | 15

You have to love this quote:

“The potential sale of the S-300 defense system will jeopardize prospects for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy,” Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) wrote to Kerry.

I had to laugh. It won't jeopardize prospects for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue through "diplomacy", it will jeopardize prospects for resolving the issue through an aerial attack on the country though...

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 15 2015 0:03 utc | 16

The time for an air strike against Iran's Nuke facilities, without unacceptable blowback, is long past. These war clowns are just pissing up a rope and they look all wet. There is nothing more pitiful than watching these fools try to deny, with stern words, their impotence.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 15 2015 0:38 utc | 17

It's astounding that stuff like this gets published. Not, really, but you know what I mean.
Some Neocon draft dodger assures us that War is the only way, and that it'll be painless and nothing bad will happen. Who's going to take up this imbecile's torch in Congress? I wouldn't put it past any of them.

Posted by: Almand | Mar 15 2015 1:39 utc | 18

Three Maps for Professor Muravchik

What Dr. Muravchik has proposed will not actually achieve any of America's goals in regard to Iran and the Middle East.

This is the fallacy of all these analyses, contra BBB Iran. BBB Iran has nothing to do with achieving any American goals ... anywhere. So lack of achieving America's goals is no impediment to those advocating BBB Iran.

BBB Iran achieves BiBi Israel's goals of chaos and destruction everywhere in the Middle East outside of - somehow - Israel. Destruction of US goals - if not, cumulatively, of the US itself - while unfortunate, is sheer, mere collateral damage.

Too bad. So sad. But BiBi and the neo-cons will have got everything worth stealing from the US before the US' eventual collapse, due in no small part to Israel's decades-long parasitism of its only ally and benefactor.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 15 2015 2:23 utc | 19

Oh, for ghu's sake! A whole article on a single turn of phrase that does not indicate anything? There is no change, they will continue to advocate war with the Islamic Republic, for as long as it has that name.

Posted by: A Person | Mar 15 2015 4:10 utc | 20

Maybe they learned from George and Dick's Bogus Iraqi adventure that a little CYA never hurt anybody but knowing neocons it's probably a messaging thing. Maybe frank luntz had found that most Americans find qualifiers "scholarly" or something...

Posted by: Cpl. Cam | Mar 15 2015 5:49 utc | 21

Ever false? You know this in some unexplained way.

Posted by: james | Mar 15 2015 6:12 utc | 22

netanyahu,s speech was merely a feint,as preparations are being made to build up troop strength around saudi arabia
yemen will be the next stop,along with iraq.jordan is in position.the encirclement is almost complete.
westerners have been warned that saudi arabia is unsafe.

3 crows await,2 fly above,1 calls for out

Posted by: mcohen | Mar 15 2015 6:14 utc | 23

JM: "What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons?"

Ahem. What if you try force and... it don't work, dude?

Posted by: Johnboy | Mar 15 2015 9:48 utc | 24

SM: "Wouldn’t destroying much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary."

Hmmmm. And it never occurs to him that, you know, other countries might decide to intervene in that little wet-dream of his?

Neocon: Bomb them once a week, every week, preferably on a Wednesday because that's a slow news day!
Flunky: The first air strikes are in the air, next week's strike is being prepped as we speak.
Neocon: Excellent. Keep me posted.
Flucky: Shit! Putin's just announced he's sending ten squadrons of Sukhoi's to Tehran, and China is promising 50 squadrons of J-10's by the weekend.
Neocon: Who... what... where?!?!?

Posted by: Johnboy | Mar 15 2015 10:58 utc | 25

How America loses 20k mariners in a single day of combat

Posted by: Anunnaki | Mar 16 2015 3:23 utc | 26

for what it's worth, most article titles are not composed by the author. Rather an editor comes up with the title in order to grab the attention of potential readers.

Posted by: Dan | Mar 16 2015 11:30 utc | 27

Dan, the editor did his/her darn best to convey the spirit of the article.

Nine years ago Muravchik had an article titled "Bomb Iran" with the opening paragraph with those words only "We must bomb Iran". Manly and unambiguous.

Now he bothers by presenting the "negotiation options" for three lengthy paragraphs, and the force is mentioned only in the fourth. The third paragraph asks if we should accept Iran's offer.

"But should it be? What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons? That, in fact, is probably the reality. "

Arguments are of course as vacuous as before, but presented in a wobbly, easier to refute format. If you make argument that consists of points, one can argue back point by point without looking like a sissy. But try to keep face refuting manly "We must bomb Iran".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 16 2015 13:49 utc | 28

Ha ha ha ..good find, probably.

What gets me is the way all these ppl talk, as if they were discussing problems in 1st grade from the vantage point of punitive and idiotic teachers.

Probably our best option is to remove Niloofar from gym..”

“Ivan doesn’t produce anything he just sits there and won’t write..”

We are deeply concerned by Pedro’s efforts to escalate intimidation, we feel he needs therapy ..”

And so on. Do they do this to get the public on board? Maybe they like to imagine that. But I’m afraid the deeper reasons are more frightening.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 16 2015 15:44 utc | 29

@22 james... for the record, now someone is using a handle that i have been using here for a fairly long time.. b can check the e mail address on @22 and note it is not the same as the one this james uses to post...

Posted by: james | Mar 16 2015 16:26 utc | 30

I looked at the MOA archives from ten years ago and the discussions about bombing Iran were almost identical to the present ones. This Bomb Iran rhetoric is nothing more than bully projection aimed at forcing more humiliating concessions from Iran who have no nuke weapons program. The humiliation is necessary because of the US humiliation at the hands of Iran in '79.

What strikes me is that Iran had an easy out of this conflict when Fukushima displayed to the world how filthy and dangerous Nuke Power is, they could have easily ended their power program without making any concessions to the West.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 16 2015 16:30 utc | 31

Wayoutwest says:

This Bomb Iran rhetoric is nothing more than bully projection aimed at forcing more humiliating concessions from Iran who have no nuke weapons program.

yeah, 'cause the yanks wouldn't never akchally bomb nobody now would they? maybe they'll just resume assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists instead.

Posted by: john | Mar 16 2015 17:24 utc | 32


The Yanks only bomb weak countries that can't defend themselves, Iran is not a weak country and can defend itself from the US or Israel, so no bombing just hubris and belligerent rhetoric.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 16 2015 17:49 utc | 33

Wow @ 33

oh, i get're talking about intensive bombing, not isolated bombing.

Posted by: john | Mar 16 2015 18:06 utc | 34

Bombing of Iran is of course not the problem, but a proposal of a solution. To quote a book that I listened to before I learned how to read: "Pooh tried to think, and all he could think of was something which didn't help at all. So he hummed it very quietly to himself.

If Rabbit
Was bigger
And fatter
And stronger,
Or bigger
Than Tigger,
If Tigger was smaller,
Then Tigger's bad habit
Of bouncing at Rabbit
Would matter
No longer,
If Rabbit
Was taller.
So Winnie the Pooh and other animals decided that given the fanatical nature of Tigger (who would not give up bouncing at Rabbit) and the potential of creating a vast Tigger dominated region that would contain the entire Forest, the only solution is to bomb Tigger.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 16 2015 19:07 utc | 35


Some of the more insane Beltway Bandits may think bombing Iran, declaring war whether intensive or isolated, will help their oil stocks, WTI at $44 today but they are just insane and impotent.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 16 2015 19:24 utc | 36

Perhaps the Neocons noticed as well, that their buddy, the fearmonger called Netanjahu is about to lose the israeli elections ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Mar 16 2015 20:35 utc | 37

I think that "more insane Beltway Bandits" would not be investors in oil futures or fracking companies. I would rather suspect that the think tanks where Muravchik gets paychecks got some donations from Gulf, and they have to deliver something. Given that, why did Muravchik downgrade the level threat from red to amber?

His original "We must bomb Iran" was quite magnificent, and, alas, hard to reproduce. In 2006 he explained that we are facing the same dilemma as the Western world in 1917 when only Winston Churchill advocated proper action: eradication of Bolsheviks. As he was not heeded we got Communism, and BECAUSE of that, also fascism and 100 million victims were killed as a result, not to mention at least a billion who survived only to suffer under totalitarian regimes. AND EXACTLY THE SAME WILL HAPPEN if we will not bomb Iran, the center of Islamic extremism that will not rest until it will unite the Muslim world from Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Stait of Torres (between Indonesia and Australia) into the largest totalitarian state ever, and then proceed with the conquest of Europe. He stopped short of declaration that the fate of the entire Galaxy is at stake.

Current threats are a thin gruel. Iran, "already embroiled in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen" may become emboldened and attack even more countries, like "Arab states" and Israel. Where are my 100 million victims? Where is the Umma? Where is al-Qaeda as the puppet of the ayatollah of Qom (to whom Iran would pass portable nukes). So the Galaxy is mostly safe, and even Morocco does not seem to be under threat. And USA is defending potentially vulnerable Arab countries quite directly (Gulf and Jordan) so it is a bit hard to see how the "emboldening" would work.

So I see the following question: why Muravchick decided to describe only "somewhat realistic" and modest threats now, while he could depict vast, almost Galactic, looming calamities nine years ago? My theory is that indeed, Gulf sponsors paid for this work, and they had some comments. The idea that Sunnis would not care to much if the potential Umma is lead by Sunnis or Shias would be deeply offensive to deeply religious Sunnis. To them, it would sound like "after all, Americans do not care if they f...k high schoolers or their own mothers" would sound to Americans. It is one thing if your prophecies are deemed ridiculous by some leftist web sites, but if you make your own sponsors cringe, you better write again.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 17 2015 1:24 utc | 38

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