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Should the US or Israel Confront Iran?

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Ilan Berman, vice president of The American Foreign Policy Council, a conservative Washington-based think tank, appeared on the Glenn Beck Program recently to discuss the possibility of President Bush bombing Iran before the end of his term. Berman is the author of Tehran Rising: Iran’s Challenge to the United States and the director of the Iran Freedom Initiative for the AFPC. Berman is also a “contributing expert” to the Ariel Center for Policy Research, a conservative Israeli research institute. When questioned by Beck regarding the possibility of Israel bombing Iran, Berman replied:

Do they [Israel] have the firepower to pull this off? […] policy makers in the United States should be thinking about, ‘Well, lets assume the Israelis do do it. Is the end result that they envision the same as what we would like to have happen?’ I suspect that the answers are kind of different, and it really behooves us to be thinking carefully about what we want to have happen in Iran. Obviously, the campaign that we would be looking at would probably be much broader.

Berman did not elaborate on the distinctions between Israeli and US goals for Iran, nor did he describe the details of a “broader” campaign. His comments resemble those made by neoconservative Norman Podhoretz on Israeli television.

HOST: You would like to see the United States take that action, but should Israel become involved and cooperate with the American military forces?

NORMAN PODHORETZ: I think that it would be very difficult for Israel to pull off such an operation under present circumstances and given the complications within Iran. I think the United States can do it, launching strikes from the two carriers that are sitting nearby—there are submarines with cruise missles—I think we’re capable of doing it effectively and I think it would probably—all things considered—be better if the United States did it, than if Israel were involved.

Podhoretz did not elaborate on the meaning of the word “better,” in terms of who would benefit from US strikes on Iran. Podhoretz, the recipient of The Guardian of Zion Award, author of World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism (due out September 11, 2007) and The Case for Bombing Iran, was recently appointed to Rudy Guiliani’s Senior Foreign Policy Team.

Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid and is widely considered to have a large nuclear stockpile. Israel recently purchased two Dolphin nuclear capable submarines from Germany, which footed one-third of the cost.

While the prospects of “crippling sanctions” or military strikes by Israel and the US were discussed on Beck’s program, the possibility of dialog with Iran remained unmentioned. Most experts and analysts favor engaging Iran as a way to restore balance to the region. The Baker-Hamilton Iraq study group prescribed direct talks with Iran as part of a “diplomatic offensive.” IAEA chief Mohammad El-Baradei labeled strikes on Iran as “an act of madness.” Former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described attacking Iran as “inconceivable.”

Asked if it was inconceivable that the world would support US military action against Iran, presumably bombings or using Israel as a “proxy”, Mr Straw replied: “Not only is that inconceivable but I think the prospect of it happening is inconceivable.”

Iran cannot strike the US mainland; however, military action against Iran would render US soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and bases in the region susceptible to Iranian retaliatory measures. Yet on both programs that appear in the clip below, the possibility of President Bush bombing Iran before the end of his term was repeatedly raised.

CNN:

GLENN BECK: And mark my words, if Iran is still baking yellow cake next November, and a Democrat or a dove Republican wins the election, let me tell you something: this country will unfortunately be at war with Iran before the next inauguration.

[…]

ILAN BERMAN: If the president was serious about this, he could implement all sorts of things…but it’s quite clear that as we move down that timeline, the likelihood of a confrontation of some sort of military confrontation becomes much greater.

Israel Broadcast Authority News:

HOST: Do you think he’ll do it [Bush, bomb Iran]?

NORMAN PODHORETZ: …I believe contrary to what many people assume that he will do it before he leaves office, possibly shortly before he leaves office.

It is worth noting that the President would not need congressional approval to authorize an attack against Iran. In this article for the Associated Press, David Espo and Mathew Lee write:

Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.

Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy.

The US and Iran recently held two rounds of discussions regarding security in Iraq; however, Iran’s latest overture for higher-level talks was rejected by the US.

Watch Ilan Berman, Norman Podhoretz and Glenn Beck in the short clip below.

Irancove @ July 27, 2007

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