|An Israeli attack on Iran is imminent; at least that’s what someone reading much of the Western media might think these days.As Iran continues to develop its nuclear energy programme, some policymakers and commentators in the west say that the Islamic Republic is really after a nuclear weapon.
Robert Gates, the former US secretary of defence said that an attack on Iran would be a “catastrophe,” and Meir Dagan, the former head of the Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, also warned against an attack saying Iranian President Ahmadinejad is “rational”.
Despite this, some Israeli leaders continue to call for an attack, while US president Obama refuses to take any option “off the table”.
In February, US General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “I don’t think a wise thing at this moment is for Israel to launch a military attack on Iran…”
Dempsey continued that, “…we are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor. And it’s for that reason, I think, that we think the current path we’re on is the most prudent path at this point.”
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Dempsey’s comments drew condemnation from Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who have been leading the calls for an attack on Iranian nuclear sites.
One Israeli official went as far to say that Dempsey’s comments “served Iran”.
“The Iranians see there’s controversy between the United States and Israel, and that the Americans object to a military act. That reduces the pressure on them,” the official said.
US professor Juan Cole, who runs the blog Informed Comment, called on Barack Obama to condemn the Israeli officials’ comments against Dempsey and said Netanyahu’s calls for war are aiding the Iranian government:
Attack to setback
In a January/February Foreign Affairs article titled “Time to attack Iran”, Matthew Kroenig, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that waging attacks on Iran would benefit global security:
In February Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli pilot who took part in the bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, opined in the New York Times in favour of an attack on Iranian nuclear sites. Yadlin wrote that any attack would delay an Iranian nuclear weapons programme by a “few years”.
Yadlin also highlighted the 2007 attack on an alleged nuclear site in Syria:
This argument was refuged by Colin . Kahl, former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for the Middle East, had warned in the Washington Post against an attack saying that Yadlin and his comrades’ bombing of Osirak actually backfired and encouraged then President Saddam Hussein to speed up his weapons programme:
Kahl’s argument was supported by Israeli author Amos Oz, who recently told the Haaretz daily that an attack on Iran would serve as an incentive for Iran to build a weapon:
A blast to the past
In March, Al Jazeera’s Listening Post, a programme that monitors the global media, compared the talk of war in Iran to the run-up of the Iraq war 10 years ago.
Host Richard Gizbert said in the show’s opener:
US-based Iranian-born journalist Jasmin Ramsey took the point further in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera comparing the current US president with former President George W Bush, who led the US to war in Iraq in 2003:
The non-debate debate
Salon.com journalist Glenn Greenwald criticized US media’s skewed coverage of Iran, highlighting a number of articles in the New York Times that privileged Israeli voices while ignoring the Iranian perspective:
In his New York Times column, Nicholas Kristoff wrote that the media might be giving the false impression that there is a “genuine debate” among experts about whether or not to attack Iran.
“There really isn’t such a debate,” Kristoff wrote. ”Or rather, it’s the same kind of debate as the one about climate change — credible experts are overwhelmingly on one side.”
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Al Jazeera and agencies
Some commentators compare the escalating rhetoric on Iran with the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq.
April 11, 2012