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Washington Think-Tank Cultivating 'Last Resort' Against Iran and Priming Next President

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Preventive - a seemingly innocuous word has been getting a lot of play in recent publications and conferences sponsored by Washington think tanks - perhaps nowhere more than at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

Generally we don’t expect death, destruction and illegality to rest on the preventive side of the equation. Then again, after March 19, 2003, perhaps we should. When WINEP uses the word preventive they mean "preventive military action." More precisely - a military attack on another country, in this case Iran that is neither in self-defense nor in response to an immediate threat of attack.

The likelihood of a military strike against Iran either by the United States or Israel has been debated for years waxing and waning with the geopolitical climate. What is not in question is the steady effort by some to lay the ground work for such an action.

The Washington Institute founded by Martin Indyk, a former research director for AIPAC, seeks to "bring scholarship to bear on the making of U.S. policy" in the Middle East. Among its programs is the Presidential Study Group "charged with drafting a blueprint for the next administration’s Middle East policy." WINEP’s board of advisers includes noted figures such as Richard Perle, R. James Woolsey and until 2001 Paul Wolfowitz.

Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow and director of WINEP’s Military and Security Studies Program wrote a three-page article in September 2006 entitled "Iran: The Complex Calculus of Preventive Military Action." Eisenstadt discussed the factors that would be in play if the U.S. took preventive military action to "thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions."

He tackled first the matter of congressional authorization for a planned attack on Iran. He referred to it as "consulting Congress." Quickly bypassing Congress’ constitutional power to declare war citing precedence, Eisenstadt laid out two options. 1. Inform a select group of members of Congress prior to launching a strike, but compromise public support for "subsequent actions." 2. Allow Congress to openly debate the "merits of military action" and seek a joint resolution, but preclude surprise and risk defeat.

Bearing in mind WINEP’s mission to use scholarship to assist in policy making, it is worth noting a glaring omission. Mr. Eisenstadt made no room for discussion of the UN Charter ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1945 thereby making it the law of our land. It requires that member nations refrain from the threat or use of force and that if a dispute is not settled it shall be referred to the Security Council which will make recommendations.

While the Charter allows for military action in self-defense and the issue of a preemptive attack in the face of "imminent danger" has been a point of contention in recent years, no strong case for an "imminent" attack was even put forth in the article. What Eisenstadt was considering was a preventive strike to "thwart ambitions."

To minimize national backlash - a rally around the flag in Iran – Eisenstadt recommended that the U.S. engage in a "high-profile information campaign" to convince the Iranian people that an attack on their country is in their best interest. The article concluded that while seeking diplomacy, military prevention should be on the table.

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In summer 2007, Eisenstadt published another article on preventive action "The Complex Calculus of Preventive Military Action." Along with the title the article was, with a few exceptions, the same as the one he authored in 2006.

In 2006, his reason was "faltering diplomacy" over Iran’s nuclear program. In 2007, he pointed to Bush administration claims that Iran was supplying IED’s that were being used against U.S. forces in Iraq. This was a big news item at the time. What was not big news was that proof of those claims never fully materialized.

Both articles shared an important statement, "[One] should not dismiss the possibility that the intelligence picture concerning Iran’s nuclear program could change rapidly." And change it did. In December 2007, the key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran were made public. Among the findings: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."

Thus began the campaign to discredit the 2007 NIE on Iran.

Bending, conspiring, duping and ruining our day

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The first to let his fingers fly was Norman Podhoretz. Writing for the Commentary, he penned an article in June 2007 entitled "The Case for Bombing Iran." On September 11, his book World War IV: The Long Struggle against Islamofascism was released.

Hours after the key judgments of the NIE were made public, he accused the intelligence community of "bending over backward" to dispute what he claimed is universally believed - that Iran is "hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons." He continued, "But, I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again."

Patrick Clawson, WINEP’s deputy director for research offered his own spin. He asked "how much does weaponization matter?" and claimed that the findings only suggest a change in sequence by Tehran. For good measure, Clawson lamented about the U.S. intelligence community’s "poor track record."

Next up: Kenneth Timmerman. Writing for Newsmax, Timmerman cited the publication’s alleged sources in Tehran and claimed that "Washington has fallen for ‘a deliberate disinformation campaign’ cooked up by the Revolutionary Guards."

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Cheryl Biren is a Philadelphia-based researcher, writer, editor and photographer with a focus on social justice. From 2007-2011, she served on the editorial board of

Cheryl has also consulted for the Rob Kall Radio Show with (more...)

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Thanks, Cheryl, for pulling together several diffe... by Rady Ananda on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 6:52:50 AM
thanks rady. i keep hoping america will snap out o... by Cheryl Biren on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 1:40:07 PM
Another crooked AIPAC stunt that will put our nati... by John Hanks on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 9:13:35 AM
Thank you Cheryl. Excellent, informative piece of ... by Jennifer Hathaway on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 2:02:58 PM
Maybe they'll need another "Pearl Harbor&... by Larry McCombs on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 2:36:46 PM
But of course, I already knew they would never, EV... by Syndi Yellowbird on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 4:05:45 PM
of fascist's Goon's and Thug's in control during t... by Stanimal on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 5:04:12 PM
Dumbya is suddenly aware of his soon to be hideous... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 5:56:25 PM
to agree with you about bush right now. however, i... by Cheryl Biren on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 6:31:14 PM
Regarding Kenneth R. Timmerman who is mentioned in... by Munich on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 7:27:41 PM
what pattern? just kidding. yea, of course it'... by Cheryl Biren on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 7:39:06 PM
Billiant analogy Cheryl.We gotta keep em sepa... by Munich on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 8:21:00 PM
An odd thing happened last month. I looked at my y... by Peter Duveen on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 11:26:18 PM
Thanks for mentioning UANI. Actually started ... by Cheryl Biren on Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 11:48:50 PM
This effort has a healthy budget behind it, becaus... by Peter Duveen on Sunday, Oct 26, 2008 at 7:58:27 AM
They want to use "scholarship" to foment... by Sandy Sand on Sunday, Oct 26, 2008 at 7:23:14 AM
hadn't even occurred to me, but now that you p... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Oct 26, 2008 at 7:34:00 AM
Thanks so much for this Cheryl.  I have alrea... by Jim Harris on Sunday, Oct 26, 2008 at 2:59:42 PM
As I and many others have outliined in other comme... by Ishmael1 on Sunday, Oct 26, 2008 at 3:15:39 PM
Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over a... by jeff prager on Monday, Oct 27, 2008 at 1:58:59 PM
Think tank faculties look like a way of paying-off... by vthom on Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008 at 5:02:25 PM
Looks so good I'd like to try it myself. What ... by vthom on Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008 at 5:18:21 PM
think tanks, the good, the bad and the ugly would ... by Cheryl Biren on Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008 at 6:08:34 PM
   foundations and institutes are highbr... by vthom on Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008 at 9:37:36 PM
While you're at the thank tink project maybe y... by vthom on Thursday, Oct 30, 2008 at 4:15:51 AM


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