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CFR President Richard Haass Plays Six Degrees of Iran With North Korea

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Screenshot of the Tuesday edition of MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports"  by Kevin Gosztola

 Screenshot of the Tuesday edition of MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" 

American foreign policy makers have a few countries that are routinely regarded as evil no matter what the evidence. A few examples include: Iran, North Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, Syria, etc. 

There's no limit to what a foreign policy maker will hypothesize on the airwaves, and this has been especially true in the case of North Korea attacking South Korea. In discussions about how the U.S. should respond, neoconservatives have appeared on television to cheerlead the idea of a nuclear response.

In the case of Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, he appeared on Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC on Tuesday to suggest the following:

HAASS: "I think what you need to is retaliate when they do things like this. Retaliate and you need to be prepared for something bigger and you need to have very clear messages to North Korea. If they for example continue to do things like that, they will be retaliated against. If they for example take any of their newfound nuclear capabilities and transfer them to a country like Iran or to any of the terrorist groups, we ought to be very clear that, that would lead to our taking extraordinary military action, perhaps seeking regime change. I think the United States needs to take a much tougher line with North Korea, and stop imagining that we're somehow going to resume these negotiations that are in turn going lead to North Korea's de-nuclearization. It's simply not in the cards". [emphasis added]


Just like movie buffs love to play the trivia game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," foreign policy think tank leaders and members love to play "Six Degrees of Iran."

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Basically, any foreign conflict or incident especially ones that the U.S. could have played a clear role in exacerbating must somehow be connected to Iran. Usually, policy makers are able to do this in one degree like Haass did on MSNBC. Sometimes you have to involve other countries so you include China or you mention Somalia or Chad and how terrorists there might be able to transfer nuclear weapons to Iran.

Excuse the fact that what's suggested may sound like the plot to a Tom Clancy novel, the point is to keep Americans on their toes and inundated with the idea that Iran is a 24/7 nuclear threat even though U.S. intelligence can scarcely prove that Iran is bent on creating a nuclear weapon.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern reports that former President George W. Bush's book Decision Points illuminates how Bush was shocked to find out Iran stopped developing nuclear weapons in 2003. In fact, Gareth Porter of Consortium News reports, "The most important intelligence documents used to argue that Iran had a covert nuclear weapons research and development program in 2003 turn out to have a fatal flaw: the technical drawings depict a reentry vehicle that had already been abandoned by the Iranian missile program in favor of an improved model."

But, for people like Haass, that's of no consequence. The idea that Iran should be allowed to just peacefully enrich uranium because that is a right it is entitled to as a signatory of a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is perverse.

If Iran isn't a nuclear threat to the Middle East, geopolitics and foreign policy in the service of superpower have to be entirely rethought. Better to continue to promote the idea Iran is "intent on developing the means to produce a nuclear weapon." Oh, and do whatever to promote fear of that country whenever possible.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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