Washington's new "group think" on Iran that the only possible approach is a heightened confrontation followed by "regime change" is being shaped by the same opinion leaders who charted the way into the bloody disaster in Iraq and paid no career price.
On Wednesday, New York Times' columnist Thomas L. Friedman rejoined the gang of tough-guy pundits by roughing up the leaders of Brazil and Turkey for daring to negotiate an agreement with Iran that would have it ship about half its low-enriched uranium out of the country and thus spur hopes for a peaceful settlement.
To Friedman, this deal was "as ugly as it gets," the title of his column. However, others might think that seven-plus years of carnage in Iraq the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, children with limbs blown off, and the 4,400 dead American soldiers and their grieving families might be uglier.
But not Friedman, who like many of his fellow millionaire pundits cheered on the Iraq War as the only possible way to deal with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, just as they now are demanding "regime change" in Iran, rather than an agreement to ensure that Iran doesn't produce a nuclear bomb, which Iran vows it doesn't want anyway.
In his new belligerent column on Iran, Friedman makes clear that he isn't really interested in nuclear safeguards; instead, he wants the United States to do whatever it can to help Iran's internal opposition overthrow President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran's Islamic-directed government.
"In my view, the "Green Revolution' in Iran is the most important, self-generated, democracy movement to appear in the Middle East in decades," Friedman wrote.
"It has been suppressed, but it is not going away, and, ultimately, its success -- not any nuclear deal with the Iranian clerics -- is the only sustainable source of security and stability. We have spent far too little time and energy nurturing that democratic trend and far too much chasing a nuclear deal."
That argument, of course, runs parallel to the neocon case for war with Iraq, that "regime change" was the only acceptable outcome. False claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were just the means to get the American public to support that end, just as the exaggerated fears about Iran's nuclear program are becoming the new excuse for another bid at "regime change."
However, unlike Iraq which was ruled by dictator Saddam Hussein, the neocon goal of overthrowing Iran's government faces the unacknowledged reality that Ahmadinejad almost certainly won the June 12, 2009, election that he is a popularly elected leader.
The Election Fraud Myth
Though the U.S. press corps has refused to accept that fact and routinely describes the election as "fraudulent," "rigged" or "stolen," the reality is there has been no serious evidence presented to support those claims.
Indeed, the overwhelming evidence is that Ahmadinejad, with strong support from the poor especially in more conservative rural areas, defeated the "Green Revolution" candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi by roughly the 2-to-1 margin of the official results.
For instance, an analysis by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes earlier this year concluded that most Iranians voted for Ahmadinejad and viewed his reelection as legitimate, contrary to claims made by much of the U.S. news media.
Not a single Iranian poll analyzed by PIPA whether before or after the June 12 election, whether conducted inside or outside Iran showed Ahmadinejad with less than majority support. None showed Mousavi, a former prime minister, ahead or even close.
"These findings do not prove that there were no irregularities in the election process," said Steven Kull, director of PIPA. "But they do not support the belief that a majority rejected Ahmadinejad." [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "Ahmadinejad Won, Get Over It!"]
If these and other scholarly examinations are correct and there is no counter-evidence that they aren't what happened after the June 12 election is that Mousavi simply refused to accept the voters' choice and with the enthusiastic backing of the U.S. news media undertook to reverse the results with massive street protests.