Whenever I see an article by (or interview with) Mark Weisbrot I'm always impressed by how well-informed and perceptive he is; he's definitely on my short list of people whose every opinion is worth listening to. He's also one of those rare leftists who manage to pull off the whole suit-and-tied think tank wonk thing without mealy-mouthing his points into a bland paste. Here's a recent example:
Iran, which even the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has acknowledged is not pursuing a nuclear weapon, is portrayed as hell-bent on getting one. And why? So they can nuke Israel and become the first nation on Earth to commit mass suicide, since Israel has enough nuclear weapons to kill every Iranian several times over. It all makes sense, if you assume that mass suicide is Iran’s deepest national aspiration.
Nice (and I don't just appreciate it because I've said the same thing myself). And:
Back to the U.S.: The good news is that Israel will not attack Iran before the U.S. presidential election. Many people see Obama as a pushover – he got rolled by his generals in Afghanistan, by Wall Street on financial reform, etc. But woe unto him who tries to mess with Obama’s re-election. He will crush them. And a war with Iran – no matter who starts it -- is much too risky for an election year. It’s a safe bet that Obama reminded the Israelis who is boss, and who gives billions of dollars annually to whom.
I think Weisbrot is right that the mixed signals the U.S. has been sending about an attack on Iran are mainly about timing. It's true that an unprovoked assault on yet another country would probably be wildly popular with the public, but as illustrated in Iraq and Afghanistan (and even Libya) you can choose when your war will start but you may not get to choose when it'll end. Obama's already vaporized enough human beings to establish his national security credentials; why throw the dice again this close to the election? And it's not as though he doesn't have a history of tailoring bloodletting to his own political fortunes.