Once again, Washington’s gunslingers are agitating for a war with Iran. Cheered on by Fox News and enabled by uncritical talking heads such as NBC’s David Gregory and PBS’s Charlie Rose, the let’s-bomb-or-invade-or-maybe-do-both-to-Iran brigade is busy softening up public opinion for a war they seem to think is inevitable.
The Republicans so far have largely let the Democrats take the lead. Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Charles Schumer of New York, and Evan Bayh of Indiana have obliged. Undaunted by the fact that America’s save-face withdrawal of combat troops from the disastrous Iraq war is four months from completion, while reports of suicide bombings in post-election Iraq arrive daily, and unfazed by the dysfunction and corruption of the Afghan narco state, these donkeys seem to relish the thought of another quagmire.
The latest round of war chatter began weeks ago, after the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran may be working to develop a nuclear-armed missile. This report contradicts US intelligence, which three years ago held that Iran had abandoned its nuclear-weapons program in the fall of 2003. Israel, whose existence is on the line, disputed that assessment. And European governments, citing circumstantial commercial evidence as well as new intelligence, have been taking the Iranian threat far more seriously.
Popular Iranian support for removing the fundamentalist mullahs who oppress their own people, demonize the West, hate America, deny the Holocaust, and want to destroy Israel may be widespread, but it appears to be stalled in its tracks. It is possible that Iran has recommitted to a nuclear future in the hopes of discouraging foreign support for its internal opponents or encouraging the public’s latent nationalist sympathies.
But this is no more a time for guesswork, just as it is no time for war-mongering. The UN’s warning should be taken seriously. American intelligence should be reassessed. And, in the meantime, the slow and often frustrating business of implementing a fourth round of sanctions against Iran must continue. Russia has shown signs of perhaps conforming to common sense. China, long against such a process, has signaled it might be willing to consider such a resolution.
President Barack Obama’s nuclear-disarmament initiative is an important part of this larger strategy. Not only would it place nuclear outlaws such as North Korea and possibly Iran outside a newly defined non-attack zone, it offers Russia solid diplomatic motives for cooperating.
For the time being, diplomacy and international deterrence is the way to deal with Iran.
Next Tuesday, residents of Allston-Brighton and parts of Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, Saugus, and Somerville will choose their Democratic nominee for the State Senate. That primary winner will be the de facto senator-elect — and the Phoenix believes it should be Tim Flaherty.
Flaherty, a former prosecutor (and son of former House Speaker Charles Flaherty), impressed us when he ran for the seat in 2007, losing to Anthony Galluccio. He is even more impressive now. He has thoughtful approaches to job creation, housing, education, and transportation; a genuine concern for substance abuse and gay and transgender rights; and a smarter approach to criminal justice.
On those issues, Flaherty will best be able to pick up the ball from Galluccio, who resigned earlier this year. Galluccio’s personal troubles aside — along with his regrettable failure to face up to them — he was a dedicated legislator who served his constituents and the state well.