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Iran Hawks Are the New Iraq Hawks

May 8, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Last week, while watching Benjamin Netanyahu unveil secret information that supposedly proved that Iran is deceiving the world about its nuclear-weapons program, I had a flashback. It was to February 5, 2003, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell unveiled secret information that supposedly proved that Iraq was deceiving the world about its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs. Like Netanyahu’s, Powell’s presentation was dramatic. He informed the United Nations Security Council that some of the material he was about to present came from “people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is really up to.” He went on to play a secretly recorded conversation of two Iraqi officials supposedly plotting to mislead weapons inspectors. He later presented a photo of bunkers that allegedly held “active chemical munitions” but were “clean when the inspectors get there.” Saddam, Powell insisted, wants “to give those [of] us on this Council the false impression that the inspection process was working.” Powell’s presentation was designed to prove that it was not. Read more…

The Forward »

Abandoning Iran Deal, U.S. Joins Israel In Axis Of Escalation

May 8, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

After 9/11, a colleague turned to me and said, “We’re all Israelis now.”

Listening to Donald Trump announce that the United States will brazenly violate its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, I had a similar thought. In the outlooks of their governments, Israel and the United States are now one. Ideologically, it no longer makes sense to speak about “The West.” Read more…

The Atlantic »

Benjamin Netanyahu: TV Star

May 1, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Benjamin Netanyahu’s breathless presentation on Monday about Iran’s nuclear program didn’t reveal anything particularly surprising about Iran’s nuclear program. Using a batch of stolen Iranian documents that detailed the program, the Israeli prime minister purportedly proved that Tehran pursued a nuclear-weapons program before 2003, and has been lying about it ever since. Which is what most experts already assumed. Even Fox News anchor Brit Hume acknowledged that the “Netanyahu revelations, it seems, make clear Iran has repeatedly lied about its nuclear intentions, but do not establish violations of the Iran nuclear deal.” That’s right. They did not establish any violations because—according to 10 International Atomic Energy Agency reports, along with Trump’s own defense secretary and State Department—Iran (unlike the United States) is complying with the deal. Read more…

The Atlantic »

Trump May Already Be Violating the Iran Deal

April 29, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

As anyone who reads the news knows, Donald Trump will decide by May 12 whether to “withdraw from” or “pull out of” or “abandon” or “scrap” or “jettison” (the synonyms keep coming) the nuclear deal with Iran. Why May 12? Because last October, Trump declared that Iran isn’t complying with the agreement. Under a law passed by Congress, that “decertification” means Trump can reimpose the sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear activities that were waived as part of the deal. Trump hasn’t reimposed those sanctions yet. But he’s demanded that Iran make vast new concessions. And he’s threatened that if Iran does not do so by May 12, “American nuclear sanctions would automatically resume.” Read more…

The Forward »

American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza — And The Truth

April 26, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

“In our time,” wrote George Orwell in 1946, “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.” British colonialism, the Soviet gulag and America’s dropping of an atomic bomb, he argued, “can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face.” So how do people defend the indefensible? Through “euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” By obscuring the truth. Read more…

The Atlantic »

Striking the Syrian Regime Is Not Legitimate

April 13, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

The story of American humanitarian war, as expressed over the last quarter-century, is a tragedy. It’s the tale of well-meaning interventionists like Samantha Power and Susan Rice who—haunted by America’s failure to act in Rwanda in 1994, and emboldened by America’s partial successes in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999—helped orchestrate a 2011 war in Libya that toppled a dictator but created something worse: a jihadist-filled failed state. The impact on President Obama was profound. In his second term, Obama—despite pressure to wage war against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad—made clear by his actions that, at least in Syria, the era of humanitarian war was over. Read more…

The Atlantic »

Trump’s Dangerous Threat of War

April 11, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

The problem is not simply that congressional leaders won’t stop President Trump from firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and maybe Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and plunging America into a constitutional crisis. The problem is that those congressional leaders—while allowing Trump to do all this—are also allowing him to take the United States to war. Read more…

The Atlantic »

The Deeply Underdeveloped Worldview of John Bolton

March 29, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Survey the history of American national-security advisors going back to the position’s creation in the mid-twentieth century, and two things about John Bolton stand out. The first is his militancy: his incessant, almost casual, advocacy of war. The second—which has gotten less attention but is deeply intertwined with the first—is the parochialism of his life experience. Read more…

The Atlantic »

John Bolton and the Normalization of Fringe Conservatism

March 24, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Since President Trump chose John Bolton as national-security adviser, the media has focused largely on Bolton’s calls for war with North Korea and Iran. And for good reason. But there’s another element of Bolton’s record that’s received less scrutiny but may also illuminate how he’ll approach his new role, and the compromises he may be prepared to make. Read more…

The Atlantic »

The Nancy Pelosi Problem

March 23, 2018 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Last may, Washington Post’s James Hohmann noted “an uncovered dynamic” that helped explain the GOP’s failure to repeal Obamacare. Three current Democratic House members had opposed the Affordable Care Act when it first passed. Twelve Democratic House members represent districts that Donald Trump won. Yet none voted for repeal. The “uncovered dynamic,” Hohmann suggested, was Nancy Pelosi’s skill at keeping her party in line. Read more…