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WINEP’s Clawson Advocates U.S. Sinking Iranian Sub to Provoke War

Until today, the notion that Aipac wanted a war against Iran seemed plausible, but there was no smoking gun.  There is now.

This month, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (its slogan: “ideas, action, impact” appears apt considering the subject of this post), a pro-Israel think-tank closely affiliated with Aipac held a conference with the milquetoasty title, How to Build U.S.-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout (video here).  The money video footage features Patrick Clawson, one of those talking head analysts quoted by every “serious” publication that covers the Iran nuclear issue.  His comments are usually pretty middle of the road and conceal the extremism of his views.

But in the video featured above, you get to see those in all their seamy glory.  In this comment he talks candidly about how difficult it is to provoke a war when you want one.  He further states that the U.S. has been a wuss when it comes to its policy against Iran.  Besides sanctions, we need to get down and dirty.  Why couldn’t an Iranian submarine simply disappear (Remember the Maine)?  And if it did, we’d expect Iran to want to take a few good shots at us in retaliation.  Wouldn’t this serve as a terrific pretext for beating the crap out of the nasty mullahs and getting us into the war we really want?

Here’s the transcript of his remarks:

Crisis initiation is really tough.  It’s very hard for me to see how the U.S. president can get us to war with Iran.  Which leads me to conclude that if compromise does not come that the traditional way that America gets to war is what would be best for U.S. interests.

Some people may believe that Mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us into WWII…He had to wait for Pearl Harbor.  Some people might think Mr. Wilson wanted to get us into WWI.  He had to wait for the Lusitania episode.  Some people might think that Mr. Johnson wanted to send troops to Vietnam.  He had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode.  We didn’t go to war with Spain until the Maine exploded.  And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the federal army until Ft. Sumter was attacked.  Which was why he ordered the commander at Ft. Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians had said would cause an attack.

So if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war…One can combine other means of pressure with sanctions.  I mentioned that explosion on August 17th [the sabotage of the Fordo electricity lines by MEK-Israeli attack].  We could step up the pressure.   I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down.  Someday one of them might not come up.  Who would know why?

We can do a variety of things if we wish to increase the pressure.  I’m not advocating that.  But I’m just suggesting that this is not an either-or proposition–that just sanctions has [sic] to succeed…We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians.  We could get nastier at that.

The statement is breathtaking in its way.  It mauls American history by claiming that virtually every major war into which we’ve entered we cynically provoked (in truth, there were several that were provoked).  Not to mention that Clawson calls on the U.S. to manufacture a causus belli in order to start a war against Iran.  These are the pearls of wisdom offered by the D.C. pro-Israel policy elite.  These are the sorts of ideas Dennis Ross might’ve been offering to Barack Obama when he still worked for him.  Indeed, there are likely others still there whispering lunacies like these into the president’s ear.

Clawson’s ‘partners in crime’ at this conference were David Makowsky and Dennis Ross, the usual suspects when it comes to this sort of banging the war drum but wanting to appear dispassionate and middle of the road while doing so.

H/t to Dick Blakney.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Bob Mann October 3, 2012, 3:58 AM

    The channel hosting that YouTube video has some pretty unpleasant stuff on it. Are you sure you are comfortable linking to a video from there?

    Other titles include:

    Military now KNOWS Israel did 911- Dr Alan Sabrosky
    Globalist funded Radical Islam will invade Europe.
    Professor Mark Regnerus – Children of Gay couples suffer deficits compared to normal couples

    • Deïr Yassin October 3, 2012, 4:27 AM

      Bob Mann is applying a Hasbara 201-stick: “find a totally insignificant detail in order to derail the discussion from the main topic”. This is simply too much crap from the same person.
      Here’s the same speech from WINEP’s own channel. Clawson starts at min 3:10:

      • mary October 3, 2012, 6:22 AM

        Someone should tell Bob that even fringe element people watch stuff like C-SPAN.

        I’m so strongly reminded of Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb that it’s breathtaking.

      • Bob Mann October 3, 2012, 7:12 AM

        No – just saying that particular channel ought not to be linked to because they is a lot of garbage there. Linking to a channel like that is bad for this blog and it’s owner, in my opinion.

        Please continue to discuss the main topic – no “Hasbara tactics”, no derailment. I encourage you to share whatever insights you’d like to share on the video or anything in the post. In fact, I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    • Richard Silverstein October 3, 2012, 10:11 AM

      The only question I’m interested in is: is the video authentic? Did Clawson say those things? You can compare the video to the original 90 minute video & let us know. If the shortened version is faithful to the longer one, that’s all I care about.

      If you’re blind and I sit next to you will I become blind too? So what are you worried about? Did I ask you to watch any of the other videos? Do I care what’s in them? I linked to one video & that’s the only one I wanted readers to watch. If you went snooping through the channel looking for embarrassing videos that’s your problem, not mine.

      • mary October 3, 2012, 4:05 PM

        And as a rule, You Tube comments tend to be the most rude, vile, obnoxious and ignorant drivel humans are capable of producing, regardless of the actual video. But it’s just one of the hazards of using You Tube.

      • Bob Mann October 4, 2012, 5:39 AM

        Fair enough. I just think it’s better to link to a host of this video that is more neutral (C-Span or what have you). No snooping is really necessary to find embarrassing videos on that channel – one click on the YouTube link you provided reveals immediate ugliness (and just plain weirdness). No need to give any of your detractors material for criticism that is easily avoidable.

  • pabelmont October 3, 2012, 6:29 AM

    If Clauson is right, as he well may be for all I know — that USA typically goes to war upon a manufactured (or induced) pretext [i.e., USA either sinks its own ship or induces the enemy to do so], then his suggestion FALLS DOWN not on technique but on the question: DOES THE USA WANT TO GO TO WAR WITH IRAN (OR SHOULD IT WANT TO).

    Thus, Clauson stands out as a leading “conspiracy theorist” — makes conspiracy theorizing mainstream almost. So what about 9/11? Why does Bob Mann say “Military now KNOWS Israel did 911- Dr Alan Sabrosky” so disrespectfully? Does he think USA did it? Does he think Al Qaida did it alone?

    I for one absolutely believe that the fellow who flew the 9/11 airplanes into NYC buildings believed they were doing it as agents of Al Qaida; but the way the buildings (in NYC) fell down suggested demolition charges were in place before the airplanes hit and were exploded after they hit, and Al Qaida had much less opportunity (and know-how) than various others to prepare for demolition. Clauson’s remark makes this sort of “conspiracy theory” much more plausible, especially as neocons were calling for war (with Iraq) long before 9/11.

  • Deïr Yassin October 3, 2012, 7:15 AM

    Bravo, Pablemont. You went directly into Bob’s trap, attempting to take the focus away from WINEP, a AIPAC-offspring, and it’s role in encouraging a war on Iran :-)

    • Bob Mann October 3, 2012, 8:30 AM

      Pointing out that the YouTube video is hosted on a channel with a lot of garbage – What a clever trap that was!

      So far you’ve made two comments on this thread, neither of which address in any way the substance of the video.

      I’m not understanding what is preventing you from doing that. Maybe start with: “Even though the video is hosted on a channel with a lot of garbage, it’s important to discuss X, Y, and Z points made by the speaker…”

      Let’s get the discussion onto whatever track you want it to be on!

    • Tibor October 3, 2012, 10:27 AM

      Dear Yassin
      It seems you are prone to see others as mainly driven by tricky motives – having no other objective than getting away from the “real issues”, namely the one YOU hold central. Some healthy suspicion never hurts but how far can that be taken? For instance, if a source is quoted, especially on a sensational matter, looking into past records of that source to establish validity is quite sensible.

      • Deïr Yassin October 3, 2012, 10:50 AM

        Nope, the real issue here is embedded in Richards’ headline, and when someone turns up as the first commenter trying to direct the thread somewhere else, that’s mostly a deliberate action. I’ve been reading too many hasbaristas to know this is a common proceeding. It’s even in the Hasbara Handbook :-))
        We’re not talikng about an article here, and whether a source was rightly quoted etc, but about a public conference taking place at WINEP. Did you find any cuttings in Clawson’s speech that indicate any manipulation of his speech (as often in footages by MEMRI, for instance).
        Don’t you think it’s important that WINEP, founded by a member of AIPAC, and really nothing more than a right-wing Israeli mouthpiece in the States is encouraging some kind of a false-flag operation in order to provoke a war ? As you claim thatIran – and not Israel, that these guys are representing – is the dangerous country in the region, I guess you’re okay with that.
        By the way, you never answered my quesion on another file about santions against Israel. I guess it’s an answer in itself.

        • Tibor October 3, 2012, 12:03 PM

          It is impossible to follow all the turns here and know what`s true and what`s a canard. Likewise in “approving” moves that seem inappropriate when considered on their own but differently so within a broader perspective (when the alternatives are even worse). Wars are nasty – they have ever been – and when Iran made Israel it`s central target (with no outstanding issue between the two countries as a pretext) and in a quite venomous way they should have known that there will be (likewise) retaliations. These guys have sawn what they are reaping now and I cannot see why, given how malicious they generally are, they deserve sympathy.

          • Davey October 3, 2012, 9:15 PM

            How malicious THEY are? Are you kidding? Did you listen to the clip? This is malice with a capital “M.” No issue with Israel? What are you smoking?

  • Fred Plester October 3, 2012, 9:02 AM

    The first problem with this idea, is that it’s not provoking the other side into starting a war: sinking a submarine is an act of war in itself and this would make America the aggressor, which could be very tricky in the UN.

    The second problem is that, while I concede that if you wanted to provoke the Iranians into lashing out in some way, sinking a submarine is sure-fire, America would have no control whatsoever over what form that lashing-out might take, and it could be a lot more effective than AIPAC are bargaining for.

    The hope is that the IRG will be sent out in fibreglass motorboats to do battle with the US Navy, and that assorted Bushmaster cannons will tear them to bits, followed by a bombing of Iran’s civil infrastructure, etc.

    The risk is that the USA will very promptly lose something it values extremely highly. It’s worth noting that one of the things which leaked, before Bradley Manning became officially the worst person in the whole world, was a list of all the industrial sites, worldwide, which were considered strategically essential to the United States. Some of these aren’t very big, and are located in countries without massive military resources. It was like publishing a list of potential hostages to fortune. The real sinner is not whoever leaked it, but whoever composed such a list in the first place and put it on a “secure” military data network with more than a million authorised subscribers…

    Everything from semiconductor factories in Israel to THE Insulin factory in Denmark. The world is full of facilities which America cannot do without and which America does not actually protect.

    • Davey October 3, 2012, 9:20 PM

      What makes sinking a sub a sure piece of bait? Suppose they don’t rise to the occasion, but take revenge covertly in a third party place? The US military does not want this war and therefore there has got to be some large risk in setting it off, the risk that the military will subvert the operation to say “I told you so.” Too many imponderables here.

      • Fred Plester October 4, 2012, 12:34 PM

        That really is my point: it’s sure to provoke a reaction, but there’s no guarantee it will be the reaction they want.

        Overt or covert, the response may be much more effective than they are bargaining for.

        There’s also an assumption that Israel’s own submarines can’t be sunk in direct retaliation. That really is an assumption.

  • mary October 3, 2012, 4:12 PM

    You just gotta wonder why Israel is so willing to invite Iran to bomb the hell out of it. Which they would do if Israel attacked. Before the end of the day how many thousands of civilians would be dead, or do they think the US and Iron Dome would protect them?

    • Bob Mann October 4, 2012, 5:41 AM

      I really don’t think it will happen. In the end, I think it’s just a lot of saber-rattling that will hopefully mean Netanyahu’s swift departure from the political scene. There is already talk of elections coming relatively soon. Hopefully, a less bellicose leader can help tone done the rhetoric.

      • Nimrod October 4, 2012, 8:25 AM

        You clearly know very little about today’s Israeli politics, Bob.

        • Bob Mann October 4, 2012, 11:59 AM

          Can’t really argue with that. Only go by what I read online. Can you add your insights?

  • Joel October 3, 2012, 11:11 PM

    This may seem like a dumb question, but aren’t think-tank guys like Clawson, SUPPOSED to think? Isn’t that they’re job?

    They’re not advising anybody. They wield no power or influence. They just think, write and talk sometimes. So what?

    We only have to worry when people in the Pentagon or White House, behind closed doors, start saying the things Clawson says.

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