Albright Report Urges U.S. to Declare “Red Lines,” Prepare Military Strike Against Iran
David Albright has played an influential role in the proliferation debate concerning Iran’s nuclear program. A former IAEA inspector who founded the Institute for Science and International Security, Albright has a reputation as a sober-minded analyst of Iran’s nuclear program. But his approach has been harshly criticized by Iran analysts like Muhammad Sahimi, who wrote:
Albright relies too heavily on speculation and, quite often, baseless guessing. Moreover, he has…publish[ed] analyses that seem to serve one and only one purpose: adding dangerous fuel to the hysteria over Iran’s nuclear program. Given that the War Party and Israel are looking for any excuse to provoke and justify military attacks on Iran, anything other than scientific analysis, backed by legitimate documents and credible sources, is extremely dangerous.
An analyst of Iran’s nuclear program and the president of a supposedly scientific institution cannot consort with AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobby in the United States and the prime force behind practically all the anti-Iran rhetoric, and, at the same time, present himself as an objective and impartial analyst. But on March 5, 2006, Albright spoke to AIPAC, making a presentation entitled, “Nuclear Countdown: What Can Be Done to Stop Iran?”
…When talking about Iran’s nuclear program, Albright usually tells half the story…[He] and the ISIS continually publish analyses in which they insinuate preordained conclusions based on totally unrelated facts.
As a former IAEA inspector who has close relationships with Israeli sources, Albright is a perfect possible go-between. Many journalists and analysts have noted that the material offered in IAEA reports, though credited to intelligence agencies of various nations, appears to come mainly from the Mossad. Though Israeli intelligence could convey this material to the IAEA in many ways (including directly), Albright’s views are consonant with the Israeli pro-war camp and he would be a useful asset to it.
I note this because Albright has just released a new report, U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East (full report, pdf), on Iran’s nuclear program which contains alarming findings and which urges further harsh measures be taken against Iran. The report was drafted by five “experts” with extensive nonproliferation experience. At first glance, their bona fides appear impeccable. Till one examines their affiliations. Besides Albright, another study author, Mark Dubowitz, is the executive director of the neocon think-tank, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. A third author, Orde Kittrie, is a Fellow at FDD. Given FDD’s decidedly right-wing pro-war ideology, there is no possible way this report can be considered as anything other than a brief for escalation of the conflict against Iran leading up to, and possibly including war.
In a cursory review of the 154-page report, I noted among other things that the authors announce their support for acts of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program:
…Sabotage has been used to slow the Iranian nuclear program, including through infiltration and disruption of procurement networks and cyberattacks designed to inflict physical damage to the program. Judicious use of this tool should be included in continued U.S. efforts to constrain the Iranian nuclear program.
I find it astonishing that an individual who was an IAEA inspector and who counts himself as a non-partisan analyst would justify the violation of Iran’s national sovereignty implied by such a recommendation. Not to mention that sabotage may mean cyber-terrorism such as the Stuxnet virus while it may also mean the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists. The very idea that a U.S. scientist would write a sentence even remotely justifying the murder of scientists of another country is revolting.
Even more alarming is Albright’s championing of the war option. He says :
“…[The] military option [must be] sufficiently credible to persuade the Iranian leadership now that, at some point between the present day and their acquisition of a nuclear arsenal, the United States will intervene militarily to prevent that outcome.
a. Undertake additional overt preparations for the use of warplanes and/or missiles to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities with high explosives, so as to reinforce the credibility of this threat. Iran must be made to understand that the United States is ready to implement this option, if…Iran’s nuclear capabilities continue to progress. To be effective as a means for increasing pressure on Iran, this threat must be credible.
In this passage, the study authors outline “red lines” that should activate a military response from the U.S.:
…The president of the United States should explicitly declare that he will use military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear program if Iran takes additional “decisive steps toward producing a bomb.” Possible triggers could include producing weapon-grade uranium or separated plutonium, expelling IAEA inspectors, construction of additional covert nuclear facilities, or undertaking significant additional weaponization activities.
These lines in the sand are quite remarkable. They’re saying that if the world discovers another secret facility like Fordo, this ipso facto should be considered a causus belli. If Iran undertakes unspecified activities that might be construed as progressing toward a nuclear weapon–again a causus belli. If this policy recommendation had been followed when we did discover Fordo, we’d already be in the middle of a regional war with likely thousands of dead and facing years worth of intense hostility and warfare, both symmetric and asymmetric.
Let’s be clear: what Albright is calling for here is essentially an ultimatum. He’s not saying that Iran should be attacked if it shows that it’s clearly intent on building a nuclear weapons, which is current administration policy. He’s advocating that Iranian actions that are far short of this marker should cause an American attack. This is significantly reducing the threshold for war and bringing its likelihood closer (at least, if anyone in the policymaking community pays attention).
This passage further underscores the authors’ complete obtuseness when it comes to understand the thinking of Iran’s leadership:
The specific use by the president of an unambiguous phrase such as “I will use military force if necessary to stop Iran from taking the following steps toward acquiring a nuclear arsenal…” would contribute to the credibility of the military option vis-a-vis Iran’s nuclear program. In making such an explicit statement, the president would enhance the likelihood of Iran peacefully complying with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations, by sending a crystal clear message to Iran’s leaders that it is futile for them to seek nuclear weapons because the U.S. military will ultimately prevent them from succeeding.
What Albright is really advocating is a game of nuclear chicken to see whether the U.S. or Iran will blink first. He believes that faced with the certainty of a U.S. attack on its soil that Iranians would “think rationally” and capitulate to western dictates. This is the same bankrupt thinking that got us into the war in Iraq and other misadventures in U.S. history. While it’s true Iran might react this way, it might just as well react with defiance. Then where would that leave us? With a U.S. president boxed into a war he may never have wanted. All because he laid down the gauntlet at the behest of a bunch of neocon chicken hawks.
The document also advocates “regime change” in Syria as a means to bully Iran into compliance with western wishes. But the assumptions and premises of their analysis concerning what will happen inside Syria once the Assad regime is toppled, and the effect this will have on Iran border on the preposterous:
The collapse of the Assad government and its replacement by a Sunni-dominated, Saudi and Qatari-backed anti-Iranian government in Damascus would be a grievous strategic setback for Tehran. As the United States attempts to pressure Iran to suspend its nuclear program by means of intensified sanctions, covert operations, and the possibility of future military intervention, Iran’s loss of its key ally could contribute to a tipping point that forces it to accept restraints on its nuclear endeavors.
The number of unsupported, flying leaps of logic in this passage is breathtaking. There is absolutely no guarantee of what sort of government will replace Assad. It could be a Sunni-majority government that is quite pragmatic, independent, and seeks to maintain reasonable relations with Iran. It could be an Islamist government influenced by Al Qaeda that sees Israel and the U.S. as even more hostile than the current government in Syria does.
As for the fall of Assad being a “grievous strategic setback,” that seems overstated. Of course it would be a setback. For example, it would significantly alter its relationship with Hezbollah and possibly (though not definitely) downgrade that group as a potent Israeli enemy. But would Assad’s fall seriously threaten the Iranian regime or cause it to lose confidence in the nuclear path its chosen? On the contrary, if Iran sees the west is seeking to further hem it in by toppling the Syrian regime through “regime change,” it might escalate its nuclear preparations, thus emulating the North Korean example. As for the loss of Syrian support being a “tipping point” for Iran, again, this makes little sense. Rather, this is yet more of what Sahimi called Albright “guesswork” and hunches. Unfortunately for him, Iran’s leaders will likely not be taking their lead from his prescriptions, and any western leader who follows these recommendations is likely to crash on the Rocks of Disappointment.
Here are some additional delusional passages from the report which indicate its authors have been drinking Israeli-brewed Koolaid (or possibly just a neocon-brewed concoction). In this passage, they list reasons Iran would be likely to use a nuclear weapon:
The Iranian leadership’s apocalyptic messianism and exaltation of martyrdom may make it less possible to deter Iran’s leadership from using nuclear weapons.
This is such an old-saw argument advanced by anti-Iran alarmists, I’d think Albright could come up with propaganda more persuasive than this. It could’ve been excerpted from one of Bibi Netanyahu’s UN speeches (and may have been). Others before me have refuted these asinine claims so I won’t waste my time here. I only offer this quotation to show the gutter level of argument offered by this paper.
In the following, the authors speak of Iran’s leaders as if they were delusional and mentally deficient (which they are anything but):
The United States cannot count on nuclear-armed Iranian leaders, as they view the world through their particular ideological prism and bounded rationality, to fully understand every action by the U.S…
Do they think that Iran’s leaders are retarded? And what does “bounded rationality” mean? Might we just as easily question the bounded rationality of Bibi Netanyahu or even David Albright is issuing such tired, racist clichés about Iran and its leaders?
Here the report disputes the validity of the containment doctrine, which Israel too has denigrated, regarding an Iran with nuclear capability:
…Containment strategies seem even less likely to be effective with a revolutionary, non-status quo power such as Iran…
The value judgments in such labelling are astonishing. This statement posits a revolutionary Iran. Yet what revolution is it exporting and where has it succeeded? As far as being a power that destabilizes the status quo, it seems Israel fits that bill as much or more so. Even as mainstream a figure as Shimon Peres told Ronen Bergman in this week’s NY Times Magazine that the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict allows Islamist enemies to foment hatred and violence against Israel. In other words, the fault Dear Brutus lies not in the Islamists, but in ourselves.
In short, this report is a little short of a sham. It essentially rehashes arguments advanced by the neocon war camp over the past few years. It also takes a decidedly Israel-oriented approach to proliferation-related matters in the region. For example, it embraces the Israeli formulation that it should not be pressured to join either the NPT or talks about a Middle East nuclear free zone. Despite the fact that Israel is far and away the most aggressive proliferator in the region, and the one most defiant about accepting international monitoring or safeguards.
What’s also striking about this report is how completely out of sync it is with the consensus developing in Washington against attacking Iran; a consensus which seems to be moving toward a diplomatic, rather than military solution. With the nomination and likely approval of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense and an internationalist like John Kerry as secretary of state, it seems unlikely Pres. Obama is going to be tempted by the siren song of military escalation. All this means, that Albright and his partners are whistling in the wind. They’re making a feeble effort to turn the tide back to the era of confrontation, mutual recrimination and suspicion.
25 thoughts on “Albright Report Urges U.S. to Declare “Red Lines,” Prepare Military Strike Against Iran – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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With the latest military quagmire being created in Mali, this neocon scheme is bound to push things ever closer to World War III. The stupidity and arrogance are truly amazing.
The ONLY thing that matters is that Obama and Hagel stop Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby from forcing/mousetrapping the US into an attack on Iran – THAT’S IT.
It’s a ‘single issue’
If an Iran attack is stopped, Israeli Apartheid is without any effective cover and will be taken care of how Apartheid South Africa was taken care of – and then the Israeli Lobby no longer has any cover as well.
With the Netanyahu-hoaxed/mousestrapped pushing of the US into a war with Iran STOPPED – it’s all over for Israeli ApartheidLet’s keep our eye on the PRIZE – it’s Iran. The rest are dominoes
It’s formulaic;. Hagel ‘ON’ = Iran ‘OFF’ = Israeli Apartheid ‘OFF’ = Israeli Lobby ‘OFF’
(The Israeli Lobby ‘OFF’ = the 2nd American Revolution)
Don’t hold your breath on Hagel. It appears he has been genuflecting before the sacred altar of zionism, assuring Chuck Schumer and others that he will show the proper fealty and will not hesitate to follow orders from his masters when it’s time to punish Iran. Groveling is so unseemly, but he did it, just as they all do if they want to salvage their careers. BTW, he also had to apologize for saying he wasn’t an Israeli senator.
Mary- I don’t think it will change Hagel’s thinking, but in a curious way his “kowtowing” has demonstrated the undue influence the Israeli Lobby has over U.S. foreign policy, even where it could damage U.S. national interests, and it is not something that will go unrecognized or be ignored by Americans.
I don’t think it will either, Ed, but it’s his actions that matter, not his thoughts. And it was made clear to him just what the expectations are, all the way down to his making that absurd apology for speaking truth to power. I don’t know how many Americans are paying attention to this, but I can assure you, it’s not enough.
When a single small, very violent foreign country is publicly allowed to have any say at all in who the President installs in one of the highest offices in the US government, this should set off some very big alarm bells in America. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Nor does the rejection of anyone who doesn’t sing from the pro-Israel hymn sheet.
Do you think this is actually going to happen?
Albright and his ilk should cut the bullsh*t and come out and say, “We want regime change in Iran” – nothing the current government of Iran could do would be enough for them.
How do you feel about the idea of regime change in Iran?
Also, same question with respect to Israel.
Good point. It might open a discussion of the similarities among the leaders of both states, though both read from different books. Both are theocracies and thus may justify policy and actions (planned and executed) with theologic justification, however radical for each and with potentially horrible but theologically justifiable consequences.
A great many countries would be well-served by ‘regime change’, including Iran, Israel, and of course the United States.
“How do you feel about the idea of regime change in Iran?”
I have sounded off on this very topic at least a couple of times. In accord with the foreign policy of Thomas Jefferson – “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none” – I support engagement with Iran towards the end of strengthening the Iranian middle class, which can then start throwing its weight around and demanding changes in the way Iran is run. If you want the Iranian people to somehow replace the Iranian leadership, then you have to be willing to strengthen the Iranian people: trade does that, sanctions does the opposite.
“Also, same question with respect to Israel.”
Begin by ending all foreign aid to Israel (and to all other countries while we’re at it), see what shakes out, and I’ll take it from there.
I ultimately support normal U.S. relations with both countries.
I’m not sure that Syria’s relationship with Iran is determining Washington’s attitudes towards the Assad regime, so much as Syria’s relationship with Russia. Things came to a head in Syria soon after they started to reactivate Tartrus as a Russian naval base. Assad is supposedly now directing the civil war from on board a Russian ship.
It’s not just the future of Syria which is at stake, though: the Assad dynasty has been the driving force behind decades of Syrian meddling in Lebanon, and I think what the Arab League wants most, is a Syrian regime which runs Syria, for good or bad, but which gives Lebanon a chance to run itself.
Of course, once that is achieved, someone in Doha is going to invest money in removing Iranian and Israeli stooges from Lebanon, too.
Fred, I think that the relationship may be more complicated than that, and involve what you’ve suggested with much more. Syria is in the process of developing a major pipeline that would bypass Turkey and end at a distribution hub at or near Tartus. Syria also has an EEZ that likely has valuable natural gas reserves. Qatar would like to be the country developing these reserves (just as it has taken over Libya’s oil operations) and Turkey would like to be the sole distribution hub. If Assad can survive, developing these resources would place the Syrian economy on a much stronger footing and solidify the Baathist socialist system, something anathema to the West. Nor should the importance of its relationship with Iran be discounted. It is not only geopoitical, the pipeline from Iran would diversify Iran’s distribution network, and provide a significant economic benefit. On the other hand, if Assad were overthrown and replaced it with a Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood type government, it would establish regional hegemony for a proxy or ally we think we can do business with and control. (Whether or not we are deluding ourselves is another matter.) Regime change would also facilitate Israel’s territorial expansion, since they are in the process of creating “facts on the ground” to annex the Golan Heights, and regime change in Syria, would allow a reopening of the pipeline to Israel that is presently closed, and the development of more pipelines routes between Israel and Turkey. The Russian connection you alluded to is also very important, as Russia’s naval base in Tartus is its only permanent presence on the Mediterranean. NATO wants full hegemony, including over all of the littoral states on the Eastern Mediterranean, and their offshore natural gas reserves. Israel is already pumping natural gas from its Leviathan project and is working with Greek Cyprus to develop its reserves, while Russia is negotiating with Greece. So, it is a complicated multidimensional “game”.
You talk of Nato hegemony, but I don’t know of any country that shares a sea with the Russian navy that wouldn’t prefer not to.
Most Mediterranean ports are non-Nato: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt etc. It’s only really Russia that NATO objects to, and I suspect they wouldn’t even do that if Mr Putin wasn’t in power.
What the US-NATO did to Libya, and is doing to Syria, is a message to those countries you’ve named that they would do best to fall in line or risk devastation- i.e., consider it an offer they can’t refuse. If Syria survives, and it may, that could encourage some of the Mediterranean countries to be less hesitant to do business with China and Russia, if they find it in their national interest to do so. As for Putin, I don’t know why he would make Russia less attractive to them. He may even make it more attractive, since he has been staying the course in Syria, and together with China, has been the strongest advocate upholding the rule of law and the UN Charter, something the US and NATO have blatantly disregarded. Moreover, Putin is probably the best, or at least most effective alternative right now for Russia to rebuild its economy and to defend its national interests. Don’t get me wrong. We could and should do much better than Russia or anyone else, but our policies are leading us in the wrong direction, and it seems as if our multinationals have lost the ability to compete in the marketplace and build better products or projects. Goldman Sachs and the banks are not going to lead us to Nirvana, though they may “foreclose on our house”. (Not us personally, but you get what I mean.)
Richards: the only issue i have with your assay is that you categorize any SME (Subject Matter EXPERT) who thinks Iran may be developing nuclear weapons as a Pro-Israel servant who’s statement should be disregarded.
Mr. Albright is a very respectful nuclear weapons expert who’s statements should be treated accordingly. Can you dispute The finding my Albright lists in the report ? all you did in your post is to criticize the writers of the report because of their affiliation, this equates to ad hominem.
If Richard were to address Albright’s record he would be able to point out many flaws and instances where Albright has been wrong on the facts and also biased. Albright’s credibility is not stellar by any means.
With Friends like AIPAC, such “Thinking” Tanks, Wall Street Bankers, Political Whores in D.C. and else where, etc. etc. etc. Does America need enemies? The history of the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, Drones in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Mali,…..are only chapters of the story of an Empire in a freefall into history’s garbage bag……………….Learning from history is so very difficult when people do not study it carefully!
What do Wall Street bankers have to do with this?
Do NOT sniff out anti-Semitism where it doesn’t exist! Read his comment again. It wasn’t going in the direction you’re headed. So don’t be a provocateur.
Re: A former IAEA inspector who founded the Institute for Science and International Security, Albright has a reputation as a sober-minded analyst.”
Well he did until he ignored all of the Security Council and IAEA resolutions condemning the practice of launching preemptive attacks against nuclear facilities:
*The UN Security Council condemned the premeditated attack on Iraqi nuclear facilities as a clear violation of the UN Charter and international norms by a vote of 15-0; and called for Israel to immediately place its own nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the IAEA. See S/RES/487 (1981) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/487%20%281981%29
*The Israeli attack on Iraq’s nuclear power plant also resulted in IAEA resolutions that declared the practice a violation of the UN Charter and international law. The international community of states would also have very little incentive to continue to permit IAEA inspections of their facilities if they only serve as a tool or precursor for US or Israeli aggression:
In case of so obvious propaganda even if it tried to be made as “an international and neutral view” the backgrounds of the writers (and financiers) are important. How much credibility has the paper in question if it would be common knowledge that the writers are also Israelis? Especially when these “undercover” Israelis give advices what USA should do?
After Jim W. Dean David Albright has also an Israeli passport (= citizen of Israel) and owns a condominium in Haifa. Albright has not denied that claim. So obviously Albright is Jewish, but he doesn’t reveal this link of his background and bindings. Mark Dubowitz was born in South Africa, was raised in Canada and has studied also in Israel. This “international figure” has been working with his “democracy promoting” in USA and Europe. It would be interesting to know how many passports this individual has. Four (South Africa, Canada, USA and Israel) or even more? Amusingly on Mark Dubowitz’s own bio pages is one advertisement – Israel Optical selling Israel made glasses – besides the internet service provider’s add. It is highly likely that Mark Dubowitz is also Jewish and Israeli citizen. With “normal issues” being a Jew (and a non public Israeli citizen) would not matter, but this background information is essential when we evaluate the facts and opinions they present on issues relating to Middle East and nuclear issues.
Albright interestingly expresses having cooperated actively with IAEA. Albright has constantly referred himself as a former UN inspector. What means cooperating and does that “cooperation” give one the right to say being “a former U.N. weapons inspector”. The former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter analyzes David Albright’s role in his article “The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was”.
ISIS reports of Israel are laughable considering that this organization is declaring itself as: non-profit, non-partisan institution dedicated to informing the public about science and policy issues affecting international security. It is absurd for an organization with its self declared goals avoids inspecting the world’s most aggressive and unpredictable big nuclear power and which has not signed the critical treaties limiting the danger of nuclear weapons.
I wouldn’t trust PressTV as a credible source on anything related to this. While Albright may have a condo in Israel (I don’t know) I highly doubt he has an Israel passport. Unless a more credible source can confirm this I don’t believe it. As for Dubowitz, I similarly don’t believe he’s anything other than a U.S. citizen unless you offer far better evidence than you have.
Evidence, people. Good solid evidence. I say this to those who are pro Israel and I say it to you.
Also, I’m extremely uncomfortable with making reference to anyone’s Jewish identity to prove their political allegiance. It’s just not cool. I’m Jewish and don’t share their political views. Many other Jews feel similarly (to me) on these issues.
Well Mark Dubowitz is Canadian (at least), originally he is South African (moved to Canada at the age of 8). See article about Dubowitz’s double loyalties written by himself. Is Dubowitz a Jew, it is highly likely. Why else would he write to organizations like Jewish Policy Center, participate in debates organized by Torah in Motion etc. Dubowitz has lived and worked years in Tel Aviv. He claims to have changed his carrier because of 911. It is so rather likely that Dubowitz is also a Israeli citizen.
The big question is why do those numerous extremely active (and well financed) persons hide their ethnic background and bindings. When one makes propaganda for Israel, propaganda which includes demands for new wars, it is a fair demand to ask the questions about motive and loyalties. Also to speculate to some extent if the propagandists deliberately hide their bindings.
Of course we all know, that there are plenty of Jews who do not share the views of this aggressive and planed Israeli and neocon propaganda, but it doesn’t remove the demand of the need to get information about the real backgrounds of those making and spreading the propaganda.
RE: “. . . Recommendations: Undertake additional overt preparations for the use of warplanes and/or missiles to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities with high explosives . . .” ~ Albright’s report
MY COMMENT: I wonder if “high explosives” is used in the report rather than something more specific like ‘bunker busters’ because “high explosives” might very well be said to include tactical nuclear weapons.
RE: “Here the report disputes the validity of the containment doctrine, which Israel too has denigrated, regarding an Iran with nuclear capability: …Containment strategies seem even less likely to be effective with a revolutionary, non-status quo power such as Iran… The value judgments in such labelling are astonishing. This statement posits a revolutionary Iran. Yet what revolution is it exporting and where has it succeeded? As far as being a power that destabilizes the status quo, it seems Israel fits that bill as much or more so.” ~ R.S.
A COUPLE COMMENTS MADE IN RESPONSE TO A COMMENTARY IN THE TELEGRAPH AUTHORED BY PETER OBORNE AND PUBLISHED ON 12/12/12:
SOURCE [UNDER COMMENTS, SELECT “BEST RATING” – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/9740044/The-cowardice-at-the-heart-of-our-relationship-with-Israel.html