On Monday evening, the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will focus primarily on foreign policy. Needless to say, the issue of the Iranian nuclear program will feature prominently. While both the Democratic and Republicantickets are quick to employ bellicose rhetoric and myriad falsehoods regarding the issue, a quick review of the candidates’ stated positions shows a slight difference between the two parties.
Taking into account the conclusions of U.S., European and Israeli intelligence agencies, President Obama explained earlier this year that “our assessment, which is shared by the Israelis, is that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon and is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we will know that they are making that attempt.”
Vice President Joe Biden made the same point during his debate with Romney running mate Paul Ryan. ”The Israelis and the United States,” he said, “our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. There is no difference between our view and theirs.” Biden went on: “There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon.”
Meanwhile, both Republican candidates have repeated the claims that Iran is now closer than ever to having a nuclear weapon. On October 11, 2012, Paul Ryan declared during the vice presidential debate, ”When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material — nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.”
Five days later, on October 16, 2012, Mitt Romney repeated that formulation, warning the town hall debate audience in Hempstead, Long Island, “We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb.”
This talking point will surely be repeated on Monday in Boca Raton.
It should also be remembered when the Israeli Prime Minister stood before the Knesset and declared:
“Iran is in the initial stages of an effort to acquire non-conventional capability in general, and nuclear capability in particular. Our assessment is that Iran today has the appropriate manpower and sufficient resources to acquire nuclear arms within 10 years. Together with others in the international community, we are monitoring Iran’s nuclear activity. They are not concealing the fact that the possibility that Iran will possess nuclear weapons is worrisome, and this is one of the reasons that we must take advantage of the window of opportunity and advance toward peace.”
That address was given in January 1993 by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Just as Iran didn’t have nuclear weapons ten years later, it still doesn’t as 2013 approaches.
It has been nearly two years (22 months, really) since I published “The Phantom Menace: Fantasies, Falsehoods, and Fear-Mongering about Iran’s Nuclear Program,” a timeline of constant U.S., Israeli, and European assertions regarding the supposed inevitability and immediacy of a nuclear-armed Iran – hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past thirty years, none of which has ever come true.
Subsequently, over fifty updates – cataloging new alarmist claims and predictions – have been added to the original piece (they can be read here) and a more extensive follow-up was posted in November 2011.
With a renewed spate of relentless warmongering, regurgitated propaganda by U.S. and Israeli officials, and endless talk of red lines, deadlines, end zones, zones of immunity, windows of opportunity and points of no return, it’s time for another update.
So, culled from the last eleven months, this never-ending saga continues:
Following a lengthy and thoroughly-overhyped IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program in November 2011, the media was filled with howls of imminent Iranian atomic bombs and the need to carry out an illegal, unprovoked military attack on Iran.
A Washington Post opinion piece by members of the hawkish Bipartisan Policy Center on November 7, 2011 claimed that, “if it chooses, Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear device in just 62 days using its existing stockpiles and current enrichment capability,” but also stated the timeline could be even shorter. “Once Iran acquires more than 150 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent — which could happen by early 2013 if Iran’s announced plans are realized,” Stephen Rademaker and Blaise Misztal wrote, “it would need only 12 days to produce enough fissile material for a bomb.”
On November 8, 2011, Simon Henderson of the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) suggested “the IAEA report should serve to shift the public debate from whether Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, to how to stop it,” while career mouthpiece for the Israeli government Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote in Bloomberg View that the report offered “further proof that the Iranian regime is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.”
A November 9, 2011 editorial in The Guardian noted that, as usual, the latest “flurry of leaks” about the Iranian nuclear program “tend[s] to suggest, without being able to absolutely prove, that Tehran is working to acquire nuclear weapons capacity.” Undaunted by this absence of evidence, the British paper concluded that, not only is it “time to drop the pretence that Iran can be deflected from its nuclear path,” but that “[i]t really is time for Iran to drop the pretence that it is not on that path.”
Furthermore, editorials in both the The New York Times (“The Truth About Iran“) and The Washington Post (“Running Out of Time“) endorsed the IAEA’s insinuations without the slightest hint of skepticism or scrutiny. The Times claimed that without “a new round of even tougher sanctions…Iran will keep pushing its nuclear program forward,” while the Post, drawing conclusions that are actually rejected by the IAEA itself, stated the latest report ”ought to end serious debate about whether Tehran’s program is for peaceful purposes,” and warned that “the danger is growing, not diminishing,” suggesting Iran is “at least a year or more away from completing” a bomb.
The same day, November 9, 2011, analysts for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments stated, “Iran might have both the technology and material to build a nuclear bomb in a matter of months” and recommended that “Obama should take out Iran’s nuclear program…before it’s too late.”
Columnist Carlo Strenger, also writing on November 9, 2011 in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, claimed that the IAEA report “confirmed Israel’s and the Western World’s fears: there can be no reasonable doubt that Iran is working actively towards the atomic bomb.” Even Ha’aretz‘s most rational and articulate commentator Gideon Levy fell for the hype, lamenting in his column, “Iran will apparently have an atom bomb, and that is very bad news.”
On November 10, 2011, a Ha’aretz editorial declared, “The [latest IAEA] report clearly shows that Iran carried out tests which cannot be interpreted in any way other than as signaling an intent to develop nuclear weapons,” while t he same day, The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece by then-GOP nomination hopeful Mitt Romney (though certainly written by the war-crazy cabal known as his “foreign policy team“) which stated, “Iran is making rapid headway toward its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.”
Also on November 10, 2011, former Director of Policy Planning in the Obama State Department and current Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter opined that the IAEA report “affirms what western governments already know or believe: that for all the sanctions and diplomacy, Iran continues to make steady progress toward producing a nuclear weapon.”
On November 11, 2011, contributing columnist for The New York Times Magazine and ForeignPolicy.com James Traub lamented, “Neither Bush nor Obama has stopped Iran from pursuing a goal to which Iranian leaders are single-mindedly dedicated,” adding that “Iran has been seeking for years to develop a nuclear warhead and is continuing to do so.” Traub continued: “Iran is still enriching uranium and is now estimated to have enough to produce four bombs.”
The Wall Street Journal published its own editorial on November 14, 2011, claiming that the new IAEA report “lays to rest the fantasies that an Iranian bomb is many years off” and insisted that “[t]he serious choice now before the Administration is between military strikes and more of the same. As the IAEA report makes painfully clear, more of the same means a nuclear Iran, possibly within a year.”
In truth, as acknowledged by Greg Thielmann and Benjamin Loehrke in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:
Most analysts familiar with the report agree that there “is nothing in the report that was not previously known by the governments of the major powers” — a nuclear Iran is “neither imminent nor inevitable.” While it is clear that Iran’s continuing research on nuclear weapons is a serious concern for international security, there “has been no smoking gun when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons intentions.”
Nevertheless, Jerusalem-based right-wing conspiracy theory website DEBKAfile released a new prediction in mid-November 2011. “According to the briefing given to a closed meeting of Jewish leaders in New York…the window of opportunity for stopping Iran attaining a nuclear weapon is closing fast” and “will shut down altogether after late March 2012,” the report said. Why? Because “intelligence reaching US President Barak Obama is that by April, Iran will already have five nuclear bombs or warheads and military action then would generate a dangerous level of radioactive contamination across the Gulf region, the main source of the world’s energy.”
On November 20, 2011, CNN aired an interview in which Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Fareed Zakaria that Iran would reach a “zone of immunity” within six to nine months, at which point its nuclear infrastructure would be redundant, dispersed and protected enough to be invulnerable to an attack. Misunderstanding Barak’s allegation, Israeli media outlet Ha’aretz ran the alarming headline “Iran less than a year away from producing nuclear weapon” in anticipation of the broadcast.
Two days later, during a CNN debate between Republican presidential candidates sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation, two neoconservative bellwether organizations, AEI’s Danielle Pletka stated that “Iran is probably less than a year away from getting a nuclear weapon” before asking whether anything short of a military assault “could stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
On December 19, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, when asked by CBS News anchor Scott Pelley whether “Iran can have a nuclear weapon in 2012,” replied, “It would probably be about a year before they can do it. Perhaps a little less,” but added a “proviso” that, “if they have a hidden facility somewhere in Iran that may be enriching fuel,” the timeline to developing a nuclear weapon would be “on a faster track.” The Pentagon quickly walked back the assertion.
On December 31, 2011, The Wall Street Journal quoted Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti telling reporters, ”There is strong concern on the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program reaching a point of nonreturn and the strategy, which Italy agrees with, is the urgency to strengthen instruments of pressure on Iran.”
In the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, Matthew Kroenig, a former defense and Iran policy strategist for U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, published a call for the United States to launch an unprovoked and wholly illegal attack on Iran, citing Institute for Science and International Security “estimates that Iran could now produce its first nuclear weapon within six months of deciding to do so.”
On January 4 and January 6, 2012, Reuters reporter Fredrik Dahl wrote that “Western experts give different estimates of how quickly Iran could assemble a nuclear weapon if it decides to do so – ranging from as little as six months to a year or more.”
On January 8, 2012, Defense Secretary Panetta told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation that the United States will take all necessary measures to make sure Iran “cannot continue to do what they’re doing,” adding, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us.”
On January 9, 2012, David Sanger of The New York Times noted, “Already Iran has produced enough fuel to manufacture about four weapons, but only if the fuel goes through further enrichment, nuclear experts say.”
The following day, January 10, 2012, the Times of London claimed that a recent Israeli security report revealed “Israel is preparing for Iran to become a nuclear power and has accepted it may happen within a year.”
On January 11, 2012, Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman issued a joint press release that stated, “Despite the increased sanctions put in place over the last several years, the American people should have no illusions: time is now quickly running out to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.” The statement called upon Congress to officially rule out “containment” as a policy option “should economic and diplomatic pressure fail to force Iran to abandon its pursuit of acquiring nuclear weapons.”
On January 12, 2012, retired U.S. General Barry McCaffrey delivered a briefing to senior executives and producers at NBC News in which he determined that Iran “will not under any circumstances actually be deterred from going nuclear” and predicted that it “will achieve initial nuclear capability within 36 months.” He also concluded that, not only will Iran instigate a major war against the United States, it will acquire “a nuclear capability of dozens of weapons within 60 months with the missile and fighter delivery systems required to strike targets in Israel, the GCC states, and regional US military forces.”
On January 13, 2012, Fox News contributor Liz Cheney asserted on Fox and Friends that Iran (which she accidentally called “Iraq”) was merely “months, not years, away” from enriching enough uranium needed for a nuclear weapon.
On January 16, 2012, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal published a dazzlingly Orientalist and bloodthirsty article entitled “The Intrigues of Persia,” which praised the then-recent murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, claiming – without providing evidence, of course – he “was engaged in building a nuclear bomb in violation of four binding U.N. Security Council resolutions.” The piece also described the Iranian government as an “evil regime” and insisted “the mullahs…are building a bomb,” the success of which is now “closer than ever.”
A blockbuster article by Ronen Bergman, senior political and military analyst for the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, published in The New York Times on January 25, 2012, quotes Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon (who is also Minister of Strategic Affairs) as saying, “Our policy is that in one way or another, Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped. It is a matter of months before the Iranians will be able to attain military nuclear capability.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak tells Bergman that “no more than one year remains to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weaponry.”
Bergman also writes, “According to latest intelligence, Iran now has some 10,000 functioning centrifuges, and they have streamlined the enrichment process. Iran today has five tons of low-grade fissile material, enough, when converted to high-grade material, to make about five to six bombs,” and adds, “It is believed that Iran’s nuclear scientists estimate that it will take them nine months, from the moment they are given the order, to assemble their first explosive device and another six months to be able to reduce it to the dimensions of a payload for their Shahab-3 missiles, which are capable of reaching Israel.”
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, stated on January 25, 2012, “Never has it been so clear Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. Now is the time to act. Tomorrow is too late. The stakes are too high. The price of inaction is too great.” Prosor also declared that “Tehran’s efforts to enrich uranium to 20 percent-levels at its reactor in Qom could serve no other plausible aim other than to develop an atomic bomb,” despite the fact that such enrichment is known to be used in the creation of medical isotopes that treat cancer patients.
On January 26, 2012, Reuters reporter Frederik Dahl wrote, “The IAEA issued a detailed report in November that laid bare a trove of intelligence suggesting Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability,” and added that “some experts say” Iran “could have the potential to build at least one nuclear device as early as next year.”
On the January 29, 2012 edition of 60 Minutes, Defense Secretary Panetta again addressed the Iranian nuclear program. “The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb,” he said, “and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.”
At the same time, Israeli military chief Benny Gantz said he had “no doubt” Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons and Defense Minister Barak warned, “We must not waste time on this matter; the Iranians continue to advance, identifying every crack and squeezing through. Time is urgently running out.”
On February 2, 2012, Director of Israeli Military Intelligence Major General Aviv Kochavi told a panel at the Herzliya Conference that “Iran is vigorously pursing military nuclear capabilities and today the intelligence community agrees with Israel on that” and assessed that “Iran has enough nuclear material for four bombs.” Kochavi said, “We have conclusive evidence that they are after nuclear weapons,” adding, “When Khamenei gives the order to produce the first nuclear weapon – it will be done, we believe, within one year.”
On February 17, 2012, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom announced on MSNBC, “Everyone now knows most of the world, if not all the world, knows the Iranians are trying to develop a nuclear bomb. It’s out of the question. They have all the proof. Everyone knows the security and intelligence of the western world knows very well the Iranians are developing a nuclear bomb, and they should be stopped.”
On February 23, 2012, The Los Angeles Times‘ Ken Dilanian wrote that, although “U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb,” David Albright’s Institute for Science and International Security estimates Iran “could enrich uranium to sufficient purity to make a bomb in as little as six months, should it decide to do so.” The article also states that “Albright and many other experts believe that if it decides to proceed, the country has the scientific knowledge to design and build a crude working bomb in as little as a year” and that it would take three years “for Iran to build a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.”
On March 5, 2012, David Albright’s Institute for Science and International Security released a report claiming that “Iran is already capable of making weapon-grade uranium and a crude nuclear explosive device” and cataloging the different routes Iran might take to obtain a nuclear weapon by 2015.
On March 6, 2012, Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies wrote that “Iran already is nuclear capable” and “has everything it needs to be able to manufacture a nuclear weapon. All it would take is a political decision and time.”
The next day, on March 7, 2012, Israeli Prime Minister was interviewed on Fox News by Greta van Susteren, who asked “What’s the timeline? How much time do we have?” Netanyahu replied, “Every day that passes makes it closer and closer.” When van Susteren pressed, “Is it weeks, months, or years?,” the Israeli leader declared, “It was a lot further away 15 years ago when I started talking about it. It was a lot further away 10 years ago. It was a lot further away five years. It was a lot further away five months ago. They are getting there, and they are getting very, very close.”
On March 18, 2012, an Associated Press report noted Israeli concerns that the Iranian nuclear program may be allowed “to reach the point where there is enough enriched weapons grade material that a bomb could quickly be assembled, within a year.”
Five days later, on March 23, 2012, AP published a “Special Report” that laid bare the hysteria over the Iran nuclear program. “The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead,” AP stated plainly. “Those conclusions, drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran, contrast starkly with the heated debate surrounding a possible Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.”
Nevertheless, on April 5, 2012, Ehud Barak told Fareed Zakaria on CNN that, with regard to the goal of stopping Iran’s “nuclear military program,” Israel has “limited time. We don’t have to make a decision next week and we cannot wait years.”
On May 7, 2012, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stated in an interview with CBC that Iran could “very quickly” produce a nuclear weapons if it so desired. After compiling “all the ingredients” for a bomb, Baird suggested, “they could certainly dash to the end which could be done in as few as nine or as many as 18 months.”
On May 10, 2012, career warmonger Marc Theissen insisted that “Iran is determined to obtain a nuclear weapon” and claimed that “made more progress toward this goal in the past three years under Obama than it has in the three decades since the Iranian Revolution.” He condemned the incumbent administration’s handling of the Iranian nuclear issue, claiming, “Before Obama took office, Iran needed months to make a dash to a bomb. Today, it could make that dash in a matter of weeks.” Theissen concluded that “the Iranian regime has developed a rapid nuclear weapons breakout capability on President Obama’s watch” and that “Iran is closer than ever to building a nuclear bomb.”
On May 25, 2012, David Albright and his staff at ISIS calculated that Iran had already stockpiled enough 3.5% low enriched uranium that “if further enriched to weapon grade” could “make over five nuclear weapons.”
In the May/June 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, USC professor Jacques E. C. Hymans pointed out that despite the “underlying assumption” that, unless challenged violently, Iran will soon acquired nuclear weapons, “there is another possibility.” Hymans explains, “The Iranians had to work for 25 years just to start accumulating uranium enriched to 20 percent, which is not even weapons grade. The slow pace of Iranian nuclear progress to date strongly suggests that Iran could still need a very long time to actually build a bomb — or could even ultimately fail to do so.”
A veritable who’s-who of warmongering neocons including Elliott Abrams, Matthew Kroenig and Ray Takeyh published a monograph in June 2012 entitled, “Iran: The Nuclear Challenge,” which states, “Nongovernment experts believe that if Iran made the decision to enrich to a higher level today, it could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb in four months. The same experts estimate that by the end of 2012 the time might be as little as one month…Extrapolating from these estimates leads to public estimates that it would take Iran about a year to produce such a nuclear weapon if it decided to do so.”
On June 15, 2012, David Albright and crew were back with a new assessment of Iran’s breakout capabilities, reporting that “Iran will have enough [19.75% low enriched uranium] by early next year, if further enriched to weapon-grade in a breakout, for a nuclear weapon,” but adding that “it could have enough…for a nuclear weapon by the end of 2012.” Albright also concludes, “Production of enough for a second nuclear weapon would take many additional months,” estimating Iran “would have enough for a second weapon in about October 2013. By November 2015, Iran would have enough for three to almost five nuclear weapons.”
In late June 2012, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted by Foreign Policy as saying, “In my judgment…if nothing will be done about it, within several years Iran will turn nuclear.”
On July 13, 2012, the British press quoted Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, Britain’s international espionage agency, as telling a gathering of civil servants that without risks taken by his intelligence operatives, “you’d have Iran as a nuclear weapons state in 2008, rather than still being two years away in 2012.”
On August 3, 2012, RAND policy analyst Alireza Nader stated the obvious: “According to the U.S. intelligence community, the Iranian leadership hasn’t even made the decision to weaponize their program. They’ve been creating the technical know-how and the infrastructure, but they haven’t made that decision, and there is much more time than the Israelis portray there to be. I don’t think an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is inevitable or imminent.”
On August 5, 2012, Israeli daily Ynet reported that Netanyahu estimates that “Iran is a few months away from becoming nuclear,” quoting the Prime Minister as predicting, “The time frame isn’t measured in days or weeks, but not in years either.”
On August 24, 2012, The Los Angeles Times stated, “At its current pace, by next year Iran may be able produce enough fuel for a bomb within two months,” according to timeline favorite David Albright. The report continues, “Fairly soon after that, as Iran continues to add to its centrifuge capacity, the time will be reduced to one month, he said in an interview. ‘You will see much shorter breakout times coming into play early next year or late this year,’ he said, referring to the time Iran would need should it choose to rush to build a nuclear weapon. ‘You have this growing enrichment capability that starts to get the breakout down to an order of a month.’”
On September 4, 2012, former director of the CIA Michael Hayden told Ha’aretz, ““While it is probably true that the so-called ‘window’ regarding effective action is closing, there is still some time, as real decisions are to be made in 2013 or 2014.”
On September 7, 2012, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that if Iranian leaders “decide to do the dash” for nuclear weapons, it could take a s little as “four weeks to eight weeks” for Iran to acquire an atomic bomb. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence analysts believe it would “take a little longer than that,” Rogers said. “But the problem is nobody really knows for sure.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking on CBS‘ “This Morning” on September 11, 2012, said that, were Iran to make the decision to develop a nuclear weapon, the U.S. would have “roughly about a year right now” to take action to halt such a process. “A little more than a year. And so…we think we will have the opportunity once we know that they’ve made that decision, take the action necessary to stop [them],” Panetta revealed, adding that the U.S. has “pretty good intelligence” on Iran. “We know generally what they’re up to,” he said. “And so we keep a close track on them.”
The same day, Associated Press reported, according to unnamed “diplomats,” that the IAEA “has received new and significant intelligence over the past month that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon.”
In mid-September 2012, a bipartisan report spearheaded by William Luers, Austin Long, Thomas Pickering and Colin Kahl and endorsed by over thirty former government officials and security experts, including General Anthony Zinni, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Brent Scowcroft, Dick Armitage, Leslie Gelb, Admiral James Fallon, Admiral Joe Sestak, Anne Marie Slaughter, Chuck Hagel, Paul Volcker, Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brezinski, Nicholas Burns, and Joe Cirincione, determined, “Conservatively, it would take Iran a year or more to build a military-grade weapon, with at least two years or more required to create a nuclear warhead that would be reliably deliverable by a missile.”
On September 14, 2012, deputy speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon wrote an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times advocating an illegal military attack on Iran, claiming that Iran is “developing its nuclear program at an alarming rate.”
On a September 16, 2012 Sunday morning panel, ABC News reporter Brian Ross claimed that Iran was “four to six weeks away” from acquiring a nuclear weapon, “if they made the decision to do it.” Ross justified his assessment by adding, “That’s some of the intelligence.” In response, Christiane Amanpour countered, “That has been so vastly disproved. Others say that it could be a year. So, this is a guessing game that has gone on for years.”
The same day, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said on Face the Nation that, while “Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon,” there is only “perhaps six months” before it achieves that capability, leading him to predict that “2013 is going to be a year in which we’re going to have a military confrontation with Iran.”
Also that day, September 16, 2012, Prime Minister Netanyahu appeared on CNN, warning that Iran “moving very rapidly to completing the enrichment of the uranium that they need to produce a nuclear bomb. In six months or so they’ll be 90 percent of the way there.”
On September 24, 2012, Israeli UN representative Ron Prosor issued a condemnatory statement about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which read, in part, “Three thousand years of Jewish history illustrate the clear danger of ignoring fanatics like Iran’s president, especially as he inches closer to acquiring nuclear weapons.”
On September 25, 2012, PBS correspondent Margaret Warner remarked that Iran has “so much uranium they can break out in a matter of weeks or months and make a weapon.”
On September 26, 2012, Iran attack enthusiast John Bolton opined, “Tehran is perilously close to achieving nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for worldwide delivery,” stating that the nuclear program is “far too advanced” to be stopped by anything other than a military assault. “And because the world’s intelligence on Iran is imperfect,” Bolton added, “Iran may be even closer to a nuclear bomb than we think.”
The next day, September 27, 2012, Benjamin Netanyahu descended upon the United Nations General Assembly, cartoon bomb diagram in tow. He bellowed that Iran is “70 percent of the way” to stockpiling enough enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb. “And by next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”
On October 2, 2012, Reuters‘ Frederik Dahl posted an extensive run-down of current assessments regarding the Iranian nuclear program. “Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium for several atomic bombs if refined to a high degree but it may still be a few years away from being able to build a nuclear-armed missile if it decided to go down that path,” he begins.
“I still think that we are talking about several years…before Iran could develop a nuclear weapon and certainly before they could have a deliverable nuclear weapon,” said Shannon Kile, head of the Nuclear Weapons Project of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Greg Jones, a senior researcher at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and world-class Iran hysteric, claimed that “Iran could refine uranium for a nuclear weapon in 10 weeks and produce the required non-nuclear components in six months or less, he said, adding this could be done simultaneously.”
An anonymous Israeli official told Reuters reporter Dan Williams, “Once Iran gets its first device, no matter how rudimentary, it’s a nuclear power and a nuclear menace. With that said, we have always noted that, from this threshold, it would take Iran another two years or so to make a deployable warhead.”
On October 4, 2012, IISS‘ Mark Fitzpatrick wrote in Canada’s Global Brief that “Iran continues to move closer to a virtual weapons status,” suggesting that “by mid-2013, Iran will have enough low-enriched uranium (LEU), if further enriched, for perhaps six weapons.” He also noted, “As of late summer 2012, Iran was still several months away from being able to make a successful dash for nuclear weapons. Producing missile-deliverable weapons would take longer.” Nevertheless, “As Iran’s stockpile of enrichment uranium increases,” Fitzpatrick hedged, “the timelines shorten.”
On October 8, 2012, David Albright issued a new report which found that it would take “at least two to four months” for Iran to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium to produce a single nuclear bomb, while Mitt Romney delivered a foreign policy stump speech at the Virginia Military Institute, in which he declared, “Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability. It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and to us.”
On October 11, 2012, Oxford Analytica, a global corporate and governmental consulting firm, reported that Iran had already acquired enough “enriched uranium nuclear fuel to get breakout capability but the extra steps to produce a weapon [would] take months.”
The fever-pitched predictions over just how imminent and inevitable an Iranian nuclear weapon will surely continue unabated, regardless of how many decades Iranian leaders consistently deny such intentions or how many IAEA reports affirm Iran has never diverted any nuclear material to a weapons program or even had a weapons program in the first place.
It is no wonder that a Zogby poll from late February 2012 found that 78% of Americans “believe Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons production.” Quite simply, in our current debate, facts just don’t matter.
The horrendous reality of the Palestinian communities inside Israel—in places like Akka, Haifa, Nazareth, Yaffa, and the Negev—is not about being regulated to sit in the back of the bus; they could only wish for such blatant racism. Here, the racism is multilayered, ideological, well-camouflaged, state-sponsored, and non-stop. Anyone who thinks that resolving the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would bring peace to the region would be well-advised to peel away the veneer of democratic façade, one that covers an Israeli plan with only one goal in mind: completing the campaign of ethnically cleansing Palestinians that started with the creation of the State of Israel.
Last week, on a beautiful fall day, I sat in a friend’s living room in a village at the northern tip of Israel, adjacent to the Lebanese border, in the part of Israel called the Galilee. This is where the Palestinian citizens of Israel are concentrated. Five generations of Palestinians were sitting in the room. As expected in Palestinian society, within no time, politics was the focus of the discussion. But this political discussion had a different twist from what most of those following this conflict are accustomed. The issues had to do with the Palestinian citizens of Israel and how the Israeli government systematically and structurally discriminates against them.
Bilateral negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, better known as the infamous Oslo Peace Process, began with a slogan (and accompanying actions on the ground) of Gaza and Jericho First. The idea was that the Palestinian Authority, which the Oslo Accords created, would start by being set up in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank city of Jericho, a sort of pilot phase before subsequently deploying to all of the Palestinian areas defined in the Accords. The standing joke at the time was that what Israel, the military occupying power, really meant was Gaza and Jericho Only!
With 20 years of a never-ending “peace process,” Israeli misdirection diverted the world’s attention, including the Palestinian leadership’s, away from the discriminatory workings within Israel itself. As the parties quibbled over who violated the Oslo Agreement first and most, Israel never stopped strangling the Palestinian towns and villages inside it. More recently, even some of the mainstream, international research outfits, such as International Crisis Group (ICG), were forced to take note. Their March 2012 report titled, “Back to Basics: Israel’s Arab Minority and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” stated:
“World attention remains fixed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but a distinct, albeit related, conflict smoulders within Israel itself. It might be no less perilous. Jewish-Arab domestic relations have deteriorated steadily for a decade. More and more, the Jewish majority views the Palestinian minority as subversive, disloyal and – due to its birth rates – a demographic threat. Palestinian citizens are politically marginalised, economically underprivileged, ever more unwilling to accept systemic inequality and ever more willing to confront the status quo.”
That’s researcher-talk for “A slow and calculated campaign of displacing an entire population in broad daylight—world, take note.”
As one travels northward in Israel, a stark reality cannot be ignored. Israel is empty. Most of the lands which comprise the State of Israel, as it is recognized worldwide, are empty of any population. The sad irony is that less than one hour’s drive north of where we were sitting, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, who, since 1948, have been prohibited by Israel from returning to their homes, dwell in squalid refugee camps, waiting for international law and UN resolutions calling for their return home to be respected. Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, a Palestinian researcher with the Palestine Land Society, and a refugee himself, has extensively documented this phenomenon of empty lands in Israel, lands that Palestinian refugees call home. The undeniable fact is that allowing Palestinian refugees to return home would disrupt very little on the ground in Israel. It would, however, threaten the very basis of its existence as an exclusively Jewish state and create a demographic majority of Palestinians—a normal expectation, given that they were the majority in 1948 prior to being expelled.
Another startling realization, when traveling around the Palestinian farming villages in the Galilee, is that the hilltops are dotted with gated, Jewish Israeli communities and Israeli government-declared nature reserves, all creating a physical barrier to the natural growth of the indigenous Palestinian communities. Added to these physical obstructions to Palestinian development, Israeli law provides for another platform, a legal one, whereby hundreds of Israeli communities can keep out Palestinians on cultural grounds. Coming from the occupied territory of the West Bank, these physical obstacles and legal tools looked to me much like the illegal, Jewish-only settlements that surround every Palestinian city. The physical location of both types of these residential colonies is not random, but rather a sharp demographic weapon to interrupt and stunt the growth of the Palestinian communities.
While hearing the tribulations of Palestinian communities in Israel, I was reminded of another jarring fact: Israel detains and arrests Palestinians for their thoughts. One of the persons I was with, a 64-year-old man, was released a few years back after spending two years without charges in an Israeli prison. On my way home, I stopped in Haifa and, while speaking to a new business acquaintance there, he reminded me of another case: Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian Christian citizen of Israel and the director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, who, like so many others, is imprisoned in Israeli jails after an unfair trial aimed at striking fear into an entire minority community in Israel. Also, just as in the areas under military occupation, Israel tends an army of collaborators within the Palestinian communities to do their bidding for them.
I wanted to engage more, but had to head back home to the West Bank.
Now that I’m a Palestinian ID holder, which means I have West Bank residency status issued by the Israeli occupation authorities, I can’t be in Israel as a tourist. My U.S. citizenship—my only one—is useless now that I am classified as a West Bank Palestinian in the Israeli government’s eyes. Israel is the only place on earth where I can’t be an American! Thus, my Israeli military-issued permit, which allows me to enter Israel, restricts my movement so that I have to be back by 10 in the evening to what I call my cage, also known as the metropolitan area of Ramallah.
What is now clear to me, and wasn’t when I first arrived here shortly after Oslo, is that the system of command and control, which oppresses over four million Palestinians under military occupation, is strikingly similar to the system which controls over one million Muslim and Christian Palestinians inside Israel.
The Israel goal is to erase Palestinian collective memory, limit Palestinian education, squeeze Palestinian living space, and strangle any serious notion of Palestinian economic enterprise. But Palestinians are not going anywhere. This was confirmed when I asked a law student from this Galilaean village where he plans to be in five years. Without hesitation, he said, “Here, in my village, and not for the next five years, but for the next 10 and 20 and 100 years.”
After hours of deep discussion in that quiet Palestinian village, tucked away in the velvet-like green hills of the Galilee, a Palestinian researcher, who was quiet for most of the time, spoke in a calm, definitive voice. He said that everything we were discussing, in terms of how much harm Israel is doing to Palestinians living in Israel and under military occupation, is true, but in the village, the numbers speak volumes. Over the past 64 years, since Israel’s creation, and despite all of its attempts to force the Palestinians off the land, the population has increased as per official Israeli statistics. As long as the Palestinians exist on this land, he asserted, their rights are bound to be realized.
All the way home, I could not get out of my mind a new political slogan that would reveal the extent of the Palestinian tragedy, The Galilee First. Instead of managing the conflict as if the only contentious issue is about those of us living under Israeli military occupation, the international community, and Palestinian leadership as well, should call for the world to witness the reality of Palestinians inside Israel. If Israel is bent on discriminating against one fifth of its own citizens, what should we expect of it in the occupied territories, areas that are not internationally recognized as Israel? Indeed, the next time I’m asked what I think the solution to this conflict is, my answer will be ready: Let’s start with full equal rights for Palestinians inside Israel. In other words, The Galilee First if Israel is serious about peace and truly desires historic reconciliation with the Palestinians.
- Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business development consultant from Youngstown, Ohio, living in the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He frequently provides independent commentary on Palestine and serves as a policy advisor of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and blogs at http://www.epalestine.com.
You have to know American Jewish leaders are really riled up when they call on the New York Times to flack for them against 15 leaders of Christian churches who had the audacity to send a letter to the US Congress, which said, with proper Christian indignation:
As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel — offered without conditions or accountability — will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.
We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.
Is that clear? These church leaders are saying it is their moral responsibility to tell the Congress that it must hold Israel accountable to U.S. laws and policies when it disburses money to Israel.
So what’s the big news angle in the New York Times story for Saturday, October 20, following the release of the letter from the 15 leaders to Congress? The lead of the story should be that “American Jewish leaders defend the action of a secular state that receives more U.S. foreign aid than any other nation in the world”.
What these so-called “outraged” Jewish groups are saying is that their feelings are hurt. These American Jewish leaders have worked so hard over the decades to maintain “good relations” with their Christian colleagues, and just as they were about to have yet another “good relations” meeting between Christians and Jews (no mention of Muslims, it must be noted), here come 15 Christian leaders demanding accountability from a secular foreign state for human rights violations carried out with American money.
Horrors, what a thing for Christian leaders to say!
Man (and woman) the barricades, the fragile American relationship between Jews and Christians is under severe threat. In case you have missed this unfolding threat to fragile American relationships between Jews and Christians (still no Muslims involved), this is how the Times’ Laurie Goodstein began her not-so subtle attack on the 15 Protestant leaders:
A letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches that calls for Congress to reconsider giving aid to Israel because of accusations of human rights violations has outraged Jewish leaders and threatened to derail longstanding efforts to build interfaith relations.
The Christian leaders say their intention was to put the Palestinian plight and the stalled peace negotiations back in the spotlight at a time when all of the attention to Middle East policy seems to be focused on Syria, the Arab Spring and the Iranian nuclear threat.
The church leaders did not ask Congress to “reconsider” giving aid to Israel. And note the use of the weasel word “accusations” of human rights, as though Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights have not been amply demonstrated over the decades. The Times says the letter is intended to “put the Palestinian plight and the stalled peace negotiations back in the spotlight”. That is balderdash, as Joe Biden likes to say.
The 15 leaders make no reference to a motive for writing the latter. They do not have to. The New Testament is their motive. Putting the Palestinian “plight” in the “spotlight” is Times speak, speculation without attribution.
The Times failed to explain that the “Jewish groups” that are attacking the 15 Christian leaders, are being directed by a secular organization, the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA). The Times does not distinguish between religious Jews and political Zionist Jews, a fatal flaw in its coverage. How secular is the JCPA? You be the judge. Here is how the JCPA describes its mission:
The mission of the Council is to serve as the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community in addressing the principal mandate of the Jewish community relations field, expressed in three interrelated goals:
One: To safeguard the rights of Jews here and around the world. Two: To dedicate ourselves to the safety and security of the state of Israel. Three: To protect, preserve and promote a just American society, one that is democratic and pluralistic, one that furthers harmonious interreligious, inter ethnic interracial and other intergroup relations.
“To dedicate ourselves to the safety and security of the state of Israel” is not biblical, my friends, it is political. The Times should say so. Instead it puts the JCPA, a secular public affairs organization, under the same umbrella as the rabbis and the 15 Christian church leaders.
The planned Monday interfaith dialogue meeting was canceled by the JCPA, a secular organization. Here is the start of its news release making the announcement:
Canceling an interfaith dialogue meeting, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other Jewish groups, have called for a summit with the heads of Jewish organizations that have been engaged in the roundtable and the heads of the Christian denominations that penned a letter to Congress calling for an investigation into Israel’s use of the U.S. military aid.
“The letter signed by 15 church leaders is a step too far,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “The participation of these leaders in yet another one-sided anti-Israel campaign cannot be viewed apart from the vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these denominations. We remain committed to the enterprise of interfaith relations because it is central to the development of a just and righteous society”.
To be clear, some of the Jewish groups that signed the JCPA letter, have rabbis in their titles, making them religious. But others, like the American Jewish Committee, are not religious.
Jewish theologian Marc Ellis has warned Christian leaders that when they agreed to accept the “ecumenical deal” with their Jewish counterparts, they were opting out of any possible prophetic leadership in the Middle East. The deal, by the way, was the tacit understanding between earlier generations of Christian and Jewish leaders that they would work in all sorts of common projects, ranging from cooperative civil rights struggles in the U.S. to mutual worship events in local communities.
That “deal” has always reminded me of what my father used to say about the Methodist and Baptist churches in our “dry” Georgia county. Usually speaking so my teetotaling mother and aunt could hear him, he would declare, “The churches are in cahoots with the bootleggers in this county.”
He was right; the church folks, unwillingly, of course, kept the county dry while the bootleggers made enough illegal whiskey to satisfy the needs of the pious members of the community who wanted a “little pick up at the end of the day”. At least, that’s what my teetotaling father always said.
The kicker in the Marc Ellis description of the “ecumenical deal” was the understanding that Israel always would be off limits to religious criticism by the churches. Essentially, the deal was this: We work together, but you leave Israel alone.
The deal was sweetened over the years by all-expenses paid clergy trips to the Holy Land and some shared breaking of bread among Jews and Christians (still no Muslims, of course).The deal between our contemporary churches and our contemporary bootleggers has held firm, until, that is, U.S. denominations started passing resolutions calling for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS), to protest the continued violations of human rights in Palestine.
Those resolutions outraged the same Jewish leaders who are now upset by the letter to Congress from the church leaders. That’s why these Jewish leaders infiltrated religious denominational meetings to intimidate voters and water down resolutions as much as they could.
Now, in October, 2012, 15 U.S. Protestant church leaders are fed up with the lack of human rights action by the U.S. government. So it was that together they composed a remarkable statement and sent it off to the U.S. Congress.
Jewish leaders, and publications like the New York Times, were suddenly confronted by a new phenomenon from within the churches. You could almost hear them asking, like a puzzled Butch Cassidy, who are these guys, anyway? Who are these 15 U.S. church leaders with their outrageous defiance of the “ecumenical deal”?
To begin with, the 15 church leaders are heavyweights, top officials for their denominations. They include the leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker agency) and the Mennonite Central Committee. Two Catholic leaders also signed, not including the Catholic Council of Bishops.
These are not just leaders of a few religious groups, which a Protestant version of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs could corral into an interfaith dialogue meeting.
These are the major-domos of American Protestantism, which raises the question of what exactly gives the JCPA and its scattered letter signers, these “outraged Jewish groups” as the Times calls them, the right to claim religious standing in this conversation. Many of these Jewish groups are secular and function as part of the Israel Lobby, a collection of lobbying organizations that have Israel, not Judaism as their primary client.
The false premise that Goodstein, and the New York Times operate from is that the 15 Christian church leaders are required to “get along” with the Israel Lobby, not the Jewish religious establishment of this nation. Are church leaders required by the Times to “get along” with the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce?
This false premise is blending apples and oranges, nothing consistent about it.
A bit of history could be helpful here. When the modern state of Israel was created by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, the vote in the UN General Assembly was 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions. The General Assembly vote was preceded by decades of dialogue within world Jewry. Many Jewish religious leaders reminded the Zionists in their midst that idolatry was prohibited by Scripture, citing the passage, ” Thou shall have no other God before me (Exodus 20:3)”.
Zionism was a political movement that created a modern secular state. It did so through force of military arms and by the blatant exploitation of the horrors of the Holocaust. They called their new state a “Jewish state”. That, however, is a secular ethnic designation, not a religious one. It also contradicts the foundation of a democracy, since at its formation the state contained a substantial number of non-Jews.
In the years leading up to 1947, there was considerable Jewish religious opposition to the creation of a secular state of Israel. The battle was between Zionists and non-Zionists. The biblical admonition that it is idolatry to equate a state with Yahweh, was ignored.
The 15 church leaders have declared that they believe it is their moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. The cancelation of an interfaith meeting by the Jewish Council of Public Affairs was a political move which the New York Times helped to promote.
The JCPA and it letter signers have no dogs in this hunt. They can be as outraged as they want. This is still a free country. But the 15 church leaders have made the right religious, not political, move. They are speaking the language of “moral responsibility” in a letter directed to the U.S. Congress on the matter of U.S. funds used by Israel to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Interfaith dialogue has always been nothing more than a device used by American Jewish groups to intimidate the American churches into keeping the ecumenical deal. By this intimidation, these groups have followed the example set by the government of Israel which has long used the so-called “peace process” to sustain its occupation and expand its borders, always to the detriment of the Palestinian people.
It is the right time for the leaders of the American churches to make their moral demand to the Congress. With their letter, they have done so, courageously, considering the political climate of our time. Interfaith dialogue can wait.
James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. He has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election.
In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.
This narrative is false.
Those are the understated opening words of a disturbing, though unsurprising, nine-month study of the Obama administration’s official, yet unacknowledged, remote-controlled bombing campaign in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, near Afghanistan. The report, “Living Under Drones,” is a joint effort by the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.
The NYU/Stanford report goes beyond reporting estimates of the civilian casualties inflicted by the deadly and illegal U.S. campaign. It also documents the hell the Pakistanis endure under President Barack Obama’s policy, which includes a “kill list” from which he personally selects targets. That hell shouldn’t be hard to imagine. Picture yourself living in an area routinely visited from the air by pilotless aircraft carrying Hellfire missiles. This policy is hardly calculated to win friends for the United States.
Defenders of the U.S. campaign say that militants in Pakistan threaten American troops in Afghanistan as well as Pakistani civilians. Of course, there is an easy way to protect American troops: bring them home. The 11-year-long Afghan war holds no benefits whatever for the security of the American people. On the contrary, it endangers Americans by creating hostility and promoting recruitment for anti-American groups.
The official U.S. line is that America’s invasion of Afghanistan was intended to eradicate al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who harbored them. Yet the practical effect of the invasion and related policies, including the invasion of Iraq and the bombing in Yemen and Somalia, has been to facilitate the spread of al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.
U.S. policy is a textbook case of precisely how to magnify the very threat that supposedly motivated the policy. The Obama administration now warns of threats from Libya — where the U.S. consulate was attacked and the ambassador killed — and Syria. Thanks to U.S. policy, al-Qaeda in Afghanistan spawned al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
If that’s success, what would failure look like?
Regarding Pakistani civilians, the report states,
While civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the U.S. government, there is significant evidence that U.S. drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.… It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of U.S. efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562–3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474–881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228–1,362 individuals.
The Obama administration denies that it has killed civilians, but bear in mind that it considers any male of military age a “militant.” This is not to be taken seriously.
The report goes on,
U.S. drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.
It’s even worse than it sounds:
The U.S. practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups.
How can Americans tolerate this murder and trauma committed in their name? But don’t expect a discussion of this in Monday night’s foreign-policy debate. Mitt Romney endorses America’s drone terrorism.