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Neocon Forum Devoted to Fine-tuning Anti-Iran Rhetoric

by RASHA ELASS in Washington, D.C.

10 Dec 2010 12:388 Comments
WO-AA010_LUBRAN_D_20100309205721.jpgMum's the word on skepticism about potential war, insists one panelist.

[ comment ] There was plenty of muscle flexing and colorful rhetoric at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy (FDD) forum on Iran Thursday morning in Washington, D.C.

Though lively at times, the forum's lack of new ideas on how to engage Iran, punctured periodically with absurd logic and Islam bashing, only underscored the complexity of Western-Iranian relations and the nuclear proliferation threat.

The FDD is a conservative organization founded after the attacks of September 11, with a focus on "fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism."

The central issues at the forum today revolved around how to deal with Iran's nuclear threat and, as some speakers described it, Iran's growing propensity to strut as a regional superpower.

There were other issues too, like what one speaker called Iran's conspiratorial ambitions that go well beyond the Middle East and its plan to become a global player.

Though his presentation was laced with bigotry, this speaker offered a lighthearted view. He is the former Israeli ambassador to Iran, and served in Tehran for seven years before the Iranian Revolution.

"Some think Ahmadinajad is a clown," said Uri Lubrani (pictured). "He is not. He is a clever, sophisticated son of a bitch."

Not only is Iran a lot more ambitious and dangerous than anyone knows, he contended, it also constantly tries to fool the world. This is no difficult feat for the Islamic Republic, he added, because Islam gives its followers carte blanche to lie.

"'When a man speaks to his wife, let him soothe her' -- so you can lie. This comes from the Hadith," he said.

And in case you are fooled by Ahmadinejad's call to annihilate Israel, and you think Israel is Iran's main focus, think again.

"Israel is almost insignificant" to Iran, said Lubrani.

According to him, Iran is out to get the West in its entirety -- culture, security, and all.

"They say it and you should know it. They're spending millions and millions outside [in Africa and Latin America], and they consider themselves a mini superpower. Watch it and make sure you understand and follow what they're doing," he said.

On to more immediate threats, like, When might Iran develop nukes? And what is the best way to deter it from doing so?

The general consensus was that sanctions against Iran have not been effective. Panelists quoted media reports about billions of dollars in contracts entered into by international companies, including U.S. affiliates, currently doing business in Iran's energy sector. (Forum organizers offered a free and colorful brochure naming the companies that currently have dealings with Iran, and calling to investigate them.) Russia and China, both inclined to view the Islamic Republic as a thorn in the sides of Israel and the West rather than as a global threat, are particularly unbashful about doing business with Iran.

Since the international community and American companies alike are undermining the sanctions, the most productive approach toward Iran would involve escalated rhetoric with "real" threats, some panelists concluded.

"The Iranian government will not give up under pressure. They will give up under a lot of pressure," declared Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the conservative Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to roaring laughter.

The logic goes something similar to how parents discipline their children. Deterrence works only when the threat is real. But with all the talk in the West about the "catastrophic consequences" of any military action that might be taken against Iran, deterrence is not working. Iran already knows there is a lack of political will to launch an attack, and therefore does not take the West seriously at all.

But there is a clever way to get around this, said one panelist. From this point forward, Western powers should be muted about their lack of resolve to attack Iran.

"It is a mistake to go around publicly stating skepticism that the West would attack Iran," said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at FDD.

"Let's not say that in public."

Rasha Elass is Chief Editor of Damascus Diaries.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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8 Comments

This seems to be a little "crying wolf" to me.

The questions I have are many. #1) who are these people. #2) what effect do they have on any policy maker, #3) What is the number of people who contribute to this group, #4) Why not write about the many other very small groups who have similar beliefs?????????????

Seems to me to be a very small group with little influence. There are thousands of these in the U.S. (The U.S. does still have somewhat liberal free speech laws). Why give time to this one very small group and not the the other thousands?????

Could it be that there is an agenda to "prove" some idea that is not provable. i.e., that the U.S. is "out to get Iran".????????????????

muhammad billy bob / December 10, 2010 10:30 PM

Don't you folks at TB look into these things before publishing such anti-Iran material?

Swanson: “‘Freedom Watch’ Threw a War and Nobody Came”

http://www.juancole.com/2010/11/swanson-freedom-watch-threw-a-war-and-nobody-came.html

Pirouz / December 10, 2010 11:12 PM

Neocon Bob:

I see you are still using that flawed argument. Many Senators and elected officials have called for Iran to be bombed, attacked and even nuetered.

This group many not consist of elected officials by they are a part of effort to dehumanize and deligitimize Iran, it is the same type of propaganda that led us into Iraq. All of this is a precursor to war and it is our duty as Iranian Americans to protect our families back home.

I know it's a waste of time to argue with someone that calls himself "Muhammad Billy Bob" but people like you are sadly the norm in this country, not the exception.

B / December 11, 2010 5:26 AM

At least someone has a grudging respect for Mahmoud I'monajihad (I stole that), even if it is only the former Israeli ambassador.Its similar to what is said about Bush, tough son of a gun,a cunning man, you misunderestimate him at your own peril, balls of steel,etc..Being a clown is an honorable profession but neither have an honorable bone in their bodies. Ah well, laugh but not too nervously.

pirooz / December 11, 2010 7:53 AM

Lubrani's remarks remind me of the old adage- when you point a finger at others, just remember that three are pointing towards you.
If Iran and Islam is all the things that he says than there is even worse in both the behaviour of Israel and some of the Jewish texts, which are particularly racist towards the 'goyim' (the non-Jew). The basis of which allows extremist Jews, mostly from the diaspora with little actual traceable ancestry to the land, to rob and expel the indigenous Palestinians from lands that they and their families have owned for many generations as compared to the new comers.

rezvan / December 11, 2010 6:44 PM

Lubrani has been smoking some heavy stuff.

Bahman / December 13, 2010 2:56 AM

B,

There is very little support in the U.S. for any kind attack on Iran. That's just a fact. Many polls have proven that.

You can trot out the 1-2% for an attack all you want, doesn't mean there is any danger there will be an attack.

You're being paranoid. And, as an aside, you should look into what philosophy you describe as "neocon" and what most media consider "neocon" an what these labels mean. I am not a "conservative" neo or otherwise. I'm a libertarian. There's a huge difference.

muhammad billy bob / December 13, 2010 7:25 PM

Pirouz,

Thanks for the link. That was a decent article. Some fudging of the truth, but, for the most part very good article.

muhammad billy bob / December 13, 2010 7:38 PM