By Peter Symonds
6 November 2008
On the eve of the US elections, the New York Times cautiously pointed on Monday to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus in Washington for an aggressive new strategy towards Iran. While virtually nothing was said in the course of the election campaign, behind-the-scenes top advisers from the Obama and McCain camps have been discussing the rapid escalation of diplomatic pressure and punitive sanctions against Iran, backed by preparations for military strikes.
The article entitled “New Beltway Debate: What to do about Iran” noted with a degree of alarm: “It is a frightening notion, but it not just the trigger-happy Bush administration discussing—if only theoretically—the possibility of military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program… [R]easonable people from both parties are examining the so-called military option, along with new diplomatic initiatives.”
Behind the backs of American voters, top advisers for President-elect Barack Obama have been setting the stage for a dramatic escalation of confrontation with Iran as soon as the new administration takes office. A report released in September from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, argued that a nuclear weapons capable Iran was “strategically untenable” and detailed a robust approach, “incorporating new diplomatic, economic and military tools in an integrated fashion”.
A key member of the Center’s task force was Obama’s top Middle East adviser, Dennis Ross, who is well known for his hawkish views. He backed the US invasion of Iraq and is closely associated with neo-cons such as Paul Wolfowitz. Ross worked under Wolfowitz in the Carter and Reagan administrations before becoming the chief Middle East envoy under presidents Bush senior and Clinton. After leaving the State Department in 2000, he joined the right-wing, pro-Israel think tank—the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—and signed up as a foreign policy analyst for Fox News.