(Photo by Reuters)

While the helpless flailing in the media rages on over the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s recent pronouncement of Iran’s pursuit of the bomb, for years the international community had been keenly aware this was the goal of Iran all along. 
 
Yet in the aftermath of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, not many had the stomach for a match-up with Iran.  Who, apart from a few staunch neo-cons, were going to stand on the same convictions that were the reasons for going to war with Iraq – WMDs?
 
In January of 2006, Bill Kristol wrote in The Weekly Standard a column entitled, “And Now Iran,” “…the only way diplomatic, political and economic pressure has a chance to work over the next months is if the military option - or various military options - are kept on the table.”
 
Looking back now at that, and other hawkish scrawl on the wall after 9/11, it was, in retrospect, all a dyslexic turn of events.
 
We attacked Iraq because we thought it had WMDs and would use them against the U.S. and Israel and potentially Europe too.  As it turned out, they didn''t have them and in the end, we looked pretty foolish.  Therefore, because we cried "Wolfowitz" in Iraq, we then had to (and still do) tread lightly when talking tough about Iran for fear we would make the same mistake and jump the gun again.
 
No matter that the facts were screaming as loud as a Geiger counter at Iran, as we now know.  It was the perception of the U.S. as warmongering after the mistaken WMD debacle in Iraq that held us back.
 
Consequently and knowing this, the United States has been in a difficult spot for over five years now.  Obviously we did not want to allow Iran to have a bomb that, in one fell swoop, could put an end to Israel - a second Holocaust.  At the same time, we were not ready to invade a country that we suspected of WMDs only to again find that the “slam dunk” our intelligence had promised, was not the sure shot we had thought.
 
Iran''s leaders knew this and by denying their nuclear ambitions, leveraged the world''s skepticism by claiming their resumption of atomic fuel research and development was for “medical purposes” or even more ludicrous, only to make power for its energy-needy economy.

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What not enough leaders were asking was,  “Iran is the world''s fourth-largest exporter of crude oil, why the rush for nuclear energy?”
 
For many Americans who were either for invading Iraq or went along until it became apparent that its threat was overblown, trusting the same hawkish voices became too difficult a wager, even while Iran could pose a more ominous threat.
 
Given that it was just announced this past month that America’s troops will be leaving Iraq by the end of the year, after an exhaustive and seemingly endless campaign and fraught with a hurly burly of mixed emotions, dead soldiers and questionable consequences, it’s hard to envision the Obama Administration OKing the bombing of Iran. 
 
As I stated in my earlier blog, unlike the 1981 Osiraq bombing that lasted minutes, an attack on Iranian installations could set forth a regional war, last weeks or months and get real messy, real quickly.
 
For the United States to enter Iran, just as we are leaving Iraq, it would need a clear provocation.  The hitch is, now that it’s on the verge of an atomic bomb, just such a provocation is a game changer.


Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at abe@abenovick.com.
 
 


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