Israel

Netanyahu and the Cartoon Bomb: The Medium Matches the Quality of the Message

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Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the only actually nuclear armed nation in his region, took his "prelude to war" show to the United Nations yesterday, alternately scaring and amusing the world with his cartoon bomb visual aid, for those "savages" in the audience for whom mere words would not convince (though the visual just confused Netanyahu's countrymen, wondering if he was speaking of percentages of enriched uranium or merely vague levels of progress toward supposed bombmaking). It was a silly gambit, in pursuit of a policy that is alas too dangerous to laugh at.

Some things to remember about Iran and the bomb as our ally continues to prove its dedication to American interests by dragging us into a war against one of its enemies. (Hell, what are allies for if not to provide us with new wars?)

*U.S. intelligence agencies continue to maintain that there is no evidence Iran is trying to weaponize its nuclear program.

*The head of Israeli Defense Forces Benny Gantz agrees.

*Former Mossad head Meir Dagan thinks that an attack on Iranian nuke facilities would be "the stupidest thing I ever heard."

*Israelis themselves seem mostly less worried than their cartoon-waving leader.

*Iran's 20 percent enriched uranium is far from weapons-grade, and as the Washington Post reported in August:

Iran appeared to have taken steps that would make it harder to use its uranium stockpile to make nuclear bombs, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported…

The report, based on routine monitoring of Iran's nuclear facilities, documented a sizable jump in Iran's stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, a level that can be converted relatively easily to the more highly enriched uranium needed for weapons. The report said Iran has 255 pounds of uranium enriched at 20 percent, up from 159 pounds in May.

But the IAEA also found that Iran had converted much of the new material to metal form for use in a nuclear research reactor. Once the conversion has taken place, the uranium can't be further enriched to weapons-grade material, Obama administration officials said.

*Christian Stork has here a thorough and detailed roundup of clips and analysis making the case that Iran is not a threat to the U.S.; nor to Israel, and that there is no good reason to think their leaders are suicidal. He also provides a good timetable of how long the game of making the world fear Iranian nukes has been going on, and explains that strategically nothing is more likely to lead to a nuclear-armed Iran than attacking them to stop it (barring the sheet-of-glass solution).

Still, despite the official on-record truths about the lack of evidence of any threat from Iran, mortal or not, the slow background spinning of that notion continues apace, and is working. One poll finds 80 percent of Americans convinced that Iran's nuclear program is a threat to the U.S., said belief dominating folks Democratic, Republican, and independent. And the U.S. continues to act toward Iran in a way that seems designed to get them fighting mad.

Who else believes in "red lines" regarding when to go to war with Iran? Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney.

Hit and Run nostalgia: Netanyahu, and then I in retaliation, have been playing this song since at least 2006.