The country is developing weapons of mass destruction; its leader is a new Hitler; he has connections with terrorists; time is running out; containment has failed; we must strike before it is too late.
If you think you have heard it all before, you have. The arguments for an attack on Iran are almost exactly the same as the arguments that were made for an attack on Iraq. The people making the case have not changed either.
Here is James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA, speaking at a conference last month about Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, president of Iran, and his talk of wiping Israel off the map: “Hitler meant it when he said he wanted to exterminate the Jews. It was spelt out in Mein Kampf. We need to take seriously what people like Ahmadi-Nejad and others say to their own followers. They are not lying; they are stating their true objectives.” And here is Mr Woolsey, speaking on American television in January 2003: “Saddam sounds very much, with respect to the 250m people or so in the Arab world, as Hitler sounded before world war two, with respect to Europe. The Ba’athist parties really are fascist parties . . . they’re anti-Semitic like them; they’re fascist.”
And here is the official summary of comments made at the same conference in Israel last month by Richard Perle, a former Pentagon official: “In possession of nuclear weapons, Iran is capable of using their terrorist networks to enable damage . . . The issue is one of timing and intelligence. You can’t afford to wait for all the evidence.” Once again, this is a reprise of a favourite tune. Appearing on American television in February 2003, Mr Perle argued: “Let us just agree that Saddam Hussein had those weapons and he is perfectly capable of transferring them to al-Qaeda.” Mr Perle emphasised the urgency of the problem: “There is a threat and I believe it is imminent.”
Newt Gingrich, a likely candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency next year and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, argued only last month that “the US should have as an explicit goal, regime change in Iran” because Iran is “the leading supporter of terrorism in the world”. In 2002, Mr Gingrich wrote: “The question is not should we replace Saddam? The question is should we wait until Saddam gives biological, chemical and nuclear weapons to terrorists.”
The people arguing for an attack on Iran allege that containment is failing. They said the same thing about Iraq. As early as 1997, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, was arguing that: “Rather than try to contain Saddam, a strategy that has failed, our policy should now aim to remove him from power.” Nine years later, Mr Kristol was urging a military strike against Iranian facilities and demanding: “Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained?”.....
The fact that the neo-conservatives and their allies are unabashed by their failure in Iraq does not mean that the rest of the world should be so forgiving. After all, these people positively begged to be judged by the results of the Iraq war.
Alas, the world may not be forgiving but that is not going to stop the neocons. I would dearly like to be proved wrong but each day brings us closer to an all-out American attack on Iran.