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14 March 2015


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Excellent post, thank you.

Re: "There will certainly be no UN Security Council Resolution providing legitimacy"

As Mr. Brenmner has put it well recently, international law recognises only three lawful justifications for waging war: self-defence, defence of an ally required by the terms of a treaty, and approval by the United Nations.

An attack on Iran meets none of these criteria:

The US wouldn't defend herself against Iranian attack. There is no instance of the defence of an ally, for one because Israel is not being attacked by Iran and then because Israel is no ally under a treaty that would oblige the US to defend her. And indeed, there is no UN resolution for actions against Iran under Chapter VII, nor will there conceivably be one.

A US bombardment of Iran, to deny it a technological capability it is entitled to under the NPT, would be a war of agression.


Why did WaPo showcase this dingleberry? Is it chumming?

nick b

Dr. Silverman,

I read Mr. Muravchik's article this morning with disgust. It's not worthy of your reasoned response. His main assumption is that war is better than an Iran with nuclear capability, because nuclear war is inevitable if Iran has the weapon. War is easy and only need be fought from the air: we can bomb them any time and as much as we want! Yay bombs! Reprisal attacks from Iran and the losses we may sustain are sad, but worth it because otherwise we're all going to be nuked for sure! What a load of crap!

SAIS was a top notch school when I went to JHU. I've read better essays from high school kids than this drivel. It's a sad day to be an alumni.

Adam L Silverman


The consensus I've seen bandied about is that WaPo's editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, is in favor of always using American force to solve every problem. As a result, he will print any guest op-ed or pen any in house op-ed in favor of the use of force or promoting neo-conservative and neo-liberal interventionist ideas.


Add a map of US military sites surrounding Iran and their proximity to Iranian military sites. How quickly could Iranians retaliate by attacking US bases?

Adam L Silverman

Nick B,

As long as a I can remember, SAIS was always sort of unique. It was both renowned, like University of Chicago, as prioritizing graduate level studies, especially for practitioners, but also lIke Chicago one of the holding locales for highly educated personnel waiting to go back into government.

Adam L Silverman


That's usually the fourth map I use when I have to brief this stuff. And I thought four maps for Professor Muravchik sounded funny...

Babak Makkinejad

A D Silverman:

Here is another article by him:

From 2007


and from 2009


Such public journalistic discussions of war against a sovereign state and one of two or 3 core states of Muslim Civilization - with potential target selections - are essentially indicators of deranged minds; however much they may lay claim to some sort of rationality.

This is akin to People's Daily publishing a series of articles by various Chinese and North Korean self-style analysts over a 15 year period discussing war with France (or Italy) - while, ate the same time, waging an economic war against France.

This where we are, in my opinion, and it will take decades to walk back from this point to something approaching normalcy between US and Iran.

Lest we forget the shadows that the long gone Coup of 1953 and the Chemical Weapons of 1980 cast in this case and Shoah in a different context.


"What Dr. Muravchik has proposed will not actually achieve any of America's goals in regard to Iran and the Middle East."

tediously familiar elephant in the room: It is not America's goals Muravchick is interested in achieving.

methodology of Israel-firster foreign policy formulation:
(1) assess what is best for Israel
(2) figure out how to spin it to the stupid, gullible, and cowed Americans as being what's best for America

Muravchik actually isn't an idiot. nick b, imo one should judge whether Muravchik's competence reflects poorly on SAIS based on the quality of his analysis for step 1. Cut him some slack in step 2. It's getting more difficult to conflate Israeli and American interests.

nick b


Judging by the smattering of comments I read on WaPo this morning, he didn't succeed at Step 2. Step 1 should have been the disclaimer on the article rather than his academic affiliation. Apologies for the rant.

Charles 1

Gee attack and repeat has worked in Gaza now for what, a whole decade?

Charles 1

It's getting more difficult to conflate Israeli and American interests.

Not on Capital Hill.


Muravchik's article is utter nonsense and simple war-mongering. He seems to lust for war with Iran, or anybody else. He should be ignored and shunned, but doubt that will happen with the neocons. His blithe answer to what would happen if the bombing didn't solve the problem- "bomb and bomb again" shows that he really doesn't have a clue about military operations.

As is usual with these people, Muravchik doesn't give an iota of thought to what the Iranian's would do in response- and that would likely include heavy attacks on Israel- by Iranian and Hezbollah rockets and other means. It is like the build-up to the Iraq invasion, where there was no thought given to the results of at U.S. invasion and the blow-back.
And Prof Silverman is on point to the reaction of the rest of the world- including our allies- to such an attack. The United States would lose what moral standing we have left in the world's view. This is a new low for the Post.

Ishmael Zechariah


Here is a non-rhetorical question: I could not find anything on the web detailing Muravchik's military service. Does anyone know if he has served in the armed forces of any nation in any role?


Ishmael Zechariah


"The potential for radioactive fallout from the destruction of Iran's nuclear facilities, combined with other forms of collateral damage, would likely create a humanitarian crisis of almost unprecedented proportions."

While I vehemently disagree with Dr. Muravchik, the effects of a strike would not be a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented proportions. Most of the effects would be localized and come from poisonous materials and not radiation - similar to what was seen with the strikes against Iraq's nuclear infrastructure during and after Desert Storm. The effects would probably be even less in Iran given that much of the infrastructure is underground and therefore much more contained. The only exception might be a an attack against the Bushehr reactor that breached the containment and caused a meltdown. However, there is little reason to attack Bushehr in that manner or even attack it all.

In short, there's no doubt any attack would kill a lot of people, and those in the immediate vicinity of the facilities could die from dangerous chemicals and gases released after the attack. Others would suffer from long-term health effects. There is also the long-term environmental cost in terms of cleanup. These are all bad effects, but it wouldn't be a humanitarian disaster, particularly one of unprecedented proportions. Given the likely effects, the Iranians are more than capable of dealing with the aftermath.

William R. Cumming

Largely German contractors have built IMO over two dozen underground facilities since 1979 for Iran. Almost none displayed on maps or discussed.

Read FIRE IN THE EAST [1989]by Paul Bracken of Yale.


Yes it would be a war of aggression but they're quite capable of cooking up some pack of lies and using that as a casus belli. I refer you to then Secretary of State Colin Powell's pack of lies including waving around a test tube filled with a clear liquid in the UN debating chamber as "proof" that a country that had been completely hollowed out by years of sanctions and war possessed weapons om mass destruction and was a threat.

The US has a record of concocting a casus belli and not just in the Middle East. What's to stop them doing it again?

Allen Thomson

And, of course,


Three quarks for Muster Mark!

Sure he hasn't got much of a bark
And sure any he has it's all beside the mark.

The Beaver

Well i decided to read up more on the Doctor and found this site to give a very good summary of the person:


"Muravchik used his perch at the American Enterprise Institute to advocate attacking Iraq in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and has since been a proponent of the "war on terror." During the years following 9/11, he was signatory to multiple open letters that were produced by the Project for the New American Century and called on political officials to support a string of newly created "pro-war" pressure groups.

Muravchik also lent his support to the 2002 creation of the Coalition for Democracy in Iran, a group spearheaded by Michael Ledeen and Morris Amitay that has advocated for regime change in Iran; he became an advisory board member of the now-defunct Committee for the Liberation of Iraq;"

scott s.

As an aside, I thought the "global force for good" bit was some of the dumbest advertising I've seen. And "America's Navy" also rubs me the wrong way as well. I didn't raise my right hand to join a "global force for good" nor "America" -- rather to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States". At least the current "to get to you they have to get through us" has a bit more appeal.


It's almost as if Muravchik's emission is timed so that Dr. Bacevic can say, "See what I mean?":


But as Dr. Bacevic points out, on his second day on the job, Carter, the new Pentagon chief, elected to share "thoughts" over a meal with Kenneth Pollack, Michael O'Hanlon, and Robert Kagan. The Beltway Caesars have the sweetest gig that anybody ever imagined: No matter how often or how flamboyantly you screw up, you simply never face consequences.

different clue

nick b,

Since the WaPo used the Muravchik article as part of its ongoing agitprop for aggressive war against Iran, it is worth analyzing the Muravchik article in detail to discern exactly how to disarm and deweaponize it. One could perhaps go from there to a more general project of discrediting and isolating the WaPo agitproppers to destroy their effectiveness over time.

Since the WaPo works for Amazon's Jeff Bezos now, would enough letters to Amazon promising boycott of Amazon until Bezos cancels the War on Iran project at the WaPo be useful and effective?
What if enough Europeans wrote Amazon promising such a boycott throughout Europe until Bezos cancells the War on Iran agitprop project on the WaPo in America?


The underlying assumption inherent in the arguments of Professor Muravchick and his ilk is that an attack on Iran by the United States incurs little or no cost to America. I do not support that assumption.

Consider that the 911 terrorist attack was planned and executed by determined and educated men with considerable financial means. Consider also that what passes for terrorist attacks in the West since then have been, in my opinion, uniformly planned and executed by uneducated, low capability zealots, generally working alone or in amateurish cells.

One therefore has to ask the question: what might happen when a body of skilled and educated Iranians, with financial resources and perhaps tacit support of their own Government, feel mortally aggrieved towards the U.S.A? Obviously if Iran didn't have a nuclear weapons program, it would have one after the first attack. Then there is the little matter of biological warfare. Then there is the question of protecting Western infrastructure from sabotage for generations to come.

I need not spell out the vulnerabilities.

I discount, perhaps unwisely, the capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement services to "keep us safe".


What did you people expect, from Wikipedia:

Muravchik is the author of 11 books of which the most noted have been Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel (2014), Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism (2002), and Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America’s Destiny (1991)



Obviously I do not favor Muravchik's thesis but it should be pointed out that there are massive differences in scale between the amount of damage that could be inflicted on Iran by the US using its strategic assets and that which could be inflicted on the US by the Iranians and/or anyone else other than Russia, China or the other "big people." "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," and sometimes an attack may kill a few thousand people as on 9/11 and in no way be an existential threat to a country as large and enormously populated as the US. "They" could attack our fleet in the Gulf or our forces somewhere. That would be sad but the US would simply build more ships and raise more forces. The Japanese did a lot of damage at Pearl Harbor but three years later air forces that did not exist in 1942 killed 100,000 Japanese in one night at Tokyo and brought Japan to unconditional surrender. The result of an Iranian attack on US soil would be the eradication of much of Iran. I know my people. we are very capable of that. The Iranians are informed, well educated people in spite of the wild-eyed claims of Bibi and his ignorant friends in the US Senate. The Iranians have no intention of getting into war with the US. As someone wrote here, this silliness is about the at least theoretical threat to Israel, not the unreal threat to the US from Iran. BTW, the US would not care at all about "world opinion" in this. My friend Walrus consistently underestimates the amount of damage the US can do but then, he has never seen a B-52 strike close up. Once Iranian air defenses were eliminated the US could roam the skies over Iran, "bombing tha back to the stone age." pl

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