In December, the action was entirely with Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense and former director of the CIA. On December 2, he gave a devastating appraisal of the negative consequences of a war with Iran. The Washington Post grumbled editorially that he should keep his opinions to himself, since he risked giving aid and comfort to Iran.
On January 10, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Iran’s shift of enrichment activities to the deep underground Fordo facility outside Qom. But she coupled her statement with a strong pitch for a return to negotiations: “We reaffirm that our overall goal remains a comprehensive, negotiated solution that restores confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program while respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy consistent with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).” As usual, the condemnation was the lamest use of breathable air I've ever witnessed.
|Secretary Bill Burns In Turkey|
In this process of ever-accelerating sanctions, we have arrived at a point where sanctions begin to blur into actual warfare. If the sanctions succeed in their purpose of cutting off nearly all oil exports from Iran, that is the equivalent of a blockade of Iran’s oil ports, an act of war.
But third, the Netanyahu government distrusts the diplomatic track. Israel signals as strongly as possible that it is prepared to strike unilaterally if necessary; and it uses those threats as leverage to keep the situation at a constant crisis pitch, while pressing for the most extreme sanctions. Israel’s influence is not to be underestimated, particularly in an election year and with an Israeli prime minister who makes no attempt to conceal his disdain for President Obama. Israel in fact may be more isolated on the Iran war issue than might be evident at first glance. Ron Paul has been outspoken in his opposition to war with Iran, and he has been pulling 11 percent or more of the Republican primary vote.