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October 09, 2008

"Bipartisan" Iran Report
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

I'm generally somewhat skeptical of explicitly "bipartisan" task forces because they often times end up with watered down recommendations that no one is happy with and won't really work.  But still, the positive is that you're putting a bunch of very smart experts together and sometimes you end up with interesting things.  So that's what I was thinking when I sat down to read this Iran report(PDF) from the Bipartisan Policy Council.  Then I read the first sentence:

We are indebted to Michael Rubin who was the primary drafter of the report and faithfully incorporated the collective views of the Task Force.

Are you kidding me!  Bipartisan?  I always thought the whole point of being bipartisan was to get a bunch of centrists into the room to have a discussion on a key issue.  Throw in a couple of further right and further left folks to add spice.  I'm not saying I love this model, but if you get the right people the work can be really good (See the Brzezinski-Gates 2004 CFR task force or CNAS's recent Iran report). 

In this case they gave the pen, and thus most of the control, to a hard core neocon.  A neocon who just recently published an absolutely absurd mistake-ridden piece in the Washington Post blaming Joe Biden for Iran's progress on its uranium enrichment program.  Meanwhile, Michael Mukovsky, the Project Director, has a history with Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans.  Calling this thing "bipartisan" is quite silly.

As for the report itself.  It tries to be bipartisan by saying negotiations, even without preconditions, might be necessary.  But it recommends simultaneously pursuing  provcative  economic, military, and information (i.e. regime change propoganda) measures.  This strategy would escalate U.S.-Iran tensions and pretty much guarentee that any direct talks would fail.

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Did the task force take into account the Russian scientists providing aid to
Iran's nuclear weapon development program
?

The New York Times reported today that international nukes inspectors suspect Russian scientists with helping Iran develop nuclear weapons. The source did not think that the scientist was acting on behalf of the Kremlin.

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