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Predictably, FOX News Uses Middle East Conflict To Push War Against Iran

Reported by Ellen - December 30, 2008 -

“Fair and balanced” FOX News offered (chicken)hawk John Bolton as its sole guest to discuss the latest Israeli conflict on last night's (12/29/08) Hannity & Colmes. As Jane Hamsher pointed out in an interesting post, the knee-jerk, pro-Israel American media response is beginning to change. But not on FOX News. In nearly three hours of prime time (I tuned out after On The Record began rehashing the white gal overboard story also discussed on H&C), only Alan Colmes cast doubt on Israel's tactics, though he was more skeptical than critical. Nobody else even went that far. But Bolton didn't just support Israel. As he has whenever the subject of the Middle East comes up, he used it as a rationale for ratcheted up militarism and a strike against Iran. With video.

In Part 1 of the two-part discussion, Bolton said the current conflict gave him “flashbacks to the summer of 2006," during Israel's conflict with Lebanon.” I had flashbacks, too, but for a different reason. Bolton has used previous Middle East flare ups to push for war against Iran in just the same way: by scorning diplomatic efforts and frightening viewers into thinking time is running out. During the 2007 Lebanon strife, he said,

“I think there is a cost to diplomacy. In the area of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, time is not on our side. Time is used by countries like Iran to perfect their nuclear weapons program. We can’t allow that to go on any further.”
Last night, Bolton said,
“Every problem in the region that we have now gets worse once Iran gets nuclear weapons. And I'm afraid we are ever closer to that point... I don't think there's anything at this point standing between Iran and nuclear weapons other than the possibility of the use of military force, possibly by the United States, possibly by Israel. I don't see the Bush administration doing it. So it could well come down to Israel.”

Last night, Bolton also said that the United States should support Israel because the US will want to (or more likely, in his view, should) react just as disproportionately. “While the focus is certainly on Israel, Israel, in a sense, is a surrogate for the United States. God forbid another attack comes against us and we have a president who decides to respond to it, we will be criticized for the disproportionate use of force... The notion of proportionate force is something that can easily be turned against the United States.”

And yet, Bolton also admitted that he wasn't sure Israel could solve its Middle East problems militarily. “I don't know what Israel's real objective here in the Gaza Strip is,” he said. He added that Egypt should “reassume sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and try and bring some order there.”

As he has in the past, Bolton insisted that the use of force against Iran would be “a very unattractive option.” But Bolton also later told Colmes that if it were up to him, he would have already attacked Iran.

Colmes asked if an attack on Iran wouldn't risk push back and “introduce an even broader powder keg in the Middle East? ...Are we then in danger of creating a broader war?”

Bolton's answer was another flashback, this time to early 2003, and the run-up to the Iraq war. “I think in many Arab states in the region, although they wouldn't say it publicly, they'd be doing the equivalent of popping champagne corks because the Arab states don't want Iran with nuclear weapons any more than Israel does.”

Along with the champagne, Bolton was probably envisioning hearts and flowers, too.

Update: Thanks to reader Shana who reminded me that the fighting between Israel and Lebanon that Bolton referenced was indeed in 2006 and not 2007, as I had originally written.