By Peter Hart
Can you threaten to start a war to stop something that doesn’t exist? Open the March 11 issue of Time magazine and you’ll see the headline “The Path to War: Inside Barack Obama’s Struggle to Stop an Iranian Nuke.”
The piece is a behind-the-scenes peek at the debate inside the government about the steps the United States is willing to take to “keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.” The idea that Iran is after a weapon is repeated numerous times–”the global effort to prevent Tehran from getting a weapon,” and the United States perhaps “using military force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.” We’re even told that Obama “offered to let Iran keep a peaceful nuclear program. But Iran’s leaders rebuffed Obama’s efforts.”
Nowhere does Time‘s Massimo Calabresi mention one rather inconvenient fact: There is no evidence that Iran is actually pursuing a nuclear weapon. Regular inspections have failed to turn up any evidence of that. Instead, we read things like this: “Iran itself has slowed down its efforts, converting some enriched uranium to a form that can be used only in research, not in weapons.” This is treated as evidence that Iran is heading towards its nuclear weapons more slowly.
This is alarming, especially since the article is about whether the U.S. will launch a military attack on Iran. Time ominously warns that soon “time will run out,” and tells us that “the Pentagon has launched the largest buildup of forces in the Gulf since the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.” It closes by noting that “Obama will soon face the hardest decision of his presidency.”
Time faces a decision too–whether or not it wants to repeat the mistake of the Iraq War by treating allegations about another country’s weapons as if they are facts.