Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Kit Bond appeared with Senator Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to discuss the disclosure of a second, secret Iranian uranium enrichment facility:
Bond’s demeanor during this interview illustrates the dilemma that faces erst-while moderates in the age of radical fringe Republicanism. On the one hand, he is not a total ideologue so he strives for the appearance of rationality:
… I think that the election riots and the continuing unrest in Iran shows that there’s a significant body of Iranian people who don’t like the direction that they’re going.
And that’s why I think that strong economic sanctions, which have to be applied by the world community, not just us – we can make an impact – are the best way to go.
To get an idea about how much Bond is leaning toward the center here, contrast his statement with the rabid diatribe by former counselor to the Bush State Department, Eliot A. Cohen, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Cohen states unequivocally that:
Pressure, be it gentle or severe, will not erase that nuclear program. The choices are now what they ever were: an American or an Israeli strike, which would probably cause a substantial war, or living in a world with Iranian nuclear weapons, which may also result in war, perhaps nuclear, over a longer period of time.
In comparison to such knee-jerk neocons, Bond seems positively sane.
On the other hand, however, lest Bond’s more virulent fellow Republicans get the idea that he’s a weak sister, he does have to rattle his rather moribund sabre just a little and make a feint in the direction of the diplomatically inclined Obama administration. On the topic of Iran’s recent short-range missile tests, he declares in his best testy, elder statesman mode:
Today’s action in firing the missiles is really a poke in the eye to those who think that diplomatic efforts and agreements and inspections are going to change the way that Iran is going.
Has anybody ever implied that diplomacy or inspections unaccompanied by some source of leverage constitutes a viable strategy? Or is Bond implying that sanctions are just a necessary run-up to military action (while somehow managing to agree with Secretary Gates that military action would be futile)? Perhaps he is a little annoyed that Obama is so skillfully using the fact of Iran’s supposed intransigence to try to wrench cooperation from the Russians and Chinese.
Or, perhaps he’s just dancing around the issue trying to appear tough. Poor Senator Bond! Trying to be responsible when you live in a nest of two-headed vipers must be stressful in the extreme. No wonder he plans to retire.
Incidentally, if you you would like to fill in the holes in this interview with an alternative point of view, take a look at what Glenn Glenwald has to say. He makes a good argument for exercising caution about the media coverage of Iran’s new facility, as well as the breathless alacrity with which our politicians, Democratic as well as Republican, have jumped on the bandwagon for what must seem to all of them a sure-fire political bet.