It's becoming a regular routine on Hannity & Colmes. Whatever the day's events, figure a way to work in a discussion about Iran, usually with a hawk waxing enthusiastic about starting a war. Last night (6/20/07), Israeli former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the same rhetoric we heard before the Iraq war, only this time with Iran, and pretended otherwise. Unfortunately, neither host called him on the deception. With video.
Sean Hannity introduced the discussion by saying that Israeli tanks had entered Gaza and declaring excitedly, “The situation in the Middle East is critical… Many observers believe that war is just a matter of time.” I could find no other articles reporting on a ratcheting up of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians today. The Christian Science Monitor didn't report it and they're no liberal rag. Nevertheless, I'll take FOX at its word that tanks entered Gaza.
But there was little talk of Palestine or Israeli tanks. Netanyahu changed the subject to Iran early in the nearly eight-minute interview and it stayed there. Despite the fact that it has yet to be determined conclusively whether Iran's nuclear program is for the purpose of weapons, Netanyahu told a credulous Hannity that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and with the “explicit purpose of wiping us off the map.”
To Hannity's apparent disappointment, Netanyahu advocated pursuing sanctions at this point, though he repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping the military option at hand.
Netanyahu said he was in New York to pressure state pension funds to divest themselves of any European companies that do business with Iran. Funny how he happened to work a visit to FOX into his trip. It's also funny how nobody mentioned that this week IAEA head (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mohammed ElBaradei will meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator.
Hannity asked hopefully, “How many times does Ahmadinejad get to say publicly, ‘The Holocaust didn't exist and we want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth,' where even the economic sanctions you're talking about are no longer a viable option, that it must be military, that somebody can only threaten you so many times before you believe them.” In fact, Ahmadinejad never said he wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, a distortion that Hannity keeps repeating on "real journalism, fair and balanced" FOX News. Ahmadinejad reportedly said Israel "should be" wiped off the face of the earth (which is different from saying he planned to do it) and there is much dispute about the accuracy of that translation.
Alan Colmes said, “We're hearing the same rhetoric about Iran in this country that we heard about Iraq and that didn't work out very well. I don't know how we could start talking about military action at a time like this and doesn't that encourage Iran to arm itself militarily if we're making these kind of noises?”
Netanyahu replied, “We're not speculating about Iran's nuclear program. There was speculation, just that, about Iraq's non-conventional weapons and, as it turned out, they were wrong. But in this case, we have the president of Iran giving us guided tours to the centrifuge holes…. He's saying we're just a few steps away from fissionable material, which is used to create a bomb. So we have no question that Iran is racing to develop nuclear weapons. Our best assessment, and I think it's a common assessment now, is between two to four years (Actually, it's 3-8 , as Colmes pointed out). That doesn't take very long. It's about a thousand days. And this day is just gone.”
Netanyahu's assertion that there was only speculation about Iraq's WMD's whereas we know about Iran's is bogus. In the first place, the jury is still out about the purpose of Iran's nuclear program. Secondly, here are some of the not-so-speculative statements our leaders made about Iraq's weapons prior to our invasion.
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
Dick Cheney August 26, 2002
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
George Bush March 18, 2003
We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.
Donald Rumsfeld March 30, 2003
Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-CT, September 4, 2002