Previously here (Jeff Goldberg's current cover story, "Point of No Return"), here (my anti-bombing story from 2004), here and here (my defense of Jeff Goldberg's reporting achievement), and here (readers' critiques of the assumptions and emphases in his story). Plus here, the "Iran debate" page.
I expect that after several more people weigh in with their critiques, Jeff Goldberg will give an all-points response. Several items for now:
1) After the jump, a reader's endorsement of the intention and execution of the "No Return" cover story.
2) I would like to dissociate myself in every possible way from the response just offered by Elliott Abrams -- essentially, that Obama will bomb Iran before 2012 to save his political hide. This is not a serious way to talk about the issue:
It's inevitable that as Iran creeps closer to the Bomb and Obama creeps closer to defeat, Democrats -- above all, the ones in the White House -- will start wondering exactly why striking that nuclear program is such a terrible idea. They'll start re-examining the likely Iranian reactions (they don't really want a war with us, do they? Regime survival and all that?), the down-sides of an Israeli strike (hey, we're the leaders of the free world, after all), the military challenge (well, the Air Force isn't very busy, and it's just a few sites to hit). They will of course not tell themselves this re-assessment is related to politics; they will persuade themselves they are doing what's right for the security of our country. Watch.
Yes, I'll watch. This is not going to happen.
3) I sympathize with a line of criticism that says that by definition any "reporting" on governmental intentions on this topic is meaningless, because what is really going on is a high-level, high-stakes chess/poker deception game. Even if the hardest-line leaders in Israel knew for sure that they finally would not strike Iran, they have every incentive to act as if they might. The more convincing and imminent their own strike seemed, the more motivated the Chinese government might become (as explained here) to put pressure on Iran. Same for putting pressure on the United States. Richard Nixon made this phenomenon famous as the "crazy man" principle. If the other side thought you might do something rash and "irrational," in some circumstances that gave you more leverage -- even if in fact you'd never take the crazy step. Also, see "bluffing."
Some variety of this game is certainly being played by every participant in this drama -- Israel, Iran, America, China, Russia, you name it. Jeff Goldberg is aware of this and alludes to it in his article -- and, just now, in a web update.
4) Notwithstanding point #3, people who dismiss the reportorial achievement of this article, and think that Jeff Goldberg was just being fed and spun by various sides, probably have no idea of what is involved in getting this kind of material and underestimate how much new information is actually in Jeff Goldberg's report. The fact that people are discussing so many details and specifics of the article is testament to what he has done. Also, in light of point #2 above, it is worth noting the seriousness with which he faces the difficulties of the "what is to be done?" question, here.