Some Interesting Thoughts on the Iran Plot

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I still don't get it, by the way. I'm open to any rational interpretation of this alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington (irrational interpretations include the usual anti-Semitic conspiracy false-flag theories). Perhaps it wasn't authorized by anyone in a position of power in Iran, but the Justice Department (the non-neo-con-controlled Justice Department, I should note) believes it was. David Rothkopf has an interesting post on this. (I'll post other worthy questions and interpretations as this story progresses). Here is one of the questions he asks:

What would the Obama Administration's response have been had they succeeded?
If the plot had unfolded as planned and these Iranian operatives had blown up al-Jubeir in a restaurant in Washington, would the Obama Administration have considered retaliating with force against the Iranians? Drone strikes? Air strikes against selected Iranian targets (that perhaps happened to be linked to their nuclear program)? Coordinated action with the Saudis? With the Saudis and the Israelis? Or would the United States have protested vigorously in the U.N. and taken actions akin to those they are taking now to further isolate Iran in the international community? What if American citizens had been killed in the attack as they almost inevitably would have been? Remember Joe Biden's assertion long-ago that the President would be tested by foreign enemies. This is the kind of thing he had in mind. Except the context here is that the United States is broke and pulling out of the Middle East and Obama would certainly like to avoid being drawn back into a big conflict in the region. The Iranians, it seems were betting that the response would therefore be contained. And while I understand the rationale, I think the calculation is wrong. Dead Americans lying in the rubble of a Washington restaurant would require an immediate and forceful response. It would be a mistake for the Iranians or anyone else to underestimate the power an attack would have to galvanize U.S. public opinion in favor of strong action.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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