Apparently the rationale that Israeli war hawks and the Americans who enable them have long harbored for attacking Iran is mutating. They’re cassus belli-flopping, as it were. At Media Matters’ Political Correction, M.J. Rosenberg reports that this process was

… kicked off this week when Danielle Pletka, head of the American Enterprise Institute‘s (AEI) foreign policy shop and one of the most prominent neoconservatives in Washington, explained what the current obsession with Iran’s nuclear program is all about.

The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power.”

Say what? Rosenberg, too, was baffled at first.

The “biggest problem” with Iran getting a nuclear weapon is not that Iranians will use it but that they won’t use it and that they might behave like a “responsible power”? But what about the hysteria about a second Holocaust? … What about all of these pronouncements that … the apocalyptic mullahs would happily commit national suicide in order to destroy Israel?

What, he wonders, became of the “‘existential threat’ that Iran poses to Israel?” Rosenberg quotes the AEI’s director of the Center for Defense Studies, Thomas Donnelly.

We’re fixated on the Iranian nuclear program while the Tehran regime has its eyes on the real prize: the balance of power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East.

In other words, Rosenberg writes

… preserving the regional balance of power … means ensuring that Israel remains the region’s military powerhouse, with Saudi Arabia playing a supporting role. That requires overthrowing the Iranian regime and replacing it with one that will do our bidding (like the Shah) and will not, in any way, prevent Israel from operating with a free reign throughout the region.

Which means war, since U.S. policymakers no longer see diplomacy possible before the presidential election of 2012 lest it leave President Obama vulnerable to charges that he’s soft on Iran. Rosenberg writes that

Barbara Slavin, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a longtime journalist and author who specializes on Iran, noted that the Obama administration has spent a grand total of 45 minutes in direct engagement with the Iranians.

He then points out that

… there is no way of knowing if the Iranian regime wants to talk, but what is the harm of trying [if] the talks go nowhere, then at least we tried. But we won’t try out of fear of antagonizing campaign donors who have been told that the alternative to war is the destruction of Israel.

Get more news like this, directly in your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter.