Now, however, Goldfarb has found that the U.S. public agrees with him rather than with me and the rest of the "left." Writing on October 30th about the "NeoCon Nation," Goldfarb drew unfounded conclusions from a poorly conducted survey, and then tarred all who disagree with the rush to war with Iran as "the left."
First, the shabbiness:
He notes that on July 6 of this year, a survey showed that "60 percent of Americans opposed a war with Iran." Now, however, he claims, "a majority of Americans now favor military action against Iran."
The July poll from Angus Reid asked, "If the U.S. government decides to take military action in Iran, would you favour or oppose it?" 63% said they would oppose it.
The recent Zogby poll asked if voters "would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon." 52% said yes.
As anyone with the most microscopic acquaintance with polling knows, these are not the same questions. Iran says it is not building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency (whose record on such matters is far more reliable than that of the Weekly Standard) says it has no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, noting that the rhetoric on Iran of people like Goldfarb "has lost all connection to reality," reminds us that "Iran doesn't have a nuclear button yet and won't for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA."
Given these "facts," (sorry to bring that up), a military strike by the U.S. against Iran now and a military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon are not the same thing. The latter is invoked to justify the former.
Now for the McCarthyism:
The reason for this alleged change in public opinion? Goldfarb: "The left has done a terrible job of laying out their case against a strike." Get it? Those against a war with Iran are "the left." People like Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) who has called for "Direct, Unconditional, Comprehensive Talks with Iran." Also US Central Command Commander William Fallon, who confirmed to some mutual acquaintances that he had indeed responded positively to Sen. Hagel's recommendations. Not to mention Fareed Zakaria, whose views have been summarized here by both Farideh Farhi and me. Zakaria is such a notorious leftist, that when the White House asked the American Enterprise Institute to assemble a small group of thinkers to deliberate on how to respond to September 11, Zakaria was one of the dozen or so invitees. I can't find the link right now, but Bob Woodward reported it in Bush at War.
I could go on naming many against war with Iran who are neither leftists nor "libertarians," but just sensible reality-based thinkers about national security who think there are alternatives. But according to Goldfarb and his ilk, we are all "leftists," like those naive appeasers who claimed that the Soviet Union might actually withdraw from Afghanistan....
Maybe I'm getting too old, but I've been through this too many times.
Update: In my haste to finish this post before a lunch with a member of parliament in Islamabad, I left out the main point. In my original post, I reported that the supporters of a war with Iran thought they had to get public support up to 35-40% first. They must have been looking at the Angus Reid poll from last summer showing less than that. Goldfarb refers to this benchmark I reported as context for quoting the Zogby poll, showing they have the support they think they need, provided they can convince the public that a military strike on Iran is necessary to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Hence President Bush's reference to a "nuclear holocaust" caused by a country that is years away from being able to make a nuclear weapon. We are definitely in the danger zone.