News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 18th, 2010:

Washington Times: In an editorial, the über-hawkish DC daily echoes John Bolton (referenced in our last entry here) and calls for a strike against Iran’s Bushehr reactor before fuel rods are inserted in the plant. Their revised timeline gives the United States or Israel just two days to act — though they state that it might not be so bad to wait because the radiation-fallout that Bolton seeks to avoid would be a way for a potential strike to “hinder Iranian attempts to get it back up and running.” The editors opine that “action is needed,” but admit that it’s unlikely.

NY At the Opinionator blog, Robert Wright offers a nuanced reading of Jeffery Goldberg‘s recent Atlantic story on the likelihood of an Israeli military strike on Iran in the coming year (50-50, Goldberg says). Wright says that while there is a “bit of channeling” Bibi Netanyahu, “the piece is no simple propaganda exercise.” Wright concludes that while the piece is, if anything, a poor piece of war propaganda, it is instructive because it answers questions about the weak Israeli public (and private) reasons for bombing, and also offers the United States a map for constructing a plan to avoid that scenario, especially given that the piece offers “no sound rationale for bombing Iran.”

Arms Control Wonk: Joshua Pollack, an occasional U.S. government consultant, laments that the arms control community — “nuke nerds” — are not playing a big enough role in discussions over what to do about Iran’s nuclear program, often only speaking amongst themselves in acronym-heavy jargon. So he offers, in plain English, a little parsing about the different views of Iran’s nuclear goals: What, for instance, does “going nuclear” even mean? “If Iran is going to achieve breakout capability at a hidden facility somewhere — call it Son of Qom — then bombing Natanz won’t address that problem,” write Pollack. “The name of the game today isn’t bombing, it’s intelligence.” (Hat Tip to Laicie Olson)

Washington Post: On the anniversary of the 1953 coup d’etat that unseated the democratically elected and secular Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh (and re-installed the dictatorial Shah), Council on Foreign Relations fellow Ray Takeyh examines the events and offers an unusual account that places the blame for the failure of democracy fifty-seven years ago squarely on the same societal forces responsible for last summer’s squashing of democratic expression: Iran’s clerics.