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 Times.com: 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.