The turmoil in Iraq has led TV chat shows to trot out an array of hawks, many of whom had been cheerleaders for the 2003 invasion that set up the current crisis. NBC‘s Meet the Press was no exception, bringing on former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney (6/15/14) and then more recently Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (6/22/14), who warned that the wrong moves now could strengthen Iran.
It’s worth remembering that Netanyahu was wrong about Iraq when it mattered. Jim Lobe (LobeLog, 9/29/13) has recalled some of Netanyahu’s 2002 congressional testimony, which included assertions like this:
There is not question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons–no question whatsoever.
Interesting, then, to see Meet the Press host David Gregory pose a question to Netanyahu this way:
You’re well-briefed on how the United States is approaching its negotiations with Iran to get it to abandon a nuclear weapons program. Are you concerned, based on anything that you’ve seen, that the US is softening its negotiating stance to try to get Iran’s help in Iraq?
The problem might be how “well-briefed” David Gregory is. Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program; there are some allegations that the country may have done some research that was geared towards eventual weapons development, but those allegations remain just that–allegations.
The current negotiations concern uranium enrichment, which is not the same thing as a weapons program.
And it is not clear why anyone would think Netanyahu is an expert on this matter anyway. He has consistently warned that Iran was getting closer to developing the bomb (Wide Asleep in America, 7/16/13), with no evidence to support his claims–and plenty, as nuclear expert Yousaf Butt (Reuters, 2/22/13) has written, backing up Iran’s longstanding contention that it is not developing nuclear weapons.
There have been many questions raised about why the Iraq hawks are still on TV talking about Iraq. That’s a fine point. But Netanyahu’s ubiquity as an Iran expert is a reminder that Iraq isn’t the only issue on which TV bookers have relied on guests who have been, and continue to be, wrong.