90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
War-Gaming Iran

In this image made available Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009 and taken from Al Alam TV, a missile is fired in an unspecified location in Iran, which had begun large-scale air defense war games aimed at protecting the country's nuclear facilities against any possible attack, state television reported. (AP)

The pressure cranks higher and higher around Iran, with allegations that it is rolling forward on nuclear weapons development.

The White House is talking high-pressure diplomacy — sanctions. But others are talking war.

Israel’s defense minister speaks of a “finger close to the trigger.” Newspapers report that preparations for an Israeli strike are clear.

There’s a lot of theater here. But there’s a real threat, too. And strategists all over are war-gaming how a strike on Iran would play out. It’s not pretty. Today, we’re listening.

This hour, On Point: war-gaming Iran.


Joining us from Washington is Kenneth Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and author of “A Path Out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East.” He was a member of the “control team” in the war game organized by the Saban Center last December.

Also from Washington is Suzanne Maloney, Iran expert at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and author of “Iran’s Long Reach.”  She was a member of the “Iran team” in the center’s December war game. 

And from Tel Aviv, we’re joined by Giora Eiland, retired major general in the Israeli Army and former National Security Advisor focusing on, among other things, the Iranian nuclear program. He is now senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.  He took part in a “war game” at Tel Aviv University last October.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Patricia Della-Piana

    If Israel declares war on Iran, that’s between Israel and Iran. It’s NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. We seem to have a penchant for butting into everyone’s business, putting ourselves at the forefront of every problem. We are NOT the police of the world. We are only one country, and we have problems of our own. The United Nations is the organization that should pick up the cry, if there is one to be picked up.

  • shiraz

    I am a Persian student from Iran. Studying Nuclear Physics in America.

    The only reason why great people of Iran want Nuclear capability is that because Israel has as much as they wanted.

    If you study the history of the region, America has helped Israel to gain this capability. America also was giving nuclear technology to Shah of Iran 20-30 years ago. Now what seems to be the problem?

    I want your guests address this issue before anything else.

    Thank you

  • http://www.usnwc.edu Duke

    “the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”
    -Sun Tzu, the Art of War
    War gaming goes on all the time and it would be bad planning to not do so with any scenario you can imagine. The War in the Pacific was war gamed at the Naval War College for a decade before Japan declared war and that’s where the island hopping tactic came from. Without war gaming, we may have gotten into a slug fest with Japan and lost even more lives. War gaming examines the strengths and weaknesses of of friend and enemy to figure out how to put our strength against their weakness for the best possible outcome.
    “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
    - Sun Tzu

  • cory

    We would squash Iran in any sort of conventional military confrontation. Iraq had the fourth larest military in the world at the time of the first Persian gulf war. They fought Iran to a standstill during their war in the 1980′s.

    The real question is can the lion in winter muster the strength to further extend itself and incur even more debt and international ill will?

    Sooner or later we’ll have to find an alternative to our current foreign policy.

  • http://none Margaret

    There’s NO way Iran would attack Israel or any other country since it undoubtedly realizes that such an attack would guarantee its own destruction.

  • brian

    It strikes me that as is so often the case, the ‘leaders’ of Iran are more interested in provoking Israel than are Iran’s people. So two questions for your guest:
    Does he believe that to be true? And if so, why are we not hearing about “Regime Change” as we did leading up to the Iraq invasion?

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    “If Israel strikes,” you ask, “should we stay out?” We should not just stay out, Tom. We should stay way, way out, thank you very much.

  • Layla

    The Brookings’ war game sounds like Wells’ War of the Worlds. Both the scenario (Israel finds ONE person who holds ALL the answers) and the response (Hezballah to its own detriment says yessir to Iran and attacks Israel) is so fantastical that it’s unclear to me what the purpose of this is other than, like Orson Wells, creating mass hysteria. There is no dearth of actual, much more substantial scenarios that can lead to an Israeli attack. So what then was the purpose in choosing such an unreal one and as such, how does that skew the important conversation about On Point regarding war with/on Iran?

  • Ed K.

    Wouldn’t Iran make the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf impassable and cripple the world economy?

  • Ellen Dibble

    It seems to me that the Iranian people are pretty much pro-American at this point but would switch to pro-Iranian government, whatever their flaws, once attacked.

  • ned studholme

    Another journalism failure by experts”.

    !. There is no authority to engage in this scenario with miitary force without congressional authorization.The assessment assume that the President has this authority. HE DOES NOT. This scenario is unrelated to the post 911 war powers laws, and authority falls to the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

    2. Where is Russia in all of this GREAT analysis? THEY are the KEY to preventing it and to containing it. Are we working with them? What is Russia doing in the evolution of this scenaroi…you must be kidding us…

  • Dave

    I support a position of U.S neutrality. Israel is no less a backer of terrorism than Iran is. It was foolish for us (America) to have taken ANY sides at all during all these years of the Mideast strife.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I tried to ask about Russia a ways back. I seem to glean that Russia is trying to be sort of pro-Iranian.

  • Donald

    Once again NPR and especially Tom Ashbrook are oblivious to viewpoints contrary to those of Israel and its advocates in the US. He devotes an hour to the possible outcomes of an Israeli attack on Iraq. His guests? Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council staffer indicted for his involvement in providing classified information to Israelis; Suzanne Maloney another researcher at the pro-Israel Saban Center which was established to satisfy Mr. Saban’s desire to support Israel; Giora Eiland an Israeli general.

    Where is the balance? Where is the contrary view? Mr. Ashbrook is unable to bring himself to challenge his Israeli guests but quite willing to challenge his callers.

    Is the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons research an immediate threat? Is the war game conducted by a pro-Israel center reliable? Can an attack be successful?

    As a side note, I question the efficacy of nuclear weapons for both Israel and Iran. Under what conditions and for what reasons would Israel use its nuclear weapons? If they imagine themselves like the ancient Jews of Masada, I question their sanity.

  • rich4321

    Why is the US always standing by Israel? We give them billions of financial aides and countless military supplies and supports. And what did they do? They insulted our vice president, they do whatever they want to destabilize the region, disregard what we think. Let Israel and Iran fight themselves out.

  • Arturo

    So far what I have been hearing is quite insightful, and today’s guests show above the average analytical skills. The latter is certainly a good that has becoming scarce in Washington. However, so far I have not heard mentioned a major analytical assumption.

    The options ascribed to the Obama’s administration for confronting the crisis seem to miss one major point. The Republicans and large segments of American public opinion, misled by AIPAC, Fox News, and the neo-con establishment, would not miss the opportunity for blasting the Obama administration for their “passivity” and “moral cowardise”. Given the strength of the zionist ideological current privailing within the Democratic Party, it is even likely that the Obama administration could to act in the anticipated way by these two insightful policy analysts, but if the administration acts rationality and remain co0ol, they Preisedent Obama could be finished.

  • Sean

    The last caller Mark ….is completely uninformed about Israel which has been demonized to death . The media Biases are unbelievable as in the BBC coverage which WBUR supports .You can’t have a conversation based on lies …..Lets look at the real truth about what is really going on .


  • Todd

    Oh, so it isn’t enough that we already have two war fronts that were never any of America’s business and no one seems to be able to figure out. No, we have to have the poli-socio engineering Brookings Institute attempt to parse a hypothetical third war that isn’t any of America’s business. Yes folks, war has indeed become quite a game; and an oh so profitable one too—the more the merrier!

  • N Durovic

    How can any serious Israeli-Iranian wargame be conducted without Israel first admitting its own nuclear arsenal?

    Frankly, the way I heard the war scenario envisaged by the Saban Center people was of teh US as a set of worried byt kindly parents being confronted by a mess created by a three-year old in a tantrum,trying to first reassure (!) and restrain the out of control child, then cleaning the mess even while hoping the kid stays put and doesn’t blow up any further. . It is shocking that this is the global political dynamic we are even considering–after 50 years of basically funding the Israeli war machine. Israel’s political interests are not ours.

  • http://wbur.org Jim Murray

    Here, here, Donald. The blind support of Israel is outdated. In my many years trying to understand the Middle East, I have waivered back and forth on who is responsible for the log jam. Israel’s latest declaration to build 1600 new homes in Jerusalem seems to make clear that they are not willing to be reasonable.

  • matt pallaver

    If the alternative to not neutralizing the nuclear capability of Iran is 2-3 nuclear bombs going off in TelAviv in the future, isn’t any alternative the guests are describing a better alternative from the point of view of Israel?

  • Errol G Wright

    Why does the US not reduce aid to Israel when it does things like it did this week, in announcing additional settlements just as Vice President Biden is in is Israel attempting to re-start the peace process? Why do we allow Israel to determine and work against what’s in the US national security interest? With any other country, the US would cut off aid, never mind limiting it. The least we should is say to Israel “Ok, you want to go ahead and build settlements, we’ll reduce the amount of aid to you on an equal amount that you spend in expanding settlements”. It is about time that the US took a tough line with Israel, if we indeed want to achieve peace in the Middle East. Because someone is your friend, that shouldn’t stop you from telling them when he’s wrong and causing harm to him and perhaps you as well.

  • Todd

    “Why is the US always standing by Israel?”
    Posted by rich4321

    For the same reason Frankenstein stood by his creation.

  • Sean

    The last caller Mark in completely uninformed about Israel which has been demonized to death. Over and over again lies have been turned in truths as in the Goldstone protocols . The media has been very bias in its reporting including the very biased BBC which wbur supports ….You can’t have a conversation based on lies .


  • Mary L Frost

    I don’t believe that the US can be a moderator in the Middle East until we make it clear that our support of Israel is limited to defensive help if they are attacked.

    We need to make it clear that if they launch an attach on their neighbors, we will not come to their support.

    If this were clear, they might be less willing to build new settlements and take any other offensive action in the area.

  • http://wburonpoint lucille magnus

    I would think WBUR could do better as even T. Ashbrook acknowledged. A discussion about Armageddon and not one person representing Iran!!

    Really ! Easier to demonize that way? Why not discuss what’s going on behind the scenes instead of feeding the flame of the furies who seem bent on war?

  • phil

    The hypocrecey of discussing Iran’s supposed nucular weapons program with out haveing a voice for Iran, is almost as slanted as not discussing Isreal’s nucular weapons.Jewish pep rallies are good fund raisers aren’t they?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Those who are really disappointed Iran and Iranians were not represented on the program: It seems to me that Ahmedinijad, to the extent he “represents” Iran is a joke. The military/police that they say are sort of dictating Iranian policy are seen more as usurping the nation than as truly representing the citizens. In short, would you like a Party Puppet to speak for Iran? Or would you like some Common Citizen, whose frank presentation might be the cause of his/her being caught, tortured, and disappeared.

  • Al

    What a joke this show has been! I had a lot of respect for you Tom. In my opinion, if u can’t balance a show then you should not have a show like this in the first place.

    Side note: Let me remind everyone that this is the same pollack who pushed for the Iraq invasion and here you go again with Iran.

  • Steve T

    I’m sick of it.

    In the words of Albert Einstein “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” And “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” I BELIEVE THAT. The war mongers want us all dead!

  • Steve T

    In the words of Albert Einstein “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” And “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” I BELIEVE THAT. The war mongers want us all dead!

  • Steve T

    I don’t know why you won’t let me post, I have NOT said this before.

    In the words of Albert Einstein “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” And “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” I BELIEVE THAT. The war mongers want us all dead!

  • Michael

    Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh had several articles in the New Yorker outlining US and Israeli strike plans for Iran. War games have and are going on all the time. Without USAF tanker support to refuel Israeli fighter bombers any attack on Iranian nuke sites would be out of the question, supposedly. The Israeli defense minister is a very tough ruthless ex commando, Ehud Barak, who is a hawks’ hawk! He was one of the IDF commandos who hunted down and killed most of the Munich Olympics killers of 1972. An eye for an eye.

  • old_guy

    Several times, mention of US involvement in any new conflict involved asking whether new troops would have to be provided by a draft. According to
    that involves a 6-step process, starting with “The congress and the president authorize a draft”, and ending with

      According to current plans, Selective
      Service must deliver the first
      inductees to the military within 193
      days from the onset of a crisis.

    Apart from the definitional difficulties of identifying the onset of a crisis, in the current political and economic atmosphere, the idea that such a process would happen in 193 days, or twice that, is laughable.

    Hence I conclude that US military involvement in any outbreak between Israel and Iran will have to happen with current force levels. From the boots-on-the-ground viewpoint, we are no longer a player.

  • Ronnie

    It’s amazing what individual biases, including my own, will do to the perspective of a at least superficially objective study. I am a moderate right (christian)veteren and I was so offended listening from my car that I felt the need to check out the comments. Biases aside, General Eiland was most definitely clothes-lined!
    Although I thought Ashbrook did an OK job just asking the questions, the entire situation was loaded for 2 reasons.
    First, the study itself , as General Eiland pointed out, was based at least partially on the misunderstood intentions of the October games themselves, and it was done by the Soro’s supported Saban center (run by Martin “end of blank checks” Indyk). I don’t know how anyone could mistake the 2 guests as anything but Samantha Power level Israel haters. When you throw in the delusional callers (who Tom did do a good job of keeping on topic), I was mortified.
    I have no interest in seeing the fallout of an Israeli attack on Iran for all of the local and international reasons stated throughout the show, but I do not like to see such a blatent attempt at portraying Israel as the evil hegemon while ignoring all of Iran’s stated intentions and nefarious alliances in the area.
    Again, perspective may have me overreacting some, but I can’t be imagining all of it!
    Peace all,

  • Christian


    Simply unbelievable. The U.S. is already involved in two illegal wars that have destroyed countless lives, and you are discussing the idea of attacking/invading another country. The fact that no guest of the show realizes such an act would be illegal under international law (which the U.S. has done much to erode) speaks to the ignorance and/or criminality of these supposed ‘scholars’ sitting comfortably in their think tanks.

    Just answer me this: Why are the U.S. and other Western nations allowed to have nuclear weapons and nations like Iran not? Why are we allowed to have nuclear energy and nations like Iran not? Which nations have dropped nuclear weapons and continue to do so?

    Attacking Iran would be insane and/or evil. Talking about it only slightly less so…

  • Mike Shahbaz

    As an Iranian- American fan of your show, I am disappointed in the choice of your guests and their connections to the Saban Center. Haim Saban is such a biased and tireless cheerleader for Israel that he once accused Rupert Murdoch of having overly pro-Arab coverage of the Middle East. He founded the centers that your guests are working for mainly to produce policy research favorable to Israel. Kenneth Pollack was indicted for his involvement in providing classified information to Israelis and Suzanne Maloney and Giora Eiland are paid to be in favor of Israeli right wing policies that are getting us dangerously closer and closer to moral and financial bankruptcy.

  • Todd

    “This is it..NPR is acting like IPR…Had enough of Israel Public Radio.”
    Posted by barbi

    I agree. However, in either acronym, the ‘P’ stands for Propaganda.

  • Diane Groenert

    The IAEI has never found evidence of Iran producing nuclear weapons. Yet, the media persists in stating other wise. Israel has at least 120 nuclear war heads. But nobody wants to talk about that.
    I used to respect NPR, But it seems to be going the way of Fox.

  • fredericc

    War-gaming Iran is not complete when the free world cannot talk openly about islam.

    There are important issues that must be injected into the mainstream that take energy and courage to talk about but aren’t because of the easy out of political correctness.

    There is little variation on the over used qualifier, ‘islam is a beautiful religion, so and so is a muslum and their not like that, or all religions are equal; it’s radical islam that’s the problem, &c.’

    As the history of islam becomes known by a wider more mainstream audience there is less room for islamic states to play their old game. Don’t play it for short gain, there must be more resources put into the American educational system because if we are to win in the long run we must prepare in the classroom.

    Tom, do more shows on islamic art, culture, science. Let your busy audience come to know what is virtuous in islam and middle eastern culture. Help to give the free world a stake and connection to the middle east. Help the people decide what islam is and not the totalitarian dictators who have warped a faith into a cult for regional or world domination.

  • Polly Johnson

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear the whole hour of your show on the war games from the Savant Center, but what I did hear appalled and horrified me! Israel wants to suck the US into a war with Iran, don’t you get it? I did not hear one Iranian or Palestinian voice among your guests. Those are the countries that the US needs to listen to right now! I truly hope you will follow up with a program that features peacemakers from the Middle East, not warmongers!

  • Liz B.

    This ‘war-gaming’ is a similar senario to what the superpowers dreamed up before world war one to rebalance the European power structure. WWI was supposed to have been a short and decisive war and eventually became one of the deadliest military conflicts in history.

    There are similarities between the human conditions during beginning of the 20th century and that of the 21st century. We are facing all types of crises, economic, social, demographic, environmental, you name it, as we did 100 years ago. The Middle East is the current ‘power keg’ of the world.

    Is war the answer to these problems? Haven’t we learned as a species? Sadly, I conclude that it appears we have not.

  • Mary

    The US should petition the UN to take Israel off the map and shut it down as
    a threat to America’s national security and its neighbors in the Middle East…..

    Israel has been a problem from day one with its aggression against the people
    of Palestine and its continued aggression in the region in the last 60 yrs .

    It has been responsible for starting 8 regional wars and causing untold suffer-
    ing of civilians and there it is once again upping the ante on Iran….

    Well, it is time to close down this war mongering state and I resent WBUR giving
    those war mongers and land thieves in Israel access to our airwaves to try and sell their propaganda war against Iran. It has all become so immoral and wrong accepting their officials narrative today….

    P.S. I will never forget how their officials used NPR’s airwaves to sell their brutal propaganda war against the defenseless people of Gaza. That was absolutely criminal in my book and WBUR should not repeat this criminal complicity now
    on Iran.

  • http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/03/war-gaming-iran JRL

    Your guest are out of this world. It is as if they did not learn anything from the events of the last 10 years. You have also undermined your credibility by letting those individuals air their apocalyptic scenario without any challenge. I doubt this could ever occur without the knowledge of the United States and this could have grave implications for americans and the world.

  • marilyn kharbush

    you have pro israel and Israeli guests what about the other side?

    What Hypocrisy on your part as usual..

    are you explaining away the IsraELI NUCLEAR WEAPONS ?

    You are as usual the person that is always rationalizations for the Israeli Actions come on and think about the rights of the palestinians and other people that are not Israelis.

  • Emi

    A nuclear Iran is a threat to one thing only, oil. The US cannot afford to have a country where people are encouraged to commit suicide in order to advance their cause. The Iranian government is actively supporting terrorists in the region to “wipe out Israel”. They can be compared to WW2 Japan, that was willing to sacrifice their nation in order to be victorious. It is in the US interest to keep a strong Israel to counterbalance any threat to the oil, not to just be friends. I believe Henry Kissinger once said, the US does not have friends, it has interests.

  • Brandes

    Iran couldn’t have a representative on this show because there is no free press. I appreciated the Israeli general coming on the show and talking candidly about Israel’s perspective.
    Also, Israel isn’t threatening to demolish Iran while Iran has threatened the existence of Israel numerous times.

  • Extremely Dissapointed

    I usually love On Point, but this show was an absolute disaster. Lots of pro-war cheerleading by 3 solidly pro-Israel guests. No challenges from Tom. No mention of Israel’s nukes until the very last caller of the show. This was pure propaganda.

    I wonder, is On Point just pandering to rich Jews in Brookline? I imagine they’re big contributors.

  • Michael

    This topic brings up the theory that this is exactly the real world scenario that the Military-Industrial complex desires. It affords them the excuse and opportunity to advance their long term agenda of natural resource control and regional suppression under the guise of a defensive response to a “malicious” and out of control regime. The who and why of the perpetrator questions are irrelevant, the end result of entrenched military and regional control is paramount under this theory. By saber rattling now and making assumptions about Iran’s intent the stage is set for an eventual push to gain what they may currently not be gaining as hoped in Afghanista, control of land routes to transport oil via pipelines and broader control over supply and distribution of opium. The fact that this is being discussed on a respected radio program is just further evidence that efforts to condition the public opinion to the possibility of such a scenario is under way, well orchestrated and part of a fairly near term strategy. Not cynical here, just objective based on the data and current state of affairs.

  • A.B.

    The guests seemed to me very cautionary about a war not pro-war. The discussion was based on a hypothetical scenario staged to see what could happen.
    Suzanne, who represeented Iran in the war game, sounded calm and reasonable when presenting their leaders perspective.

    Unfortunately Israel is an enemy of Iran. There cannot be an illusion of benign intention of Iran toward Israel as well as other, Arab, countries in the region, as was mentioned, i.e. Saudi Arabia.

    The guests were presenting facts and not opinions from what I heard – when there were facts not when discussing the hypotheticals coming out of war games. There seemed no bias toward Israel; the goal was clearly stated: how would the U.S. be affected if Israel bombed the sites of Iran’s nuclear reactors.

    Finally, many people of dominant religions support WBUR. Many Jews who are not rich live in other cities and towns or in subsidized housing in Brookline; many wealthy people who live in Brookline are not Jews.

  • Mary

    Brandes and his or her claims of the Israeli general talking frankly about the Israeli perspective is a real joke. Israelis are so brained washed by their
    generals and the gangsters that runs their government many readily utter
    the party line or don’t speak at all.

    Read the latest propaganda piece put out by their spin doctors for the media following the Gaza offensive demonizing Hamas and stressing their fictional desire for peace.

    How low will Israel stoop to win the propaganda war? Stuart Littlewood

    In addition, read who really broke the ceaase-fire leading to the Gaza…

    Lastly, read what spurred Hizbollah to come across Israel’s border in 2005 and capture 2 soldiers. http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0801/p09s02-coop.html

  • http://none Inge Hyder

    I am very unhappy about your broadcasting “wargaming” — when I turned it on I didn’t realize it was a “game” and was worried that it had really happened — reminded me of the program Orson Well’s radio show. I think it is irresponsible to broadcast something like this which we hope will never happen.

  • Merli

    IF Israel ever attacks, the US will be considered complicit, no matter the appearance of deniability because of the historical influence of bias for the Israeli GOVERNMENT by the pressure of APAC MONEY and other Israeli influence on the US Government and mass media moguls. Iran would turn on the US since it is the ONLY adversary that could devastate it, and it would have other powers, such as Russia, to be a counter-threat to extended Israeli actions.

    (I hope this gives the game planners more input in their machinations of possibilities)

  • Ethan

    This Iranian threat isn’t a new thing. These are the same people who tried to destroy Athens, the light of the West in 480BCE. The intervening years have seen numerous similar Persian attempts to reassert this contention; of which, this newest Iranian despotic regime is only but the most recent link in a very long chain of Persian aggression. We should remember that our forebearers were men of sterner stuff, and stand by our allies the Israelis.

  • Michael

    amazing that some(including the U.S. Media) see nothing wrong with Israel threatening to attack Iran based on what if’s, more so amazing is the fact that the use of self defense can be used.

    Iran could never state that it needs to and the Arab world needs to bomb Israel nuclear sites cause they fear what Israel could do and don’t want a N. arms races, the U.S. and most of Europe would be up in arms talking about how much they must defend Israel yet very few of our elected officials see the hypocrisy in this. Saban Center for Middle East Policy has been on a media blitz today trying to spin the embarrassment Joe B. suffer and the new settlements, There were on Talk of the Nation today and i bet many other NPR stations as well.I lost alot of respect for Joe B. and the spine he seem not to have when he went to the middle east and got pwned by Israel like that.

    What would be a interesting scenario is if Israel tried to bomb Iran flying over Iraq and were shoot down by the Iraqi’s and U.S. forces, guessing israel would want the U.S. to pay reparations for the lost of there pilots.

    I’m guessing if a Nuke is ever used it will be by Israel than i could ever see iran using them.

    Also, Tom weak show you can do better.

  • sasha

    Why on earth are you interviewing Kenneth Pollack? Has everyone forgotten that Pollack’s book THREATENING STORM was used as a major justification for the invasion of Iraq. I do not understand why those analysts who were so wrong about the consequences of the US invasion of Iraq still manage to maintain their bully pulpits. Those analysts who were so wrong about the invasion of Iraq should be sent packing, and should not be rewarded with further interviews and positions in think tanks. Surely there are many Middle East analysts who saw the fiasco of Iraq before it happened. those are the people we should listen to now about Iran.

  • Ty

    Just reminding all of our pro Iranian friends here, that AHMEDINIJAD just a few days back denied the 9/11 attacks and threatens to destroy Israel time and time again.

    All the pro arab/iranian supporters that are here in the u.s should be added to the terror watch list!


  • sajid

    American could not win war in Afghanistan in 6 yrs with best ever tech war,with people who live on onion and Peta bread,and looking for safe passage,and talking to talban and al quida.shia religion is more medical in teaching,how u can fight who love to die.i hope America do not make mistake again we have already paid a lot,we r going on same path Russian went and end with disaster.i hope we American keep away from this Russian trap,just see how they trapped America in Afghanistan.

  • joshua

    This show is simply to condition American people in a climate of fear, signaling the invetiable US war– the coming war of aggresison. It never ends. One illagal war after another disregarding Nuremburg, ignoring all dissent, and reason or logic. NPR–national propaganda radio. Faux progrssive. faux left. faux cenrist. Obviosly part of the fascist machine.

  • joshua

    Ty: get a grip! 911 was an inside job. That’s true. Israel is a terrorist nation. What has Iran done to anyone? Difference in opinion is not enough to go to war and kill people to satisfy your blood lust. United States is a nightmare scenario. Israel is a criminal state and so is the US. Stop warmongering!

  • joshua

    It’s time to punish Bush, Cheney and all the others, as many as it takes with war crimes and crimes against humanity according to Nuremberg and International rights. Bombing hospitals and homes and civilians is a war crime. Invading countries is a war crime.

    Think people. Think! The media is not on your side, nor the side of democracy.

  • joshua

    if somebody keeps shouting at me, and threatening me and making outlandish statements like I killed somebody when I did not, I’m gonna get made to, and say things in retaliation. This kind of behavior by the West, by Israel and the US is pathetic and disgusting, and insane.

    Iran is trying to improve its situation. it may not be the best regime, but neither is the terrorist regime in ISrael and the US.

    When will the US dismantle its arsenal? When will the terrorist regime occupying Palestine dismantle its nuclear arsenal and stop land-grabbing, and stop bombing and harassing the nations of the middle-east?

  • joshua

    Draft the children of politicians.

  • joshua

    Isn’t it suspect that our senators only agree on something when it is on war, reducing the constitutional and human rights of citizens, spying and torture? hmmm.

  • Ishmael

    Was there a solid attempt to war-game the Iraq invasion in 2002? If so, was it inconsequential? Or, perhaps something like war-gaming would have been too sensible for the Bush administration to handle.

    Wonder if there would be some way to actually war-game using actual participants from relevant countries, or maybe just Israel, Iran and US, instead of holding the game purely in just one country. Maybe the respective academic/defense/diplomatic communities would find it enlightening.

  • Mary


    For 8 yrs the Republicans led by senate majority leader Mitch Mc Connell
    gave Bush a blank check and placed it on America’s credit card and didn’t
    utter a word of concern about placing such a burden on future generations
    to come. Indeed, many of his own backroom deals helped sacked the US
    Treasury prior of the almost one trillion surplus left by Bill Clinton….

    So all this hooting and hollering by Republicans today is pure bullsh*t.

    And so are the financial graphics by senator Judd Greggs of New Ham-
    pshire showing the Nation’s debt. Just where was he before when he
    allowed his colleagues to give Bush carte blanc? Or Mitt Rommey with
    a book spelling the disaster of Bush’s out of control spending?

    Now what a farce his book and title look today, “No Apology”

    I wish the Democratic National Committee would shine a spot light on
    this today as a public service message in truth in telling.

    P.S. I couldn’t agree more on NPR being a mouthpiece for the Israeli propa-
    gandists and their “defensive” airstrikes in Gaza.. Missing from ATC and other NPR reports was the challenge to this from the left and indeed the the lies be-
    hind it all as Avi Shlaim, an Israeli scholar and historian notes on Democracy
    Now (see URL) ; and the mass killing and slaughter of defenseless civilians as
    a result…

    There were no voices from Americans on the streets and outside of Israeli
    embassies and massive protests heard around the world and especially in
    Britian and outside the BBC as a result. Its service was accused to of allow-
    ing itself as being used as mouthpieces for the war mongers in Israel.

    That’s a royal shame as the BBC is usually very thorough and challenging
    with its guests. Yet it bowed down to likes of the Israeli propagandists
    and it has done great damaged to its reputation for a long time to come.

    Now , there are the war mongers back on Tom Ashbrook’s show trying to
    sell Americans another one of their “defensive” war and suggesting going
    into Lebanon and Gaza again to take out Iran’s supporters.

    Well, I say bullsh*t this time let take to the streets and demand their state
    be shut down as a threat to regional stability and world peace.

    Israel’s lies about the Gaza offensive…..

  • Potter

    War is a reality. Threats keep flying. Everyone is armed. Citizens demand “security” from fears- real or pumped up.

    Who is thinking about consequences? War gaming is simply thinking things through, thinking to consequences, consequences which when focussed upon inevitably come out to be not so good or worth it unless the circumstances are truly dire. So this forces thinking about what beyond tolerance… what is worth suffering, destruction and the inevitable unintended consequences.

    War gaming should also include amongst the myriad of options and possible reactions the option of not engaging in war to begin with.

    This particular exercise was very limited but interesting.

    So despite the horror reflected in some of the posts here (that I share) about these scenarios, that the discussion produced such reaction is good and shows it to be a worthwhile endeavor.

  • R

    I guess Ill be a voice of dissent and say: I thought it was a good program.

    The point of the show (what I took away) wasn’t to support the notion of attacking Iran, but to do the analysis that has happened in war-rooms around the world.

    We are currently negotiating with Iran to end its nuclear program, and the US itself has stated all options are on the table. The whole point of diplomacy is you have to make the peaceful option more enticing than an armed conflict, and if you haven’t evaluated the military options than you’ll have no clue as to your own position or the enemies.

    Also, the reason Iran shouldn’t have nukes even though Israel has one is that we don’t want an nuclear arms race in the mideast. The US’s goal (and that of the world), is to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and then satisfy Israeli security concerns to the point where they would negotiate to destroy their Nuclear weapons. That is a MUCH more preferable to what would probably be a never ending military build-up in the region.

  • Don

    One need not agree with everything stated to think that this was a very good program, given the recognition that this a program essentially modeling American interests in this conflict.

    The US and Israel share a powerful interest in Iran not achieving the capacity to use (or worse, provide) nuclear weapons. The Iranian state is not like most other contemporary states–it is openly aggressive and millenial, and has stated very clear its strong desire and policy to destroy Israel and confront the West. It is also a police state with few compunctions about silencing its own internal critics.

    Only the failure of international diplomatic pressure and international will would force Israel into this unpalatable and dangerous scenario– I can safely say that no one in any position of responsibility in Israel wants this scenario to come to pass. The US has a long policy of allowing its regional allies to absorb the primary risk of these kinds of dangers in return for support and guarantees. This will work only until the dangers outweigh the guarantees.

    People who want to avoid this scenario should be pushing hard for international pressure to stop nuclear weaponization in Iran. Otherwise, Israel will eventually do what it needs to do despite all the negative consequences, and the American people and government will ultimately support this on both moral and geopolitical grounds.

  • Mary

    This emphasis on Israeli security is way overblown for its size and place in
    the Middle East and at this point due to its government’s ongoing disregard
    for international laws and the sovereign and human rights of the Palestinian people and its 8 wars during the last 60 yrs –I am ready to say let’s throw
    in the towel on this upstart state and be done wth it.

    Even though my parents originally endorsed it following the WW11 , I have
    no desire to prolong its cruel mistreatment of the Palestinian people today.

    Their lives have become a living hell all because Jews continue to throw their weight around and violate their borders in the territories since the 1967 war
    and now occupying over 78% percent of the their historic homeland instead
    of the UN share of the partition which was 55%.percent allotted in 1947.

    Who in their right mind would accept this from another people ? Yet, this is
    that “special relationships ” the US & AIPAC keeps pushing do wn our throats daily and it is time we all said “enough” .

    In addition, Israel’s policies are very self serving towards Jews as the dominant and superior beings and Palestinians are treated like second class people in their own country and kept barricade behind a scaffolding of 400 checkpoints and be-hind a Nazi style wall and military occupation to promote its illegal settler popu-lation in the territories.

    Hence Israel is no symbol of justice or a safe haven for anyone today and many American Jews and English Jews and French Jews and even Iranian Jews have refused offers to go to Israel today.

    The writing is on the wall -Israel no longer serves a moral purpose and Gandhi was right in his argument against the UN partition of Palestine in 1940s noting
    it was immoral to displacement one people for the sake of another.

    This is the ugly truth we all need to face today and and why should anyone be concerned about Israel’s safety when it would be better to disarm it & dismantle
    it altogether?

  • http://people.uwec.edu/abootaar Ali R. Abootalebi

    Mr. Ashbrook:

    Greetigns from Eau Claire, WI. My name is Ali Abootalebi and I am a Professor of Middle Eastern and Global Studies here at UWEC. I must say that listening to your program last night was guite disappointing. Not only you did not have anyone representing the Iranian side, which is both unethical and against frank reading of FCC regulations, but you gave voice to peole well known for their war mongering–Pollack’s view and contribution to Iraq war is well known. How could you give a platform to such voices that only represent the narrow interests of the American and Israeli hawks? I have lived in this country for over 32 years and as a citizen and professor of political science know too well that the only solution to US-Iranian relations rests with diplomacy. Please allow Iranian voices of moderation a chance to present their views. There are so many qualified Iranian academics whom you could have contaced. I would be more than happy to partake in such a discussion if you are interested. Thanks for yuor attention.

    Ali R Abootalebi,
    University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
    March 12, 2010

  • frederic c.

    A moderating pro-Iranian guest would be antithetical.

    The title of this show was, ‘War-Gaming Iran.’

  • Potter

    It certainly would be helpful when war-gaming Iran to have a pro-Iranian guest.

    That is a no-brainer.

    It would be helpful to the war-gamers and it would be helpful for the listeners. The guest need not have come in until the end either if that was the constraint. He/she could have given great insight about this particular war-game- how accurate it was.

  • Sean

    Barbi , is that Klaus Barbi?

  • http://n/a Herman M. Heyn

    IMO, your wonderful war gammers were operating with
    blinders. They totally neglected to see the probability (IMO)that the mullahs ALREADY have at least one, ready
    to go A-bomb, purchased on the black market, with which to retaliate if attacked.

    Herman M. Heyn
    Baltimore, Maryland

  • Marcus

    “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French”.
    - Mahatma Gandhi

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 19, 2014
Lara Russo, left, Cally Guasti, center, and Reese Werkhoven sit on a couch in their apartment in New Paltz, N.Y. on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  While their roommate story of $40,800 found in a couch made the news, other, weirder stories of unusual roommates are far more common. (AP)

From college dorms and summer camps to RVs and retirement hotels, what it’s like to share a room. True stories of roommates.

Aug 19, 2014
Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

“War zones” in America. Local police departments with military grade equipment – how much is too much, and what it would take to de-militarize America’s police force.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

More »
1 Comment
Our Week In The Web (August 15, 2014)
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

More »
Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

More »