President Obama vowed Thursday to push for the "toughest sanctions" against Iran, saying the U.S. has hard evidence that Iranian officials were plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington. Obama was trying to counter mounting skepticism about the bizarre alleged scheme, in which the Justice Department says members of Iran's elite Quds Force directed an absent-minded Iranian-America car salesman, Manssor Arbabsiar, to hire Mexican drug-cartel hitmen to do their dirty work. Does the U.S. have proof, or is it trumping up the charges to further isolate Tehran?
The Obama administration is lying: Arbabsiar may think he's Iran's 007, says Juan Cole at Informed Comment, but that's because he's "very possibly clinically insane." The bloodthirsty yet "competent" Quds brigade would never get mixed up with such a "monumental screw-up," and it's equally implausible that anyone in the Obama administration really takes such a "steaming crock" seriously. "I conclude that they are being dishonest."
"Wagging the dog with Iran's Maxwell Smart"
Of course, Iran is capable of something like this: Iran is "a rogue nation completely outside the bounds of all international norms," says Democratic consultant Steve Murphy at Politico. Looking ahead, we have to assume it's capable of handing nuclear weapons to terrorists — if it succeeds in its relentless efforts to defy the world and build a bomb. So it's certainly capable of trying to pull off a plot such as this one, no matter how "ham-handed" it may seem.
"War with Iran possible?"
The Justice Department better show some proof: This wouldn't be the first time the U.S. tried to discredit an enemy with "fabrications and fairy tales," says Stephen M. Walt at Foreign Policy. Remember the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's WMDs? The Obama administration is "going to face a diplomatic backlash" and "look like the Keystone Cops" if it doesn't back up its allegations with evidence — "and it had better be good."
"Something just doesn't add up"