Editor's note: Justin Raimondo is traveling. The following column originally
ran on Sept. 26, 2008.
In a last-ditch, all-out effort to pave the way
for war with Iran, Israel's
lobby in the U.S. has inaugurated a new front group: United
Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). What, "another" neocon front group – why is
this important? With Richard
Holbrooke, Obama's most prominent foreign policy adviser – and a likely
Secretary of State or National Security Adviser in the Obama administration
– joining neocon nutcase James
R. Woolsey in the top leadership of this new group, the
signal is clear: UANI represents a bipartisan call for war.
In an op-ed piece
for what else but the War Street Journal, the four horsemen of the apocalypse
– Holbrooke, Woolsey, Dennis
Ross, the Israel Lobby's ace-in-the-hole in the Obama camp, and Mark
D. Wallace, formerly U.S. representative to the UN for management and reform
– mirror the joint statement of Obama and McCain on the economic crisis. This
is "not a partisan matter" – the War Party is the only party that really matters.
"We may have different political allegiances and worldviews, " they aver,
"Yet we share a common concern – Iran's drive to be a nuclear state.
We believe that Iran's desire for nuclear weapons is one of the most urgent
issues facing America today, because even the most conservative estimates tell
us that they could have nuclear weapons soon.
"A nuclear-armed Iran would likely destabilize an already dangerous region
that includes Israel, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, and pose
a direct threat to America's national security."
Etc., etc., etc. I suppose it's just a coincidence that the list of threatened
countries starts with Israel and ends with the United States, but I wonder…
Leaving the realm of speculation, and entering the region of hard facts: our
own National Intelligence Estimate on Iran and its alleged nuclear weapons
program shows that the Iranians had a weapons program that they abandoned:
"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear
weapons program." While keeping the option open, the Iranian regime has
not restarted its nuclear program, according
to our spooks, and probably could not iron out all the technical problems
and hoarding of nuclear materials until at least 2015 – and even then there
is no evidence Tehran has any such intention.
The NIE was issued last year around this time, and afterward Robert Gates
to the New York Times Magazine:
"One afternoon in late November, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was
flying back to Washington from the Army base at Fort Hood, Tex., where he had
spoken with soldiers and spouses about the future of Iraq. Sitting across from
him at his desk in the back of the Pentagon's jet, I asked him about the possibility
of another military conflict: U.S. air strikes on Iran. ‘The last thing the
Middle East needs now is another war,' he said quietly. ‘We have to keep all
options on the table,' he went on, reciting the standard caveat. ‘But if Iraq
has shown us anything, it's the unpredictability of war. Once a conflict starts,
the statesmen lose control.'"
This was supposed to signal that the much-anticipated U.S. strike on Iran –
the imminence of which was predicted with near certainty by a number of commentators,
including this one – has been successfully aborted. There was a collective and
well-nigh audible sigh
of relief, from Tehran to Terre Haute, but some of us were not
convinced by this display of official caution. After all, the statesmen
have lost control before….
If the NIE was supposed to blast the neocon war campaign out of the water,
then its authors did not take into account the persistence – indeed, fanaticism
– of the United for War With Iran crowd. The sheer relentlessness of the effort
suggests its essential character as a lobbying campaign on behalf of a special
interest – in this case, a very
Corporate and professional lobbyists are notably impervious to facts, and tend
to cherry-pick according to the interests of their clients, and foreign lobbyists
certainly fall into this category. Yet the latter have a certain edge to them,
lacking in the others – and Israel's lobby has the sharpest
edge of all.
No one even pretends anymore that the Israel lobby isn't behind the effort
to drag us into another Middle Eastern war. You don't have to be me,
and Walt, to make this case: you have only to listen to the public pronouncements
of Israel's leaders, who are openly
demanding that either we strike, or
else they will – perhaps, as has been suggested by Benny
Morris, with nuclear weapons.
In the U.S., AIPAC, the scandal-rocked
command of Israel's
amen corner, has come out of the shadows, where they remained
during the run-up to the Iraq war, and taken the
lead in calling for harsh sanctions and a military blockade of Iranian ports.
Now we have this bipartisan ad hoc committee taking out full page newspaper
ads and speaking in the implied names of both major party presidential candidates.
I had to laugh when I read, in the Journal op-ed piece, that "Tehran's
development of a nuclear bomb could serve as the ‘starter's gun' in a new and
potentially deadly arms race in the most volatile region of the world. Many
believe that Iran's neighbors would feel forced to pursue the bomb if it goes
nuclear." Methinks the starter gun went off long off – sometime
in the early 1960s, Israel having earlier procured the technology to make the
Bomb from the French.
"Iran," say the four horsemen, "is a deadly and irresponsible
world actor, employing terrorist organizations including Hezbollah and Hamas
to undermine existing regimes and to foment conflict. Emboldened by the bomb,
Iran will become more inclined to sponsor terror, threaten our allies, and support
the most deadly elements of the Iraqi insurgency." One has only to insert
"Israel" where Iran sits in those sentences, and the pot-kettle-black
aspect of this whole issue is underscored, as is the ridiculous double standard.
After all, Israel has surely been emboldened by its possession of nukes, lo
these many years, and acted in a manner that could reasonably called irresponsible
– and even deadly,
now that you mention it. Yet Israel is not only given a pass, but the defining
factor of the Middle Eastern strategic environment – Israel's nuclear arsenal
– goes unmentioned by these worthies.
They are full of laughable pronouncements imbued with the solemnity that usually
accompanies the argument from authority:
"The world rightfully doubts Tehran's assertion that it needs nuclear
energy and is enriching nuclear materials for strictly peaceful purposes. Iran
has vast supplies of inexpensive oil and natural gas, and its construction of
nuclear reactors and attempts to perfect the nuclear fuel cycle are exceedingly
costly. There is no legitimate economic reason for Iran to pursue nuclear energy."
Aside from the propriety of assuming to speak for "the world," one
has to ask where the war propagandists have been hiding out lately: haven't
they read about those gas
lines in Iran? Sanctions and official corruption have contributed to the
country's shortage, while rationing ensured it would continue. Indeed, the more
Iran-ophobes were at one point speculating
that the resulting riots might well spell the end for the mullahs.
And I'm surprised they raised the following accusation, considering the context
in which it is hurled:
"By continuing to act in open defiance of its treaty obligations under
the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, Iran rejects the inspections mandated
by the IAEA and flouts multiple UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions."
Iran is fully within its rights, under the terms of the
treaty, to develop a nuclear energy program, which is what they say they
are doing – and, as those gas lines attest, they have a real need for it. At
any rate, at least Iran has signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, unlike
a certain country whose interests seem to be at the heart of the signers' argument:
"At the same time, Iranian leaders declare that Israel is illegitimate
and should not exist. President Ahmadinejad specifically calls for Israel to
be ‘wiped off from the map,' while seeking the weapons to do so. Such behavior
casts Iran as an international outlier. No one can reasonably suggest that a
nuclear-armed Iran will suddenly honor international treaty obligations, acknowledge
Israel's right to exist, or cease efforts to undermine the Arab-Israeli peace
That old canard about wiping Israel off the map has been debunked
so many times
as a mistranslation
of what Ahmadinejad really said – which was something more akin to predicting
that Israel would be washed away by the tides of history and demography – yet
it keeps bouncing right back. Just like all the other lies spread far and wide
by the War Party's propagandists. Remember that
one about Mohammed
Atta meeting a top Iraqi intelligence official at the Prague airport? That
one didn't die until well after the invasion. I wonder how
many people still believe Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 terrorist
attacks? A lie, repeated relentlessly, becomes enmeshed in the public consciousness,
and rooting it out is a major operation, with a problematic success rate.
That's what we do, here at Antiwar.com – root out the lies, and set the record
straight. We did it in the run-up to the last war, and we're doing
the same thing
when it comes to the
Iranian issue. The chances that we'll succeed, this time, in stopping the
rush to war are better now, perhaps, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. The
forces pushing for war, led by the Israel lobby, are marshaling their supporters
for a final push. Even if they don't pull it off before the election, the Holbrooke-Woolsey
Pact will go down in history as the turning point, politically, the crucial
juncture when the American elite made the decision to go to war because the
Lobby demanded it.
Our political elites speak in unison: accept the bailout, pay trillions to
the plutocrats – accept the coming war with Iran – and pay with the lives of
your children. Our leaders, their system in crisis, have closed ranks around
the slogan of Big Government at home, and progressively bigger wars abroad.
If it were one crisis, or the other, Americans might remain impassive. In this
case, however, with the economy imploding and the threat of war looming simultaneously,
the Washington crowd that thought it could ride out the turbulence is finding
it's a bit more of a bumpy ride than they or anyone else imagined. The people
are awakening, but there is a danger in this: without leaders of their own,
their rebellion is bound to be inchoate, undirected, and perhaps even violent.
Garrett put it, anticipating this moment some sixty odd years ago:
"No doubt the people know they can have their Republic back if they
want it enough to fight for it and to pay the price. The only point is that no
leader has yet appeared with the courage to make them choose."