The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic
attack on Iran. For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of "buying
time" for its disaster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a "surge"
of American troops in Iraq, George W. Bush identified Iran as his real target.
"We will interrupt the flow of support [to the insurgency in Iraq] from
Iran and Syria," he said. "And we will seek out and destroy the networks
providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."
"Networks" means Iran. "There is solid evidence," said
a State Department spokesman on 24 January, "that Iranian agents are involved
in these networks and that they are working with individuals and groups in Iraq
and are being sent there by the Iranian government." Like Bush's and Blair's
claim that they had irrefutable evidence that Saddam Hussein was deploying weapons
of mass destruction, the "evidence" lacks all credibility. Iran has
a natural affinity with the Shi'ite majority of Iraq, and has been implacably
opposed to al-Qaeda, condemning the 9/11 attacks and supporting the United States
in Afghanistan. Syria has done the same. Investigations by the New York Times,
the Los Angeles Times and others, including British military officials,
have concluded that Iran is not engaged in the cross-border supply of weapons.
General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said no such
As the American disaster in Iraq deepens and domestic and foreign opposition
grows, "neocon" fanatics such as Vice President Cheney believe their
opportunity to control Iran's oil will pass unless they act no later than the
spring. For public consumption, there are potent myths. In concert with Israel
and Washington's Zionist and fundamentalist Christian lobbies, the Bushites
say their "strategy" is to end Iran's nuclear threat. In fact, Iran
possesses not a single nuclear weapon nor has it ever threatened to build one;
the CIA estimates that, even given the political will, Iran is incapable of
building a nuclear weapon before 2017, at the earliest.
Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory and has allowed
routine inspections under its legal obligations until gratuitous, punitive
measures were added in 2003, at the behest of Washington. No report by the International
Atomic Energy Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear
program to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years
its inspectors have been able to "go anywhere and see anything." They
inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January
and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei,
says that an attack on Iran will have "catastrophic consequences"
and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.
Unlike its two nemeses, the US and Israel, Iran has attacked no other countries.
It last went to war in 1980 when invaded by Saddam Hussein, who was backed and
equipped by the US, which supplied chemical and biological weapons produced
at a factory in Maryland. Unlike Israel, the world's fifth military power with
thermonuclear weapons aimed at Middle East targets, an unmatched record of defying
UN resolutions and the enforcer of the world's longest illegal occupation, Iran
has a history of obeying international law and occupies no territory other than
The "threat" from Iran is entirely manufactured, aided and abetted
by familiar, compliant media language that refers to Iran's "nuclear ambitions,"
just as the vocabulary of Saddam's non-existent WMD arsenal became common usage.
Accompanying this is a demonizing that has become standard practice. As Edward
Herman has pointed out, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "has done yeoman
service in facilitating this"; yet a close examination of his notorious
remark about Israel in October 2005 reveals its distortion. According to Juan
Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East History, and other Farsi language
analysts, Ahmadinejad did not call for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
He said, "The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."
This, says Cole, "does not imply military action or killing anyone at all."
Ahmadinejad compared the demise of the Jerusalem regime to the dissolution of
the Soviet Union. The Iranian regime is repressive, but its power is diffuse
and exercised by the mullahs, with whom Ahmadinejad is often at odds. An attack
would surely unite them.
The one piece of "solid evidence" is the threat posed by the United
States. An American naval buildup in the eastern Mediterranean has begun. This
is almost certainly part of what the Pentagon calls CONPLAN 8022, which is the
aerial bombing of Iran. In 2004, National Security Presidential Directive 35,
entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization, was issued. It is classified,
of course, but the presumption has long been that NSPD 35 authorized the stockpiling
and deployment of "tactical" nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This
does not mean Bush will use them against Iran, but for the first time since
the most dangerous years of the cold war, the use of what were then called "limited"
nuclear weapons is being openly discussed in Washington. What they are debating
is the prospect of other Hiroshimas and of radioactive fallout across the Middle
East and Central Asia. Seymour Hersh disclosed in the New Yorker last
year that American bombers "have been flying simulated nuclear weapons
delivery missions...since last summer."
The well-informed Arab Times in Kuwait says Bush will attack Iran before
the end of April. One of Russia's most senior military strategists, General
Leonid Ivashov says the US will use nuclear munitions delivered by Cruise missiles
launched in the Mediterranean. "The war in Iraq," he wrote on 24 January,
"was just one element in a series of steps in the process of regional destabilization.
It was only a phase in getting closer to dealing with Iran and other countries.
[When the attack on Iran begins] Israel is sure to come under Iranian missile
strikes. Posing as victims, the Israelis will suffer some tolerable damage and
then an outraged US will destabilize Iran finally, making it look like a noble
mission of retribution . . . Public opinion is already under pressure. There
will be a growing anti-Iranian hysteria, leaks, disinformation etcetera . .
. It remains unclear whether the US Congress is going to authorize the war."
Asked about a US Senate resolution disapproving of the "surge" of
US troops to Iraq, Vice President Cheney said, "It won't stop us."
Last November, a majority of the American electorate voted for the Democratic
Party to control Congress and stop the war in Iraq. Apart from insipid speeches
of "disapproval," this has not happened and is unlikely to happen.
Influential Democrats, such as the new leader of the House of Representatives,
Nancy Pelosi, and would-be presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John
Edwards have disported themselves before the Israeli lobby. Edwards is regarded
in his party as a "liberal." He was one of a high-level American contingent
at a recent Israeli conference in Herzilya, where he spoke about "an unprecedented
threat to the world and Israel (sic). At the top of these threats is Iran....
All options are on the table to ensure that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon."
Hillary Clinton has said, "US policy must be unequivocal.... We have to
keep all options on the table." Pelosi and Howard Dean, another liberal,
have distinguished themselves by attacking former President Jimmy Carter, who
oversaw the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and has had the gall
to write a truthful book accusing Israel of becoming an "apartheid state."
Pelosi said, "Carter does not speak for the Democratic Party." She
is right, alas.
In Britain, Downing Street has been presented with a document entitled "Answering
the Charges" by Professor Abbas Edalal of Imperial College, London, on
behalf of others seeking to expose the disinformation on Iran. Blair remains
silent. Apart from the usual honorable exceptions, Parliament remains shamefully
Can this really be happening again, less than four years after the invasion
of Iraq which has left some 650,000 people dead? I wrote virtually this same
article early in 2003; for Iran now read Iraq then. And is it not remarkable
that North Korea has not been attacked? North Korea has nuclear weapons. That
is the message, loud and clear, for the Iranians.
In numerous surveys, such as that conducted this month by BBC World Service,
"we," the majority of humanity, have made clear our revulsion for
Bush and his vassals. As for Blair, the man is now politically and morally naked
for all to see. So who speaks out, apart from Professor Edalal and his colleagues?
Privileged journalists, scholars and artists, writers and thespians who sometimes
speak about "freedom of speech" are as silent as a dark West End theater.
What are they waiting for? The declaration of another thousand year Reich, or
a mushroom cloud in the Middle East, or both?