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May 24, 2006

How Bush Brewed the Iranian Crisis

by Paul Craig Roberts

Why did the Bush regime create a crisis over Iran?

The answer is that the Bush regime is desperate to widen the war in the Middle East.

What has Iran done? Unlike Israel, Pakistan, and India, countries that developed nuclear weapons on the sly, Iran signed the nonproliferation treaty. Countries that sign this treaty have the right to develop nuclear energy. The International Atomic Energy Agency monitors their energy programs to guard against the programs being used to cloak a weapons program. Until the Bush regime provoked a crisis, Iran was cooperating with the inspection safeguards. The weapons inspectors have found no Iranian weapons programs.

There is no evidence for the Bush regime's accusation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. What the Bush regime is trying to do is to unilaterally take away Iran's right under the Nonproliferation Treaty to develop nuclear energy. It is the Bush regime that is violating the treaty by attempting to deny its benefits to Iran. The Bush regime is acting illegally because of its paranoid suspicion that five or 10 years in the future Iran will use what it has managed to learn about uranium enrichment to develop a weapons program.

Why is the Bush regime concerned about what Iran might do in the future? Is it because the U.S. government intends to continue its bullying in the Middle East and is worried that Iran will get tired of it and develop nuclear weapons as a check on U.S. hegemony over the Muslim world? Why does the Bush regime think that its interest in the Middle East takes priority over the interests of the countries that are located there?

In a CNN TV interview on Sunday, May 21, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said that it was only a matter of months before Iran would be making nuclear weapons.

Olmert's claim is absurd, as every weapons expert knows, and, indeed, as he knows himself. The only possible purpose of such a nonsensical claim is propaganda. Olmert is helping the Bush regime use fear to prepare Americans to accept an attack on Iran, just as Dick Cheney and Condi Rice invoked images of mushroom clouds to prepare Americans for the illegal invasion of Iraq.

One might think that having been deceived by the Bush regime over Iraq, the American people would have their eyes open to deception this time around. But apparently not. The same public that gives Bush a mere 30 percent approval rating, largely because of the Iraqi fiasco, is making no demands that Bush stop his march to war with Iran.

Not a day passes without new threats and lies issuing from Dick Cheney, Bonkers Bolton, and Condi Rice, and no one holds them accountable. The U.S. media is proud to be complicit in lies and war crimes.

Ah, but the Iranian president said that he was going to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth."

He did not. He said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Middle East in the sense of being removed to Europe. He was making the rhetorical point that if the Europeans so favored a Jewish state, why did the Westerners not give the Jews part of Europe or North America? Why did they give the Jews Palestine, which was not theirs to give?

One may agree or disagree with the Iranian's point, but it was not a threat to kill the Jews.

The Iranians cannot kill the Jews even if they wanted, because Israel has nuclear weapons. Being somewhat paranoid – not altogether without reason – Israel is not going to sit there and be destroyed.

The U.S. cannot forever dominate the Middle East on behalf of its interests and Israel's. The U.S. is running out of resources. The U.S. is heavily in debt, yet continues to hemorrhage red ink. Washington is dependent on foreigners to finance its wars. The American middle class is beginning to experience employment problems and income stagnation. The neocons' idea that the U.S. can patrol Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria in perpetuity is insane. The Bush regime has proven that the U.S. cannot even occupy Baghdad.

Unless the U.S. government intends nuclear genocide against Muslims, it cannot prevail in war in the Middle East. A solution in the Middle East requires diplomacy and good will, not threats and aggression. Yet the Bush regime refuses to even meet with Iranian leaders.

By refusing to meet, talk, and negotiate, Bush is telling Iranians that they have no choice. Either they comply and do what Bush demands, or they will be attacked.

That is the Iranian Crisis in a nutshell.

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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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