All too often, events occur that make me feel that I am living in "Bizarro World". The recent talk and extensive US corporate media coverage about whether or not the US and/or Israel will soon attack Iran is one of these occasions. The alleged rationale for such an attack is the possibility that Iran might pursue the development of a nuclear weapon. This rationale ignores the religious ruling or fatwa issued by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei against the acquisition, development and use of nuclear weapons.
In its reporting on the possibility of the US or Israel attacking Iran, the US corporate-controlled media usually fails to mention that these threats are illegal under international law. Of course, illegality is not an issue for the media when these two countries are involved.
In addition, also seldom mentioned is the fact that the US is the only nation that has dropped atomic bombs on another country. The US is also a country that many nations claim has not complied with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Moreover, Israel is a country that has not even accepted the NPT and also has nuclear weapons. Also generally ignored is the fact that the US and Israel routinely violate international law with their unprovoked attacks on other nations. These are the two nations threatening Iran over the possibility that it might develop nuclear weapons. Such incredible hypocrisy and the media fails to call it out!
Note that Iran has gone the extra mile to demonstrate its willingness to reach a diplomatic resolution, but that is not enough for the US under President Trump and Israel under Prime Minister Netanyahu. For example, in 2015 Iran agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US. This deal, also endorsed by the UN Security Council, restricted the development of Iran’s nuclear program. During the next few years, Iran was in full compliance with the agreement.
Even more bizarre, despite Iranian compliance, in 2018 the US pulled out of the agreement. The US then reimposed sanctions and imposed new sanctions on Iran. In an attempt to destroy the Iranian economy, the US also threatened nations that traded with Iran. These illegal and barbaric US sanctions, still in effect during the covid-19 pandemic, have tremendously harmed the Iranian people and the US image. Despite all of this, Iran continued to honor the agreement for a full year after the US withdrawal.
Note the US National Intelligence Estimate has repeatedly concluded Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program. Many former high-ranking Israeli intelligence and military officials agree that Iran is not an existential threat to Israel. Thus, in a sane world, wouldn’t there be international pressure being placed on the US and Israel over their nuclear weapons and over their war crimes? Instead, in this "Bizarro World", because the US and Israel demand it, the focus is on Iran and its attempted development of a nuclear energy option.
In addition, given this background of no credible evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program nor of an existential threat to Israel, maybe the real motivation for the US and Israel is not about an Iranian nuclear weapon. Perhaps the goal is for a change in leadership in Iran to someone more compliant with US and Israeli plans. The US has used its illegal unilateral sanctions to cause suffering among the Iranian people in a misguided effort to get them to reject the current Iranian leadership. Despite overwhelming evidence that this approach doesn’t work, the US continues to use this barbaric, illegal and flawed tactic.
Why do the US and Israel continue to play the risky game of needlessly provoking Iran? One possible reason is that Netanyahu would like to see Iran respond in order to draw in the US into a military conflict with Iran. His thinking may be that the US would so weaken Iran, something that Israel cannot do without using its nuclear weapons, that Iran could no longer prevent Israel from achieving hegemony in the Middle East. Perhaps the revenge motive drives Trump and the US neocons. They cannot forgive Iran for overthrowing the Shah and humiliating the US in 1979 as well as for Iran following its own interests.
The recent provocations may also serve domestic considerations for Trump and Netanyahu even if they don’t lead to a military conflict. For Netanyahu, this focus would distract from his criminal trial for fraud, bribery and breach of trust. For Trump, the provocations would make it more difficult for President-Elect Biden to rejoin the JCPOA. Who knows for sure in "Bizarro World"?
One crucial concern for the US and Israel is the relationship among Iran, Russia and China. How would Russia and China react if the US and Israel were to attack Iran? Might such an attack lead to a much larger conflict that could escalate to a nuclear war? Thus these needless US and Israeli provocations may be more risky than the dangerous duo of Netanyahu and Trump want to admit.
Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics, having taught at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. Since his retirement in 1991, he has been an activist for peace and social justice.