we go again. While postwar Iraq continues to crumble, the Bush administration
is now setting its sights on a new target Iran in its so-called effort
to reshape most of the Middle East and bring democracy to countries
ruled by vicious dictators. But the Bush administration is again relying
on flimsy evidence and thin intelligence information in claiming that
the Iran poses an immediate threat to the United States.
The U.S. still hasn't uncovered any weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, which was the prime reason for launching an attack against the
country. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview
reported by CNN Tuesday that it's possible the WMD in Iraq may have
been destroyed prior to the war. So, right now, the Bush administration
has a credibility problem similar to that of The New York Times,
which is still reeling from a spectacular scandal that one of its
reporters fabricated dozens of national stories.
In taking a hardline stance against Iran, the Bush administration
is going to have to do better than "trust us" and this time
offer some hard evidene that countries like Iran pose an immediate
threat to U.S. interests.
Still, if the rhetoric coming out of the White House this week is
any indicator, the U.S. is gearing up for war, again. The reasons,
however, are based on accusations, not tangible evidence.
Ari Fleischer, Bush's press secretary, said during his daily press
briefing Tuesday that Iran hasn't taken the appropriate steps to round
up al Qaeda terrorists allegedly hiding out within its borders, a
claim disputed by the CIA. Moreover, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons
puts the U.S. in grave danger. Therefore, regime change is in order.
"The future of Iran will be determined by the Iranian people,
and I think the Iranian people have a great yearning for government
that is representative of their concerns," Fleischer said.
Fleischer also said Iran's claim that its nuclear program is designed
to produce fuel for civilian nuclear reactors is a "cover story."
"Our strong position is that Iran is preparing instead to produce
fissile materials for nuclear weapons," Fleischer said. "That
is what we see."
An Iranian opposition group says the Iranian government is building
two secret nuclear sites that might already be partially operational,
producing enriched uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance
of Iran, claims the Iranian government has "planned it"
so that it can "be able to get the bomb by 2005."
The NCRI provided detailed information about the previously undisclosed
sites Lashkar-Abad and Ramandeh, about 25 miles west of Tehran, but
offered no direct evidence.
Iranian officials have denied harboring al-Qaeda operatives and said
the country would vigorously defend itself against any U.S. threat,
which in the eyes of the Bush administration, could set the stage
for another war and further increase anti-American sentiment and put
the U.S. in more danger of terrorist attacks, according to several
However, the real cover story is the one the Bush administration is
spinning in order to win public support for what was already planned
for Iran months ago, well before "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Before the United States military decimated Iraq, the neocons at the
highly influential think tanks the American Enterprise Institute and
the Project for the New American Century were already advising Bush
administration officials, like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
on how to overthrow the ruling parties in Iran, Libya and Syria after
the war in Iraq was over.
Many of AEI and PNAC's former members are now working in Bush's administration.
PNAC's influence on Bush's foreign and defense policies are so powerful
that many of its recommendations on how to transform the military
have already been adopted by the Pentagon.
But unlike Iraq, using military force in these other countries to
replace the rulers wasn't being considered as a way to oust the regimes,
according to former Bush administration officials. Whether or not
that becomes the course of action now is debatable, but even if military
force isn't used for regime change in Iran or other Middle Eastern
countries the reasons for engaging in political warfare in that region
is just as troubling as the reasons the U.S. launched a military attack
on Iraq: intelligence information that suggests these countries pose
an immediate threat to the U.S. is thin and possibly non-existent.
Still, the Bush administration has its agenda and it seems that Iran
is indeed its next target. Instead of military action, the Bush administration
will encourage a "popular uprising" in its effort to overthrow
Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and lend financial support to
Iranians to get the job done.
To get Iranians to rise up against its government, U.S. Senator Sam
Brownback, R-Kansas, has drafted an amendment to the Senate Foreign
Authorization bill titled The Iran Democracy Act that calls for using
the new Radio Farda to host programming from Iranian Americans who
communicate with their families inside Iran about the desire for an
internationally monitored referendum vote on what form of government
Iran should have.
The amendment would also provide grants for private radio and TV stations
in the U.S. that broadcast pro-democracy news and information into
Iran. The amendment also provides funds to translate books, videos
and other materials into Persian - specifically, information on building
and organizing non-violent social movements.
Moreover, Brownback introduced legislation that would establish an
Iran Democracy Foundation to provide grants to the Iranian-American
community and for the radio and TV stations in the U.S. that broadcast
directly into Iran.
This is the type of political warfare the Bush administration believes
will force Iran's government from power. But the Bush administration
will have a hard time convincing Iranians that it can follow through
on its promise. For one, anarchy is running amok in postwar Iraq and
many critics have accused the Bush administration of abandoning its
goal of democratizing the country. Furthermore, Iranians remember
how the first President Bush encouraged the Kurds to rise up against
Saddam Hussein during the 1990s only to be abandoned by that administration
and ultimately slaughtered by Hussein.
But that doesn't stop the think tanks from believing that it can't
"For Iran, the approach might be compared to the approach
the United States and other democratic states took to Poland in the
1980s," said David Frum, President Bush's former speechwriter,
who is credited with coining the phrase "axis of evil,"
in an April 5 presentation at AEI. "In Poland, as in Iran,
an economically incompetent authoritarian regime ruled over an increasingly
angry population. In Poland, as in Iran, a mass opposition movement
rose up against the regime: Solidarity in Poland, the student democratic
movement in Iran. Back in the 1980s, the United States and its allies
never confronted the Polish communists directly. Instead, they imposed
stringent economic sanctions on the regime and contributed hundreds
of millions of dollars to pay for its covert newspapers and radio
stations and to support the families of jailed or exiled activists…as
the regimes economy disintegrated, the Polish communists were compelled
first to open negotiations with Solidarity, next to permit Solidarity
to compete in semi-free elections, and finally to step aside for a
Solidarity government. Fourteen years later, Poland is a democratic
state and a staunch NATO ally."
Richard Perle, who sits on the Defense Policy Board, a group that
advises Rumsfeld, is more blunt in the reasons for going after Iran
and he is not shy about suggesting that military force be used if
"The idea that our victory over Saddam will drive other dictators
to develop chemical and biological weapons misses the key point: They
are already doing so. That's why we may someday need to preempt rather
than wait until we are attacked," Perle said in a letter to AEI
members earlier this month.
Michael Ledeen, another influential AEI scholar, claims that the U.S.
ought to "bag" Iran's regime because of its anti-American
"The Iranian people have shown themselves to be the most pro-American
population in the Muslim world, but the Iranian regime is arguably
the most anti-American on Earth. Let's support the people, and help
them bag the regime."