Iran in the Crosshairs

Monday, January 30, 2012 11:54 AM

[Taki’s Magazine]

Our backslapping Peace Prize President devoted a few choice words to Iran during his long-winded pep rally last Wednesday night in Washington. I'm referring to his 2012 State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. What a gaudy, embarrassing spectacle that event has turned out to be! Thanks to bipartisan decisions taken by the White House and Congress, America is now in a virtual state of war with Iran.

Do we need this?

Mr. Peace Prize set the stage, the arena of conflict. "Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies." You see, that Iraq war was such a drag on our ability to kill "our enemies" elsewhere. Obama takes credit for correcting this problem. "From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can't escape the reach of the United States of America." He is referring of course to the Drone War. It is not an exaggeration to say that Israel, the Pentagon and the CIA have become addicted to drone warfare.  

A few paragraphs further on, Obama turns his sights on the big enchilada. "Look at Iran…. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal."

This conflated absurdity, this wild and preposterous non sequitur, was greeted with thunderous applause. It was as if Bibi Netanyahoo had returned to the podium. For the President and the leaders of Congress, Iran is an inside job. They know what they are doing and why. It is irresponsible and a national scandal. 

Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Tehran. Washington does not talk to Iran. Congressional resolutions have, in effect, mandated that the White House not negotiate with Iran. The propaganda line is that Iran is a pariah, terrorist state. The unstated but de facto U.S. policy with respect to Iran is now regime change, pure and simple. Anything else would be appeasement. First came economic sanctions, now comes an embargo of Iran's oil exports, which the EU has just agreed to. This is warmongering, masquerading as a negotiating ploy.   

The hook on which to hang this proactive policy is Tehran's alleged program to acquire nuclear weapons. Such a development supposedly endangers our "allies" and "interests" in the region and the world at large. You will recall that the hook used to get the punch-drunk American public to go along with the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq was "weapons of mass destruction". Such weapons turned out not to exist, because they had been destroyed years previous. Iran is a replay. The only difference is that the purported Iranian WMDs do not exist in the first place. Obama knows that and so do many important officials present in the chamber on Wednesday night.

There are a number of serious problems with the official White House/Capitol Hill narrative with respect to Iran. First and foremost is that the projected threat from Iran is so obviously bogus, overblown and hyped to the skies. This should be self-evident to any honest individual who has looked into the matter. Such dishonesty by the political powers-that-be and by the Washington foreign policy establishment gives one pause for thought. It is breathtaking in its implications. It is positively fascinating. It indicates that something rotten is going on behind the scenes.

Obama has been informed, like G.W. Bush Jr. before him, that Iran is not working on The Bomb. There is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. Chief of state Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa forbidding the development and use of nuclear weapons. Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) whose aim is to promote the peaceful applications of nuclear technology and enriched uranium for energy and medial research. As such, Iran has certain rights and obligations. It has placed its nuclear research under the oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify compliance with the no-nukes provisions of the treaty.

The White House, the Congress, and the establishment media have deliberately chosen to ignore the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates of 2007 and 2011 on the subject of Iran and its nuclear development. Why would they do that? The much-anticipated, recent IAEA report of this past November adds nothing new, except to confirm that the IAEA leadership has fallen under the spell of Washington's neocon-inspired foreign policy. 

The no-nukes conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community is far more important and should have been welcomed as a positive development. Yet, Mr. Peace Prize and his Secretary of State, H.R. Clinton, never mention the fact. They have deep-sixed the NIEs. And so have Senators and Congressmen of both political parties on Capitol Hill. What does that tell you? Everybody goes their merry way, continuing to enable the contagion of hysteria about a nuclear-armed Iran. Again, why? Think about it. Wait for it. Surely, something will come to you.

Under Peace Prize Obama, the disastrous Bush/Cheney greater Mideast foreign policy has been carried forward, expanded, and upgraded to outlandish proportions, in accordance with directives from the Israel Lobby. All elements have been put in place at this moment to start a new shooting war in the Middle East, which war might collaterally blow the fragile, debt-ridden world economy to kingdom come. The Persian Gulf would become a war zone. World oil prices could very well skyrocket. The timing is strange, even stupefying. Or maybe not. 

It makes perfect sense in view of the American election cycle. A war President is almost a cinch for reelection. The late Washington Post op-ed columnist David Broder, dean of the Washington press corps, even had the temerity to recommend a beat-the-drum-for-war strategy to Obama for his 2012 campaign. See "David Broder, Obama, and War with Iran" in Takimag, dated November 8th, 2010. 

War is a great distraction. It transforms the President from a mountebank into a hero. Not to be outflanked, Republican candidates in their idiocy have eagerly jumped onto the war wagon. They are talking tough and stupid. They have bombastically accused Mr. Peace Prize of being soft on terrorism and of throwing our "ally" Israel under the bus. Can you believe it? You would be seriously uninformed if you did. 

Dr. Ron Paul is a notable exception to the current crop of Republican zanies. I'm thinking specifically of those self-righteous wingnuts, Ricky Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Mild-mannered Dr. Paul represents a throwback to true conservatives of another age. Gentlemen like President Calvin Coolidge and Senators Robert Taft and Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. The latter was a scholar at Harvard. 

Dr. Paul pointed out to Mitt Romney and the wingnuts during the NBC debate on Monday, January 23rd, "Mitt said he would go to war, but you have to think about the preliminary act that might cause them [the Iranians] to want to close the Strait of Hormuz. And that's a blockade. We're blockading them…. The act of war has already been committed…. You have to put this into perspective. This whole idea that we have to go to war, because we have already committed an act of war by blockading the country…I don't see. We have too many wars and people want to come home, and they certainly do not want a hot war in Iran right now." 

Ron Paul is correct in the sense that economic and financial sanctions in themselves are an act of war. A coordinated embargo of Iranian crude oil would require a full-scale naval blockade. Is Washington trying deliberately to provoke an Iranian pre-emptive attack like FDR did with Japan in 1941? 

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts--columnist, free-spirit, and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Ronald Reagan administration--has gone so far as to call the whole Iran nuclear weapons crisis a hoax. Come to think of it, so have I. My own thinking has been deeply influenced by Seymour Hersh's various articles in The New Yorker over the years on this topic, especially his most recent effort entitled "Iran and the Bomb" of June 6th, 2011. He has concluded that, "Iran got no nukes and U.S. knows that!" Watch the video. So what is all the commotion about?

May I suggest that the entire brouhaha is not about Iran's nuclear weapons at all, anymore than the invasion of Iraq was about Iraq's WMDs. These are cover stories to mask a private agenda. Iran's "nuclear ambitions" is a code word and a red herring. The enterprise of Iran is all about Washington's ongoing efforts to demonize the country. The purpose is to justify increasingly onerous economic sanctions, as was the case with Iraq. We have seen this movie before. It ended in war.

Just a few days ago, Bill Keller, former N.Y. Times executive editor and now an op-ed columnist, let a bad conscience about the Iraq fiasco bring him to his senses. Or something like that. His newspaper was a prime enabler of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Keller wrote an oh-so-witty column on January 22nd entitled "Bomb-Bomb-Bomb, Bomb-Bomb-Iran?"  He followed up the same day with a N.Y Times blog entry entitled "How about not bombing Iran?

While indicating he shares all the cockeyed assumptions of Washington's Iran policy, nevertheless Keller is having second thoughts. He urges caution. But he does not call a spade a spade. Do you think Mr. Keller has a subscription to The New Yorker? I would guess he does. Do you think he has read Hersh's articles on this topic? I think he has. But Bill Keller doesn't go there. He can’t. That would mean wandering off the reservation. So he plays it safe. We all like to pretend sometimes. The more important we think we are, the more we pretend. Look at Obama.

--Copyright 2012 Patrick Foy--