In the last post I made the case that South Korea should stay away from sanctions and choose a policy based on self-interest involving trade and dialogue with Iran, a nation that isn’t developing nuclear weapons anyway. The importance of the situation demands a follow-up.
A new resolution in the U.S. senate already supported by 32 senators from both parties and the powerful Israel lobby is being tested in Washington. It declares that even the capability of Iran developing a nuclear weapon would be “unacceptable“.
Yet over 50 nations in the world have the technological ability to develop nuclear weapons and have chosen not to. Japan, a staunch American ally, is one of them. South Korea is another. Many experts already believe that Iran has the ability to produce nuclear weapons. This means that if the resolution passes, the groundwork will be laid for war.
In times like these we need to think about Iraq.
In the run up to the disastrous American-led war in Iraq the world was told that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of developing nuclear weapons. Visions of mushroom clouds over the homeland were evoked in order to stoke war fever in the hearts and minds of Americans. The New York Times peddled these lies dutifully until the bombs fell.
Most of the world didn’t buy it, so America and Britain, with a minor coalition, invaded illegally. The results were catastrophic — after long-term ethnic cleansing the country has been divided regionally based on religious denomination and over a million Iraqis were killed, 5 million children became orphans and 4.5 million refugees were forced to flee the country, many likely never to return. Even the flawed argument that replacing a brutal dictator justified all this carnage doesn’t add up. Sham elections don’t mean a country is any more democratic than before.
Yet what of the nuclear weapons? Well, as we all know it turned out there never were any.
This story has become well-known enough to be mundane at this point. But its telling is necessary because the exact same thing is happening again in the Middle East and too many people are buying in one more time.
Iran, we are told, is developing nuclear weapons and wants to wipe Israel of the map. They have tried to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in America, and Israeli diplomats in Thailand and India to name a few. They sent weapons into Iraq to undermine the American war effort. They were responsible for 9/11 and have links to al-Qaeda.
That none of this is true (see links above) isn’t really an issue — the lies are incessantly repeated in the mainstream media that, for foreign policy at least, has become little better than an industry of political stenography. Through repetition, these lies become conventional wisdom.
The fact is, Iran has been on America’s radar ever since the Iranian revolution when the nation shook off their U.S.-backed dictator in 1979. Israel and America have claimed Iran has been on the verge of developing nuclear weapons for 30 years and we are still asked to believe them to this to day (on top of the Iraq debacle, no less).
No evidence of nukes, no reason for Iran to get them
The United Nations nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency has continued to verify that Iran is not diverting uranium into nuclear weapons production. American intelligence has confirmed this. Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei has declared the development of nuclear weapons to be against Islam. They insist on a nuclear program for the same reason every nation does — it is their sovereign right.
Some basic facts about developing nuclear weapons: In order to develop a bomb they would need to enrich uranium somewhere higher than 90 per cent. They have begun some small-scale enrichment of 20 per cent, but mostly still conduct only 3.5 per cent enrichment. If they suddenly decided to seek a weapon they would need to kick inspectors out, tantamount to announcing their intentions to the world.
The main argument we hear everyday is that if Iran develops a weapon, Israel’s very existence is threatened. We are asked to forget that Israel has a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, and that they haven’t agreed to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty that Iran has signed. We must also fail to take into account that Israel, the very nation that has been disdainful of international law, again and again, can literally wipe Iran out in response to what would be a suicidal Iranian first strike.
Even many American advocates of war admit that Iran is not developing a weapon and that even if they did, it wouldn’t represent a danger to Israel. It’s the fear of them developing the capability of nukes that is the problem. If they did so, the ability to invade them on a whim would be virtually wiped out. Further, they know that even if Iran developed nuclear weapons, they aren’t going to bomb Israel. The development and subsequent responsible behaviour of the Iranians would render invalid their main talking point — that Iran is a crazy regime, hell-bent on the destruction of Israel.
It would be suicidal for Iran to begin developing nuclear weapons — it would justify an invasion — and they wont do so unless they are sure they will be attacked regardless of what they do. They are probably considering it more now than they were last year. This is because Israel and America are already at war with Iran, they just haven’t dropped bombs yet.
The propaganda war
In October last year a bizarre terrorist plot was uncovered by the FBI. The supposed perpetrator was an Iranian ex-patriot used-car salesman who, according to his fellow community members, was widely known to be a bit dull. He confessed that he intended to set off a bomb in a busy restaurant in Washington to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. He also confessed he was put up to it by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The media shamelessly repeated the story for days, calling it an act of war (which it would have been if it were true) though it was clear the details were so blatantly fabricated, especially when various ex-intelligence officials cast doubt on the veracity of the story. As for the motive — Iran simply had no reason to commit such a blatant act of war when the Western world was looking for every reason to demonize them.
The story lost its legs and was forgotten, but not before headlines like ABC’s “Iran ‘Directed’ Washington, D.C., Terror Plot, U.S. Says” blazed through the media for several days. The damage was done.
Just a few days ago Israel accused Iran of going after their diplomats in India and Georgia. Then there was an explosion in a building in Thailand, an ally of Iran. From the building ran three injured men who had Iranian passports. They tried to flee the scene and when one tried to hail a cab he apparently got angry and hurled his two bombs worth $54 in total at the cab. They were caught by Thai police, who don’t seem to think it was a terror plot but they do say they were targeting Isreali diplomats.
But this doesn’t mean Iran itself is responsible. Says Will Hartley, the editor of London-based Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, to the New York times: ‘“The attacks in India, Georgia and now Thailand have all been highly amateurish, and lack the sophistication that would normally be expected from an operation…” by either Hezbollah or Iran’s external operations wing, the Quds Force.’
Israeli sponsored terrorism in Iran
Meanwhile in Iran, it is Israel who is sponsoring terrorism. They have been actively sponsoring the group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), who are on the American government’s own terrorist list, to conduct attacks in Iran. An Israeli agent admitted Israel has killed at least five Iranian nuclear scientists. Just like the Saudi ambassador plot would have been if it were true, assassinations of innocent scientists, five of them, by a government force is an act of war.
As for the MEK, there is a very powerful list of American politicians from both parties who are lobbying to get them off the terror list, even though they were accused of being responsible for killing Americans diplomats throughout the Middle East and helped support the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979. The MEK has a bizarre organizational structure. From a 2004 FBI report via Justin Raimondo, editor of antiwar.com:
‘“The MEK practices daily ‘cult-like’ activity to include daily confessions in front of their peers…dissolution of marriages, and removal of children from parents… fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK Support Network. Investigation has learned that these children are then further indoctrinated into the organization and are often used for various social benefit fraud such as was revealed during joint FBI/Cologne Police Department investigation in Germany.”’
It might be appropriate to develop a rule: when the U.S. and Israel accuse Iran of doing something, that probably means the U.S. and Israel are the ones actually doing what is accused.
Sanctions a justification for war?
Economic sanctions are usually not very effective on the state the sanctions target and tend to only hurt the local citizens, who are much more vulnerable than the state (for obvious reasons). The clearest case is Iraq where, as late Chalmers Johnson wrote in Blowback: the Costs and Consequences of American Empire, from 1991 to 1999 the economic blockade of Iraq killed about half a million Iraqis, many of them children, with the apparent purpose of bringing down Saddam Hussein. Says Johnson: “By 1999, it had still not brought down Saddam Hussein…but it had ensured the surviving Iraqi’s were likely to hold a grudge against the American government and its citizens.” It’s almost a miracle there were no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from Iraq.
It could be said that sanctions punish the citizens of the country in question for the actions of their government. However, even with that twisted form of logic used as justification in the case of Iran, the purported reason for sanctions — to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons –is baseless.
But we hear so much about human rights. Yes Iran is not the paradise of human freedom of expression, but neither is Bahrain (where doctors were arrested for treating protestors who were attacked by the government for trying to take part in the Arab Spring), Saudi Arabia (where do I begin?), Uzebekistan (the President is known to boil political prisoners alive), or Israel (perhaps the most recalcitrant of all nations on the planet due to their massive prison in the Gaza Strip) — to name a few. The one thing these other states have in common? They’re all good American allies.
So what are the sanctions for? Well, America and Israel probably don’t like the idea of a non-aligned nation that possesses 9 per cent of the worlds oil reserves and that has so successfully thwarted them time and again. The sanctions may be designed to convince the world that every available option to prevent Iran from obtaining nukes was used in failure. The last option on the table, of course, would be military intervention.
This would be an extremely rash decision. But it may not even come to a decision. With U.S. naval ships peddling away in the Persian gulf while Israel assassinates Iranian scientist — seemingly at will — we are just one incident away from a full on war. If, for example, a naval clash occurs and leads to a war it would send the global economy into an epic meltdown. It would lead to retaliation from Iranian supported Hezbollah from Lebanon and Hamas from Palestine against Israel, and possibly the same against American troops in Afghanistan. That’s assuming we don’t see some kind of intervention from China and Russia.
In other words: if Israel or America decide to attack Iran, we can expect a full-on regional war that could very well turn into a global one. Remember Iraq.