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Is the U.S. going to attack Iran?

by Bill McGaughey 

“That’s so deja vu,” said Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, when he saw U.S. efforts to isolate Iran diplomatically. “He (Lavrov) said the debate over punitive measures reminded him of the international dispute leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.” (Star Tribune, March 9, 2006, p. A22)

Was the U.S. planning to attack Iran? I put that question to an aide of Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Somewhat stunned, he said that the U.S. government is exploring various options in its campaign to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that force would only be used as a last resort. Still, Senator Coleman was not taking the military option off the table, he said.

Let’s be clear about this: U.S. military action against Iran is a real possibility. Even after the Iraq misadventure, President Bush and the neo-cons have their eye on more such actions in the Middle East to “bring freedom and democracy to this region” or, more candidly, to protect Israel’s security interests. The fix is in. Regardless of all the diplomatic maneuverings, the U.S. and Iran are on a collision course leading to war.

Since December, Russia has been trying to arrange a deal with Iran that would allow it to acquire nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Iran insists that its nuclear program was directed toward that end. The United States is equally insistent that Iran might build nuclear warheads to threaten Israel if it obtained “access to the technology and knowledge needed to enrich uranium.” Iran was defiant. “The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain, but it is also susceptible to harm and pain,” said the Iranian delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll.” (Star Tribune, March 9, 2006)

The U.S. began to rattle its sabers. “Heightening the tensions over Iran’s refusal to back down (from its nuclear program), Vice President Dick Cheney, in some of the strongest language yet used by the administration, said the Teheran government must recognize that unless it changes course, ‘the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences.’ Cheney used formulaic language that implies the threat of military action. ‘For our part, the united States is keeping all options (including military ones) on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. And we join other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,’ he said at a Washington policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a strongly pro-Israel group.’” (Star Tribune, March 8, 2006, p. A3)

Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested a way that war with Iran might begin. “Issuing a new charge, Rumsfeld linked Iran to the insurrection in Iraq, saying members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al Quds Division had infiltrated Iraq to perform missions ‘harmful to the future of Iraq ... In a country the size of California with a population of 28 million people and porous borders, with Iranian pilgrims going back and forth all the time, it’s not an easy thing to make those kinds of judgments.” But the Defense secretary was sure that “the Iranian troops were ... acting on Tehran’s orders. ‘The Revolutionary Guard doesn’t go milling around willy-nilly one would think.” (Star Tribune, March 8, 2006, p. A3)

Like the Iraq invasion, this situation involving Iran gives the appearance of having been decided in advance. A shadowy group of U.S. policy advisors, the “neo-cons”, have been itching for some time to flex our nation’s muscles as the world’s only military superpower. CIA counterterrorism expert, Richard Clarke, told the Washington Post: “My friends in the Pentagon had been telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002.” (March 22, 2004)

The book, Fog Facts, by Larry Beinhart provides some revealing insights into the mentality of President Bush and his administration: “There is little doubt that the administration wanted to invade Iraq before Bush was even sworn in. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, Presidential Adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush’s special Iraq envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, had all signed a letter in 1998 to Bill Clinton urging him to go to war in Iraq, without bothering with UN approval, to remove Saddam Hussein. The 2000 Republican party platform called for the removal of Saddam Hussein. Bush’s treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, said, ‘From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime.” (Fog Facts, pp. 48-49)

Mickey Herskowitz is a professional ghostwriter whom George W. Bush hired to write his campaign autobiography. Herskowitz told a correspondent for Guerrilla News Network that he had met with George W. more than twenty times to gather material for the book. “(George Bush) said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ and he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade ... if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.” (Fog Facts, p. 50) A successful presidency to George W. Bush means being a war president.

Another revealing quotation comes from an article by Ron Suskind that was published in the New York Times Magazine. Suskind met with a senior adviser to Bush who “expressed the White House’s displeasure” at something Suskind had written. “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

The fact is, it will be up to us Americans, all of us, and the rest of the world, too, to pick up the pieces of failed military adventures after the Bush administration has left office.

Why did we invade Iraq? Were there “weapons of mass destruction” threatening the security of the United States? Everyone agrees that there was not although there is some dispute as to whether the Bush administration believed it. Did we attack Iraq to bring “freedom and democracy” to the Middle East? If we believe in democracy, why do we not recognize the Hamas-led government in Palestine which was selected by the Palestinian people in an open and fair election. Did we attack Iraq to achieve Israel’s security objectives? It’s true that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, being so close to Israel, had the capability of attacking that nation with missiles. But why is the United States fighting Israel’s battles? Did someone in the U.S. government prefer that Americans rather than Israelis take the casualties?

It has also been said that the United States attacked Iraq to take possession of its oil. I would not discount this motive entirely but think it likely that a motive was to use Iraq’s oil revenues to finance its reconstruction after we destroyed the country. Iraqi oil money could be used to pay private contractors such as Halliburton. A recent newspaper report states: “Before U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, Paul Wolfowitz, then Rumsfeld’s top aide, confidently predicted that profits from Iraq’s vast oil reserves would pay for the war. He put those figures between $50 billion and $100 billion - far more than the $25 billion that Iraqi oil wells are projected to produce this year.” (Star Tribune, April 30, 2006)

A more recent report suggests a rift among U.S. policymakers in the period before the invasion. The neo-cons wanted to seize Iraq's oil and dump large supplies on the market to break OPEC's power. Representatives of the oil industry, on the other hand, abhorred the idea of precipitating a rapid decline in oil prices. This was not in their interest. In the end, they carried the day.

Well, what about Iran? It seems that the U.S. is again planning to fight a war with technology rather than people. The most likely military scenario is that we will try to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities with precision bombing. Never mind that we do not know where they all are and that many are deeply buried beneath the earth. Never mind that bombing nuclear facilities could release radioactive materials into the air. Maybe we can "shock and awe" them again and the government will surrender - just like Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

If this seems like Armaggedon, you should know that the Bush administration is well aware of end-time scenarios. The earth will pass through a period of extreme peril but, in the end, Jesus will suddenly appear bringing with him the Kingdom of God. You should also be aware that top leaders in Iran are expecting end-time events of their own involving the arrival of the Mahdi. So we have the top leader of two powerful nations facing each other in a possible confrontation who both believe that the matter might be resolved by divine intervention. Let the game of nuclear chicken begin! It almost makes you wish that Khrushchev and Kennedy, men of lesser religious conviction, were back in the saddle rattling their sabers over Cuba.

Unexpected, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wrote a personal letter to President Bush. Look, he said, we’re both religious men; we ought to be able to resolve our differences. U.S.-style democracy won’t work, he said. Theocratic government is better. The Bush administration initially refused to answer the letter because it failed to state when Iran would end its nuclear program. In other words, we don't negotiate with members of an Axis of Evil.

Yes, it’s true that the Iranian government is hostile to Israel. It may even be hostile to the United States. But there is some evidence that the Iranian people are friendly to Americans. If we want Iranian moderates to prevail in their power struggle against theocratic hardliners, patience and prudence would be our best course. When that first American bomb drops on an Iranian nuclear facility, our hopes of retaining the good will of the Iranian people will disappear in a flash.

If our mission is truly to bring “democracy” to the Middle East, then let’s have faith that the Iranian people will achieve “regime change” in a democratic and peaceful way, if that is what they want. Let us have faith that our own government will restrain itself in the remaining years of the Bush administration so that, when that moment of opportunity comes, Iran’s future government can have friendly relations with us. In other words, as a famous American once said: “Let there be peace.”

(This was written in 2006. Since then, the Administration has not found a suitable opportunity to begin the attack. Some have suggested that Hamas' surprisingly strong resistance to the Israeli invasion of northern Lebanon derailed or at least delayed its plans to deal with Iran. But the Bush administration still has time.)


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