Rogue Nation?

Bob gatesScott Ritter

Following on from the previous article that finished looking at Obama’s Iran policy it would be well to look at some of the background to understand just why it makes deep sense.

Although some have been warning of war with Iran others have been more cautious, but it looks as if the city of Chicago looks as if it may pass a resolution opposing a war with Iran (though there is some manoeuvring to block the resolution in case it damages the Democratic nominee). Scott Ritter has been asked to witness it and has written up a commentary on the resolution. Here are a couple of highlights.

“WHEREAS, The Bush Administration and its Congressional allies are engaging in a systematic campaign to convince the American people that the Islamic Republic of Iran poses an imminent threat to the American nation, American troops in the Middle East and U.S. allies.”

The propaganda war being waged by the Bush administration in this regard has been as intense and relentless as any in recent memory. Either directly or through proxy, the administration has painted a one-sided portrait of Iran which is inaccurate and misleading in the extreme. To have a nation of nearly 80 million people, possessing a history and culture several thousands of years old, suddenly personified in the image of a single individual, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a gross misrepresentation. Imagine if one tried to characterize the entire American people in the form of George W. Bush. Iran is a diverse nation, with numerous political and social constituencies which compete across a broad spectrum of forums, governmental and nongovernmental alike. To take the words and deeds of one man, out of context in some cases and inaccurately in others, and use them to paint a picture of national policy is as wrong as it is deceitful.

Iran today poses no threat to the American nation, its allies (including Israel) or American troops in the region. To the extent that U.S. service members are threatened in Iraq, one must consider the reality of a genuine popular resistance by Iraqis to a brutal and illegitimate occupation. It should also be noted that Iran is primarily interested in securing a stable Iraq in the post-Saddam period, a policy requiring Iran to back the current Iraqi government, a Shiite-dominated government which the United States helped empower and which the United States currently supports.

The fact that the current Iraqi government is drawn primarily from two political entities (the Da’wa Party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) that are closely allied with the Iranians not only belies the U.S. claim that Iran seeks to undermine security in Iraq (since to accept this proposition one would have to embrace the premise that Iran is fighting itself), but also illustrates the inherent inconsistency of the U.S. position in Iraq, which is to oppose the one regional power which supports the stated U.S. objective of empowering the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. The reality is that it is bad U.S. policy, not any concerted action on the part of Iran, which serves as the greatest threat to U.S. forces in the Middle East.

[…]

“WHEREAS, Iran has not threatened to attack the United States, and no compelling evidence has been presented that Iran poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States that would justify an unprovoked unilateral pre-emptive military attack.”

In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that Iran, rather than conspiring against the U.S. in the Middle East, has actively reached out to Washington in an effort to normalize relations. Iran was the first Islamic nation to condemn the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the United States, and Iran coordinated with the U.S. military on certain aspects of the American military response in Afghanistan. Likewise, Iran was supportive of the U.S. drive to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

In May of 2003, Iran made a bold diplomatic approach to the United States which sought to resolve outstanding issues such as the Iranian nuclear program, Iranian support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and Iran’s relationship with Israel. It was the United States which rejected this outreach, not Iran. The fact is that it is the unilateral policy objectives of the Bush administration, which revolve around regime change in Iran, which serve as the principal threat to regional peace and security in the Middle East today. Iran poses a threat to no nation, least of all the United States.

[Read the whole of Ritter’s article here.]

Make no mistake. The whole Iran gig is an almost perfect rerun of the Iraq campaign and the consequences of such folly would be significantly worse, given the strategic overstretch in Iraq and Afghanistan. So far we have avoided war because some adults in the US national security establishment, led by Robert Gates, have realised the consequences and have moved adroitly to frustrate any such moves (see article by Jim Lobe). It is strange times indeed when the head of the Pentagon, becomes our guardian angel—and he certainly appears to be a man of high integrity, and I wouldn’t be at all sorry to see him pick up a Noble Peace Prize for preventing the catastrophic widening of the war. (Of course the Pentagon remains a vast and destructive bureaucracy, and it is going to take much more than the leadership of a single individual to change this; for an excellent account of some of the Pentagon’s dubious activities read Jeff Hubert’s articles at the Pen and Sword, including his latest, Radio Free Pentagon; for a quick rundown on why war against Iran would not be a great idea Running a Risk with Iran).

Also make no mistake that the threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime is the nuclear weapons powers, especially the US. The US sold Iran the nuclear energy programme in the 1970s; Iran badly needs to diversify its energy (though whether nuclear power is the best option is another matter), Iran is a signatory to the NPT and a member of the IAEA, and is entitled by treaty to assistance from the nuclear weapons powers and the IAEA in developing nuclear technology, including Uranium enrichment, for peaceful use; it is not at all clear that Iran has ever technically violated any of its NPT commitments, and no objective evidence at all that it has tried to weaponise any nuclear material. All the sanctions against Iran are politically motivated and entirely illegal. (See articles by Scott Ritter, Gordon Prather and Gareth Porter).

Much more to the point the whole non-proliferation regime rests on the nuclear weapons powers not allowing favoured third parties to develop weapons systems outside the NPT framework and it is critically dependent upon them not menacing non-weapons powers with their nuclear weapons. There can be no doubt that Iran would have nothing to gain by sparking a nuclear arms race in the region that would see it lose its natural advantages. It is the threats against Iran by those with nuclear weapons that are making its nuclear programme so worrisome as it leads everyone to assume that they are on a path to weaponisation—it is this perception that does all the damage and it is being driven by the very actors that claim to be trying to save the non-proliferation regime.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that certain nuclear weapons powers love this game as it allows them to move to develop offensive nuclear weapons capabilities like ‘missile defence’, bunker-busters in order to open up a winning gap over its rivals and establish a nuclear-weapons hegemony.

Update: Just as I was posting this I see that Jeff Hubert has posted an article, MSM Fumbles Iran Narrative Again, showing how yet another attempt to pin the US’s woes in Iraq on Iran has collapsed with the mainstream media are simply ignoring the whole story. Hubert finishes:

I don’t know if everyone in the mainstream media is in the tank for Bush now or if they all just suck or what, but something smells to high heaven like a big honking pile of fresh laid, pure unadulterated monkey business.

Some of us have been asking ourselves this question for some time now (see Precision Time for the Press).

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