what's left

The United States’ Barbarous Policy on Iran

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“Sanctions,” New York Times’ reporter Rick Gladstone writes, have subjected “ordinary Iranians” to “increased deprivations” in order to “punish Iran for enriching uranium that the West suspects is a cover for developing the ability to make nuclear weapons.” [1] In other words, Iran is suspected of having a secret nuclear weapons program, and so must be sanctioned to force it to abandon it.

Contrary to Gladstone, the West doesn’t really believe that Tehran has a secret nuclear weapons program, yet even if we accept it does believe this, the position is indefensible. Why should Iranians be punished for developing a capability that the countries that have imposed sanctions already have?

The reason why, it will be said, is because Iranians are bent on developing nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. Didn’t Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to “wipe Israel off the map”?

Regurgitated regularly by US hawks and Israeli politicians to mobilize support for the bombing of Iran, the claim is demagogic rubbish. Ahmadinejad predicted that Israel as a Zionist state would someday disappear much as South Africa as an apartheid state did. He didn’t threaten the physical destruction of Israel and expressed only the wish that historic Palestine would become a multinational democratic state of Arabs and the Jews whose ancestors arrived in Palestine before Zionist settlers. [2]

No less damaging to the argument that Iranians aspire to take Israel out in a hail of nuclear missiles is the reality that it would take decades for Iran to match Israel’s already formidable nuclear arsenal, if indeed it aspires to. For the foreseeable future, Israel is in a far better position to wipe Iran off the map. And given Israel’s penchant for flexing its US-built military muscle, is far more likely to be the wiper than wipee. Already it has almost wiped an entire people from the map of historic Palestine.

But this is irrelevant, for the premise that the West suspects Iran of developing a nuclear weapons capability is false. To be sure, the mass media endlessly recycle the fiction that the West suspects Iran’s uranium enrichment program is a cover for a nuclear weapons program, but who in the West suspects this? Not high officials of the US state, for they have repeatedly said that there’s no evidence that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program.

The consensus view of the United States’ 16 intelligence agencies is that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program years ago. Director of US intelligence James Clapper “said there was no evidence that (Iran) had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon. David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director, concurred with that view…. Other senior United States officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements.” [3]

Rather than weakening this conclusion, stepped up US espionage has buttressed it. Iran’s leaders “have opted for now against…designing a nuclear warhead,” said one former intelligence official briefed on US intelligence findings. “It isn’t the absence of evidence, it’s the evidence of an absence. Certain things are not being done” [4] that would indicate that Iran is working on nuclear weapons. Even Mossad, Israeli’s intelligence agency “does not disagree with the US on the weapons program,” according to a former senior US intelligence official. [5]

So, contrary to the claim that the West “suspects” Iran of concealing a nuclear weapons program, no one in a position of authority in the US state believes this to be true. Neither does Israeli intelligence. Why, then, is the United States and its allies subjecting ordinary Iranians to increased deprivations through sanctions?

The answer, according to Henry Kissinger, is because US policy in the Middle East for the last half century has been aimed at “preventing any power in the region from emerging as a hegemon.” This is another way of saying that the aim of US Middle East policy is to stop any Middle Eastern country from challenging its domination by the United States. Iran, Kissinger points out, has emerged as the principal challenger. [6]

Indeed, it did so as long ago as 1979, when the local extension of US power in Iran, the Shah, was overthrown, and the country set out on a path of independent economic and political development. For the revolutionaries’ boldness in asserting their sovereignty, Washington pressed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq into a war with Iran. This served the same purpose as today’s economic warfare, sabotage, threats of military intervention, and assassinations of Iran’s nuclear scientists: to weaken the country and stifle its development; to prevent it from thriving and thereby becoming an example to other countries of development possibilities outside US domination.

Uranium enrichment has emerged as point of conflict for two reasons.

First, a civilian nuclear power industry strengthens Iran economically and domestic uranium enrichment provides the country with an independent source of nuclear fuel. Were Iran to depend on the West for enriched uranium to power its reactors, it would be forever at the mercy of a hostile US state. Likewise, concern over energy security being in the hands of an outside power has led Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and South Korea to insist over US objections that they be allowed to produce nuclear fuel domestically, without sanction. With US nuclear reactor sales hanging in the balance, it appears that their wishes will be respected. [7] Iran will be uniquely denied.

Secondly, uranium enrichment provides Tehran with the capability of developing nuclear weapons quickly, if it should ever feel compelled to. Given Washington’s longstanding hostility to an independent Iran, there are good reasons why the country may want to strengthen its means of self-defense. The hypocrisy of the United States championing counter-proliferation—and only selectively since no one is asking Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, and the United States hasn’t the slightest intention of ever relinquishing its own—reveals the illegitimacy of the exercise.

The reason, then, for punishing Iranians with new and more debilitating privations is not because their government has a secret nuclear weapons program —which no one in the US state believes anyway—but because a developing Iran with independent energy, economic and foreign policies threatens Washington’s preferred world political order—one in which the United States has unchallenged primacy.

1. Rick Gladstone, “Iranian President Says Oil Embargo Won’t Hurt”, The New York Times, April 10, 2012.
2. Glenn Kessler, “Did Ahmadinejad really say Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’?” The Washington Post, October 6, 2011.
3. James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. agencies see no move by Iran to build a bomb”, The New York Times, February 24, 2012.
4. Joby Warrick and Greg Miller, “U.S. intelligence gains in Iran seen as boost to confidence”, The Washington Post, April 7, 2012.
5. James Risen, “U.S. faces a tricky task in assessment of data on Iran”, The New York Times, March 17, 2012.
6. Henry A. Kissinger, “A new doctrine of intervention?” The Washington Post, March 30, 2012.
7. Carol E. Lee and Jay Solomon, “Obama to discuss North Korea, Iran”, The Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2012.

Written by what's left

April 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Posted in Imperialism, Iran

5 Responses

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  1. The nuclear weapons charge against Iran has always been a red herring.

    Nick

    April 13, 2012 at 11:30 pm

  2. I agree with Nick, above, that Iran’s nuclear program is not the real issue. There’s much more to the story.

    My sense is that Israel’s hysterical eagerness to sic the US against Iran is to use the chaos as pretext / smoke screen to address its own, regional “to do” list:

    – Attack Lebanon, yet again, claiming threat from Hezbollah, to seize and reoccupy the south, to [re]gain access to the waters of the Litani and lay claim to Lebanon’s offshore natural gas and oil fields; indeed get a full commercial grip on the considerable hydrocarbon resources of the eastern Mediterranean.

    – Use Hamas as a pretext to reduce Gaza to irrecuperable rubble, while taking over Gaza Marine natural gas fields 1 and 2, once and for all.

    – Neuter Syria, currently in its preliminary phase, such that the illegality of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights [which provides a full third of Israel’s water] will never again be mentioned. And to pave the way for the rehabilitation of the Mosul-Haifa pipeline.

    – Retake the Sinai Peninsula, an objective that Israel states openly, claiming national security, due to recent, repeated sabotage of Egypt’s natural gas pipelines. [whose interests have those incidents served?].

    While it is clear that the US / UK / EU are keen to gain full regional hegemony and, notably, easy access to Caspian resources – to the specific exclusion of Russia and China –, Israel, with its ubiquitous lobbies and regional ambitions, is playing a major role in the call for war against Iran.
    .

    Hyssop

    April 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  3. This is an excellent article.
    It sweeps aside the confusion created by the puzzling contradictions in US foreign policy and lays the blame squarely at the feet of the people responsible – in plain English and with bullet-proof logic.

    Neil M

    April 16, 2012 at 3:33 am

  4. All the points mentioned are quite valid but Iran has done very little, or nothing at all, to lessen the Sunni/Shia hatred that has been raging throughout the Muslim World for quite sometime now not to mention Iran’s occupation of three United Arab Emirates islands. Worse, Islamic Republic seems to take greater pride in, and associate itself far more with, Persian civilisation rather than that of Islam despite the name! If any conflicts erupts between America and its allies – especially Israel – agianst Iran the whole of Muslim world would surely side with Iran not because they agree with Iran’s policy but because they hate the other side greatly more! It is up to Iran to to mend its policies and to ensure that the Islamic Republic is less sectarian, truly Islamic with no devided loyalty.They cant have Islam and eat it!

    Taha Baharoon

    April 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

  5. The United States’ barbarous policy is only a reflection of the barbaric nature of America as a nation, as evidenced by its genocidal wars of aggression around the world from Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya–all of them disguised behind US lies like “stopping Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs),” “fighting terrorism,” or “protecting human rights”.

    The American Empire’s agenda of course has nothing to do with these political deceptions.

    America’s real agenda is global conquest–nothing less.

    The United States is so brazen in its imperial arrogance that it thinks it can use the WMD pretext against Iran just as did against Iraq for over a decade–this despite the fact that anyone with a shred of honesty can see there were no WMDs in Iraq.

    America is more aggressive, more ambitious, and worst of all, more deceptive than the Nazi Third Reich, given that it possses a media propaganda machine from Hollywood to CNN that projects its propaganda to the far corners of the planet.

    America is a clear and present threat.

    And it’s long overdue that it be exposed as such.

    AR

    April 27, 2012 at 1:51 am


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