Say it ain't so. Is the U.S. headed for a military
clash with Iran? Listening to our political leaders and the GOP candidates for
President, it would appear so. This is unbelievable. Haven't we learned a damn
thing from the Iraq war?
Speaking of the war in Iraq, which began in March 2003 and continues to this day, a war with Iran would make the war in Iraq seem like a walk in the park. Iran's military machine has not been weakened by a war with the U.S. as Iraq's had been (The Gulf War in 1991) along with Northern and Southern Fly Zones and crippling sanctions throughout the 90's.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard is at full strength and on full alert. The IRG is not capable of defeating a full-fledged U.S. military assault, but it is capable of maximum damage in the region and severely crippling the world's economy. She is the second largest exporter of oil and can disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of this oil must navigate, oil not only from Iran, but also from other nations as well, including Saudi Arabia, the number one oil exporter. She borders both Iraq and Afghanistan, and our interests there, including troops, are vulnerable.
Somebody ought to tell those GOP candidates all this as they try to outdo each other with bellicose remarks concerning Iran. Some are even encouraging those fire-breathing conservatives in Israel to attack Iran by assuring them of American support. Robert Perry of Consortium News writes, "One Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, who has surrounded himself with neocon foreign policy advisers, has made clear that if he's elected in 2012 he will be ready to launch a war against Iran, if that's what it takes to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb." Israel's possible use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran is something no one wants to contemplate. Iran's retaliatory measures would be devastating and probably existential for Israel. Of course, that is true if nuclear weapons were used or not.
Up until now President Obama has been rather patient with Iran, and I sincerely believe that he, along with millions of others, is not convinced that Iran is making a nuke. He is supported in this belief by NIE's in 2007 and 2011 that assert "with confidence" that Iran is not making a nuclear bomb. So, what has changed? Well, of course, the answer is the recently released IAEA report that suspects that Iran is making a nuclear weapon. The IAEA could not offer any proof of that assertion.
Taking into context the run-up to war in Iraq, this is all beginning to sound like a rehash of a Shakespearian tragedy, otherwise known as Iraq redux. In the first place the current head of the IAEA is Japanese diplomat, Yukiya Amano. Unabashedly, Amano favors American interests on this issue.
The IAEA report has been heavily criticized from multiple sources. Essentially, the report is focused on 2005 material, documents from a laptop computer that were severely questioned at the time as being bogus. The material was reviewed by the IAEA and their analysis was enhanced by U.S., Israeli, and Western European intelligence services, not exactly your unbiased sources. In addition the report contains a number of flaws.
The report has been so maligned that when GOP candidates breathe their malevolent fire at Iran, American political leaders announce counter measures, or Israeli firebrands like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak of military ventures they rarely speak of the report and never cite passages of it as a reason for their actions.
For a while at least with multiple attacks on the IAEA report from several quarters many thought cooler heads would prevail. After all the report was so deeply flawed and prejudicial while lacking a decisive conclusion how could any political leader make any sense of it? Then came this disturbing article from the Christian Science Monitor written by Howard LaFranchi and entitled, "US targets Iran's central bank as world takes aim at Iran's nuclear program."
Iranian leadership has declared that if the U.S. sanctions Iran's central bank that is tantamount to an act of war. LaFranchi reported, "The United States on Monday took steps targeting Iran's central bank and its energy sector, acting just days after the United Nations' nuclear watchdog expressed "deep concern' about the military applications it has detected in Iran's nuclear program." He added, "The Obama administration announced it was naming Iran's central bank a "primary money laundering concern' amid mounting international pressure against Iran."
According to the CSM report, following the U.S. action, Britain announced it was cutting all British ties with Iranian banks, including the central bank, and Canada followed suit. "French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter to Western leaders ""
The report explains these developments in this way. Where used, emphasis is mine. "Mr. Obama said in a statement that Iran was causing its own isolation by pursuing its current path, and he hinted that more pressure is on tap unless Tehran backs off its course. The US action taken Monday does not formally sanction Iran's central bank, also called Bank Markazi, but the "money laundering' designation is expected to entail serious impact on its operations. Similar steps taken in the past against North Korean and Lebanese banks caused other countries and international businesses to sever ties, and US officials are clearly hoping for a similar impact in the case of Iran. US officials said the decision to name Iran's central bank for money laundering, while stopping short of sanctioning the bank directly, was part of an effort to allow foreign governments and companies still doing business with Iran to prepare now for more draconian measures expected in coming weeks."
In plain language that means a U.S. sanction against Iran's central bank is "coming." The economic impact on Western economies is not known, but it will not be good. Notwithstanding the ambiguous phrase, "acting just days after the United Nations' nuclear watchdog expressed "deep concern' about the military applications it has detected in Iran's nuclear program "" as indicated above, no mention is made of the IAEA report or any of its passages to justify these White House initiatives.
We Americans have been through this before, mostly recently, Iraq, first the soft sell, then comes the hard sell. There is profound concern over America's known ambivalence to the recent past as well as our national security, economic welfare, and, indeed, the American way of life should there be a military assault on Iran. One of the few who understands this is the pre-eminent writer/researcher Robert Parry as he draws parallels between Iraq and Iran and the run-up to war.
He writes, "In 2002-2003, Official Washington professed a deep faith in the professionalism of the CIA's analytical division, which accepted enough of the bogus intelligence being pushed by neocon war hawks to create a basis for Bush's invasion of Iraq. Only later did it become clear how politicized the CIA's analysis had become. Today, a similar role is being played by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, which -- during the run-up to war with Iraq and under different management -- was one of the few international bodies with the courage to reject some of Bush's claims about Iraq. However, in the past two years, the IAEA has become deeply politicized under its new director general, Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano. Yet, you wouldn't know that from how the U.S. news media is accepting what the IAEA says about Iran, much as the U.S. press corps avoided questioning the CIA's assessments on Iraq."
The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in 2006 that nearly every key assessment of the U.S. intelligence community as expressed in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's WMD was wrong. Parry is relentless as he compares that period of our history to today.
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