Why Is Iran Still in the Cross-Hairs? Clues from the Project for a New American Century By Ellen BrownDespite a recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that Iran is not engaged in a nuclear weapons program, the push for war continues. Before President George W. Bush left for a Middle East visit on January 8, he told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot,
Part of the reason I'm going to the Middle East is to make it abundantly clear to nations in that part of the world that we view Iran as a threat, and that the NIE in no way lessens that threat. 1
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said in a recent MSNBC news broadcast that there is still a "great possibility" of nuclear action against Iran. The target has just shifted from nuclear power plants to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has been declared a terrorist organization. Dr. Paul said, "[T]here are still quite a few neoconservatives who want to go after Iran under these unbelievable conditions."2
The question is, why? One popular theory holds that the push for war is all about oil; but many countries have oil, and we don't normally invade them to get their assets. Why go to war for Iran's oil when we can just buy it? Another theory says that the saber-rattling is about defending the dollar.
Iran is threatening to open its own oil bourse, and it is already selling most of its oil in non-dollar currencies. Iran has broken the petrodollar stranglehold imposed in the 1970s, when OPEC entered into an agreement with the United States to sell oil only in U.S. dollars. 3
But as William Engdahl pointed out in a March 2006 editorial, Iran is not alone in wanting to drop the dollar as its oil currency; and war with Iran has been in the cards as part of the U.S. Greater Middle East strategy since the 1990s, long before it threatened to open its own oil bourse. 4
The Greater Middle East strategy
Could the published plans for that program hold some clues? Iran was targeted in the infamous policy paper titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses," published by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in 2000. The document was patterned from an earlier blueprint called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," drafted for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1996. 5
In a May 2005 summary of the PNAC directive, Professor Michel Chossudovsky described PNAC as a neo-conservative think tank linked to the Defense-Intelligence establishment, the Republican Party and the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which plays an important role in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy.
In "Rebuilding America's Defenses," PNAC called for "the direct imposition of U.S. 'forward bases' throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, with a view to ensuring economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential 'rival' or any viable alternative to America's vision of a 'free market' economy."6
Strangling any potential rival or viable alternative to America's vision of a free market economy . . . Could that be it? It is a matter of historical interest that the notion of a "free market" economy hasn't always been "America's vision."
In the nineteenth century, "free trade" was something many Americans resisted. They saw it as a British scheme to exploit America of its resources, at a time when British bankers had a corner on the gold that was the exclusive coin of international trade. When the gold standard was abandoned in 1971, the U.S. dollar became the world's reserve currency in its stead.
Many disillusioned people in developing countries today suspect that America's global "free market" is another form of exploitation -- prying countries open to be plundered of their physical and human resources in return for loans of the dollars necessary to buy oil at inflated prices. Oil is the bait for ensnaring the world in the debt trap, and the “terrorism” that must be suppressed is the rebellion of any locals who will not be ensnared quietly. The weapon in this economic war is debt, and the bullets are compound interest.
The story has been widely circulated that when Albert Einstein was asked what the most powerful force in the universe was, he replied, "compound interest." The story is probably apocryphal, but it underscores the force of the concept.
Compound interest has allowed a private global banking cartel to control most of the resources of the world. The debt trap was set in 1974, when OPEC was induced to trade its oil only in U.S. dollars. The price of oil then suddenly quadrupled, and countries with insufficient dollars for their oil needs had to borrow them. In 1980, international interest rates shot up to 20 percent. At 20 percent interest compounded annually, $100 doubles in under 4 years; and in 20 years, it becomes a breathtaking $3,834. 7
The impact on Third World debtors was devastating. President Obasanjo of Nigeria complained in 2000: "All that we had borrowed up to 1985 was around $5 billion, and we have paid about $16 billion; yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors' interest rates. If you ask me what is the worst thing in the world, I will say it is compound interest."8