"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
- Advertisement -- Albert Einstein
"The age of military attacks is over, now we've reached the time for dialogue and understanding. Weapons and threats are a thing of the past...even for mentally challenged people."
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 11/23/2009
The American political, academic, and media establishment has long been beating the drums of war with Iran and, as the author of The New York Times' latest OpEd encouraging the US bombing of that country, University of Texas professor Alan J. Kuperman has now emerged as the Keith Moon of sensational jingoism and, considering his concept of reality, morality, and legality, is probably twice as crazy.
Mr. Kuperman, in a piece published on December 23rd and titled "There's Only One Way to Stop Iran", stridently advocates for an immediate, unilateral, unprovoked and devastating aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities. He writes,
"Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work [with Iran], and an invasion would be foolhardy, the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons."Apparently, Mr. Kuperman's "one way" is a premeditated act of war, a preemptive attack on a sovereign nation that has not threatened nor invaded any country in over two and half centuries. The "stark" choices that Mr. Kuperman proposes do not include the obvious legal answer: for US policy to abide by international law and ratified treaties guaranteeing the right of Iran to a peaceful nuclear energy program and therefore cease threatening Iran with homicidal military action.
Though Mr. Kuperman claims to believe that "negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action," he immediately turns around to state, "We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons." He concludes with the dire warning that "Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better."
Despite being a highly educated scholar, Mr. Kuperman, who has a Ph.D. in political science from MIT, reveals a stunning lack of historical knowledge, a general disinterest in providing any sort of supporting evidence or documentation for his baffling assumptions, and a bewildering inability to discern truth from propaganda, all of which, unfortunately, inform his outrageous conclusions. In fact, there are so many unsubstantiated claims and outright lies packed into the relatively short article, it's an absolute wonder that The New York Times chose to print it. Has the Grey Lady laid off all its fact-checkers?
Then again, it should probably come as no surprise that the "newspaper of record" has no qualms about printing fiction masked as truth, as seen with the relentless build-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq just seven years ago.
First of all, Kuperman's constant mischaracterizations of Iran's wholly legal energy program as an illicit, covert effort to build a nuclear bomb stands in stark contrast to all available information provided and accepted by both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran's nuclear program, and the intelligence community of the United States, which spies on Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA has repeatedly found, through intensive, round-the-clock monitoring and inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities - including numerous surprise visits to Iranian enrichment plants - that all of Iran's centrifuges operate under IAEA safeguards and "continue to be operated as declared."
In an IAEA report from as far back as November 2003, the agency states that "to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme." Then, after extensive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, the IAEA again concluded in its November 2004 report that "all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities."
In May 2008, the IAEA reported that it had found "no indication" that Iran has or ever did have a nuclear weapons program and affirmed that "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material [to weaponization] in Iran." Earlier this year, IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming even issued a statement clarifying the IAEA's position regarding the flurry of deliberately misleading articles in the US and European press claiming that Iran had enriched enough uranium "to build a nuclear bomb." The statement, among other things, declared that "No nuclear material could have been removed from the [Nantanz] facility without the Agency's knowledge since the facility is subject to video surveillance and the nuclear material has been kept under seal."
This assessment was reaffirmed as recently as September 2009, in response to various media reports over the past few years claiming that Iran's intent to build a nuclear bomb can be proven by information provided from a mysterious stolen laptop and a dubious, undated - and most likely forged - two-page document. The IAEA stated, "With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran."
Even the United States' National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which aggregates classified information from 16 American intelligence and security agencies, concluded in a formal evaluation of Iran's "Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" in November 2007 that Iran had no active nuclear weapons program. A recent Newsweek report, from September 16, 2009, indicates that, despite what is constantly repeated by administration officials and warmongers like Mr. Kuperman, the NIE stands by its 2007 assessment and that "U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed."
Jeremy R. Hammond of Foreign Policy Journal accurately points out the "important difference between the U.S. intelligence community's and the IAEA's assessments," continuing, "According to the 2007 NIE, Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003. According to the IAEA - the international nuclear watchdog agency actively monitoring Iran's program and conducting inspections in the country - there is no proof Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program."