Why is the Trump administration threatening Iran?
On February 1, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced that the administration was "putting Iran on notice" after it tested a ballistic missile which the US sees as a violation of Iran's treaty obligations. Flynn's frigid tone made it clear that the administration is considering the use of military force. But why?
Under current UN resolutions (Resolution 2231), Iran is forbidden "to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons." Read that over again. Iran is not forbidden from testing "all ballistic missiles" just missiles that are "capable of delivering nuclear weapons." The resolution could not be clearer. There's no gray area here, none at all. Flynn is just fudging the resolution's meaning, so he can rattle a saber. But, why? And why are other members of the administration, including the president himself, making equally belligerent remarks? In a tweet last week, Trump said, "I won't be as 'kind' to Iran as Obama" which was followed by a speech by US Defense Secretary James Mattis who called Iran "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world."
What's going on? Why the full court press against Iran? And how are these threats consistent with Trump's campaign promise to avoid pointless confrontations abroad? Here's an excerpt from a speech Trump delivered in Cincinnati on December 1:
"We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past...We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments... Our goal is stability not chaos ...In our dealings with other countries, we will seek shared interests wherever possible and pursue a new era of peace, understanding, and good will."
Where is the "peace, understanding, and good will" towards Iran? There doesn't seem to be any. This is the same incendiary rhetoric we're heard from every US administration dating back to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. But, why?
Isn't the problem the same as it was with Iraq, Libya, Syria and every other country the US has either toppled or tried to topple in the last 65 years?
Of course it is. Washington abhors any country that conducts its own independent foreign policy or resists US attempts to install its own puppet government. With Iran, the problems run even deeper since Iran sits on a vast ocean of oil and natural gas to which the western oil giants feel they are entitled. They think the oil is theirs and they expect Washington to help them expropriate it.
Washington wants to return Iran to the glory days of the Shah, an era in which the USG had a trusted ally in Tehran who would follow its directives, crush the domestic opposition, and preserve the privatization-model of oil production. It's worth noting that the Shah was installed in a CIA coup that triggered a nearly 40-year reign of terror for which the US is entirely responsible. Here's a short except from The Harvard Crimson that will help readers to understand the horror Washington unleashed on the Iranian people to achieve its foreign policy objectives:
"The Shah systematically dismantled the judicial system of Iran and the country's guarantees of personal and social liberties... Nearly every source of creative, artistic and intellectual endeavor in our culture was suppressed.
"The SAVAK conducted most of the torture, under the friendly guidance of the CIA which set up SAVAK in 1957 and taught them how to interrogate suspects. Amnesty International reports methods of torture that included 'whipping and beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth and nails, boiling water pumped into the rectum, heavy weights hung on the testicles, tying the prisoner to a metal table heated to a white heat, inserting a broken bottle into the anus, and rape...'
"The Shah greatly expanded the military and turned it against his own people. With newfound oil wealth the Shah bought $2C million of U.S. arms. The U.S. military trained Iranian officers. Despite claims that a strong army was needed to prevent external aggression, its real purpose became clear when the army murdered more than 50,000 Iranians fighting the Shah... The number of students tortured, lost or murdered is unknown." ("Life Under the Shah," The Harvard Crimson)
This is America's legacy in Iran: "Whipping, beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth, boiling water pumped into the rectum, and rape." This is how the exceptional nation exported democracy to Iran.
The US has never tried to make amends for the suffering or death it inflicted on the Iranian people, nor have its crimes ever been prosecuted at an international tribunal, nor has there ever been any talk of monetary reparations. Instead, the US has done everything in its power to further isolate and punish Iran for resisting Washington's savage intrusion into their affairs. For many years, Washington has justified its cruelty by claiming that Tehran was developing nuclear weapons that would endanger the region and the world. As it happens, there's no evidence that Iran ever had nuclear weapons program, it's all a hoax concocted by the political class and their allies in the media. Here's a quote that sums up the "Iran nukes" fable in one short paragraph:
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