By Dave Lindorff
The US public says 'No' to War with Iran, even as Obama keeps it 'on the table'
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It's a relief to know that President Obama's "preferred" solution to dealing with disagreements with Iran is diplomacy, as he said yesterday in an interview on NBC TV, but at the same time, it's profoundly disturbing that he is simultaneously saying that, as an AP report on the interview put it: he would "not take options off the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons."
Equally disturbing are the president's mutually contradictory statements that, on the one hand, he feels that "Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us," and that on the other, he will "make sure that we work in lockstep" with Israel in dealing with Iran and its nuclear program.
Lockstep? With Israel?
Didn't the US just send Gen.Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Israel to tell that country's leaders that the US does not want Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. And wasn't Israel also told that the US would not support it in any attack on Iran, at least if the US was not warned well in advance? Israel, of course, is continuing to threaten to attack Iran -- using the very planes and bombs that the US provides it with. So how exactly is opposing an attack by Israel and having Israel continuously threatening to attack in any way to be construed as working in "lockstep"?
And anyhow, what kind of a country moves in "lockstep" with any other country, except for a puppet regime?
The US does not have a treaty with Israel requiring the US to go to war when Israel goes to war. It doesn't even have a treaty to go to Israel's defense if Israel is attacked. there is a treaty like that with Taiwan, but not with Israel. US interests are clearly not congruent with Israeli interests, especially where Iran is concerned (just ask any veteran of the USS Liberty about that).
There were other problems with the president's interview on television yesterday too. The biggest one is that his own military chief, Leon Panetta, has stated that the US does not have evidence that the Iranians are building a bomb. As well, there have been many statements from US intelligence and military sources making it clear that no attack on Iran's widely dispersed and increasingly hidden and hardened nuclear fuel processing operations could successfully derail any future effort to build a bomb. In fact, many have said that such an attack would increase the likelihood that the Iranians would work to obtain nuclear weapons, either by making them on their own, or by buying them -- for example from Pakistan or North Korea.
The president's position as stated yesterday is a hodgepodge of confusion and self-contradiction.
It is also the expression of a criminal mentality. The president himself said in his interview that he does not believe Iran has either the "intention or the capability" to attack the U.S. Yet he implies the US is contemplating such an attack on Iran. And make no mistake: An attack by the US on Iran would be a war crime of the highest order -- the crime of aggressive war and a fundamental violation of the Nuremberg Charter drawn up at the end of World War II. Leaders of countries that launch wars of aggression against countries that do no pose an imminent threat to the aggressor nation are war criminals. President George W. Bush was and remains a war criminal for his unprovoked invasion of Iraq, and President Obama, if he launches a war against Iran, will be just as much of a war criminal.
In fact, even threatening such a war is a war crime, and the president has come pretty close to doing that with his "no options off the table" rhetoric.
What is truly sick about all this saber-rattling is that even sane Israeli leaders admit that they don't think Iran, if it obtained or created a nuclear weapon, would actually launch an attack on Israel. That claim of Iran's being a mortal danger to Israel is a red herring. The Israelis, who after all have some 300 nuclear weapons themselves and are the only nuclear power in the middle east, simply don't want Iran with a nuke because it would limit Israel's power in dealing with Arab states bordering it, and in dealing with Hezbollah and Hamas. That's a far cry from an existential threat.
Also sick is the American public -- sick of pointless wars that is. Polls make it clear that despite a massive propaganda campaign run by the US government and broadcast by a colluding corporate media, only a small minority of Americans are buying the notion that Iran poses any kind of threat to the US, despite the best efforts of National Intelligence Director James Clapper to push the fear button. That kind of public sentiment is supposed to mean something in a democracy. It's also supposed to be one of the lessons learned from the Vietnam War: Don't go to war without the public's solid support.
War crime aside, even the idea that President Obama would even think of going to war against Iran, a country of 74 million people (more than two times the size of Iraq or Afghanistan), when this country has already blown some $3 trillion on two pointless wars that have both been lost and that have both created disastrous chaos in the countries the US invaded, and when the US economy, hugely in debt, is still mired in recession, is truly appalling.
But surely the most appalling thing of all was hearing the president say on national TV that he is operating US policy towards Iran in "lockstep" with the pipsqueak nation of Israel--an apartheid country currently being run by a bunch of corrupt, neofascist, genocidal war-mongers and religious fanatics. To tie the fortunes of the US rigidly and unthinkingly to such lunacy and to allow such lunatics to drag the US into yet another disastrous and wholly unnecessary war should be seen as an act of lunacy itself, and certainly should in itself disqualify Obama for the office of president of the United States.
DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, LORI SPENCER, LINN WASHINGTON and CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net