Is war with Iran imminent? That depends on who one
listens to. If one listens to all the conservative hype for war and certain
popular media sites who are in the business of sensationalizing the news for
share of market, war is just around the corner.
Marjorie Cohn writes, "Neocons in Israel and the United States are escalating their rhetoric to prepare us for war with Iran. Even the infamous John Yoo, architect of George W. Bush's illegal torture and spying programs, is calling on the Republican presidential candidates to "begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran's nuclear program.'" She continues, "The United States has imposed punishing sanctions against Iran that are crippling Iran's economy, and pressuring other countries and strong-arming financial institutions to stop buying oil from Iran, the world's third largest exporter. The Obama administration is also preparing new punitive measures that target the Central Bank of Iran."
The Republican House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011, which would outlaw any contact between U.S. government employees and Iranian officials. That would forbid the back channel communications Washington has had with Iran for years and talks between America's generals and Iran's generals. This bill is beyond comprehension, but that is what the Republican House wants. Fortunately, the bill will never see the light of day, meaning, becoming a law.
Leading GOP Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, declared in South Carolina in November, "If we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney," he continued, "they will not have a nuclear weapon."
All this despite the fact that The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program. Indeed, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said on CBS that Iran is not currently trying to build a nuclear weapon. Also, Iran has not attacked any country in 200 years. Also, there is a general consensus among experts that Iranian leaders are neither stupid nor suicidal, despite the rhetoric for home consumption, proving there are Iranian hotheads just as there are American and Israeli hotheads. Unfortunately, those indisputable facts to the contrary do not stop the war drums from beating amongst conservatives and media reporting. Getting back to Panetta's statement, "Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No," PBS was not even willing to let the Defense Secretary's comment reach the ears of the network's listeners. Its "NewsHour" program deleted Panetta's emphatic "no" and played only his subsequent comment: "But we know that they are trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that's what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That's a red line for us." Admittedly, the political Panetta was trying to please everyone with contradictory statements since most listeners cannot perceive the difference potential capability and intensions, but the point is the PBS faithful did not hear the "No" statement.
Speaking of Romney, he recently published his white paper, entitled "An American Century." That title has an alarming similarity to the "Project for the New American Century or PNAC, the neo-conservative movement's charter. The renowned columnist, Robert Perry, writes, "He allowed the title to be an obvious homage to the neocon Project for the New American Century, which in the 1990s built the ideological framework for the disastrous Iraq War and other "regime change' strategies of President George W. Bush."
Even ill informed Democrats are getting into the act with dubious comments that conflict with one another not unlike Panetta. "The American people would really prefer that there not be any [military] action against Iran," says Stanley Greenberg, a prominent Democratic pollster and political strategist. But at the same time, he notes, "close to a majority favors military action against Iran if that's what it takes to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon." Who is saying Iran is building a nuclear weapon other than politicians, American and Israeli?
CFR goes to the head of the class in Warfare Propaganda 101 with its publication, Foreign Affairs. Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor reports, "The tone from private-sector analysts [vs. the intelligence sector] is something else, however. One of the latest examples is from Jamie M. Fly and Gary Schmitt, writing in Foreign Affairs. They even quote former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's line about "known unknowns.'" Murphy continues, "They write that in the case of Iran, the "known unknowns' are "troubling,' and go on to outline a case for a broad US war to bring down the Islamic Republic. Having asserted that US airstrikes targeting Iran's nuclear sites would probably fail in ending the program, they write: "Given the likely fallout from even a limited military strike, the question the United States should ask itself is, Why not take the next step? After all, Iran's nuclear program is a symptom of a larger illness -- the revolutionary fundamentalist regime in Tehran.'"
Fly's and Schmitt's next statement is complete lunacy. Murphy adds, "They then suggest that a broad US air campaign against Iran would be popular with Iranians. "It is sometimes said that a strike would lead the population to rally around the regime. In fact, given the unpopularity of the government, it seems more likely that the population would see the regime's inability to forestall the attacks as evidence that the emperor has no clothes and is leading the country into needlessly desperate straits. If anything, Iranian nationalism and pride would stoke even more anger at the current regime.'" That should sound eerily familiar to readers. That is exactly what the neocon war propaganda machine stated in its run-up to war ten years ago, only this time it was Iraq. We all know how that turned out.
Okay that is the bad news. Now comes the good news. Good news, that is, if one does not wish a third disastrous war in the Mideast, perhaps, the worst of the lot in terms of unintended consequences like global economic collapse and the Mideast aflame. Apparently, cooler heads are prevailing.
In addition to responsible intelligence sources, including the CIA, we can now add Israel's extremely effective intelligence service, Mossad, to those who believe Iran is not making a nuclear weapon. Israel's liberal newspaper Haaretz reported recently that "Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb, according to the intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to [visiting] Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff."
Also, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak poured cold water on speculation that his country is planning a unilateral attack against Iran. "This entire thing is very far off. I don't want to provide estimates [but] it's certainly not urgent," he said.
Former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, states, "Before " Defense Minister Barak promised no imminent Israeli attack on Iran, the unholy alliance between Israeli hawks and American neoconservatives was exuding confidence that they would prevail in Washington -- and also in Tel Aviv -- in pressing for war with Iran. Yet, this alliance faced two key obstacles that weren't there when a similar coalition successfully pushed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This time, the White House and other key elements of the U.S. national security apparatus are dead set against attacking Iran or provoking an Iranian attack. They have apparently now made that clear, in unmistakable terms, to Israeli leaders."
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