A place of politics, culture (!!) & random subjects from Airstrip One. Noel hopes it will be of interest and/or use to all sorts of voyagers in cyberspace!

My Photo
Location: London, England, United Kingdom

The Voice Of 40-Something Cynical Optimism!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Post-Iraq you feel safer?

If it was a straight Israel/USA V Iran Leaderships contest you'd hope that both sides would lose. However, in reality you know that many innocent people on both sides would die.

Bush Who Cried Wolf: Robert Dreyfuss, January 12, 2006

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone.He can be reached through his website: The deteriorating international crisis over Iran is a direct result of the Bush’s administration’s ham-handed and mendacious Iraq policy.

Under normal circumstances—that is, under any previous U.S. administration—the battle over Iran’s pugnacious effort in pursuit of nuclear technology would be amenable to a diplomatic solution. But, by insisting on a national security strategy of pre-emptive war, by illegally and unilaterally invading Iraq on false pretenses, and by hinting that the White House would tolerate an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear plants, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have made a successful diplomatic resolution of the Iran crisis nearly impossible.

Speaking yesterday at the Council for National Policy, Larry Wilkerson—the former top aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell who caused a stir last fall when he accused Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld of operating a “cabal” —said that it is likely that Pentagon officials are polishing contingency plans for a strike against Iran. Iran, said Wilkerson, is the “principal winner” from the war in Iraq. As a result of the power of the Shiite religious forces in Iraq, he said, the Iranians “own the south” of Iraq. Wilkerson insisted that the United States ought to “talk to the people who really matter in Iran”—i.e., to the ayatollahs. But he said that U.S. policy has failed so utterly that the door to negotiations with Iran is virtually closed. “When you close the door to diplomacy, you have no other option but to rely on military power,” he said. “I hope to hell we don’t have to use it.”

Without diplomatic tools, the looming showdown with Iran is potentially even more dangerous than the Iraq war. Iran is a far larger and more complex country, with the capability of retaliating against a U.S./Israeli attack by fomenting civil war in Iraq, by creating regional chaos in the Gulf, and by mobilizing its significant international terrorist capability against Western targets.

As it did in the run-up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration—along with Israel—is content to exaggerate the threat from Iran. The ayatollahs appear to be at least five years or more away from a serious nuclear capacity, according to U.S. intelligence reports. Iran’s recent decision to restart one part of its nuclear research is indeed a serious threat to diplomatic talks aimed at resolving the matter peacefully. But the issue is nowhere near an end-game stage. There is plenty of time, years in fact, for a back-and-forth effort to secure Iran's compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

By crying wolf over Iraq, through claiming that Saddam Hussein’s regime had an active nuclear arms program, the United States lacks credibility when it now asserts that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. And by its illegal, unilateral invasion of Iraq, without allowing the U.N. and the IAEA to proceed with inspections there, the United States has made other countries extremely wary of taking Iran to the U.N. Security Council, out of fear that it might give the United States or Israel a pretext to attack Iran unilaterally.

But the international community’s justified fear that the United States is controlled by a war party seeking to attack Iran makes other states’ diplomacy even harder. Normally, the five U.N. Security Council powers would take up the matter with some urgency, adopt a resolution demanding Iran compliance, and threaten political and economic sanctions against Iran for non-compliance. But Moscow, Beijing and Paris remember what happened in Iraq. That matter was taken to the UNSC, a resolution passed—and then Washington declared unilaterally that Iraq had violated it, and went to war. So the world’s capitals may be forgiven for being reluctant to drag Iran into the UNSC in 2006.

The fact that John Bolton, the belligerent, war-mongering neoconservative who serves as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., takes over as president of the Security Council in February doesn’t help.

Bolton, Cheney and their allies are pushing for a showdown in the UNSC, even though it is highly unlikely that either Russia or China would support anti-Iran sanctions. India, the Arab League and other countries would strongly oppose such measures. And even Western Europe, furious over Iran for its latest effrontery, doesn’t view sanctions on Iran as a happy outcome. Their resistance to anti-Iran measures comes despite a string of outrageous provocations from Iranian President Ahmadinejad, from demanding that Israel be “wiped off the map” to pooh-poohing the Holocaust to haughtily restarting Iran's nuclear research.

It is impossible to deny that Iran is a dangerous, out-of-control regime—yes, a “rogue” regime. But, had the Bush administration maintained a consistent policy of seeking a dialogue with Iran, had the neocons refrained from demanding regime change and military action, had President Bush not referred to Iran as part of a mythical “axis of evil,” and had the United States not immensely strengthened Iran’s position by handing it Iraq on a silver platter, diplomacy would stand a better chance. A package deal, giving Iran political acceptance and economic incentives, combined with a regulated nuclear technology regime, in exchange for Iran’s backing down from its hardline stance, could likely have been reached over time. It may still, but it seems highly unlikely now.

So we are left with persistent reports that both the United States and Israel are planning to strike Iran, and soon. Not only would such an attack result in a vastly wider conflict in Iran, Iraq and the Gulf, but it would also probably push oil prices well over $100 a barrel, making $5-a-gallon gas a reality. Perhaps, because the international community wants to avoid such a catastrophe, and because the United States is exerting enormous pressure on Russia, China and other world powers, first the IAEA and then the UNSC might vote to sanction Iran. If so, Iran will certainly not back down. And as a result, the United States will have the pretext it seeks to go to war once again.

Some Democrats—and even a fair number of moderate and libertarian Republicans—expect the November 2006 elections to take place against the backdrop of a failed occupation of Iraq. Instead, those same elections might take place in the midst of yet another crisis manufactured by the Bush administration.


Post a Comment

<< Home