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(DV) Whitney: The Inevitable War with Iran







The Inevitable War with Iran
by Mike Whitney
September 24, 2005

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“Since the result of any referral of the Iran issue to the Security Council is all but guaranteed, the push by the EU-3 to have the IAEA refer Iran to the Security Council, while rooted in the language of diplomacy, is really nothing less than an act of war.”

-- Scott Ritter, former chief weapons inspector for UNSCOM in Iraq

If Washington wants a war with Iran, then there’ll be a war with Iran. That’s the great lesson of the Iraq war: once the decision is made, there’s no turning back.

So, why are the main players -- England, France and Germany -- stumbling over themselves trying to placate Bush as though the conflict can be avoided?  Threatening to bring Iran before the Security Council won’t alter the administrations plans one bit. In fact, it will probably only strengthen their case. Bush will use the flimsiest of reasons for initiating hostilities, so the EU-3 should skip the frantic diplomacy and stop doing Washington’s bidding. Like the Downing Street memo stated, “The facts and intelligence are being fit to meet the policy.” It’s the same here. No amount of groveling from the EU-3 will appease Bush once Tehran is in its crosshairs. The Big-3 would be better off sending arms and ammo to Iran so the people can defend themselves once the bombs start dropping.

The implications of a preemptive war against Iran are appalling. The Islamic state has no nuclear weapons, no nuclear weapons program, and there’s no proof that it plans to develop nuclear weapons in the future. In other words, the US is planning an attack against a nation that does not even meet its minimal requirements for preemptive war. Iran is no threat to anyone. It does, however, sit on vast reserves of oil and natural gas, a consideration that may have factored heavily into the battle strategy.

There is no moral or legal justification for such a war, just as there was no moral or legal justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Nevertheless, I believe that the decision to attack Iran was made long ago, perhaps even before the Iraq war, and that it will be carried out in the very near future. The last obstacle was the German elections.

The German elections?

The administration believed that Ms. Angela Merkel would win a hands-down victory, putting a fellow neocon in the driver’s seat of Europe’s largest economy. It would be like having Maggie Thatcher in Bonn. Merkel could be counted on to support the expansion of NATO (which is to say the extension of American power), to dismantle the social welfare system, energize the privatization processes, quash the movement for an independent EU military, strengthen ties with the US and Israel, and disrupt European solidarity. All this fits within the Washington neocon vision of a balkanized, free market Europe operating as a subordinate to its US overlords.

If the US or Israel had attacked Iran before the German elections, Ms. Merkel, who has promised to rebuild ties with America, would have taken a nosedive in the polls. As it turns out, the election results were inconclusive and will probably have no affect on the storm clouds that are gathering over Tehran. Events can be expected to move swiftly from this point on.

The media has already begun the steady drumbeat of specious charges aimed at the Islamic government. The major news-providers (New York Times, AP, Washington Post, Knight-Ridder etc.) are describing Iran as “defiant” and “thumbing their nose” at the world community or, worse, “out of compliance” with prior agreements. The new Iranian president is described as a “hardliner” who is “fiercely anti-American.” These claims are normally accompanied by quotes from unidentified sources who refer to a fictional nuclear weapons program that is just months away from developing the bomb.

It’s all 100% bunkum. In fact, the world community is not troubled by Iran’s nuclear program at all. It is only the US who would like to use the allegations that rattle-through the propaganda system to justify another preemptive war.

Unlike the US, Iran does not have a history of territorial aggression, is not involved in massively destabilizing colonial wars, does not abduct civilians from other sovereign nations and torture them in foreign prisons, does not erect monuments to human cruelty (Guantanamo) and fill them with members of a target religion.

Iran has no nuclear weapons program. That is not simply my contention, but the judgment of the foremost nuclear inspections team in the world: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It was the IAEA that consistently disputed the erroneous claims by the Bush administration that Saddam was developing a nuclear weapons capacity. No such program existed and there is considerable proof that the US knew the charges were false.

For the last two years, Iran has willingly undergone the strictest regime of “go-anywhere, see anything” inspections of any nation in the history of the IAEA. They have consistently received a clean bill of health from the chairman of the watchdog agency, Mohammed ElBaradei.  Even now Iran is eager to admit the IAEA inspectors to all suspect locations; allowing them to set up their permanent video cameras, so they can assure the global community that they are complying with the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

What Iran refuses to do, and what every sovereign nation should refuse to do, is accept rules mandated by the United States especially designed for Iran. That is precisely what is happening at present. Iran is IN COMPLETE COMPLIANCE WITH ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE TERMS OF THE NPT (according to the IAEA). The Bush team is demanding is that they forgo the conversion of nuclear fuel to be used for peaceful purposes in the production of nuclear energy for power plants (tThis conversion process does not create weapons-grade plutonium). This is their right under the terms of the treaty. For Iran to accept less than what they agreed upon destroys the meaning of the treaty, creates an apartheid system of compliance, and is a national humiliation.

Why would Iran accept such an obvious double standard while the US is busy building a new regime of bunker-busting nuclear weapons and threatening to use them preemptively on Washington’s myriad enemies?

The Pretext for War

Presently, the Bush administration is busy working the diplomacy track to see if they can obtain some fig leaf of legitimacy for their war plans. Operating behind their allies in the EU-3, the US is using a two-pronged strategy. One the one hand, they are trying to “persuade the 35 member IAEA to adopt a consensus resolution singling out Iran for censure by the Security Council in New York.” On the other hand, they are attempting to persuade the IAEA to endorse an EU draft that Iran is in noncompliance with the NPT. Both “censure” and “noncompliance” have been blocked by a newly formed coalition of Russia, China, India and many of the non-aligned nations that refuse to allow the resolutions to move forward. Washington’s shabby attempt at diplomacy has run into a rock wall and looks to be going nowhere.

Whether the administration will continue in this vein is anyone’s guess, but the mad-scramble for international legitimacy has temporarily fallen on hard times.

 Mission Objectives

The administration’s goals in attacking Iran are simple and straightforward. They hope to control Iran’s vast petroleum and natural gas reserves, disarm a regional rival to Israel, prevent Iran from opening its own market for trading oil in petro-euros, and manage the global energy market to maintain US dominance over rising powers like India and China. These can be achieved by putting the regions’ resources under US control.

Whatever strategy the Pentagon has in mind, it certainly won’t duplicate the disaster it created in Iraq. Israel will probably lead the assault taking out the potential nuclear sites with the US close behind in a mop-up role; bombing the 45 chemical, biological and conventional weapons facilities. This will ensure that Iran will be effectively de-fanged well into the future. Needless to say, the margin for error is significant.

At the end of the day, the US will need to invade the oil-rich Ahwaz region (perhaps, 90% of Iran’s oil) and create the rationale for a long-term occupation of the area. There’s no plan to deal with the 70 million Iranians who live beyond that region, although there will probably be an attempt to decapitate the leadership via cruise missiles or air strikes.

Time is Running Out

There are many signs that the US is drawing closer to a war with Iran. Numerous reports indicate that the military is conducting routine flyovers of Iran, as well as providing support to the disparate terrorist organizations (MEK) that are fomenting rebellion on the ground.

Just this week, Secretary Rumsfeld suggested that Iran was behind the street violence that erupted in Basra when two undercover commandos were arrested by Iraqi police. Rumsfeld snappishly opined that Iran’s involvement was “not helpful.”

Rumsfeld’s claims are absurd. The riot that broke out when 10 British tanks and armored vehicles crushed the walls surrounding the Basra jail had nothing to do with Iran. It was a purely spontaneous reaction to the misuse of force.

Weeks earlier, Rumsfeld made similar allegations about arms that had been captured in house-to-house searches. “It is true,” he said, “that weapons clearly, unambiguously, from Iran have been found in Iraq.”

Clear to whom?

We don’t need to reiterate the litany of Rumsfeld’s fabrications to acknowledge that his claims are suspect and probably designed to expand the regional war.

Why would Iran want to increase the ongoing chaos in Iraq? Does it help Iran to have an unstable neighbor where, at any moment, the war could spill over its borders?

Or do the Mullahs simply have a death wish and long to be nuked by the United States?

Rumsfeld’s is mistaken; Iran does not want a war.

Cheney’s Nuclear Review

A leaked document from the CIA attracted considerable attention two months ago. Under orders from Vice President Dick Cheney, the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) drew up contingency plans for a “large scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional an nuclear weapons.” Understandably, the document caused quite a flap leaving many to conclude that the administration was considering a preemptive nuclear strike on Iran. Surprisingly, the “leak” never produced the expected recriminations from the White House. Bush and Cheney simply ignored its appearance as though it never happened.

Was it a planned leak?

Similarly, just last week all the major news outlets ran stories about the Pentagon’s draft of a US nuclear doctrine that spells out conditions under which US commanders might seek approval to “preemptively” use nuclear weapons. The document entitled “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations” was prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sent shockwaves through the country.

Would the Pentagon really execute a first-strike initiative against a non-nuclear country?

What country would be the likely target of such an attack?

The answer is almost too obvious to mention. Iran. (The document by the way, has been mysteriously “disappeared” from the Pentagon site)

Both of these examples suggest that Washington is trying to send a strong message to Tehran that the US will respond with overwhelming (nuclear) force if Iran retaliates after the upcoming “surgical-strikes”. It is a clever strategy that offers nearby Israel (who will presumably lead the attack) some insurance that Iran will not strike back.

But, Iran will strike back. That much is certain. And, of course, Iran has every right to retaliate if it is bombed in an unprovoked act of aggression.

The principles involved in an Iranian response are clear enough but they are worth reviewing nonetheless.

Whatever one may think of the repressive Islamic regime, its right to defend itself against unprovoked hostilities cannot be challenged. Thus, Iran will be defending the principles of sovereignty, self-determination, borders, and the right to live in peace with its neighbors without the threat of attack. These principles are the foundation blocks upon which the current world order rests. They are worth fighting and dying for, as we shall soon discover.

I believe that the Mullahs will honor their obligation to defend their people if they are attacked and will act accordingly.

The history of warfare is a dismal chronicle of fatal blunders. The administration can avoid this catastrophe, but I don’t think they will.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at:

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