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John Bolton and the Road to Tehran
by Mike Whitney
March 15, 2005

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The appointment of John Bolton tells the whole story. They’ll be no peace in the Middle East or at the United Nations. Negotiation isn’t even on Bolton’s resume. He’s been dispatched to the UN for one reason: to pave the way for an American attack on Iran; period!  His appointment puts a fierce Bush loyalist at the epicenter of international diplomacy where he can wage the rhetorical battles that will precede a June date with Tehran. We can set aside the foolish notion that Bush has changed his spots and become more conciliatory. With Bolton on the Security Council we can be sure that the lunatic neocon strategy will go forward and won’t be derailed by pleas for peace.

Bolton is the most ideological of the Washington radicals; the maddest of the mad-hatters. His contempt for international institutions and multilateralism is as much a personal trademark as his bristly, Nietzschean mustache. That’s why friend and colleague Dick Cheney picked him for the job; he’s Cheney’s pit-bull, ready to mix-it-up with anyone who thinks they can contain American ambitions. He’s expected to “ride herd” on the pacifists at the UN and force order on insurgent elements. In Mafia terminology, Bolton is “the enforcer,” the administration’s iron fist. Confrontational and dogmatic, he is committed to one cause alone: the unrivaled supremacy of American power.

Off to Iran

Bolton’s appearance at the UN coincides with important developments in Iran and Syria. Bush’s alleged “generous offer” to work with the EU in providing Iran with economic incentives (including entrance in the WTO) if they abandon their plans to enrich uranium, is pure nonsense. Iran has already dismissed the proposal as unacceptable.

“I am pleased that we are speaking with one voice with our European friends, “Bush said to a crowd in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Bush’s offer was universally praised in the press as “a major reversal in policy.”

Not so. In fact, the Administration has never changed its policy towards Iran. From the very beginning, the Bush team made it clear that they support regime change, and they’re closer than ever to seeing the policy carried out. The “economic incentives” were merely a public relations stunt to make it appear that Bush was working with the allies for a common purpose. It wasn’t a serious offer. Just hours after Bush’s statement, the Mullahs were dismissing the offer as “ridiculous”.

The Mullahs have stated repeatedly that they would not sacrifice their right to enrich uranium (consistent with the terms of the NPT) and the vast majority of Iranians support that decision. In Iran, the development of nuclear power has galvanized the public and become a matter of national pride. Why should they be singled-out and deprived of their rights when every other signatory of the NPT is allowed to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes?

“Would the United Sates be prepared to give up its own nuclear fuel production against a cargo of pistachios delivered in truckloads?” said Cyrus Naseri.

Naseri’s point is well taken. Iran has played by the rules and would be foolish to be intimidated by the US. For one thing, Iran has allowed all the intrusive inspections required by the nuclear watchdog IAEA, allowing the agency to go anywhere in its search for violations. The agency, in turn, is required to report any infractions directly to the UN Security Council. So far, that hasn’t been necessary BECAUSE THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT IRAN IS HIDING ANYTHING OR DOING ANYTHING ILLEGAL. In fact they have voluntarily agreed to the confidence-building measure of “temporarily” suspending the processing of enriched uranium. This adds an “extra protocol” to the long list of IAEA requirements.

On the other hand, there are no guarantees that caving in to US demands will avoid American hostilities. Just look at Iraq. Their innocence (of the WMD charges) didn’t make a lick of difference in the long run. The military is already flying surveillance missions over Iran, and there are reports the US Special Ops are carrying out clandestine operations on the ground. Also, reliable analysts of the Iraq war, such as Scott Ritter, have stated that, “Bush has already signed off on plans to bomb Iran in June”; information, he says, that came from an “unimpeachable source.”

So, why cooperate?

Certainly, Iranian political advisors have noticed how the US media has already massaged the truth about Iran’s “alleged” nuclear activities; a pattern identical to the disinformation campaign that led to the war in Iraq. Spurious claims appear almost daily in America’s print media suggesting that Iran is conducting a covert nuclear weapons program, although corroborating evidence is NEVER provided and officials are rarely willing to go on the record. More disturbing are the reports that three US carrier groups are headed for the Mediterranean Sea, an ominous sign that Washington is preparing for action in the very near future.

Oil ad nauseum

Skyrocketing oil prices and the government’s own admission of “peak oil” (a report that emerged last week by Robert Hirsch and the SAIC, Science Applications International Corporation, available on Al Jazeera) suggest that the administration’s motives may be far different than the professed commitment to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands. The report stipulates in clear terms that the “US GOVERNMENT BASES POLICY AROUND THE IDEA THAT GLOBAL OIL PRODUCTION MAY BE IN TERMINAL DECLINE.” There’s no need to go through the grim details here, but the short term implications for Iran are clear. Control of oil will not only determine the configuration of global power, but it also poses an “existential threat” to the US. Our continued economic survival depends on access to cheap oil. (Is this how the Iraq war was sold to reluctant Senators and Congressman?) Despite the attempts by the media to ignore the importance of oil, it is central to the ongoing conflict. The administration will not sacrifice America’s economic primacy by allowing foreign powers to control the world’s most important strategic resource. Whatever the plan may be, Bush and Co. have never retreated from their basic goal of putting Iranian oil under the Stars and Stripes.

Just last week VP Dick Cheney warned that, “if the Iranians don’t live up to their obligations and international commitments to forgo a nuclear program, we’ll have to take stronger action”; another unilateral declaration of war.

Cheney’s comments come on the heels of more ominous threats from Israel reported in The Times of London. Uzi Mahnaimi’s article states that, “Israel has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear program. The inner circle of Ariel Sharon gave ‘initial authorization’ for an attack at a private meeting last month at his ranch in the Negev Desert.” Israel is planning to use a combination of “elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando units and F-15 jets from Squadron 69, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities.” (March 13, 2005)

The chance that Israel’s assault will spread into a region-wide conflict is a real possibility. Any retaliation by Iran will provide the US with the cover it needs to take out about “three dozen” potential (conventional) weapons sites. This coincides with administration plans to “de-fang” the regime and eliminate Iran as a regional power. There will probably be an accompanying attempt to destabilize or, perhaps, “decapitate” the regime; it’s hard to know. We should not expect a duplication of the Iraq invasion. The US has neither the troops nor the inclination for another such fiasco.

Volatility in the oil markets and a soft dollar are forcing Washington to execute its plans sooner than predicted. As America’s economic situation becomes increasingly more tenuous, and interest rates start to climb, the administration will undoubtedly take advantage of its last chance to lash out at Iran before things at home begin to unravel.

Look for the first bombs to be dropped in June.

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

Other Articles by Mike Whitney

* Clearing the Way for the American Police State
* Challenging the Language of Violence
* Jose Padilla and the 10 Commandments
* Crushing the UN for a Stronger America
* Europe to Bush: “Hands Off Iran”?
* The Incredible Shrinking Dollar
* Assassinating Al-Hariri Fits Washington’s Plan
* Washington’s Plan to Foment Civil War in Iraq
* Condi’s Euro-Tour
* Folksy Tom Friedman and New Age Imperialism
* Government Without Consent
* The Desperate State of the Union
* Iraq’s Election Fiasco
* Boarding Up the “Window of Opportunity”
* KGB Chieftain Finds Home at Homeland Security
* Bush’s Grand Plan: Incite Civil War
* Pink Slips at CBS