By David Swanson
Saturday, Jan 7, 2012
Editorial comment: This excellent article from 2006 is well worth getting republished today. Every word is as important in the year of 2012 as it was when it was first written. -SON
The push to attack Iran has been on for so long that entire categories
of arguments for it (such as that the Iranians are fueling the Iraqi
resistance) have come and gone. At DontAttackIran.org
we've been collecting the arguments for and against attacking Iran for
years. We've campaigned against an attack, but never been able to claim a
success, because decisions not to launch wars are never announced,
because those pushing for wars never give up, and because those
believing what their government tells them think the Pentagon never
campaigns for wars but is forced into them defensively on short notice
by attacks from evildoers.
While Iran has not attacked any other country in centuries, the United
States has not done so well by Iran. Remember (or, like most U.S.
citizens, learn for the first time): the United States overthrew
Iran's democracy in 1953 and installed a dictator. Then the United
States aided Iraq in the 1980s in attacking Iran, providing Iraq with
some of the weapons (including chemical weapons) that were used on
Iranians and that would be used in 2002-2003 (when they no longer
existed) as an excuse for attacking Iraq. For the past decade, the
United States has labeled Iran an evil nation, attacked and destroyed the other non-nuclear nation on the list of evil nations, designated part of Iran's military a terrorist organization, falsely accused Iran of crimes including the attacks of 9-11, murdered Iranian scientists, funded opposition groups in Iran (including some the U.S. also designates as terrorist), flown drones over Iran, openly and illegally threatened to attack Iran, and built up military forces all around Iran's borders, while imposing cruel sanctions on the country.
The roots of a Washington push for a new war on Iran can be found in the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance, the 1996 paper called A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, the 2000 Rebuilding America's Defenses, and in a 2001 Pentagon memo described by Wesley Clark as listing these nations for attack: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. In 2010, Tony Blair included
Iran on a similar list of countries that he said Dick Cheney had aimed
to overthrow. The line among the powerful in Washington in 2003 was that
Iraq would be a cakewalk but that real men go to Tehran.
The arguments in these old forgotten memos were not what the war makers
tell the public, but much closer to what they tell each other. The
concerns here are those of dominating regions rich in resources,
intimidating others, and establishing bases from which to maintain
control of puppet governments.
Of course the reason why "real men
go to Tehran" is that Iran is not the impoverished disarmed nation that
one might find in, say, Afghanistan or Iraq, or even the disarmed
nation recently found in Libya. Iran is much bigger and much better
armed. Whether the United States launches a major assault on Iran or
Israel does, Iran will retaliate against U.S. troops and probably Israel and possibly the United States itself as well. And the United States will without any doubt re-retaliate for that. Iran cannot be unaware that the U.S. government's
pressure on the Israeli government not to attack Iran consists of reassuring
the Israelis that the United States will attack when needed, and does
not include even threatening to stop funding Israel's military or to
stop vetoing measures of accountability for Israeli crimes at the United
Nations. In other words, any U.S. pretense of having seriously wanted
to prevent an attack is not credible. Of course, many in the U.S.
government and military oppose attacking Iran, although key figures like
Admiral William Fallon have been moved out of the way. Much of the
Israeli military is opposed
as well, not to mention the Israeli and U.S. people. But war is not
clean or precise. If the people we allow to run our nations attack
another, we are all put at risk.
Most at risk, of course, are the people of Iran, people as peaceful as
any other, or perhaps more so. As in any country, no matter what its
government, the people of Iran are fundamentally good, decent, peaceful,
just, and fundamentally like you and me. I've met people from Iran. You
may have met people from Iran. They look like this. They're not a different species. They're not evil. A "surgical strike" against a "facility" in their country would cause
a great many of them to die very painful and horrible deaths. Even if
you imagine that Iran would not retaliate for such attacks, this is what
the attacks would in themselves consist of: mass murder. And what would
that accomplish? It would unite the people of Iran and much of the
world against the United States. It would justify in the eyes of much of
the world an underground Iranian program to develop nuclear weapons, a
program that probably does not exist at present, except to the extent
that legal nuclear energy programs move a country closer to weapons
development. The environmental damage would be tremendous, the precedent
set incredibly dangerous, all talk of cutting the U.S. military budget
would be buried in a wave of war frenzy, civil liberties and
representative government would be flushed down the Potomac, a nuclear
arms race would spread to additional countries, and any momentary
sadistic glee would be outweighed by accelerating home foreclosures,
mounting student debt, and accumulating layers of cultural stupidity.
legally, and morally weapons possession is not grounds for war, and
neither is pursuit of weapons possession. And neither, I might add, with
Iraq in mind, is theoretically possible pursuit of weapons never acted
upon. Israel has nuclear weapons. The United States has more nuclear
weapons than any other country. There can be no justification for
attacking the United States, Israel, or any other country. The pretense
that Iran has or will soon have nuclear weapons is, in any case, just a
pretense, one that has been revived, debunked,
and revived again like a zombie for years and years. But that's not the
really absurd part of this false claim for something that amounts to no
justification for war whatsoever. The really absurd part is that it was
the United States in 1976 that pushed nuclear energy on Iran. In 2000
the CIA gave
the Iranian government (slightly flawed) plans to build a nuclear bomb.
In 2003, Iran proposed negotiations with the United States with
everything on the table, including its nuclear technology, and the
United States refused. Shortly thereafter, the United States started
angling for a war. Meanwhile, U.S.-led sanctions prevent Iran from developing wind energy, while the Koch brothers are allowed to trade with Iran without penalty.
Another area of ongoing lie debunking, one that almost exactly parallels the buildup to the 2003 attack on Iraq, is the relentless false claim, including by candidates for U.S. President, that Iran has not allowed inspectors into its country or given them access to its sites. Iran has, in fact, voluntarily accepted
stricter standards than the IAEA requires. And of course a separate
line of propaganda, albeit a contradictory one, holds that the IAEA has
discovered a nuclear weapons program in Iran. Under the nuclear
non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Iran was not required
to declare all of its installations, and early last decade it chose not
to, as the United States violated that same treaty by blocking Germany,
China, and others from providing nuclear energy equipment to Iran.
While Iran remains in compliance with the NPT, India and Pakistan and
Israel have not signed it and North Korea has withdrawn from it, while
the United States and other nuclear powers continuously violate it by
failing to reduce arms, by providing arms to other countries such as
India, and by developing new nuclear weapons.
This is what the empire of U.S. military bases looks like to Iran. Try to imagine if you lived there, what you would think of this.
Who is threatening whom?
Here are the sizes of national militaries:
Who is the greater danger to whom? The point is not that Iran should be
free to attack the United States or anyone else because its military is
smaller. The point is that doing so would be national suicide. It would
also be something Iran has not done for centuries. But it would be typical U.S. behavior.
you ready for an even more absurd twist? This is on the same scale as
Bush's comment about not really giving much thought to Osama bin Laden.
Are you ready? The proponents of attacking Iran themselves admit that if Iran had nukes it would not use them. This is from the American Enterprise Institute:
"The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear
weapon and testing it, it's Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using
Is that clear? Iran using a nuclear weapon would be bad: environmental
damage, loss of human life, hideous pain and suffering, yada, yada,
yada. But what would be really bad would be Iran acquiring a nuclear
weapon and doing what every other nation with them has done since
Nagasaki: nothing. That would be really bad because it would damage an
argument for war and make war more difficult, thus allowing Iran to run
its country as it, rather than the United States, sees fit. Of course it
might run it very badly (although we're hardly establishing a model for
the world over here either), but it would run it without U.S. approval,
and that would be worse than nuclear destruction.
|Because the second that they have one and they don't do anything
bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, 'See, we told
you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn't getting nuclear
weapons in order to use them immediately.' ... And they will eventually
define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem."
were allowed in Iraq and they worked. They found no weapons and there
were no weapons. Inspections are being allowed in Iran and they are
working. However, the IAEA has come under the corrupting influence of the U.S. government. And yet, the bluster from war proponents about recent IAEA claims is not backed up by any actual claims from the IAEA. And what little material the IAEA has provided for the cause of war has been widely rejected when not being laughed at.
Another year, another lie. No longer do we hear that North Korea is helping Iran build nukes. Lies about Iranian backing of Iraqi resisters
have faded. (Didn't the United States back French resistance to Germans
at one point?) The latest concoction is the "Iran did 911" lie.
Revenge, like the rest of these attempted grounds for war, is actually
not a legal or moral justification for war. But this latest fiction has
already been put to rest by the indespensable Gareth Porter,
among others. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, which did play a role in 911 as
well as in the Iraqi resistance, is being sold record quantities of that
good old leading U.S. export of which we're all so proud: weapons of mass destruction.
Oh, I almost forgot another lie that hasn't quite entirely faded yet. Iran did not try to blow up a Saudi ambassador
in Washington, D.C., an action which President Obama would consider
perfectly praiseworthy if the roles were reversed, but a lie that even
Fox News had a hard time stomaching. And that's saying something.
And then there's that old standby: Ahmadinejad said "Israel should be
wiped off the map." While this does not, perhaps, rise to the level of
John McCain singing about bombing Iran or Bush and Obama swearing that
all options including nuclear attack are on the table (I'm really
starting to despise that table, by the way). Yet, it sounds extremely
disturbing: "wiped off the map"! However, the translation is a bad one. A
more accurate translation was "the regime occupying Jerusalem must
vanish from the page of time". The government of Israel, not the nation
of Israel. Not even the government of Israel, but the current regime.
Hell, Americans say that about their own regimes all the time,
alternating every four to eight years depending on political party (some
of us even say it all the time, without immunity for either party).
Iran has made clear it would approve of a two-state solution if
Palestinians approved of it. If we launched missile strikes every time
somebody said something stupid, even if accurately translated, how safe
would it be to live near Newt Gingrich's or Joe Biden's house?
real danger may not actually be the lies. The Iraq experience has built
up quite a mental resistance to these sorts of lies in many U.S.
residents. The real danger may be the slow start of a war that gains
momentum on its own without any formal announcement of its initiation.
Israel and the United States have not just been talking tough or crazy.
They've been murdering Iranians.
And they seem to have no shame about it. The day after a Republican
presidential primary debate at which candidates declared their desire to
kill Iranians, the CIA apparently made certain the news was public that it was in fact already murdering Iranians, not to mention blowing up buildings. Some would say and have said that the war has already begun.
Those who cannot see this because they do not want to see it will also
miss the deadly humor in the United States asking Iran to return our brave drone to us.
Perhaps what's needed to snap war supporters out of their stupor is a bit of slapstick. Try this on for size. From Seymour Hersh describing a meeting held in Vice President Cheney's office:
Now, Dick Cheney is not your typical American. Nobody in the U.S.
government is your typical American. Your typical American is
struggling, disapproves of the U.S. government, wishes billionaires were
taxed, favors green energy and education and jobs over military
boondoggles, thinks corporations should be barred from buying elections,
and would not be inclined to apologize for getting shot in the face by
the Vice President. Back in the 1930s, the Ludlow Amendment nearly made
it a Constitutional requirement that the public vote in a referendum
before the United States could go to war. President Franklin Roosevelt
blocked that proposal. Yet the Constitution already required and still
requires that Congress declare war before a war is fought. That has not
been done in over 70 years, while wars have raged on almost incessantly.
In the past decade and right up through President Obama's signing of
the outrageous National Defense Authorization Act on New Years Eve
2011-2012, the power to make war has been handed over to presidents.
Here is one more reason to oppose a presidential war on Iran: once you
allow presidents to make wars, you will never stop them. Another reason,
in so far as anybody any longer gives a damn, is that war is a crime.
Iran and the United States are parties to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which
bans war. One of those two nations is not complying.
|"There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one
that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard —
build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy
seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to
the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives. And it
was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s
the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about.
Provocation. But that was rejected."
we won't have a referendum. The U.S. House of Misrepresentatives won't
step in. Only through widespread public pressure and nonviolent action
will we intervene in this slow-motion catastrophe. Already the United States and the United Kingdom
are preparing for war with Iran. This war, if it happens, will be
fought by an institution called the United States Department of Defense,
but it will endanger rather than defending us. As the war progresses,
we will be told that the Iranian people want to be bombed for their own
good, for freedom, for democracy. But nobody wants to be bombed for
that. Iran does not want U.S.-style democracy. Even the United States
does not want U.S.-style democracy. We will be told that those noble
goals are guiding the actions of our brave troops and our brave drones
on the battlefield. Yet there will be no battlefield. There will be no
front lines. There will be no trenches. There will simply be cities and
towns where people live, and where people die. There will be no victory.
There will be no progress accomplished through a "surge." On January 5,
2012, Secretary of "Defense" Leon Panetta was asked at a press
conference about the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he replied
simply that those were successes. That is the kind of success that could
be expected in Iran were Iran a destitute and disarmed state.
Now we begin to understand the importance of all the media suppression, blackouts, and lies about the damage done to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now
we understand why Obama and Panetta have embraced the lies that launched
the War on Iraq. The same lies must now be revived, as for every war
ever fought, for a War on Iran. Here's a video explaining how this will work, even with some new twists and lots of variations. The U.S. corporate media is part of the war machine.
Planning war and funding war creates its own momentum. Sanctions become, as with Iraq, a stepping stone to war. Cutting off diplomacy leaves few options open. Electoral pissing contests take us all where most of us did not want to be.
These are the bombs most likely to launch this ugly and quite possibly terminal chapter of human history. This animation shows clearly what they would do. For an even better presentation, pair that with this audio of a misinformed caller trying hopelessly to persuade George Galloway that we should attack Iran.
On January 2, 2012, the New York Times reported
concern that cuts to the U.S. military budget raised doubts as to
whether the United States would "be prepared for a grinding, lengthy
ground war in Asia." At a Pentagon press conference on January 5, 2012,
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reassured the press corpse
(sic) that major ground wars were very much an option and that wars of
one sort or another were a certainty. President Obama's statement of
military policy released at that press conference listed the missions of
the U.S. military. First was fighting terrorism, next detering
"aggression," then "projecting power despite anti-access/area denial
challenges," then the good old WMDs, then conquering space and
cyberspace, then nuclear weapons, and finally — after all that — there
was mention of defending the Homeland Formerly Known As The United
We're in bad straights.
Click here to get to a larger image on the site. Scroll down to the end.
The cases of Iraq and Iran are not identical in every detail, of
course. But in both cases we are dealing with concerted efforts to get
us into wars, wars based, as all wars are based, on lies.
One thing you can do is to ask U.S. and Israeli air, missile, and drone crews to refuse to attack Iran at DontAttackIran.org.
David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.orgSource: warisacrime.org
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