Thursday, May 6, 2010

All Eyes On Iran

Or at least they should be.

It was reported in mid-March that there are hundreds of powerful ground-penetrating bunker buster bombs being shipped from California to British-owned Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean off Iran that was used as a staging area for air strikes in Iraq. Whether these are meant simply to intimidate for now or are a mobilization for a planned attack is unknown.

But given the rhetoric coming from politicians and even President Obama, I can't help but feel the similarities to the run-up of the Iraq invasion. Obama stated recently that the Iranians are still attempting to gain the "capacity to develop nuclear weapons," being careful with the words he likely knows are lies. Two Democratic Senators, Evan Bayh and Chuck Schumer, recently stood up before AIPAC declaring that diplomacy has failed and we must consider military action. The most warmongering, economically ignorant maniac in the Senate (I mean, of course, John McCain) speaks in a matter-of-fact tone about the Iranian threat, considering the situation so dire that we must "pull the trigger" now.

I hope the prospect of a third American war in the Middle East is as insane to you as it is to IAEA head Mohamed Elbaradei and myself. First of all, it is a fact that the entire US Intelligence Community has concluded that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003. As one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world, its leaders and its people are interested in self-preservation. Since nuclear energy is the only real hope for the future, they are smartly investing heavily in the technology. They have declared several times that they are holding to their centuries-long No First Strike foreign policy, while Israel continues to menace and threaten an attack on Iran. Iran, specifically Iranian citizens, are not hostile to our world. In truth, the younger generations want closer relations with the West. In the days following 9/11, thousands of Iranian filled the capital city Tehran's streets to hold a vigil for the dead and even hardcore clerics denounced the attack on civilians. Iran's government does not threaten the US, or anyone. Few people know that an Iranian spy attempted to warn the CIA that Al-Qaeda was planning an attack. Iran's people are certainly not the enemies of America. But they are certainly a proud people, and rightly so, surviving all these millenia as a society, and they want to direct their own future. If there is a strike against their country, they will rally behind hardline leaders and we will have lost the opportunity to have a new era of friendly relations with Iran. There has been animosity ever since our interference in 1953 to install the Shah to protect British Petroleum. Now we threaten to obliterate them? This situation is is only more outrageous than it is tragic.

A strike against Iran has global ramifications. First and foremost, it must be understood that whatever "Islamo-fascist" enemy we are fighting, it would not be found in Iran. The historical name of Iran is Persia, and Persians are a distinct people, and their brand of Islam is at sometimes violent odds with the elements that attacked the East Coast on 9/11: mostly Arab Sunnis. Iranians are Persian Shi'ites. They are as different as Irish Catholics and Chinese Methodists. Our media and policymakers so often foolishly treat the Muslim World as a monolithic entity. George Stephanopolous made a jackass of himself by asking Iranian President Ahmadinejad if Osama bin-Laden had been given refuge in Iran. The question is absurd to anyone who understands the factions of Islam. It must also be realized that for the past decade while we have been fooling around in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia and especially China have been scouring the world for investment opportunities, specifically in the remaining natural resources. A very lucrative investment is Iran, the second- or third- largest holder of oil in the world. Now this sanctions act proposes to punish the countries that trade too much with Iran. As Ron Paul points out in the video below, this will lead to a trade war with countries over which we have no leverage. A strike on Iran threatens the investments of the Chinese and Russians, and they will not take kindly to it. The West has had several brushes with Iran in the past few years. Former CIA agent Philip Giraldi laid out how an Iran strike by the US or Israel may snowball into WWIII. He recently followed up on this with a premise that war with Iran is inevitable if Obama does not immediately, publicly, and directly oppose an Israeli strike on Iran, and that the United States will not financially, militarily, or morally support such an action, as well as lead the likely global condemnation of such an action. Of course, this is unlikely to happen. To say his timing prediction is scary is like saying the sky is blue. With a crippling recession, already unsustainable military obligations, exploding national debt, and the prospect of another market crash, we are most certainly unprepared for such military engagements, short of using our 5,000 nukes and destroying the world.

To attack Iran is so plainly insane that military leaders have begun warning of the disastrous consequences. I want to think even the most hawkish neocons in Israel and the United States may have second thoughts about bringing the world to war once again. But, folks: it's not looking good.

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