Iran: The War Begins By John Pilger

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    Iran: The War Begins February 03, 2007
    By John Pilger

    As opposition grows in America to the failed Iraq adventure, the Bush
    administration is preparing public opinion for an attack on Iran, its latest
    target, by the spring.

    The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran.
    For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of "buying time" for its dis
    aster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a "surge" of American troops in
    Iraq, George W Bush identified Iran as his real target. "We will interrupt
    the flow of support [to the insurgency in Iraq] from Iran and Syria," he
    said. "And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced
    weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

    "Networks" means Iran. "There is solid evidence," said a State Department
    spokesman on 24 January, "that Iranian agents are involved in these networks
    and that they are working with individuals and groups in Iraq and are being
    sent there by the Iranian government." Like Bush's and Tony Blair's claim
    that they had irrefutable evidence that Saddam Hussein was deploying weapons
    of mass destruction, the "evidence" lacks all credibility. Iran has a
    natural affinity with the Shia majority of Iraq, and has been implacably
    opposed to al-Qaeda, condemning the 9/11 attacks and supporting the United
    States in Afghanistan. Syria has done the same. Investigations by the New
    York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others, including British military
    officials, have concluded that Iran is not engaged in the cross-border
    supply of weapons. General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of
    Staff, has said no such evidence exists.

    As the American disaster in Iraq deepens and domestic and foreign opposition
    grows, "neo-con" fanatics such as Vice-President Dick Che- ney believe their
    opportunity to control Iran's oil will pass unless they act no later than
    the spring. For public consumption, there are potent myths. In concert with
    Israel and Washington's Zionist and fundamentalist Christian lobbies, the
    Bushites say their "strategy" is to end Iran's nuclear threat.

    In fact, Iran possesses not a single nuclear weapon, nor has it ever
    threatened to build one; the CIA estimates that, even given the political
    will, Iran is incapable of building a nuclear weapon before 2017, at the
    earliest. Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules
    of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original
    signatory, and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations -
    until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the behest of
    Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has ever
    cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear programme to military use.

    The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have
    been able to "go anywhere and see anything". They inspected the nuclear
    installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on
    2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, says that an
    attack on Iran will have "catastrophic consequences" and only encourage the
    regime to become a nuclear power.

    Unlike its two nemeses, the US and Israel, Iran has attacked no other
    countries. It last went to war in 1980 when invaded by Saddam Hussein, who
    was backed and equipped by the US, which supplied chemical and biological
    weapons produced at a factory in Maryland. Unlike Israel, the world's fifth
    military power - with its thermo nuclear weapons aimed at Middle East
    targets and an unmatched record of defying UN resolutions, as the enforcer
    of the world's longest illegal occupation - Iran has a history of obeying
    international law and occupies no territory other than its own.

    The "threat" from Iran is entirely manufactured, aided and abetted by
    familiar, compliant media language that refers to Iran's "nuclear
    ambitions", just as the vocabulary of Saddam's non-existent WMD arsenal
    became common usage. Accompanying this is a demonising that has become
    standard practice. As Edward Herman has pointed out, President Mahmoud
    Ahmadinejad "has done yeoman service in facilitating [this]"; yet a close
    examination of his notorious remark about Israel in October 2005 reveals how
    it has been distorted. According to Juan Cole, American professor of modern
    Middle East and south Asian history at the University of Michigan, and other
    Farsi language analysts, Ahmadinejad did not call for Israel to be "wiped
    off the map". He said: "The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the
    page of time." This, says Cole, "does not imply military action or killing
    anyone at all". Ahmadinejad compared the demise of the Israeli regime to the
    dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Iranian regime is repressive, but its
    power is diffuse and exercised by the mullahs, with whom Ahmadinejad is
    often at odds. An attack would surely unite them.

    Nuclear option

    The one piece of "solid evidence" is the threat posed by the United States.
    An American naval build-up in the eastern Mediterranean has begun. This is
    almost certainly part of what the Pentagon calls CONPLAN 8022-02, which is
    the aerial bombing of Iran. In 2004, National Security Presidential
    Directive 35, entitled "Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorisation", was
    issued. It is classified, of course, but the presumption has long been that
    NSPD 35 authorised the stockpiling and deployment of "tactical" nuclear
    weapons in the Middle East.

    This does not mean Bush will use them against Iran, but for the first time
    since the most dangerous years of the cold war, the use of what were then
    called "limited" nuclear weapons is being discussed openly in Washington.
    What they are debating is the prospect of other Hiroshimas and of
    radioactive fallout across the Middle East and central Asia. Seymour Hersh
    disclosed in the New Yorker last year that American bombers "have been
    flying simulated nuclear weapons delivery missions . . . since last summer".

    The well-informed Arab Times in Kuwait says that Bush will attack Iran
    before the end of April. One of Russia's most senior military strategists,
    General Leonid Ivashov, says the US will use nuclear munitions delivered by
    cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean. "The war in Iraq," he wrote
    on 24 January, "was just one element in a series of steps in the process of
    regional destabilisation.

    It was only a phase in getting closer to dealing with Iran and other
    countries. [When the attack on Iran begins] Israel is sure to come under
    Iranian missile strikes . . . Posing as victims, the Israelis . . . will
    suffer some tolerable damage and then the outraged US will destabilise Iran
    finally, making it look like a noble mission of retribution . . . Public
    opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian . .
    .. hysteria, . . . leaks, disinformation et cetera . . . It . . . remain
    unclear . . . whether the US Congress is going to authorise the war."

    Asked about a US Senate resolution disapproving of the "surge" of US troops
    to Iraq, Vice-President Cheney said: "It won't stop us." Last November, a
    majority of the American electorate voted for the Democratic Party to
    control Congress and stop the war in Iraq.

    Apart from insipid speeches of "disapproval", this has not happened and is
    unlikely to happen. Influential Democrats, such as the new leader of the
    House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and the would-be presidential
    candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, have disported themselves
    before the Israeli lobby. Edwards is regarded in his party as a "liberal".
    He was one of a high-level American contingent at a recent Israeli
    conference in Herzliya, where he spoke about "an unprecedented threat to the
    world and Israel [sic]. At the top of these threats is Iran . . . All
    options are on the table to ensure that Iran will never get a nuclear
    weapon." Hillary Clinton has said: "US policy must be unequivocal . . . We
    have to keep all options on the table." Pelosi and Howard Dean, another
    liberal, have distinguished themselves by attacking the former president
    Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the Camp David Agreement between Israel and Egypt
    and has had the gall to write a truthful book accusing Israel of becoming an
    "apartheid state". Pelosi said: "Carter does not speak for the Democratic
    Party." She is right, alas.

    In Britain, Downing Street has been presented with a document entitled
    Answering the Charges by Professor Abbas Edalat, of Imperial College London,
    on behalf of others seeking to expose the disinformation on Iran. Blair
    remains silent. Apart from the usual honourable exceptions, parliament
    remains shamefully silent, too.

    Can this really be happening again, less than four years after the invasion
    of Iraq, which has left some 650,000 people dead? I wrote virtually this
    same article early in 2003; for Iran now, read Iraq then. And is it not
    remarkable that North Korea has not been attacked? North Korea has nuclear

    In numerous surveys, such as the one released on 23 January by the BBC World
    Service, "we", the majority of humanity, have made clear our revulsion for
    Bush and his vassals. As for Blair, the man is now politically and morally
    naked for all to see. So who speaks out, apart from Professor Edalat and his
    colleagues? Privileged journalists, scholars and artists, writers and
    thespians, who sometimes speak about "freedom of speech", are as silent as a
    dark West End theatre. What are they waiting for? The declaration of another
    thousand-year Reich, or a mushroom cloud in the Middle East, or both?

    February 5, 2007 New Statesman (UK)
    Jas, Feb 4, 2007
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