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America, Iran and an Unashamedly Interventionist Secretary of State


Journal of Foreign Relations 

The war is not over yet in Libya after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and the Obama administration has turned its attention to Iran. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement of a “plot” to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the United States, and warnings of dire consequences for Iran, mark a new escalation between the two countries.

The Obama administration says the offender behind the “plot” is an Iranian-American used-car salesman based in Texas, Mansour Arbabsiar, who believed he was hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for a meager one-and-a-half million dollars. It was a trap set up by federal agents. Not for the first time, it seems, the American law enforcement agencies are responsible for planting ideas into the mind of someone naïve and ordinary and making an arrest as soon as the individual looks interested.

The evidence has to be tested in courts. The arrested man, and a second alleged conspirator who is in Iran, have not been indicted yet. Reports say the man in custody will plead “not guilty.” But the Obama administration has already found him guilty. Further, according to the Obama administration, the trail points all the way to the Iranian regime. That the government in Tehran would use an American citizen of Iranian descent to hatch a scheme with a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, involving less than two million dollars, is bizarre.

Why the Saudi ambassador and not a bigger target? For only one-and-a-half million dollars? Why would the authorities in Tehran take such a risk? What purpose would be served? Honest answers to these and other perplexing questions are hard to come by. Juan Cole, the University of Michigan scholar, raises even more questions andconcludes why it could not be the work of the Iranian government. Tehran, not surprisingly, rejects Washington’s accusations.

There will be those who will see the latest developments as part of a consistent pattern of U.S. foreign policy conduct in the Middle East, especially with regard to Iran. The motive––to teach Iran a lesson in any way possible. Like the bizarre accusations against Muammar Gaddafi that he was employing mass rape of women as a weapon against opponents, to justify NATO’s war in Libya.

Human rights organizations like Amnesty plainly contradicted the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who made the fantastic claim that “we have information that there was a policy to rape in Libya those who were against the government. Apparently he [Colonel Gaddafi] used it to punish people.”

Now, as doubts increase over the “plot,” but the campaign against Iran is pushed by Washington regardless, expressions of incredulity abound. Respected magazine,Veterans Today, which represents American servicemen, has an article titled “Mr. President, We Believe Holder Lied on Iran Terror.” Senior editor Gordon Duffcommented, “Within 24 hours of the announcement of a new Iranian plot, the truth started leaking out. That leak is now a flood. The FBI made up the whole thing, invented it and you and they aren’t going to get away with it. Why something this outrageous, this incompetent?”

There seems to be no limit to which Hillary Clinton’s war of vengeance will go. It is worth noting her unrestrained outburst about Iran during the final phase of her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 2008 presidential election. She said that as president she would “totally obliterate” Iran if it foolishly considered attacking Israel–– a scenario not very likely. Contrary to what some in Washington’s corridors of power think, the Iranians are more sensible than they are given credit for. At the time, Hillary Clinton’s opponent, Barack Obama, dismissed her outburst as “sabre rattling.”

The Obama administration’s character today is vastly different from Obama the candidate’s. Hillary Clinton, ex-New York senator and a committed supporter of Israel, is his secretary of state. I believe she is the most powerful figure to have arrived at the top in the State Department since Henry Kissinger during the Nixon presidency more than 35 years ago.

Even then, Nixon was a formidable and liberal figure in international politics. An architect of détente, his foreign policy goals were radically different from Washington’s objectives in the twenty-first century.

Hillary Clinton is arguably the most interventionist secretary of state of the past half century. While Obama struggles at home with an increasingly belligerent Congress, Hillary Clinton has, in effect, seized control of U.S. foreign policy, which she conducts with far less diplomacy than military threats. Like the Bush-Cheney administration, we are witnessing an Obama-Clinton presidency, which brazenly engages in targeted killings in any country it wishes and, at the same time, accuses another country of plotting an assassination in Washington.

A Democratic administration has embraced the neoconservative Project for the New American Century. Its aggressiveness and stupidity compete with each other. It represents the law of the jungle.

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