The Washington regime continues to lay out its
case for war with Iran — not the least of which is
how little success it has enjoyed at militarily sub-
jugating the population of Iraq. In a speech
Tuesday before the National Convention of the American Legion in Reno, Nevada — though Las Vegas would have been a better venue — the Commander-in-Chief warned of the "two main strains" of "violent Islamic radicalism" that "means to dominate the Middle East": On the one hand, "Sunni extremism, embodied by al Qaida and its terrorist allies," and on the other, "Shia extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran." Notice that only the latter "extremism" was identified with a particular state, its government (the "world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism"), and a society. "Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon," the Commander asserted. He continued:
Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.
In 100 words or less, here’s the Washington regime’s case for war on Iran, in case anybody’s paying attention. A so-called Fact Sheet — more like a news release for a politically illiterate and captive media — that accompanies the transcript of the speech on the White House website instructs us that "Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and the United States is working with friends and allies around the world to confront the danger presented by actions of Iran’s government. Iran’s leaders threaten the security of nations everywhere by:
* Actively pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons;
* Arresting visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime;
* Backing Hezbollah terrorists who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon;
* Funding the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories;
* Sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which can be used to attack American and NATO troops and Afghan civilians; and
* Sending arms to extremists in Iraq that are used against Coalition and Iraqi troops, and Iraqi civilians.
Turning to what very well may prove to be the Washington regime’s No. One Casus Belli for a war on Iran, namely, Tehran’s alleged sponsorship of the armed resistance to the American occupation of neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, this dodgy dossier asserts that "Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs). With the assistance of Hezbollah, they have provided training for violent forces active inside Iraq.
* The Attacks On Our Bases And Our Troops Using Iranian-Supplied Munitions Have Increased In The Last Few Months – Despite Pledges By Iran To Help Stabilize The Security Situation In Iraq. Recently, Coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents.
* The Iranian Regime Must Halt These Actions At Once. Some say Iran’s leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran’s leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, Iranian leaders bear the responsibility for aiding attacks against Coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis.
"The fight in Iraq has a direct impact on the safety of Americans here at home," it continues, in an effort to make its case against the withdrawal of the occupying forces — what the Commander and everybody associated with the ongoing subjugation of the Middle East refer to as "retreat."
"For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country, and al Qaeda has established sanctuaries to safely plot future attacks on targets all over the world, including the U.S. Homeland – and they could use billions of dollars in oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions."
An elemental dynamic is at work here: Cause a catastrophe. Then make it worse. And worse. And worse. No matter how bad the Americans make things, hang on and make them worse still.
Should a U.S.-led attack on Iran come to pass, watch for the decisive triggering mechanism to be some kind of resolution — even the threat thereof — between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Tehran over Tehran’s nuclear program. That "significant step forward" that the IAEA had in mind when it announced this past week its new agreement with Tehran for resolving all "outstanding issues" (INFCIRC/711) frightens the war-mongers in Washington like nothing else. As the IAEA’s Deputy Director for Safeguards Olli Heinonen stated on record, "Iran is now facing [a] litmus test: that it can provide in a timely manner answers and the supporting information to the IAEA’s questions, which have been lacking particularly during the period 2004-2005 of our investigations. All these measures which you see there for resolving our outstanding issues go beyond the requirements of the Additional Protocol.” Agence France Presse’s paraphrase of Heinonen’s news conference gave his message a much sharper edge: The "goal," as AFP put it, is "to have the [IAEA's] questions about Iran’s past hidden activities answered enough to close the matter by the end of the year" ("IAEA says Iran nuclear accord a ‘significant step’," Michael Adler, August 30).
If AFP’s paraphrase is accurate — though I caution that nothing like this appears in the body of the transcript the IAEA posted to its website — the agreement signals the readiness of at least some factions within the IAEA to close the file on Iran’s nuclear program — regardless of what the substantial American faction says.
One could feel the tremors spreading out from the White House as the news broke of the IAEA’s agreement with Tehran. "Even if Iran comes clean on the past," countered Gregory Schulte, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA, "its nuclear file cannot be closed until the agency has full insight into the present. Iran’s nuclear file will remain open as long as Iran refuses to meet its international obligations to suspend activities of international concern" — which simply means for as long as the Washington regime manages to keep it open. State Department spokesman Tom Casey also dismissed the IAEA’s line. "[T]he basic facts," he stated, "are that Iran has refused to comply with its international obligations and as a result of that, the international community is going to continue to ratchet up the pressure."
But the facts aside, the basic message is clear. As with Iraq’s nuclear file, ca. March 1991 – March 2003 (after which time it no longer mattered, the military occupation already by then a fait accompli), Iran’s nuclear file is only to be used to ratchet-up the pressure on Tehran. Any other use of its nuclear file — closing it out, say, by resolving those pesky "outstanding issues" to the satisfaction of everyone but the chronic belligerents in Washington — is unacceptable.
What we very well may be witnessing is a grand strategic set-up in which the IAEA and Tehran agree to a basic timeline for resolving the issues that remain, and as this timeline runs its course, the Washington regime will allege that Tehran has failed to live up to its agreement. Henceforth, a little bombing will be in order. To remind the rest of the world who’s the boss.
Or a lot of bombing — depending on how quickly Boss Washington’s real military and political objectives can be achieved. The destruction of Iran’s nuclear program? A regional uprising against the regime in Tehran? U.S. military occupation and political control of the oil-rich regions in Iran’s southwest? A joint Israel Defense Forces’ attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon? Regime-change in Damascus? The destruction of Hamas in the Gaza? The permanence of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq? Of the Republican Party’s occupation of the White House?
At this stage, who the hell really knows?
"President Bush Addresses the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion," White House Office of the Press Secretary, August 28, 2007
"Making America Safer by Defeating Extremists in the Middle East," Fact Sheet, White House Office of the Press Secretary, August 28, 2007
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2007/22), IAEA, May 23, 2007
Communication dated 27 August 2007 from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Agency concerning the text of the "Understandings of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA on the Modalities of Resolution of the Outstanding Issues" (INFCIRC/711), IAEA, August 27, 2007
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007) in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2007/48), IAEA, August 30, 2007
"Head of IAEA Safeguards Welcomes Iran Workplan," IAEA, August 30, 2007
Non-Aligned Movement News Network (Homepage)
"IAEA says Iran nuclear accord a ‘significant step’," Michael Adler, Agence France Presse, August 30, 2007
"UPI Poll: Iran fight now more likely," UPI, August 30, 2007
"US and Iran spar ahead of Iraq report," Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, August 31, 2007
"Tehran sharing more nuclear data, agency says," Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2007
"U.S. and ElBaradei at odds over Iran’s nuclear program," Elaine Sciolino and William J. Broad, New York Times – IHT, August 31, 2007
"Would Iran retaliate to bombing?" Derek Sands, UPI, August 31, 2007
"IAEA: Iran Cooperating In Nuclear Investigation," John Ward Anderson and Joby Warrick, Washington Post, August 31, 2007
"Will President Bush bomb Iran?" Tim Shipman, Daily Telegraph, September 2, 2007
"Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran," Sarah Baxter, The Times, September 2, 2007
"The next war?" Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI, August 29, 2007
"Don’t Bomb, Bomb Iran," Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, August 31, 2007
"Deadly Persian Provocations," Reuel Marc Gerecht, Newsweek International, September 3, 2007
"Behind Bush’s Latest Anti-Iranian Threats," Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Center for Research on Globalization, August 31, 2007
"Now or Never: Do We Have the Courage To Stop War with Iran?" Ray McGovern, CounterPunch, August 31, 2007
"Intellectuals and the ‘War on Terror’," David Keen, CounterPunch, September 1/2, 2007
"Bush Plans War on Iran," Marjorie Cohn, CommonDreams.org, September 2, 2007
"Iraq, Israel, Iran," David Bromwich, Huffington Post, September 4, 2007
"From al-Qaeda to al-Quds," Pepe Escobar, Asia Times Online, September 7, 2007
"Will the U.S. Really Bomb Iran?" Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch, September 8/9, 2007
"U.S. plans base on Iraq-Iran border," BBC International, September 10, 2007
"Cartoons aid US lynch mob mentality," Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times Online, September 11, 2007
"Secret US air force team to perfect plan for Iran strike," Sarah Baxter, Sunday Times, September 23, 2007
"The Whispers of War," Dan Ephron and Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, October 1, 2007
"Open Letter to the World on the U.S. Threat to the Peace," ZNet, March 31, 2007
"American Power, Iran, and the New York Review of Books," ZNet, June 3, 2007
"Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entities," ZNet, August 16, 2007
"‘By the Conjunction of Terrorism and WMD’," ZNet, August 21, 2007
"To Bomb Iran," ZNet, September 1, 2007
Afterword: The Captive American Mind must be the single most strategically disenlightened strip of territory on the face of the planet earth. For all of its vast wealth, territory, and power, the reality is that the United States of America occupies a space no wider than half-the-width of a razor’s edge. If that. But as a friend said to me yesterday, where the Commander-in-Chief is concerned, what we are watching is an actor and master demagogue in the Hitler tradition, hard at work at capturing that mind. — For some prime excerpts from last Tuesday’s effort, see below. ("President Bush Addresses the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion," White House Office of the Press Secretary, August 28, 2007.)
The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shia extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.
Iran‘s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late. (Applause.)
I want our fellow citizens to consider what would happen if these forces of radicalism and extremism are allowed to drive us out of the Middle East. The region would be dramatically transformed in a way that could imperil the civilized world. Extremists of all strains would be emboldened by the knowledge that they forced America to retreat. Terrorists could have more safe havens to conduct attacks on Americans and our friends and allies. Iran could conclude that we were weak — and could not stop them from gaining nuclear weapons. And once Iran had nuclear weapons, it would set off a nuclear arms race in the region.
Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they’ve provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months — despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.
Some say Iran’s leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran’s leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities. (Applause.)
For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country. Imagine an Iraq where al Qaeda has established sanctuaries to safely plot future attacks on targets all over the world, including America. We’ve seen what these enemies will do when American forces are actively engaged in Iraq. And we can envision what they would do if we — if they were emboldened by American forces in retreat.
The challenge in Iraq comes down to this: Either the forces of extremism succeed, or the forces of freedom succeed. Either our enemies advance their interests in Iraq, or we advance our interests. The most important and immediate way to counter the ambitions of al Qaeda and Iran and other forces of instability and terror is to win the fight in Iraq. (Applause.)
For Your Archives (September 3): When the rightly notorious quote from the former White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, which first entered the public realm on page A1 of the September 7, 2002 New York Times, under the half-illuminating, half-in-the-bag headline, "Traces of Terror: The Strategy. Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq" (i.e., the second being the illuminating half), was first reported, the Times reported it exactly like this:
White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein.
The rollout of the strategy this week, they said, was planned long before President Bush’s vacation in Texas last month. It was not hastily concocted, they insisted, after some prominent Republicans began to raise doubts about moving against Mr. Hussein and administration officials made contradictory statements about the need for weapons inspectors in Iraq.
The White House decided, they said, that even with the appearance of disarray it was still more advantageous to wait until after Labor Day to kick off their plan.
"From a marketing point of view," said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, "you don’t introduce new products in August."
A centerpiece of the strategy, White House officials said, is to use Mr. Bush’s speech on Sept. 11 to help move Americans toward support of action against Iraq, which could come early next year.
("Traces of Terror: The Strategy. Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq," Elizabeth Bumiller, New York Times, September 7, 2002.)
Update (September 14): Here’s a package that I strongly recommend:
"Celebrating Human Lives," an ElectricPolitics interview with Fatemeh Keshavarz, author of Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran (University of North Carolina Press, 2007)
"Native informers and the making of the American empire," Hamid Dabashi, Al-Ahram Weekly, June 1-7, 2006
Update (September 24):
World Leaders Forum (Video in full), School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, September 24, 2007
Update (September 25): Can’t possibly guess how many or what percentage of the major U.S. news media this is true about — though it’s a safe bet that it is overwhelmingly true of them.
But Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune posted to its website, in their entirety, Monday’s prepared insults by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger against the President of Iran — and in its print edition (sect. 1, p. 19), the Trib published essentially the same body of insults, with some minor edits at their outset for reasons of space.
"Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s introduction of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," Chicago Tribune (webpage), September 24, 2007. (Or see "President Lee C. Bollinger’s Introductory Remarks at SIPA-World Leaders Forum with President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," Columbia News, September 24, 2007.)
The front-page of Tuesday’s Trib published this photograph by the New York Times‘s Damon Winter:
And not only did the Trib‘s editorial voice lead with "Ahmadinejad gets an earful" (sect. 1, p. 18 — see below), but its editorial page also reproduced this cartoon by the Orlando Sentinel‘s Dana Summers:
Chicago Tribune (Editorial)
September 25, 2007
Ahmadinejad gets an earful
Last September, a jaunty Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set New York abuzz. He held court at a UN conference hall and was treated to some fawning coverage that described his quirky sartorial tastes as if he were some sort of fascinating, Internet billionaire eccentric.
That was before his country busted through two sets of UN Security Council sanctions on its outlaw nuclear program, asserting his nation didn’t "give a damn" about UN resolutions.
That was before Iranian-supplied roadside bombs began killing more and more Americans in Iraq.
Before his country sponsored a Holocaust denial conference.
Before he arrested Iranian-Americans on trumped up charges of fomenting revolution, seized 15 British Marines and sailors as hostages and launched what Newsweek called a "full-scale campaign of intimidation" against thousands of Iranians, many of them women detained by the police because their clothing or makeup fell short of the regime’s standards.
Before the government confiscated satellite dishes — Iranians’ main link to the outside world — and violently stilled political dissent.
Not that Ahmadinejad was a prince before his visit last September. But it does seem that the world in the last year has awaken to the threat posed by Iran.
On Monday, Ahmadinejad arrived in New York to the kind of blistering reception he richly deserved. The New York Daily News headlined: "The Evil Has Landed." There were loud protests about giving "a terrorist" a platform to speak at Columbia University.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger defended the university’s invitation, calling it a matter of free speech and academic freedom. The value of that invitation was on display Monday. The world has heard Ahmadinejad before, but Ahmadinejad probably had never been confronted, face-to-face, with such a succinct indictment of him and his nation.
Bollinger called Ahmadinejad‘s behavior that of a "petty and cruel dictator," and excoriated him for being "brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated" about the Holocaust. Bollinger cited Iran’s support of terrorist organizations and its "proxy war" against U.S. troops in Iraq.
Ahmadinejad had no answers. He smiled a lot. He tried to appear reasonable, to strike a soothing tone. He denied that Iran was supplying arms to insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan and told "60 Minutes" that Iran had no need for a nuclear weapon.
But he wouldn’t directly answer when he was asked if he still sought the destruction of Israel, which he has called "a disgraceful blot" to be "wiped off the map." He said Iran would not launch an attack on Israel or any other country, claiming "we are friends with the Jewish people." He tiptoed around the Holocaust, appearing to deny his denial that it happened.
Columbia made the right decision to invite Ahmadinejad. He couldn’t duck a devastating indictment of his nation. He was free to defend himself, and he couldn’t.
I keep waiting for someone who lives and works and breathes these U.S. media and academic institutions to wake up and recognize how closely they resemble their own worst nightmares which they reflexively project onto other societies and regimes. But it never seems to happen.
Lee Bollinger’s remarks — and the uncritical embrace of them we’ve witnessed these past 24 hours — are a case in point. At times, Bollinger sounded as if he thought he was addressing the emissary of an inferior race in need of some delousing. And this exact same point of view has been replicated unrelentingly.
The United States of America is a very creepy place.
(Letters to the Chicago Tribune: [email protected] . Not that it’ll matter one bit.)
Update (September 25): On the other, non-jingoist hand:
"President Ahmadinejad Delivers Remarks at Columbia University," Congressional Quarterly Transcripts Wire, September 24, 2007 (as posted to the WashingtonPost.com)
"U.S. On The Warpath With The IAEA," Shireen M. Mazari, CounterCurrents, September 22, 2007
"Turning Ahmadinejad Into Public Enemy No. 1," Juan Cole, CommonDreams, September 24, 2007
"Iranian academic society condemns Lee Bollinger remarks," Iranian Students News Agency, September 25, 2007