To “Totally Obliterate” Iran

In the words of Iran’s Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami: "A disreputable American candidate has said that if Iran attacks Israel, she will obliterate Iran if she is the president. I tell the American people, it is a shame for them that their presidents are servants of Israel without any willpower. What they are saying recently is just psychological war."

Of course, Khatami’s "psychological war" describes Hillary Clinton’s remarks over ABC – TV on the morning of the recent Pennsylvania Primary, which she won quite handily. — Clinton’s exchange with reporter Chris Cuomo went like this ("One-on-One with Senator Clinton," Good Morning America, April 22):

Chris Cuomo: [Y]ou said if Iran were to strike Israel, there would be "massive retaliation." Scary words. Does "massive retaliation" mean you’d go into Iran? You would bomb Iran? Is that what that’s supposed to suggest?

Hillary Clinton: Well, the question was, if Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel, what would our response be? And I want the Iranians to know that if I am president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that. Because it does mean that they have to look very carefully at their society. Because whatever stage of development they might be in their nuclear weapons program, in the next 10 years during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them. 

It took the Iranian Government eight days to get around to it.  But this past Wednesday, April 30, Tehran’s deputy UN ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi filed an official complaint with the Secretary-General and the president of the Security Council over Clinton‘s remarks.  From what I can gather, the letter states that "under erroneous and false pretexts [Clinton] threatened to use force against the Islamic Republic of Iran," and called her remarks "provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible," and a "flagrant violation" of the UN Charter — which of course they are.  "[T]the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention to attack any other nation," this letter adds — though whether this denial matters on the hysterical U.S. animal farm is open to serious doubt.  ("Iran complains to UN about Clinton’s ‘provocative’ remarks," IRNA, May 1; "Tehran complains to UN about Clinton’s ‘obliterate Iran’ remarks," RIA Novosti, May 1; and "Iran Protests to UN about Clinton Comments," Nazila Fathi, New York Times, May 2.)

Notice, if you will, that we don’t need to translate Hillary Clinton’s remarks from Farsi to English in order to understand what she was saying.  "All must appear trigger happy," one very fine patrician commentator explained, referring to the three presidential candidates still standing. 


He continues ("Despite Iraq, America’s love affair with war runs deep," Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, April 23):


To visit America at present is to be reminded of the continuing trauma of post-9/11, of a nation that craves a cohering substitute psychosis for the lifting of the Soviet menace. It is seen in ubiquitous threat alerts, hysterical airport security, the continued acceptance of Guantanamo Bay and even jibes about public figures not wearing the American flag in their buttonhole. A country in so many ways a kaleidoscope of the world is in many ways so different. Above all it is full of soldiers. Their world view is lumped in with defence and security in a collective paranoia. And a candidate’s stance on foreign policy is a proxy for his or her character. To this the candidates must pander….The mistakes made by America in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen from Washington as accidents in necessary wars, as they might have been in Britain in the 19th century. Such wars present puzzles to be resolved, tests for weapons systems, trials of strength for Pentagon lobbies, budget barons and thinktanks. And they seem very, very far away.


Now compare Clinton‘s unambiguous English with the false allegation — indeed, malicious fabrication — dating back to late October 2005, which, since then, has held that Iran‘s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened that "Israel must be wiped off the map of the world."  


According to Juan Cole (May 4, 2006): "Every time you see a newspaper article that alleges that Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map, please write the editor. Say that this idiom does not exist in Persian, and that what Ahmadinejad actually said was, ‘This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time’. And you can cite me." — (For some very solid debunkings of this fabrication, see "Does Iran’s President Want Israel Wiped Off the Map?" Anneliese Fikentscher and Andreas Neumann, (Trans. Erik Appleby), Information Clearinghouse, April 19, 2006; "Hitchens the Hacker," Juan Cole, Informed Comment, May 3, 2006; "The Importance of Cole v. Hitchens," Juan Cole, Informed Comment,  May 4, 2006; "If Iran is ready to talk, the U.S. must do so unconditionally," Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, June 2, 2006; and "Lost in Translation," Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, June 14, 2006.) 


Reality notwithstanding, the official and near-instantaneous reaction of the Israeli Government to the false allegation concerning Iran’s President is worth repeating here (Letter from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations (S/2005/681), Ambassador Dan Gillerman, October 27, 2005):


It is appalling that a leader of a United Nations Member State would call for the destruction of another Member State. The United Nations aspires to unite peace loving States, reflected in the Charter when it calls on them to be "determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind". This outrageous statement contradicts the international community’s efforts to instill peace and security in the Middle East and learn the horrific lessons of war.


This malicious statement warrants a resolute and strong response from the international community. No Member State that calls for violence, death and destruction, as the President of Iran did yesterday, deserves a seat in this civilized body, the United Nations.

Yes.  It certainly would be appalling — as well as every other negative that the Israeli Ambassador and dozens of heads of Western states and untold numbers of Western commentators have had to say about it ever since — were the allegation true.  Which, of course, it isn’t.  It is a damn lie instead.

However, it is true in the case of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.  Nor did she mince words, either.  On the preposterous scenario that Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel (doubtless at 3 AM, Eastern Standard Time), Clinton‘s United Sates of America would "totally obliterate" Iran.  That’s a campaign promise. — Just don’t ask the "international community" or the UN Secretary-General to bat an eye over this prominent American political figure’s malicious statement.

Back to Ahmed Khatami’s use of the phrase "psychological war": Always remember that in the States — but especially during a campaign season — the main targets of this kind of  psychological warfare are potential U.S. voters, about whom the PR-managers behind each of the campaigns believe that if their candidate is going to gain a majority of the votes, the candidate must be perceived by these voters (a) to hold civilized values with utter disregard, and, at the same time, (b) to affirm the barbarism and lawlessness of the United States, and to be willing to proclaim it openly and with great flag-wearing pride.

What is more: As far as this form of psychological warfare is concerned, the PR-managers behind John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s campaigns are calling their plays from the exact same page of the same Madison Avenue playbook.  So the Americans mustn’t flatter themselves about the vast array of options their "democratic" political system affords them.  Because where their commitments to American state violence and lawlessness are the issue, it’s all a matter of shades of gray.  A little darker here.  A little lighter there.  But that’s all folks.

"One-on-One with Senator Clinton," Chris Cuomo, Good Morning America, ABC – TV, April 22, 2008
"Despite Iraq, America’s love affair with war runs deep," Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, April 23, 2008

"Who Gets Totally Obliterated, Iran or the U.S.?" Michael Nolan, Dissident Voice, May 1, 2008
"How Under-the-Gun Iran Plays It Cool," Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, May 2, 2008 (as posted to the Information Clearing House website)
"Clinton Exchanges Threats with Iranian Cleric," Real News Network, May 3, 2008

"The U.S. Aggression Process and Its Collaborators: From Guatemala (1950-1954) to Iran (2002-)," Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Electric Politics, November 26, 2007

"To ‘Totally Obliterate’ Iran," ZCom, May 3, 2008   

(May 7): With the possibility of a U.S. – Israeli bombing war against Iran‘s national territory never lurking very far below the surface of international reality, let me post here the following two letters that Iran filed with the United Nations in protest of two allegations made by representatives of the U.S. Government.  Neither of them were available when I first composed this blog.  The UN’s superb electronic archive having now rectified this:

"Letter dated 28 April 2008 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations" (S/2008/280), Medhi Danesh-Yazdi, April 28, 2008
Letter dated 30 April 2008 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations" (S/2008/288), Medhi Danesh-Yazdi, April 30, 2008

    The first letter protests U.S. allegations made April 28 in the Security Council (where Iran did not enjoy the right to respond) that Iran is responsible for acts of terrorism inside Iraq, including against U.S. interests; the second protests the ranting and raving by Hillary Clinton on April 22, to the effect that if Iran ever were to attack Israel with nuclear weapons while she is president, her United States would "totally obliterate them."  (Of course, ‘them’ here does not refer to Israel.)
    Since the allegations voiced by U.S. Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad before the Security Council are the serious ones, a few words about them. —
    According to Khalilzad (
"The situation concerning Iraq" (S/PV.5878), UN Security Council, April 28, 2008, p. 5, col. 1):

  During the reporting period, Iranian-backed groups launched numerous attacks on Iraqi civilians and Iraqi and multinational forces. The recent clashes between criminal and militia elements and Iraqi Government forces in Basra and Baghdad have highlighted Iran’s destabilizing influence and actions. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force continues to arm, train and fund illegal armed groups in Iraq. The bulk of the weapons used by these groups, including mortars, rockets and explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) are made in Iran and supplied by Iran. This illegal aid poses a significant threat to Iraqi and multinational forces and to the stability and sovereignty of Iraq. It also undermines the efforts of the Government of Iraq to rebuild the nation. These transfers of arms and related materials are fundamentally inconsistent with the restrictions on such transfers to Iraq adopted by the Council under its Chapter VII authority.

  Iraq’s border with Syria is another source of concern, as estimates suggest that Syria is the entry point for 90 per cent of all known foreign terrorists in Iraq. Syria continues to allow foreign fighters to transit Syria en route to conducting attacks in Iraq, and we know that Al-Qaida terrorist facilitators continue to operate inside Syria. Iran and Syria must stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq and their malign interference in Iraq.

    This also happened to be a central theme of the testimonies by U.S. Amb. Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus before the U.S. Congress during four separate sessions in early April.  In a nutshell, their message as well as Khalilzad’s is this: The Government of Iran is responsible for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.  So, in effect, Iran already is at war with the United States.
    I think the Americans make this world of ours one very dangerous place to live.


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