Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
When War Crimes Are Impossible
Bruce E. Levine
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
Eleanor J. Bader
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Iran, the U.S., and Nukes in the Middle East
T he Bush administration’s rapid escalation of anti-Iran rhetoric in the last few months should not be dismissed as posturing. Some of the attacks, especially Vice-President Cheney’s and UN Ambassador John Bolton’s speeches to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee convention, were clearly aimed at least partly at that specific audience. But this Administration has a history of carrying out actions widely viewed, even among U.S. elites, as reckless and dangerous. The Bush administration’s new campaign of claiming Iran is responsible for the improvised explosive devices (IEDs or roadside bombs) that are proving so deadly, represents a further escalation of the threat by linking Iran to the rise in U.S. casualties in Iraq.
The extremist language of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad also has played a role in heating up the rhetorical battle. His outrageous claims denying the Holocaust appear to be playing to what he perceives as the views of his domestic audience. But Ahmedinejad’s refusal to recognize the obligations of national presidents in the world spotlight—especially the president of a nation in Washington’s crosshairs—has created a situation in which both sides may become boxed into political corners.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is based on the idea that countries with and without nuclear weapons all give up something and both have rights and obligations under the Treaty. Countries without nuclear weapons—almost all countries in the world have signed the Treaty—agree not to buy or build nuclear weapons. In return, the NPT allows them to create and use nuclear power and even urges the nuclear weapons countries to provide them with nuclear technology for their peaceful use, including the technology to enrich uranium. (This encouragement of the spread of nuclear technology and nuclear power is a huge weakness of the NPT, but it remains the operative legal framework.) On the other side, the five recognized nuclear weapons countries—the U.S., Russia, France, the UK, and China— are obligated under Article VI of the NPT to move towards full and complete nuclear disarmament.
The three known nuclear weapons states beyond the five official nuclear powers are Israel, India, and Pakistan. Unlike Iran, none of them have signed the NPT. (North Korea, widely viewed as having the ability to build, or perhaps even having an existing nuclear weapon, was a signatory to the NPT, but withdrew before moving towards full nuclear weapons capacity.)
Iran, however, is a signatory to the NPT and as such has been under voluntary international scrutiny for many years. Like all non-nuclear weapons signatories, Iran maintains the right to have access to nuclear technology, to build nuclear power plants, and to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Iran has not violated the NPT’s restrictions for non-nuclear weapons countries. Even the U.S. does not claim Iran is violating the NPT. The Bush administration claims, rather, that it “does not trust” Iran and therefore Iran should be denied the rights granted to it under the treaty.
Iran has no capacity to produce nuclear weapons at this time. If it chooses to move towards nuclear weapons production, estimates are that it would take five to ten years before it would be possible. Tehran has made clear its desire for a security guarantee with the U.S. During the year-long European-led negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, Washington’s refusal to offer such a guarantee fueled public support in Iran for the nuclear program.
The escalating danger of a new U.S. military strike or a nuclear arms race in the Middle East must take into account the provocative nature of Israel’s unacknowledged, but widely known nuclear arsenal of 200-400 high-density nuclear bombs produced at its Dimona nuclear center in the Negev desert. The Israeli nuke was first tested jointly with apartheid South Africa in 1979 and made public by nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu in 1986. Since then Israel, with U.S. support, has maintained a nuclear policy of “strategic ambiguity,” neither confirming nor denying the existence of its nuclear weapons. As long as Israel, while continuing to violate international law in its occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory, remains the Middle East’s sole nuclear power, other countries in the region will continue seeking nuclear parity for deterrence. (Alternatively, they may seek chemical or biological weapons, often termed the “poor countries’ nuclear weapons.”)
U.S. officials are not yet openly calling for military action against
Iran; their rhetoric so far states that “all options are on
the table,” with Cheney, Rice, Bush, and others making explicit
threats about what Iran “must” do. When details do come
out, U.S. and Israeli military and political officials claim to
be looking only at “surgical” air strikes against known
Iranian nuclear facilities. What is not being publicly answered
is what the U.S. plans to do should Iran retaliate militarily to
such an attack. If such retaliation is an attack on U.S. troops
in Iraq or elsewhere in the region, a move to stall shipping in
the strategic Strait of Hormuz, or an attack against Israel, would
the U.S. then consider an invasion of Iran in response? In this
context it makes less difference whether an initial military strike
against Iran is carried out by the U.S. directly or by Israel—since
Iran might respond militarily against either one regardless of which
air force actually dropped the bombs.
Governments around the world, including powerful European governments, remain skeptical of Washington’s intentions and are especially dubious regarding U.S. intelligence claims following the lies of the Iraq war. But most governments, including those who defied U.S. pressure on Iraq, remain eager to get back into Washington’s good graces. Since they know Iran, unlike Iraq before the invasion, does have a functioning nuclear energy program, many are prepared to put aside Iran’s legal position under the NPT and embrace Washington’s campaign to treat Iran as a global danger.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog (IAEA) continues to call for de-escalation of the rhetoric and reliance on negotiations, and has reported that there is no evidence of nuclear weapons production. But the IAEA has been unwilling to challenge Washington’s campaign directly, emphasizing instead its unhappiness with Iran’s allegedly insufficient transparency. IAEA Director Mohamed el Baradei even stated that “diplomacy has to be backed by pressure and, in extreme cases, by force.” The result is that overall international skepticism regarding the Bush administration’s claims may not be sufficient for winning governmental opposition to rising U.S. threats against Iran.
The IAEA board has now reported the Iran issue to the UN Security Council where closed, nonpublic debate is underway, initially involving only the five permanent members. At the moment it appears unlikely Russia and China would accept a resolution imposing fullscale economic sanctions against Iran. Both are strong trade partners with Iran—China depends on Iran for more than 10 percent of its growing oil needs and Russia’s nuclear industry remains tied to Iran’s nuclear power production.
Instead, it is likely that any call for Security Council sanctions will be in the form of so-called “smart sanctions,” largely limited to freezing assets and denying travel rights to specific members of the Iranian regime and specific Iranian companies. A greater danger may be the language of the resolution. If the U.S. agrees to call only for “smart” sanctions, the quid pro quo from Russia and China may be language that the Security Council decision is taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The significance is that Chapter VII includes the Council’s right to use the military to enforce UN decisions. Even if only the Council may legally make such a determination, the very presence of the words “Chapter VII” in the text may be used by the Bush administration to claim that any future unilateral attack on Iran is somehow “enforcing UN resolutions.”
- Escalating rhetoric, continued losses in Iraq, Bush’s political problems, and an ideologically-driven pursuit of power make the possibility of a U.S. military attack on Iran—however reckless and dangerous its consequences—a frighteningly real possibility.
- Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has not violated the Treaty. While there appear to be unresolved issues regarding full transparency, its nuclear program, including enriching uranium, is perfectly legal under NPT requirements for non-nuclear weapons states.
- Iran does not have nuclear weapons; even if it is trying to build a nuclear weapons program, it could not produce weapons for five to ten years or more.
- There is a dangerous, unmonitored, and provocative nuclear arsenal in the Middle East; it belongs to Israel, not Iran. U.S. hypocrisy and double standards in nuclear policy—accepting Israel’s unacknowledged nuclear arsenal and rewarding India’s nuclear weapons status while threatening war against Iran and denying its own obligations under the NPT—has undermined Washington’s claimed commitment to non-proliferation.
- U.S. officials claim they are not considering an invasion of Iran, but “only” surgical air strikes against known nuclear facilities; they have not explained what their military response will be if Iran retaliates, whether against U.S. troops in Iraq or elsewhere, against U.S. oil tankers in near-by shipping lanes, or against Israel.
- Global suspicions remain regarding U.S. claims because of Washington’s lies leading to the invasion of Iraq, but international conditions regarding Iran are significantly different; many governments appear more willing to consider Iran a “threat.”
- The only solution to the crisis is to move towards a nuclear weapons-free, even weapons of mass destruction-free, zone across the entire Middle East.
In the U.S.-drafted UN Security Council Resolution 687, that ended the 1991 Gulf War and imposed sanctions on Iraq, Article 14 calls for “establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery.” It is time Washington was held accountable to that commitment.
Phyllis Bennis’s new book is Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power (Interlink).
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.