The Imperialist Drumbeats for War on Iran
13 January 2012 (Updated 27-28, 31 January 2012)
The biggest threat to the U.S. and the West is very likely not a nuclear armed Iran; it’s the dumping of the dollar. Ever since the end of World War II, the U.S. and its axis of empire has enacted and maintained a stringent hegemonic policy of controlling the world’s oil reserves, which are rapidly being depleted. The entire fiat debt-based U.S. economy is suspended by the petrol-dollar. Under the latest rubric of imperial expansion and global hegemony, “combating” global terrorism, that is to say terrorism which is not carried out by the U.S. and its allies, state-sponsored or otherwise, has been continually used as a pretext to militarize the world in order to ensure the petrol-dollar remains arbitrarily buoyant. Two-thirds of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves are in the Western Asia region of the Middle East, namely, in order of magnitude, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran.
Before delving further, a brief history lesson by Tom Engelhardt is pertinent.
Summer 1953: The CIA and British intelligence hatch a plot for a coup that overthrows a democratically elected government in Iran intent on nationalizing that country’s oil industry. In its place, they put an autocrat, the young Shah of Iran, and his soon-to-be feared secret police. He runs the country as his repressive fiefdom for a quarter-century, becoming Washington’s “bulwark” in the Persian Gulf -- until overthrown in 1979 by a home-grown revolutionary movement, which ushers in the rule of Ayatollah Khomeini and the mullahs. While Khomeini & Co. were hardly Washington’s men, thanks to that 1953 coup they were, in a sense, its own political offspring. In other words, the fatal decision to overthrow a popular democratic government shaped the Iranian world Washington now loathes, and even then oil was at the bottom of things.
The imperial aggression and terrorism against Iran, namely by the U.S., and certainly its client-state Israel, and perhaps to a much lesser degree the U.K. et al., is disturbing, and further verification, as if it were needed, that the foreign policy of the U.S. is utterly insane and homicidal. Essentially, the West’s ongoing campaign of punishment against Iran, (similar to that of a mafia don punishing anyone stepping out of line), for its suspected nuclear weapons program––which contrary to corporate U.S.-West propaganda is not the only reason for their aggression, nor even the most important reason, for it should be remembered that the U.S. brokered the purchase of a 5-megawatt research reactor for Iran in 1967––has reached dangerous new heights. Indeed overt acts of war have been committed against Iran as of late, coinciding with the ongoing covert war with Iran. To give one example of the self-justified and unmentioned history of U.S. terrorism against Iran, which unsurprisingly receives virtually zero media coverage within the context of current developments, “in [July] 1988, a missile cruiser…the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian Airbus, killing 290 civilians including 66 children.” Moreover, the U.S. fully supported Saddam Hussein’s military aggression of Iran, the Iraq-Iran war which lasted from 1980-1988, resulting in as many as 1.5 million deaths, many, if not most, of course civilians. In fact, the U.S. supported Iran as well, the infamous Reagan Administration’s Iran-Contra ignominy was a principle example of how this dual-politicking worked; in effect playing and pitting both sides against each other as it has done with numerous wars and acute and static campaigns of violence. U.S. support of Iraq did not wane even as Hussein ordered the use of chemical weapons against Iranians, and ultimately segments of his own population, namely the Kurdish population for their resistance to Hussein’s brutal regime. Incidentally, the U.S. arms much of the world, with Israel receiving precedent military and nonmilitary support; this is how “regional stability” is afforded, with the U.S. of course the “sole global superpower” sanctioning a precarious world order of divisional force.
To be sure: “[m]any [leaders of] Arab nations share U.S. fears that Iran is using a civilian atomic energy program to hide weapons development, something Iran denies. Those concerns were amplified in leaked diplomatic cables released by the WikiLeaks web site [in 2010] that revealed deep mistrust of Iran by Sunni Arab leaders of their increasing emboldened Shiite neighbor” the Huffington Post reported. Presumably the author of the article referenced above is referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), namely, Saudi Arabia, Qatar (where U.S. Centcom is based), Oman, Bahrain (where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based), Kuwait (where tens of thousands of U.S. military, private mercenary, and para-mercenary forces are based), and the United Arab Emirates. Pepe Escobar has deemed the aforementioned the “Gulf Counter-revolution Club” because of “their performances during the Arab Spring.” These Gulf monarchies essentially “are a US satrapy.”
Despite the fanatical and radical rhetoric, virtually synonymous to the “smoking gun” lies about Iraq––such as Colin Powell’s infamous “weapons of mass destruction” speech at the UN in February 2003––and also the pretexts to justify destroying Afghanistan, as well as Libya, and the lying liars that vomited them to the world, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and “the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has not yet made the decision to go nuclear.” According to the Los Angeles Times, for the time being, the West, namely the U.S., will for several months tolerate “Iranian oil [to] continue to flow in order to maintain stability in world supplies, but [will] limit sales to fewer and fewer buyers who could demand discounts that would further starve the Iranian treasury.” This calculated move seems aimed to purchase time for European countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain whom import a significant amount of unrefined oil from Iran. “In 2010, oil from Iran accounted for some 5.8 percent of total European imports of crude, with Spain, Italy and Greece the most reliant.” The oil embargo may be preempted by Iran, should the Iranian leadership, namely Ayatollah Ali Khamenei whom is supreme leader, decide to cut off the oil supply to the West. Russia and China are among many nations against the EU oil embargo for understandable reasons. Iran is “dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia for rials and rubles – a similar move to ones already made in its trade with China and Japan.” It would be prudent to note that “the Middle Kingdom [China] and Persia have been doing business for almost two millennia” vis-à-vis the “Silk Road”. Currently, Iran “supplies no less than 15% of China’s oil and natural gas” and “is now more crucial to China, energy-wise, than the House of Saud is to the US, which imports 11% of its oil from Saudi Arabia.”
As the Iranian treasury is “further starved”, so too are the Iranian people. Whether intended or not, “stopping Iran from selling oil to its traditional customers in Europe and Asia…could easily set off a dangerous spike in prices. That could cripple already fragile economies around the globe, alienate key allies who depend on Iranian oil, or even lead to…military confrontation with Iran” the Times reported.
It’s important to understand the harsh consequences of sanctions, in and of themselves quite probably an act of war (or in the case of Iraq, with regard to the regime lasting over a decade leading up to the immoral and criminal March 2003 invasion, genocide), for the people that suffer most under a sanctions regime, are usually and mostly the under-classes, not the ruling elite. The United States’ idea of economic warfare seems to go beyond merely generating social turbulence among the common people; rather, it seems bent on destroying them, their nation’s economy, i.e. the Iranian regime. It would seem, that a nuclear armed Iran is of secondary importance, insofar that if Iran ever became nuclear armed, the potentiality for a U.S. covert or overt “regime change” would severely diminish. “Iran’s currency, the rial, took about a 10 percent hit [on January 2 2012] following President Obama’s signing [on December 31 2011] of a new round of Iran sanctions that, among other things, impose stiff penalties on foreign financial institutions that have dealings with Iran’s central bank.” Moreover, thus far, since September, “the rial has lost more than a third of its value…[and] after [January 2] [was] trading at about 17,000 rials to the US dollar, a record low.” The Washington Post reported that the value of the rial dropped against the value of the dollar on Dec. 20, “amid confusion after Iranian statements that, preempting new sanctions, it had suspended all trade with the United Arab Emirates, a major re-exporting partner. Although the decision was revoked, the rial lost 10 percent of its value based on the report.” CNN has reported that “the price of meat and milk have skyrocketed by as much as 50 percent.” So goes the assault on the Iranian market of republican capital and thus the Iranian people. In response to increased U.S. initiated sanctions, the Iranian “government has launched an aggressive campaign over the last few months emphasizing the need to raise money by cutting subsidies”, with expected increased costs in electricity, water, heating gas, transportation, and so forth, consequential. Basic commodities will become more expensive for the Iranian people, which of course will cause increased suffering.
A top supporter of Senator Mark Kirk’s (R., Ill.) crusade for increased sanctions on Iran, namely on the country’s central bank, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D., CA) has defended sanctions, saying: "Critics also argued that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that." Also in defense of ruining the Iranian economy and people, Rep. Gary Ackerman, (D., NY) stated: "The goal ... is to inflict crippling, unendurable economic pain over there. Iran's banking sector -- especially its central bank -- needs to become the financial equivalent of Chernobyl: radioactive, dangerous and most of all, empty". On April 26, 1986 a catastrophe occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, which directly killed at least 28 people in the aftermath of nuclear fallout. Millions of people in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were exposed to radiation in the fallout from the disaster, reportedly the worst nuclear disaster until Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. Over a hundred thousand people were displaced from their homes which had become contamination zones. Though the actual number will never be known, according to a Greenpeace report, data suggest predictions that there have been “approximately 270,000 cancers and 93,000 fatal cancer cases caused by Chernobyl. The report also concludes that on the basis of demographic data, during the last 15 years, 60,000 people have additionally died in Russia because of the Chernobyl accident, and estimates of the total death toll for the Ukraine and Belarus could reach another 140,000.”
Mohamed ElBaradei, whom was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for over a decade, stated that a military attack on Iran, “will make the Middle East turn into a ball of fire. It is a lot worse than having sanctions.”
Undoubtedly, the U.S., with the support, and influence, of its allies, especially Israel, and their extremely powerful American lobby AIPAC, have been in covert war against Iran, going back years, with increased intensity in recent months. Mother Jones reports a circumstantial series of events: “Seventeen Iranian soldiers were reportedly killed by a blast at an ammunition depot outside Tehran in mid-November ; that facility was run by the nation's Revolutionary Guards, who have been implicated in uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons production. Later that month, a series of explosions leveled a key nuclear site in Isfahan, and anonymous Israeli sources disputed the Iranian explanation that it was an accident. And in December, seven people, including several foreigners, were killed when discarded ammunition reportedly exploded at a scrap-metal plant in Yazd. The blasts—in addition to the [assassinations] of three leading Iranian nuclear scientists in the past two years, [a fourth assassination attempt in which the victim survived] and a devastating cyberattack on Iran's nuclear facilities” are reported examples of the covert war waged on Iran.
Presumably Israel with complicity of, if not direct participation from the United States, was responsible for the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Circumstantially, they are the likely suspects as both “Israel and the United States, [are] the leaders of international opposition to Iran's nuclear program.” While denying involvement in the assassination of Iranian university professor and department head of a uranium enrichment facility, identified as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, the United States and Israel have virtually zero credibility in making such a claim, as numerous “threats to take action should Tehran refuse to cease nuclear development” have been made by Empire U.S.A. and it’s spearhead Israel. According to the Secretary of Empire, Hillary Clinton, and the administration as a whole, the U.S. had no role in the latest killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Forgetting for a moment that this statement came from the government, which the great journalist I. F. Stone informed us, lies, virtually unfailingly––and was made several years after two imperial wars of aggression which displaced millions of people, and killed untold hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of children, women, and men in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Libya, and elsewhere––facially, the credibility of this statement is near nil, considering it came from the same mouth that spouted that Iran would essentially be wacked, that is to say, eliminated, should it use a weapon it doesn’t possess. Barry Sanders enlightens: “As a people, we have grown accustomed to the act of deletion; we use it with ease. Most insidiously, deletion has wormed its way into the language as one of its principle metaphors. Imagine anyone, after the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, saying that he or she would even contemplate eliminating an entire nation––wiping it, as people say in an effort to make the reality more remote, ‘off the map.’ But that’s just what Hillary Clinton said about Iran during the presidential campaign in April of 2008. Responding to a question asking how she would respond as president if Iran were to use nuclear weapons (which it does not have) on Israel (which does have them), she proudly declared that she would ‘totally obliterate them.’ I understand that answer as genocide on the largest scale––the eradication of every man, woman, child, to say nothing of the animals and the flora and fauna––in the nation.”
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while Iran has not ceased “enrichment related activities” in particular declared facilities ––defying the U.S. and its UN, and IAEA initiated mandates––all “15 nuclear facilities and nine locations outside facilities where nuclear material is customarily used (LOFs)” that Iran has declared to the IAEA operate under agency safeguards. It should be recalled, that Iran, being a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which went into effect 5 March 1970, Iran has the treaty right to enrich uranium for the purposes of civilian use, such as generating electricity. Incidentally, the U.S., should it choose to act sane, responsibly, and in accordance with international law, and set a leading example for the rest of the nuclear world, would genuinely, and safely, disarm its nuclear arsenal permanently. Iran’s Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, according to the IAEA, since at least February 2007, “has operated as declared by Iran”. Similarly, the IAEA has concluded that Iran’s Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant, “has operated as declared by Iran”. The IAEA has continuously verified that the construction of the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, which Iran keeps the agency routinely abreast of, “is being constructed according to the latest [data] provided by Iran” and as of “27 April 2011 did not indicate the presence of enriched uranium.”
The IAEA report further acknowledges that while “Iran has not suspended work on all heavy water related projects, including the construction of the heavy water moderated research reactor” as the Board of Governors and the Security Council stipulated, “the Iran Nuclear Research Reactor (IR-40 Reactor)…is subject to Agency safeguards.” Additionally, again, although Iran has not been obliged “to suspend all enrichment related activities and heavy water related projects”, the “number of activities at [Uranium Conversion Facility] and the Fuel Manufacturing Plant (FMP) at Esfahan…are under Agency safeguards.” That Iran has been, and is, in the practice of nuclear-related activities for civilian purposes is not in question; though that fact seems to get trampled under the screams from hawkish imperial fanatics who must love the thought of a new round of orgies of death and destruction, and the largely centric and pacified elements which time and again get swept up in the fancy of attention garnering and fear mongering to partake the feast.
What of possible military implications? “[T]he Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement”. The Institute for Science and International Security has reported that Iran would not have a nuclear weapon in 2012, even if it were pursuing such a weapon; “US officials say Iran's leaders have not made [a] decision to build a nuclear weapon.” The ISIS report was released on the heels of manufactured “predictions” of fear-mongering and war-trumpeting, all with abhorrent implications; one blog headline on the Guardian reads: ‘Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012.’
It would seem that diplomatically speaking, if there was a true interest in real diplomacy, the safeguards and monitoring should continue apace, as well the talks which the U.S.-Israel does not seem interested in, namely because they might have to holster their imperial gun, ceasing to point it at the head of Iran. Horrifically, there seems to be a similar theme being played out than had been devised with regard to Iraq. Harsh sanctions were placed on the Iraqi regime for no less than a decade, perhaps resulting in the deaths of upwards of 500,000 Iraqi children and over 1 million Iraqis; nuclear weapons inspectors were doing their work, until they were pulled out. Lies written by speech-writers were vomited by Bush, Cheney, Rice, and company, the corporate mass-media continued to vomit the lies, until other people on the lower hierarchies were vomiting the lies onto and past each other. Probably well over 1 million Iraqis have died since March 2003, most of them children and women, and elder men.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon war connivers “have concluded that their largest conventional bomb isn't yet capable of destroying Iran's most heavily fortified underground facilities, and are stepping up efforts to make it more powerful”. Apparently, “the 30,000-pound ‘bunker-buster’ bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, [which] was specifically designed to take out the hardened fortifications built by Iran and North Korea” isn’t enough. But than, like corporations, the entire empire, profit must be made, and internalized, at any and all expenses which are externalized. The imperial war complex will never be content with the machines of death it has produced and unleashed on a largely defenseless world. I express “largely defenseless world”, because ever since the end of World War I, most people that have been destroyed because of the killers and gears of war, have unequivocally been civilians, children, women, and men.
The insight of Pepe Escobar is prudent, and so he is quoted at length below:
Follow the money. Leave aside, for the moment, the new sanctions on Iran’s central bank that will go into effect months from now, ignore Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz (especially unlikely given that it’s the main way Iran gets its own oil to market), and perhaps one key reason the crisis in the Persian Gulf is mounting involves this move to torpedo the petrodollar as the all-purpose currency of exchange.
It’s been spearheaded by Iran and it’s bound to translate into an anxious Washington, facing down not only a regional power, but its major strategic competitors China and Russia. No wonder all those carriers are [being deployed to] the Persian Gulf…though it’s the strangest of showdowns a case of military power being deployed against economic power.
Incidentally, the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Carl Vinson, flanked by British and French ships, “moved through the Strait of Hormuz without incident”, effectively conducting a counter-threat deemed “maritime security operations”.
In this context, it’s worth remembering that in September 2000 Saddam Hussein abandoned the petrodollar as the currency of payment for Iraq’s oil, and moved to the euro. In March 2003, Iraq was invaded and the inevitable regime change occurred. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi proposed a gold dinar both as Africa’s common currency and as the currency of payment for his country’s energy resources. Another intervention and another regime change followed.
The first sentence of National Security Directive 26, dated October 2, 1989 is enlightening, albeit accepted as an imperative of U.S. policy which should not be mentioned, let alone questioned. “Access [or control] to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states in the area are vital to U.S. national security.” We live in an empire with a car culture. With some 5% of the world’s population, we consume some 25% of the worlds “resources”, and are responsible for, conservatively, some 20% of the world’s pollution. “The United States remains committed to defend its vital interests in the region, if necessary and appropriate through the use of U.S. military force, against the Soviet Union or any other regional power with interests inimical to our own.”
Iran may be an Islamic Republic, an oppressive government which suppresses women, movements for free speech, and so on, but U.S. intervention will inevitably make everything worse. Besides, a reactionary, oppressive, theocracy, is fine by the U.S., provided that regime does the U.S.’s bidding. There is virtually nil inclination to be persuaded by real or more likely imagined U.S. munificence. Moreover, U.S.-Israel doctrine has virtually zero credibility to morality, considering the “open air prison” that is the Gaza Strip; considering the brutal regime under which Palestinians exist generally, including in the West Bank.
As perhaps somewhat of an aside, the anti-Semite claims that have been touted so loosely and frequently against dissidents of U.S.-Israeli policy, are vacuously unfounded. It needs to be mentioned that a Semite is a member of a Semitic-speaking people, for instance people of Southwest Asia, which includes Arab and Jewish peoples. There have been hundreds of years of anti-Semitism, which paved the way for Hitler and the Nazi Holocaust. In his book God and His Demons, Michael Parenti describes the anti-Semitism of Christianity in some detail, which goes back many hundreds of years. Parenti mentions Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ which was understandably charged as being anti-Semitic. Relying on Scripture, Parenti explains: “No doubt, most of those who plotted against Jesus were Jewish, but so were those who supported him; so were his apostles who went forth and spread his word, and, for that matter, so was Jesus himself. Indeed, except for the Roman occupiers, virtually everyone in the neighborhood was Jewish. To say therefore that ‘the Jews killed Jesus’ makes no more sense––or maybe less––than to say that ‘the Jews loved and followed Jesus.’” Interestingly, Parenti elucidates how deeply rooted anti-Semitism was, and remains, in Christianity. “Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Aquinas were not obscure friars. They were leading theologians, influential church fathers, all eventually canonized as saints whose teachings bestowed a respectability on Jew hating that carried into modern times.” Furthermore, in the earlier centuries of Christianity, there was “the existence of closely related communities of Jews and Christians living together harmoniously. Well into the Dark Ages (500-1000 AD), church authorities and state officials issued an unending stream of decrees denouncing” those close social interactions, which typically the commoners paid little heed to. While there is much more to express; one final note on anti-Semitism offered by Parenti. “Anti-Semitism was used repeatedly by ruling circles to distract the populace from their real grievances about land, taxes, and tithes. Better the people should storm the synagogue than wreak their fury upon the manor, the castle, the monastery, or the cathedral wherein resided their real exploiters, their fellow Christians.” And so it dreadfully goes.
Perhaps United States citizens, Israeli citizens, Iranian citizens, and all peoples of the world, have more in common with each other, than we do with our governments, than we do with the minority of opulent elites we dangerously idolize. In the real world, the future of Iran is up to the Iranian people. In the imperial world of turning the living into the dead, “Iran happens to be right in the middle [of the Greater Middle East and the Pacific], in Southwest Asia, with all that oil heading toward an energy-hungry modern Middle Kingdom over waters guarded by the US Navy.” Is it up to the imperial citizens of the U.S., the U.K., etc., to prevent yet another immoral and criminal attack? The imperial public habitually permitted, and continues to permit, the killing fields of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and so forth. If the responsibility is solely rested upon their shoulders, one fears that our widespread collective complicity, apathy, and ignorance will ensure a future of yet more boundless horrors, more tens, hundreds of thousands, millions of deaths due to endless war and the scourges thereof. It would seem however, resistance to war, even if only by a minority, is not futile, indeed, it is overwrought, in and with imperatives.