Iran: A War Is Coming

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The United
States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran. For
the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of "buying time"
for its disaster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a "surge"
of American troops in Iraq, George W Bush identified Iran as his
real target. "We will interrupt the flow of support [to the
insurgency in Iraq] from Iran and Syria," he said. "And
we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry
and training to our enemies in Iraq."

"Networks"
means Iran. "There is solid evidence," said a State Department
spokesman on 24 January, "that Iranian agents are involved
in these networks and that they are working with individuals and
groups in Iraq and are being sent there by the Iranian government."
Like Bush’s and Blair’s claim that they had irrefutable evidence
that Saddam Hussein was deploying weapons of mass destruction, the
"evidence" lacks all credibility. Iran has a natural affinity
with the Shia majority of Iraq, and has been implacably opposed
to al-Qaeda, condemning the 9/11 attacks and supporting the United
States in Afghanistan. Syria has done the same. Investigations by
the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others,
including British military officials, have concluded that Iran is
not engaged in the cross-border supply of weapons. General Peter
Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said no such
evidence exists.

As the American
disaster in Iraq deepens and domestic and foreign opposition grows,
"neocon" fanatics such as Vice-President Cheney believe
their opportunity to control Iran’s oil will pass unless they act
no later than the spring. For public consumption, there are potent
myths. In concert with Israel and Washington’s Zionist and fundamentalist
Christian lobbies, the Bushites say their "strategy" is
to end Iran’s nuclear threat. In fact, Iran possesses not a single
nuclear weapon nor has it ever threatened to build one; the CIA
estimates that, even given the political will, Iran is incapable
of building a nuclear weapon before 2017, at the earliest.

Unlike Israel
and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory
and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations
— until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the
behest of Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy
Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear program
to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three
years its inspectors have been able to "go anywhere and see
anything." They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan
and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February.
The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei says that an attack on
Iran will have "catastrophic consequences" and only encourage
the regime to become a nuclear power.

Unlike its
two nemeses, the US and Israel, Iran has attacked no other countries.
It last went to war in 1980 when invaded by Saddam Hussein, who
was backed and equipped by the US, which supplied chemical and biological
weapons produced at a factory in Maryland. Unlike Israel, the world’s
fifth military power with thermonuclear weapons aimed at Middle-East
targets, an unmatched record of defying UN resolutions and the enforcer
of the world’s longest illegal occupation, Iran has a history of
obeying international law and occupies no territory other than its
own.

The "threat"
from Iran is entirely manufactured, aided and abetted by familiar,
compliant media language that refers to Iran’s "nuclear ambitions,"
just as the vocabulary of Saddam’s nonexistent WMD arsenal became
common usage. Accompanying this is a demonizing that has become
standard practice. As Edward Herman has pointed out, President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, "has done yeoman service in facilitating this";
yet a close examination of his notorious remark about Israel in
October 2005 reveals its distortion. According to Juan Cole, American
professor of Modern Middle History, and other Farsi language analysts,
Ahmadinejad did not call for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
He said, "The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the
page of time." This, says Cole, "does not imply military
action or killing anyone at all." Ahmadinejad compared the
demise of the Jerusalem regime to the dissolution of the Soviet
Union. The Iranian regime is repressive, but its power is diffuse
and exercised by the mullahs, with whom Ahmadinejad is often at
odds. An attack would surely unite them.

The one piece
of "solid evidence" is the threat posed by the United
States. An American naval buildup in the eastern Mediterranean has
begun. This is almost certainly part of what the Pentagon calls
CONPLAN 8022, which is the aerial bombing of Iran. In 2004, National
Security Presidential Directive 35, entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Authorization, was issued. It is classified, of course, but the
presumption has long been that NSPD 35 authorized the stockpiling
and deployment of "tactical" nuclear weapons in the Middle
East. This does not mean Bush will use them against Iran, but for
the first time since the most dangerous years of the cold war, the
use of what were then called "limited" nuclear weapons
is being openly discussed in Washington. What they are debating
is the prospect of other Hiroshimas and of radioactive fallout across
the Middle East and Central Asia. Seymour Hersh disclosed in the
New Yorker last year that American bombers "have been flying
simulated nuclear weapons delivery missions . . . since last summer."

The well-informed
Arab Times in Kuwait says Bush will attack Iran before the
end of April. One of Russia’s most senior military strategists,
General Leonid Ivashov says the US will use nuclear munitions delivered
by Cruise missiles launched in the Mediterranean. "The war
in Iraq," he wrote on 24 January, "was just one element
in a series of steps in the process of regional destabilization.
It was only a phase in getting closer to dealing with Iran and other
countries. [When the attack on Iran begins] Israel is sure to come
under Iranian missile strikes. Posing as victims, the Israelis will
suffer some tolerable damage and then an outraged US will destabilize
Iran finally, making it look like a noble mission of retribution
. . . Public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a
growing anti-Iranian hysteria, leaks, disinformation etcetera .
. . It remains unclear whether the US Congress is going to authorize
the war."

Asked about
a US Senate resolution disapproving of the "surge" of
US troops to Iraq, Vice-president Cheney said, "It won’t stop
us." Last November, a majority of the American electorate voted
for the Democratic Party to control Congress and stop the war in
Iraq. Apart from insipid speeches of "disapproval," this
has not happened and is unlikely to happen. Influential Democrats,
such as the new leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi,
and would-be presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards
have disported themselves before the Israeli lobby. Edwards is regarded
in his party as a "liberal." He was one of a high-level
American contingent at a recent Israeli conference in Herzilya,
where he spoke about "an unprecedented threat to the world
and Israel (sic). At the top of these threats is Iran . . . All
options are on the table to ensure that Iran will never get a nuclear
weapon." Hillary Clinton has said, "US policy must be
unequivocal . . . We have to keep all options on the table."
Pelosi and Howard Dean, another liberal, have distinguished themselves
by attacking former President Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the Camp
David agreement between Israel and Egypt and has had the gall to
write a truthful book accusing Israel of becoming an "apartheid
state." Pelosi said, "Carter does not speak for the Democratic
Party." She is right, alas.

In Britain,
Downing Street has been presented with a document entitled "Answering
the Charges" by Professor Abbas Edalal of Imperial College,
London, on behalf of others seeking to expose the disinformation
on Iran. Blair remains silent. Apart from the usual honorable exceptions,
Parliament remains shamefully silent.

Can this really
be happening again, less than four years after the invasion of Iraq
which has left some 650,000 people dead? I wrote virtually this
same article early in 2003; for Iran now read Iraq then. And is
it not remarkable that North Korea has not been attacked? North
Korea has nuclear weapons. That is the message, loud and clear,
for the Iranians.

In numerous
surveys, such as that conducted this month by BBC World Service,
"we," the majority of humanity, have made clear our revulsion
for Bush and his vassals. As for Blair, the man is now politically
and morally naked for all to see. So who speaks out, apart from
Professor Edalal and his colleagues? Privileged journalists, scholars
and artists, writers and thespians who sometimes speak about "freedom
of speech" are as silent as a dark West End theater. What are
they waiting for? The declaration of another thousand-year Reich,
or a mushroom cloud in the Middle East, or both?

February
3, 2007

John
Pilger
was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been
a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London,
he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s
highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his
work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His new book, Tell
Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs
, is
published by Jonathan Cape in June. This article was first published
in the New Statesman.

©
John Pilger 2007

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Pilger Archives

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