Recently by Michael S. Rozeff: When Might War Between the U.S. and Iran Occur?
Tom Ridge is a Republican and a notable U.S. political figure.
Tom Ridge wants the U.S. to overturn or subvert the Iranian regime from within. See his op-ed here. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors are once again inspecting Iran in a 3-day visit right now, but Ridge wants the U.S. to act “unilaterally and decisively.” He wants the U.S. openly to support (and fund? and train? and make promises to?) anti-regime groups. He wants the U.S. to declare that it’s out for “regime change” in Iran.
He means it when he uses the word “unilateral”, for he speaks of the “impotence” of the U.N. resolutions and the West’s sanctions.
Is subversion an act of war? There is no book of international law that answers this question. Some people say yes, some say no. It clearly depends on the nature of the subversive acts, which can range from protests to assassinations and sabotage. But no matter how it is classified, U.S. support of subversion and open declaration of a goal of regime change is or would be hostile. It is open interference and intervention into Iran’s political processes by the U.S. government. How would the U.S. react if Iran supported groups inside America who wanted drastic regime change here?
And what does regime change mean? Iran has had numerous elections, not all squeaky clean, but then America’s cities, states, and even national elections have never been free from being stolen or paid for either. Iran already has its form of democracy. It already has means of changing its leaders, directions, and policies. So what does regime change mean?
Regime change must mean more than a change of leadership to Tom Ridge. If regime change means changing the political process itself or Iran’s form of government, then he is calling for revolution. And revolution is what he’s calling for, as his reference to the Arab Spring suggests: “In this era of the Arab Spring it is time to support regime change in Iran, from within”. And even if he means steps short of revolution, though it’s hard to imagine what they might be, he’s still calling for rank interference into another nation’s political affairs. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would turn over in their graves if they heard this.
The U.N. has time and again declared itself against domestic interference of this kind and other kinds in no uncertain terms, that is, in the strongest and clearest of language. See here, for example. The linked declaration argues that such interference endangers peace and security:
“Conscious of the fact that such policies endanger the political independence of States, freedom of peoples and permanent sovereignty over their natural resources, adversely affecting thereby the maintenance of international peace and security…”
The U.N. is an imperfect organization that does and declares many objectionable things, but that does not mean it should be ignored when it comes up with sensible and sound ideas, and non-interference in the domestic politics of other nations is a sound idea.
Ridge claims or thinks that supporting regime change sends a message to the mullahs. Sure, it does — a hostile message. But they already have received this message ever since Mossadegh was overthrown and right down to the present. They are not fools. Ridge’s proposal is actually another hostile act along the road to war. It is an act that forecloses diplomacy, an act away from diplomacy. The message he is sending, however, is not to the mullahs. It’s to the U.S. leadership, which he wants to support revolution in Iran openly. No doubt, it is already acting covertly within Iran.
Ridge’s op-ed has been published at the very time that the UN inspectors are in Iran and Iran has again promised openness. His op-ed is designed and timed to blunt the news of that visit. Ridge’s op-ed is an act of warmongering, even though it never mentions war and proposes regime change instead. This is clear by its content, its timing, and by this statement: “Clearly, diplomatic engagement has failed to halt Tehran's nuclear drive. Sanctions have been insufficient.”
Ridge has nominated himself and the U.S. as the unilateral judge, jury, and executioner of the current regime, disregarding the political processes within Iran, disregarding the U.N. procedures to monitor and deal with signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and disregarding the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT) itself. The U.S. shall choose the enforcement techniques and methods as it pleases, after arriving at a judgment as it pleases, according to Ridge and other Iran warmongers.
He does this because Tehran is not kowtowing to his demand that they halt what he calls “their nuclear drive”. Iran has committed no nuclear crime, not even that of polluting the atmosphere with repeated nuclear tests. I believe that it has made some effort to understand how to build a nuclear bomb and conducted some experiments along that path. I think it has perhaps experimented or perhaps investigated how to cause an implosion that creates a critical mass. I don’t think that it has gone much beyond what any good physicists and engineers could discover from open sources about building an atomic bomb.
I think that the nuclear fears over Iran are way overblown and, furthermore, that the nuclear issue is not even the central factor in the conflict between the U.S. and Iran. It accompanies that central factor but is not itself the central factor. Even if Iran had no nuclear understanding or was not developing nuclear power for making electricity, the U.S. would still be on Iran’s case. The central factor is that Iran is making itself independent and wants to be an independent power, out of the orbit and domination of the U.S. and also Russia. The differences between the U.S. and Iran over Israel and Hezbollah are symptomatic of that central factor. When the Israel lobby or the oil lobby in the U.S. exert their influence and succeed in getting U.S. policy-makers to act on their behalf, those factors wax in importance. However, U.S. foreign policy toward Iran would still be aimed at dominating Iran, even were those factors absent.
Iran’s desire for independence manifests in many ways, such as wanting nuclear power for electricity, so that it can sell more oil on the world market. It has an indigenous military industry and wants to build it up. It has its own ideas about its neighbors. It has its own ideas about using the dollar or not in exchange for oil.
Another example is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. The U.S. pressured India into withdrawing its participation in the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline. Pakistan was pressured too but refused. Iran has already completed its portion. Instead, the U.S. supports an alternative liquified gas pipeline by an alternative consortium from Tajikistan through Afghanistan. The latter is not close to reality. It requires a political stability in Afghanistan that does not exist.
Now this pipeline is a peaceful and progressive development approved by democratic governments and the U.S. stands in the way. The U.S. talk about freedom and democracy is a smokescreen. It wants to control these countries and control the business opportunities. The U.S. fears political rivals. It fears strength in foreign quarters that it does not control. The U.S. wants satellites in one way or another. Its central reason for wanting to control progress, competition, markets, and business rivalries is to control foreign strength and independence. It wants to keep foreign nations weaker than itself. The U.S. wants to keep Iran weak. This is the behavior of an empire.
Tom Ridge is advising the current emperor (Obama) what to do in order to weaken Iran and control it. That is the purpose of his op-ed piece. Several reasons that he mentions therein are absolutely peripheral and trivial. One of them is mobs chanting “Death to America” in the funeral of the assassinated nuclear scientist. What does he expect, loving praise for that deed? Is he not calling for the death of the existing Iranian regime, if not their heads? Doesn’t he know enough not to place much stock in the expression of such emotions surrounding such a touchy event? Or is Ridge himself trying to exploit American emotions?
Another reason he gives is the case of a man sentenced to death by an Iranian court for being a CIA spy. (His appeal is pending.) Whether true or not, Ridge is grasping at another emotional straw to use such an event as justification for advocating a U.S.-backed revolutionary movement inside Iran.
Ridge lists uranium enrichment as a big concern, but that is allowable under the non-proliferation treaty. That treaty has several passages pertinent to this. One says “all Parties to the Treaty are entitled to participate in the fullest possible exchange of scientific information for, and to contribute alone or in co-operation with other States to, the further development of the applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes…” Among other things that signatories have agreed not to do is “not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices…” Iran hasn’t acquired any nuclear devices, and it hasn’t been accused of doing so. It hasn’t manufactured any nuclear devices either.
Section 3 of Article III of the NPT explicitly allows peaceful uses of nuclear energy and production of nuclear material:
“The safeguards required by this Article shall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with Article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the Parties or international co-operation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, including the international exchange of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of this Article and the principle of safeguarding set forth in the Preamble of the Treaty.”
Iran has allowed inspectors into Iran in the past. It continues to allow U.N. inspectors into Iran. They are there at this moment. Iran has a right under the treaty to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It has not withdrawn from the treaty, which is possible under Article X of that treaty with a three months notice and under extraordinary circumstances that it regards as jeopardizing its national interests. The pressures exerted by the West on Iran have not led it to withdraw from the treaty, which is exactly what the U.S. would like to see it do, as that would provide a pretext for open warfare.
Ridge wants to go further, and further leads in only one direction: war. Ridge essentially wants to goad Iran into war, or else goad it into looking bad by suppressing internal dissidents supported by the U.S., thereby providing yet another excuse for making war on Iran.
There is no reason why the U.S. should be concerned with Iran as a matter of American well-being or security. American well-being and security are furthered by neutral, peaceful and fair relations with all nations. American well-being is not furthered by expansionism over the globe and foreign policies that require huge military expenditures. What does this do but create near-perpetual wars? What does the empire do but drain the productive capacity of Americans? What does it do but lead to attacks on continental America? What does it do but lead to suppression of liberty at home? What does it do but further socialist and fascist policies domestically? What does it do but strengthen the hand of the establishment’s control over us? What does it do but exacerbate our own already large problems?
The reason that the U.S. is concerned over Iran and cruising for an all-out fight is that the empire demands weakness among all those around it that might conceivably challenge its dominance. It demands compliant satellites wherever it can create them or force them into compliance. Is this the historic role of Americans? Is this what America is about? Is it about political domination of the world? Is it about empire? Is it about suppressing progress and liberty in the aim of keeping other nations weak? Is it about putting into practice a psychopathology of power?
What does empire mean at home? Is America about stagnation, high unemployment, a constantly rising price level, high taxes, TSA inspections, food stamps for millions, huge bailouts, and boundless rules and regulations? Is it about straitjackets placed on industry after industry? Is it about so-called “sacrifices” that cost Americans dearly with no commensurate gains? Is it about worthless educations? Is it about loss of industries? Is it about loss of competitiveness? It is about turning into a fifth-rate nation?
Or is America about peace, freedom, and progress? Is America about leaving other peoples alone who are doing us no harm? Is it about opportunity? Is it about getting ahead? Is it about creativity, invention, and individual flourishing? Is it about renouncing tyranny, including tyranny authored by Americans that is visited upon Americans here at home or upon peoples overseas?
Is not America about rights known and respected? And if this is so, then it is time long overdue to stop violating rights in foreign nations. It is time to leave politics in other lands to those who live there. It is time to stop attempting to secure our own rights at the expense of the rights of others. It is time to stop interfering and intervening in other lands under the rhetorical smokescreens of freedom, justice, security or democracy but really with the central aim of control of foreign governments or reshaping foreign political processes to the liking of the men and women of empire who own and operate our foreign policies and who have adopted aims and methods that deviate from normal aspirations, that are dysfunctional to Americans at large, and that are dangerous to our well-being.
Grandiose, vague, and utopian ideals placed into practice by means that contradict them, such as violence, violating rights, and warfare have to be viewed as manifestations of illogical, irrational and deranged minds. In short, it is time to reject the rule of psychopaths in our very own American establishment, whom too many Americans ordinarily regard with an untoward and altogether excessive degree of respect and acceptance. It is time to terminate the national psychopathic nightmare that we are experiencing.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.