Iran News ...


Let war not be the rite of this spring

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse


The Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said in a statement in front of the House International Relations Committee in early March, "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East we would like to see develop."


She also said that Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons and is the "central banker" for terrorism in the Middle East and a block to democracy. She said that Iran is helping to arrest the growth of democratic and stable governments in the region.


The House International Relations Committee held its meeting on "U. S. Policy & Iran: Next Steps", on March 8th.  Commission Chair, Henry Hyde, set the groundwork by reiterating all the dangers that Iran supposedly poses to the region and to America's interests.


Carrying the baton were, first and always foremost, Tom Lantos, the great champion of the Israeli agendas, followed by the chorus of others of similar affiliations, such as Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, Brad Sherman, Robert Wexler and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The only voice of sanity heard was from the Texas Republican, Ron Paul, who, in a very short comment questioned the validity of concerns and allegations against Iran.


The panel of "experts", quite typical again, included Michael Ledeen of the conservative think tank, AEI, and Robert Joseph, the Under Secretary of State in charge of Arms Control, both staunch Neocons and strong advocates of war against Iran.


In a meeting like that, conclusions were preordained.


To add to this background, the new National Security Strategy for 2006 signed by the President, as well as the President's statements in addressing the war on terror and Iraq policy, point to Iran as the greatest source of concern for the United States. In his speech of March 20, the President again referred to Iran as a great threat to America's friend and ally, Israel, and vowed to protect Israel militarily against Iran, since Iran wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map!


A few weeks before that, Vice Pres Dick Cheney had threatened that Iran's non compliance regarding its nuclear activities would result in "meaningful consequences", to which an Iranian official had responded, Yes, America can cause harm and pain upon Iran; but America is also vulnerable to harm and pain.


This was immediately taken up by the media as a threat by Iran against the US: Iran threatens US with harm and pain.


So, to summarize, we can glean from the American Media and official government statements that:


1- Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons.

2- Iran is the main supporter of terrorism.

3- Iran wants to destroy Israel.

4- Iran plans to control the entire Middle East and the flow of oil, and blackmail the world.


If we accept these premises, then our policies are headed in the right directiond deserve widespread public support. We need, therefore, look no further after listening to Rush Limbaugh on radio and watching Bill O'Reilly on his "Factor" TV program. Instead, we can watch CNN and learn about the new satellite images of Noah's Ark at 15 thousand feet up Mount Ararat, the plight of the cute harp seal pups, and similar brainless or unchallenging nonsense!


However, for the more inquisitive minds, or those with IQs in triple digits, there are grounds for suspicion and skepticism about these allegations.


This should not be viewed as rising in defense of the Iranian regime and its repressive internal policies, economic failures or its failure in combating corruption that is perhaps more rampant than it ever was before the Islamic Revolution of 1978.


Yes, the new Iranian President is a highly religious and superstitious man; but so is our own White House resident. Ahmadinejad is waiting for the Islamic Savior, Mahdi, while George Bush is carrying out his own messianic mission, starting in the Middle East.


Yes, the more modern Iranian women demand freedom from the imposed dress code, even though that dress code has been easing for many years. But, women in Iran enjoy more liberties and civil rights than practically any other Islamic society, especially when compared with Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, our so called moderate or friendly allies!


About freedom of dissent or freedom of expression? In what "friendly" or "moderate" Islamic state in the Middle East are there truly opposition political parties or publications or leaders to voice their views? Yes, the Iranian opposition papers do get shut down and outspoken voices of dissent do often end up in jail; only to be uncensored or released to do it all over again. Does this happen in Egypt or Saudi Arabia?


Yes; there is plenty room or grounds for improvement; but, the American administration's focus on Iran and its alleged threats or challenges seem highly exaggerated if not completely motivated politically. We do not hear similarly harsh criticisms of the much more repressive regimes that are egregiously greater violators of human rights, particularly the right of women, among our favored moderate or friendly Islamic states.


So, let's address the allegations from the top:


1- Is Iran attempting to develop nuclear weapons? The answer is a complicated one:

a- There could be no doubt that Iran does want to access the technology that could lead to the development of nuclear weapons - just in case.

b- The technology that leads to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes can also potentially lead to weapons development.

c- The use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is the right of any nation.

d- Therefore, to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, better policies should be adopted; picking and choosing and showing favoritisms will prove counterproductive.

e- As long as military threats against Iran, including tactical nuclear weapons, are clear and present, who can blame Iran for wanting to develop its deterrent or retaliatory options?

2- Is Iran the central banker for terrorism?

Yes, if the terror is defined by the Israeli regime and the US administration. It should be noted that, outside a few Western allies, the world does not regard Hezbollah or Hamas as terrorist organizations. What's more, Iran is supportive of such groups partly for the same reason that the US and Israel support certain Kurdish groups and the Mojahedin Khalq group that has been listed officially by the State Dept as a terrorist group; as thorns on their antagonist's side.


3- Does Iran aim to destroy Israel?

Well, no more than Israel is aiming to destroy Iran! Which came first; the chicken or the egg? And, whose threats bear greater weight; the Iranian President's off the cuff remarks about Zionist expansionistic agendas that he said should vanish from the face of the earth, remarks that everyone knows were as hollow as an empty drum; or the continuous official threats of a military attack on Iran by an Israel that is armed with dozens of nuclear weapons, or the officially acknowledged possibility of a military strike by the US, using tactical nuclear weapons, and an approved policy of promoting a regime change within Iran?


4-  any analyst would see that Iran is strategically located in the world's richest source of oil and gas, the Persian Gulf. Iran is the largest and most populous country in the region, and enjoys the most advanced industrial infrastructure and potential for growth.  


To think that Iran could somehow be sidelined from the affairs and the future of the oil rich Persian Gulf and the Middle East is childishly naïve; unless Iran is fragmented into incoherent autonomous states, like the former Yugoslavia, something that is clearly under consideration by the UK, US and of course Israel. There is plenty of evidence for that, and the Iranian regime is actively engaged in quashing any signs that might presage such movements.


Iran's preeminence in any future envisaged for the Middle East is unavoidable. Any forced attempt to change this preeminence would surely bring about the prophesied Biblical Armageddon, and no one would benefit from that, other than, perhaps, Gerry Falwell, Pat Robertson or Franklin Graham.


But, is there a danger for the United States or the West, whatever "the West" entails, in Iran's independence or preeminence in the region?


That is the real question that merits attention at this juncture in modern history.


But, reading off the patented Q cards and reciting baseless allegations against Iran in the public domain, or resorting to FOX media network's Bill O'Reilly style deception and misinformation about Iran, will not be conducive to a mutually fruitful resolution of the differences between the US and Iran; if, indeed, reaching a peaceful détente is the objective. AND, THIS IS A BIG "IF".


The Israeli paper, Haaretz, reports that Researchers from Harvard and the University of Chicago have recently published results of their study which concludes that America's foreign policy in the Middle East is counter to America's national interests and is motivated primarily by the country's pro-Israel Lobby. The London Review of Books has published an extensive coverage of the researchers' new book, pointing also to the fact that advocating such conclusions would go against the established mindset in the US.


When the top echelon of both political parties of the US congress try to outdo each other in pledging allegiance to the Israeli cause during Israeli lobby's annual gathering, and as we observed in the recent proceedings of the House International Relations Committee meeting, the power and influence of the Israeli lobby on America's foreign policy in the Middle East becomes undeniable.


But, when we examine the progress, or lack thereof, of the euphemistically called "war on terror" in the Middle East, every one seems to be the loser, expect for one entity, Israel.


Ironically, as the authors of the new book by John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt have stated, Israel's best interests in the long-term are not being served by the Israeli regime's pursuit of short term advantage seeking at everyone else's expense, including its chief benefactor, the United States of America.


Finally; what should the goal of America's policy in the Middle East be? What kind of a Middle East is it that America desires to develop that the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, believes is 180 degrees different than the Middle East that Iran wants to develop?


Ideally speaking, the US would prefer to see a Middle East composed of democratic, prosperous and peaceful nations that freely and happily agree that their best interests are assured through compliance with the dictates of the US.


This would be a hard-sell to the people of the Middle East, regardless of ethnicity, color or religion, although many regimes in charge, such as the Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Turkish and for the time being, the Pakistani regimes owe their very existence to the American military and economic support. But, their houses are quite shaky and their futures unpredictable at best.


For Iran, this does not seem to be an option, as it used to be under the previous regime.


So, is what Iran wants to see as a future Middle East incompatible with the kind of Middle East that would suit America's interests, as Condi Rice implies?


Yes, if each side insists on pursuing the current collision course. But, is it necessarily so? The answer is No.


Will the Great Satan here and the Chief Terrorist Nation over there be able to de-escalate such counterproductive name callings and work toward a mutually satisfactory resolution of their differences? Will the anachronistic Mullahcrocy on that side, and aggressive neoconservatism on this side yield to sanity, reason, mutual accommodation and acknowledgement of each other's rights?


Why not?


Freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not concepts invented in the modern western industrialized societies. These are human aspirations and desires and not exclusive to a select people. We are all rooted in the same primordial ooze, no matter what color, creed or religion we represent. Let it not happen that one culture's aspirations to pursue its entitlements deny another's of its rights.


... Payvand News - 3/22/06 ... --

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