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By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse


Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may be a lot of things, some not so complementary; but one thing she is not, she is definitely not stupid. This, of course, is true of the rest of them, as well.

The case in point is her comments about "obliterating" Iran should the Iranians attack Israel. Senator Obama criticized his rival Democrat for using harsh terms like "obliterate" to describe America's reaction in such a hypothetical event. Obama was confronted with the same question later on network TV in order to compare his reaction to an Iranian assault on Israel with what Senator Clinton had stated.

His response was much more "measured" but, as was totally expected, just as committed to the defense of Israel as was Mrs. Clinton's. Any attack on "America's best friend and ally" would be regarded as an attack on the United States, according to Mr. Obama.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying that America "has been at Israel's side for all of 60 years, it will be for the next 60 years, 100 years and 1,000 years."

The response to questions regarding America's commitment to the support for Israel is not the issue here. Of course America must stand by a friend and ally; that is what international alliances are for. What was then the true hidden motive behind the question asked Hillary Clinton, and the reason she responded the way she did.

She, as well as Mr. Obama, John McCain, Admiral Mullen and other high profile political figures in the Administration, knows fully well that Iran is not in any position to launch a nuclear attack on anybody. They all know that even if Iran did manage to acquire nuclear weapons, any attack on Israel would mean its own destruction with or without America's help.

Kam Zarrabi is the author of
In Zarathushtra's Shadow

The point to ponder is why such a loaded question was ever asked in the first place. Are we supposed to assume that such a proposition has some reasonable likelihood of actually happening? Why didn't some visionary journalist ask the candidates what they would do as the president if China or Russia fired nuclear tipped missiles at the United States? There is a lot more likelihood of that happening than Iran launching a suicidal attack on nuclear armed Israel.

And why didn't that brilliant visionary ask Mrs. Clinton how she would respond if Iran launched an atomic warhead on American soil? Wouldn't that have been the same as attacking Israel, and with the same degree of probability - meaning zero?

There are some observers who say that most of these propaganda routines are designed to create a degree of ambiguity in the minds of our adversaries in order to keep them guessing as to our intentions and resolve. The recently revealed Presidential Finding that authorizes unprecedented, broad, covert operations by the United States against Iran, and funded in a closed session of the US Senate, is supposed to scare the hell out of the Iranian regime and keep them preoccupied by wondering where, when and how troubles might break out.

Similarly, the episode of the bathtub sized Iranian speedboats "harassing" the American aircraft carriers near the Straits of Hormuz, where Admiral Fallon personally prevented the gunners from blowing the little troublemakers out of the waters, was supposed to send a message to the Iranians that the situation might be different the next time around!

Now the allegations are escalating once again that Iranian arms are responsible for killing Americans - clearly an act of war! - and that Iranian-backed Hezbollah and even Hamas are training Iraqi insurgents inside Iran. This is also a potential rationale to attack Iran and is clearly intended to put the Iranians on notice.

Well, such strategies didn't work in Vietnam, haven't scared North Korea, and are not likely to change anything inside Iran, either.

Some analysts, on the other hand, are of the opinion that this kind of saber rattling is designed to pacify the paranoid Israelis and keep them from taking matters in their own hands by attacking Iran preemptively before Iran has a chance of acquiring the dreaded nuclear weapons. America's aggressive posturing against Iran is supposed to give the Israelis the assurances they need that Iran will never be able to pose an existential threat to Israel.

It would rank as sophomoric incompetence if this charade had been devised to disorient the Iranian government or to pacify the Israeli regime. But in the heat of campaigning for one of the most consequential elections in years, pandering to public opinion to gain votes might make resorting to foolish scenarios and outright deception a fair game.

American public's perception of Iran as the chief troublemaker and threat against America's interests has been successfully honed through well orchestrated and methodical efforts by groups and lobbies whose interests and those of the United States, contrary to how they pretend, are not the same.

The portrayal of Iran as a regional demon intent on acquiring the ultimate weapon in order to gain unchallenged dominance and to dictate its will upon the rest of the Middle East helps not just Israel, but also the "moderate" compliant, and shaky, Arab regimes that clearly lack the support of their own populations. Israel is thus guaranteed unquestioned and, for practical purposes, unlimited economic and military support from the United States, its very lifeline. The subordinate Arab rulers, meanwhile, can enjoy full protection under the umbrella of American power and presence, and enjoy their wealth, longevity or both at the expense of their disenfranchised populations and in spite of all their human rights violations.

It is, therefore, clear that when Hillary Clinton threatens to "obliterate" Iran in response to an Iranian attack upon Israel, no matter how utterly stupid the scenario might be, she is simply pandering to the public opinion in order to get elected. After all, not only does showing animosity and anger against Iran not carry any adverse consequences, it actually helps show the so-called national security concerns and qualifications of the candidate among the bovine public.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain all know fully well that without the support of the Israeli lobby and the Jewish money and influence in the news and entertainment media, getting elected to any position in this country is not in the books. She, like the others, would say anything to boost her position in her battle for the presidency of the United States. She knows fully well that she will never face the decision to "obliterate" Iran should Iran nuke Israel. So what harm could that statement do since the situation will never arise?

I am not rising in defense of Hillary Clinton here. As expected of any politician, she does and says anything that might push her ahead of her competition. Most campaign statements and promises go the way of another campaigner's pledge of "Read my lips; no new taxes"; - remember?

The game is simply to gain the necessary lift by blowing much hot air and making promises that, even if you honestly intend to keep, may have little chance of being fulfilled.
Finally, regarding Hillary's threats of "obliterating" Iran, all I can say is, Much ado about nothing!

Kam Zarrabi

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He is available to conduct lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues, at formal and informal gatherings or academic centers anywhere in the country. To make the necessary arrangements, please contact him at More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:


... Payvand News - 05/06/08 ... --

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