By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse
Ever since the establishment of the Islamic revolutionary regime in Iran thirty-two years ago, and especially since the harsh rhetoric spewed by George W. Bush during his State of the Union address in 2002, in which he portrayed the Islamic Republic as a member of the Axis of Evil, "containing" Iran and expending efforts toward a regime change by any means short of a direct military engagement with Iran have been the officially expressed policy of the Unites States.
This is not to say that the threats of a preemptive military attack against Iran's infrastructure, military installations and nuclear operations' facilities by the United States or the Israeli regime have not been flooding the mass media on a regular basis, creating anxieties that a new war front might be opened, this time against a country three times the size of Iraq and much better equipped to defend itself. The policy of "Dual Containment" whose architect, Martin Indyk, a staunch Zionist, became Bill Clinton's Assistant Secretary of State on Middle East affairs, was carried over after Iraq's demise as the main policy toward Iran during the presidency of George W. Bush, and remains basically in effect to this day.
In the meantime, various overt and covert acts of interference, sabotage, assassinations and outright terrorism against Iran, aimed at damaging and crippling the government in the hopes of creating instability and encouraging a public uprising against the regime have been ongoing. Dissident groups within the country, mostly the members of the former upper crust, the intelligentsia, and the urban youth, were targeted for support and encouragement to rise up against the regime, demanding democratic reforms that, if successful, would limit the clerical power and dominance and bring about a more pliable and less confrontational political atmosphere in Iran.
Promoting democratic reforms, freedoms of expression and other grand and noble liberal ideals by a foreign superpower that regarded the Islamic Republic of Iran as a threat to regional and even international peace and stability was rightly viewed by the Iranians with great suspicion. America's open support for the so-called Green Movement, pro-democracy activists and proponents of the "velvet revolution", after the disputed 2009 presidential elections in Iran, was also interpreted as America's ploy to plant a Trojan Horse inside Iran in order to exploit the situation. This seemingly brash and thoughtless support for the anti-regime movements did prove counterproductive by tainting an arguably meaningful opposition movement and discrediting it as a tool of foreign, anti-Iran, propaganda campaign. But was this really a "thoughtless" act, or was it actually intended to damage the image of the reform movement?
In spite of all the propaganda rhetoric, there is realistically no sign that the increasingly harsh unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the United States against the Islamic Republic would inflict the death blow to the Iranian regime, this time either.
In short, none of the measures adopted by the US administration to effect a meaningful movement toward a regime change or a softening of the defiant stance in Iran have been successful. But all those efforts have indeed resulted in a very predictable series of developments, most of which appear clearly to have been counterproductive for the objectives officially expressed by the US administration. Again, does the United States, or Israel for that matter, truly want to change Iran's defiant and supposedly threatening image? Think about it!
Now, here is the question: Is it reasonable to consider the policy makers at the highest levels of the Administration as a bunch of incompetent fools who are incapable of formulating foreign policy decisions that could be fruitful? I am not talking about the sleazy bunch of lobby-selected members of Congress who mole their way into the various strategic committees of the House or Senate. After all, what can one say about a body where nutcases like Rick Santorum could find a seat in the US Senate, or where seditious slaves of the Israeli lobby are found at the House or the Senate committees dealing with issues in any way connected with Israel's strategic interests. These lawmakers sit and pass resolutions that serve the interests of their master, even if in direct conflict with the interests of their constituents who had sheepishly voted them into office.
Fortunately, it is the Executive Branch that is responsible for implementing these resolutions, and the Chief Executive does have a degree of leverage in exercising that authority. It is here, at the executive level, that foreign policy decisions are finally crafted and executed. Here is where, I believe, people in charge do know, or must know, what to do and have a clear view of the consequences of what is to be done. The Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of State, the President himself, and sometimes even the Vice President, do make mistakes and miscalculate, but they are by no means imbeciles or maniacs. They do understand what the realities are, even though, due to various political constraints, they might not be capable of implementing the policies that they believe to be in the best interests of the nation. Why is it so? Read on:
The American democracy, as imperfect as it is, has given the citizens the right and the ability to choose their leaders, albeit in a confusing fog of propaganda, misinformation and disinformation when it comes to anything outside of the nation's geographical boundaries. As we have seen during the current Republican campaigns, all the competitors, with the exception of Ron Paul, have gone out of their way to kiss up to Israel and show their readiness, even anxiousness, to start bombing Iran if elected President. The intellectually immature zealot, Rick Santorum, honestly believes what he says; he might even believe that Earth is flat and that dinosaurs walked hand-in-hand with man in peace and harmony before they were corrupted by the Moslems and became carnivores! But the likes of the chief charlatan, Newt Gingrich, or the shifty eyed, Mitt Romney, must know better but feel they have to appeal to the mindset of the gullible lot they address during their campaigns to get their votes. I just wonder what Gingrich or Romney say in private, or when not connected to a mike, about the "danger" Iran might pose to United States, or their true feelings about Israel. We have had a glimpse of Bill Clinton and Barak Obama's views about the Israeli leadership! Gingrich, in public and on the microphone addressing his followers at the end of the Iowa caucuses stated that the United States must stand by and support Israel for "moral" reasons. This coming from a man whose moral and ethical pedestal he stands on is shorter than a micron, is indeed a joke!
The Republican lot has been accusing the Administration of not being hard enough on Iran. The Congress passed a new resolution that the President signed into law on December 31st. This National Defense Authorization Act also deals with the imposition of a radical new sanction on Iran's Central Bank, which under internationally recognized norms, is tantamount to a declaration of war!
"Sanctions targeting the Iranian Central Bank
Main article: U.S. sanctions against Iran
As part of the ongoing dispute over Iranian uranium enrichment, section 1045 of the NDAA imposes unilateral sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, effectively blocking Iranian oil exports to countries which do business with the United States. The new sanctions impose penalties against entities -- including corporations and foreign central banks -- which engage in transactions with the Iranian central bank. Sanctions on transactions unrelated to petroleum take effect 60 days after the bill is signed into law, while sanctions on transactions related to petroleum take effect a minimum of six months after the bill's signing. The bill grants the U.S. President authority to grant waivers in cases in which petroleum purchasers are unable, due to supply or cost, to significantly reduce their purchases of Iranian oil, or in which American national security is threatened by implementation of the sanctions."
It is the section I have underlined and highlighted that is the bone of contention between the Republican presidential hopefuls and President Obama.
In the domain of public opinion, Obama must also walk the tightrope. He must appear as tough and unbending on Iran as his Republican opponents, while making sure that all the deceptive and the agenda-driven prefabricated rhetoric doesn't really get out of hand and lead to a calamity.
The people in the know in the Administration do not want a war with Iran. Neither do the decision makers in the Israeli administration, in spite of what the thug, Netanyahu, says publicly to appease his own people. The Iranian government is certainly not looking forward to a military entanglement with anybody, Israel or the United States, which would doubtless result in its total devstation.
On his part, the Iranian "Supreme Leader", Ayatollah Khamaneh'i, is also playing a moderating role between the extreme right hardliners and the reform minded moderates. He also has to publicly appear uncompromisingly tough against the United States and its threats on one side, and the secularist moderates who look toward a rapprochement with the United States and who might potentially capitulate prematurely, on the other. He also has a "public mindset" to cope with. Both the Obama administration and the Iranian leadership have been playing their roles rather well, considering the circumstances where an unwanted accident could ignite an unstoppable hellfire.
The Iranian administration, in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary, does not officially blame the United States, Great Britain or the Israelis for the acts of terrorism and sabotage and assassinations in Iran in order to keep the public's understandable rage and demands for reprisals under control. In the United States, scenarios like the Iranian used car dealer from Texas and his FBI mole in a Mexican drug cartel supposedly planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington are also kept from gaining undue attention in the public domain for the same reasons.
Now the bottom line; this is what I believe:
A. Regarding Iran:
- Suspicions and accusations against Iran regarding its nuclear projects and the desire for nuclear weapons development are not based on factual evidence, but hyped to serve other purposes.
- Even if Iran were to acquire the “ultimate” weapon, it could only serve as a defensive tool or a deterrent against a massively armed enemy.
- It would not serve Iran’s interests in any conceivable way to initiate an attack, with or without atomic weapons, against Israel or any other US ally anywhere in the world.
- Western threats, sanctions and antagonisms have had the effect of bolstering the Iranian regime’s resolve to remain steadfastly defiant, have legitimized the hardliners’ position and weakened the efforts by the reformists to make any headway toward an opening to the West.
B. Regarding Israel:
- Regardless of all the rhetoric coming out of the Likud regime, Israeli administration is fully aware that Iran is not an “existential threat” or likely to initiate an attack against the Jewish state.
- Under increasing pressure by the international community to accommodate the Palestinians’ legitimate demands for statehood and to resolve their grievances, etc., Israel needs and fully depends on America’s diplomatic support and veto power in order to avoid making any concessions or compromises unless in its own terms. Israel also depends on America’s financial and military support to retain its unchallenged status as the region’s superpower.
- In order to enjoy America’s unquestioned and unequivocal support for its policies and agendas, Israel has managed to portray itself as America’s true friend and ally under the threats of annihilation by evil neighbors and their chief supporters, Syria, and the monster Iran!
- This portrayal has been aimed principally at the American people through the endorsement of America’s mass media and the entertainment industry, as well as through the influence and money of the Zionist groups and lobbies that affect political campaigns and their outcome. In other words, as long as the American public remains convinced that this “friend and ally”, this imaginary beacon of democracy and Western values, is in danger of annihilation by the evil “mullahs”, the Congress has no problem passing any resolution to accommodate Israel’s wishes and demands, with the Executive Branch forced to oblige or face public condemnation. Even the supposedly anti-FOX, liberal-leaning MSNBC morning anchor, Joe Scarborough, has to casually and very as-a-matter-of-factly refer to Iran as the real threat to the world, as he did the morning of January 6th in order to keep his job on the network. I have no doubt that this former congressman and John Wayne imitator knows better! (Regarding liberal versus conservative voices in the American media, let's not kid ourselves; there ain't no such animal. Only rags like the Nation or Mother Jones and a few other obscure publications are perhaps the remaining faint voices of true liberalism, and they have to print their few pages on recycled toilet paper due to a lack of public support.)
C. Regarding the United States:
- It would take politically motivated charlatans, evangelical zealots or supporters of Zionism here to not acknowledge that our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan were ill advised and total failures as far as America’s interests were involved. For those who want to follow the steps that finally led to those military operations, please check out the following websites: A Clean Break, and PNAC, and here.
- America’s public mindset is the product of the affluence and honest, non-skeptical or innocently “believing”, atmosphere created through the successes of the consumer-based capitalist economy that has only recently faced any serious challenges. Money or capital rules the system and the system has been working elegantly, making it unnecessary and in fact almost unpatriotic to question those perceived moral, ethical, and democratic values in which average Americans pride themselves.
- It is exactly this lack of skepticism in a democracy that allows for propagandists with their own ulterior motives to pollute the public domain with their agenda driven misinformation, which when unchallenged for a time, becomes the accepted narratives and conventional wisdom.
- Yet, America as a true global superpower does have strategic interests in vital areas of the world, not least among them the Middle East with its vast energy resources, which deserve realistic appraisal and handling. Even though America’s imports of oil from that region amounts to about 10% of its total crude imports, having control over the production, pricing and allocation of the Middle East crude plays an important role in America’s management of the world’s economic balance of power.
- To preserve America’s strategic interests, the Administration must engage in a delicate balancing act to do what must be done and, at the same time, appear to not be violating what the American public perceives as what should be done! Against all odds, in my opinion at least, Obama has succeeded thus far. As I have mentioned many times before, creative, positive hypocrisy is the indispensible tool of statecraft.
We have seen how the deadlines for a preemptive attack on Iran by the United States or Israel have repeatedly been breached and the goal posts moved further ahead almost on a regular basis. We have seen how “crippling” sanctions imposed on the Iranian economy and international trade have proven rather less than crippling. And the game goes on and on.
In the meantime, the threat of a potentially catastrophic and counterproductive war with Iran looms greater and greater on a near horizon. Organizations dedicated to opposing these looming threats have devoted their websites to campaigning against a war with Iran. Some are clearly opposed to Iran’s current regime but feel that a war against the Iranian nation is not the right thing to do and, instead, better results could be achieved through more severe targeted sanctions and support for democratic movements and human rights within Iran. Some, on the other hand, do not view the Iranian regime as the evil depicted by the Western media, and blame the US media and the Administration for hyping Iran’s so-called nuclear ambitions and threats Iran poses to the world as pretexts for a military attack upon Iran. Still others attempt to defuse the threats of a military attack against the Islamic Republic by publishing a comprehensive array of articles on the subject on a daily basis. And there are anti-war websites that oppose any military adventurism against Iran or elsewhere for pragmatic, as well as ideological, reasons.
What is shared by all these organizations, however, is the belief that there exists, in actual fact, some concerted effort, indigenous, as well as through Israel’s influence, to drag the United States into a war against the Islamic Republic, or at least allow the Israeli’s to take on that job with America’s blessing and support.
Here is why I beg to differ!
1- As we have already witnessed many times in the past decades, whenever it was rightly or wrongly perceived by the United States that attacking another country was necessary, the mission was carried out without hesitation or regard to international laws or global opinions.
2- If the United States truly felt that attacking Iran would be beneficial for America's strategic interests in the Middle East, there have always been enough concocted pretexts to justify such an attack with the blessings of the American public. All polls show that a majority of Americans do regard Iran as an evil enemy and would not object to a preemptive attack if such action were presented in the context of national defense.
3- If the United States truly believed that imposing economic sanctions and even embargos and blockades against the Islamic Republic would bring about any desired results, nothing could have stopped the Administration to go all the way, rather than implement half-ass measures that only have the appearance of seriousness, with enough escape holes for Iran to wade through.
4- If the Israelis truly believed that attacking Iran would safeguard them from the "wrath of the Ayatollahs", they would also have done that, knowing full well that, whether the United States approved of such action or not, they would have the full support of America's military and diplomatic power.
5- Finally, when mere threats of war are accomplishing the objectives, whether desirable or by default, it would be plain stupid to engage in an actual costly war.
To further elaborate on this last point, I invite the readers to visit my website and read the last few articles. I also elaborated on this issue in the "Conclusions" section of my recent book, IRAN, Back in Context.
Kam Zarrabi is the
author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs,
particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at: intellectualdiscourse.com
No, there is NOT going to be a war on Iran and there never was a serious consideration by the Administration to attack Iran preemptively. And here is where I have always disagreed with my anti-war colleagues who have so feverishly warned us about the efforts underway to drag us into such a war.
I have also disagreed with the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and whistle blower, Seymour Hersh, every time he warned that, based on his solid information, the attack on Iran was imminent and would take place before such and such a date. He, as many others, seem to have finally tired of making such predictions.
That is not to say that an outbreak of war would be impossible, but it is highly unlikely, and could only occur by accident or ignited by some rogue elements in the region. This is why a hotline connecting the militaries of Iran, Israel and the United States is a vital necessity and, I believe, such a hotline does exist despite the denials by all sides.
Other recent articles by Kam Zarrabi:
Iran Back In Context
Author: Kambiz Zarrabi
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Xlibris, Corp. (October 14, 2011)
Kamran Zarrabi has just completed writing his memoirs of his 2011 trip to Iran. The manuscript called "Iran, Back in Context" also contains the accounts of several interviews with a broad cross section of people, photographs, and details of travels to remote areas of the country.
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