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Endgame in Iran

Mike Whitney

8iran_b.jpg

May 31, 2006

"The US is updating contingency plans for a strike to cripple Iranís atomic weapon program if international diplomacy failsÖ.The plan calls for a rolling, five-day bombing campaign against 400 key targets, including 24 nuclear-related sites, 14 military airfields and radar installations, and Revolutionary Guard headquarters." Ian Bruce, "US spells out plan to bomb Iran", The UK Herald

The Bush administration has no intention of peacefully resolving the nuclear dispute with Iran. They have consistently blocked all attempts by Iran to negotiate in good faith or to establish diplomatic channels for discussion. The current offer by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to talk directly with Iran is less a departure from the normal USí belligerence than it is a means of enlisting support from Russia and China for future punitive action. In one particularly ominous comment, Rice said that the negotiations would give Iran "one last excuse" to resist American demands. This tells us that US diplomacy is a just a smokescreen for the eventual hostilities.

It took the United States months of behind the scenes wrangling to persuade the UN Security Council to even consider Iranís "alleged" nuclear weapons programs. Iran tried to prevent this by offering to allow surprise inspections on any facility suspected of covert nuclear activity. Iran is not required to do this under the terms of the NPT, but volunteered as a way of building confidence among the member states. The Bush administration, which made this a vital part of earlier demands, rejected the offer outright saying that Iranís concession would not be enough to end the standoff.

A similar incident took place just weeks earlier when Iran was finalizing the details of an agreement with Russia to enrich uranium outside of the country. Iran figured that this would allay US fears that it was secretively developing nuclear weapons.

Again, the Bush administration rejected this "good will" gesture as insufficient, while Condi Rice scoffed at the idea as a trick. These are just latest examples of Iranís efforts to find a peaceful way to placate Washington. The administration is not interested in concessions or settlements. It is simply building the case for punitive action or war.

Despite growing pressure from the administration, the Security Council has not agreed on a resolution condemning Iranís nuclear programs. So far, Iran has cooperated fully with the IAEA and thereís simply no evidence of non compliance. It took an enormous effort by the Bush administration to push a feeble "non-binding presidential statement" through the Council. The statement neither endorses economic sanctions nor military action. It is a toothless declaration that is utterly meaningless except for its use in fueling the propaganda campaign against the Islamic regime.

The administration has hit a road-block at the Security Council. Their appeal for decisive action is going nowhere.

Last week, Secretary of State Rice said, "Security guarantees for Iran were off the table". Her announcement reveals the true depth of Americaís inflexibility and the unlikelihood of a peaceful solution. If the United States refuses to sign a "non aggression pact", then what incentive is there for Iran to abandon its nuclear programs? After all, Iran has the "inalienable right" to enrich uranium under the NPT. Shouldnít that at least be a bargaining chip for negotiations with the US?

The administrationís hardnosed approach precludes any future compromise. Their stubbornness only makes sense if the ultimate objective is war, which appears to be where Washington is headed.

If we compare the present situation to the lead up to the war in Iraq, we can assume that the war plans are already underway. The maneuverings at the UN are just a facade to conceal the movement of military hardware and troops. Once the logistical work is done, the administration will create a pretext for attacking Iran just as it did with Iraq. Rice's globe-trotting diplomacy means nothing; it's Cheney and Rumsfeld who will decide when the time is right.

The administration sees non-aggression treaties as a sign of weakness unworthy of a superpower. As stated in its National Security Strategy (NSS) the United States reserves the right to attack any nation that may challenge its national interests or its global supremacy. Iran is the next domino to establishing permanent American hegemony. Controlling the oil resources of the Caspian Basin and removing regional rivals to Israel remain the fundamental goals of Bushís global resource war. This makes a military confrontation with Iran inevitable. It is absurd to expect the Bush administration will seriously negotiate when their final purpose is regime change.

In a recent article in Counterpunch, "Embedded Journalism and the Disinformation Campaign for War on Iran", Gary Leupp notes that the same cadres of neocons who misled the nation into war with Iraq have been reassembled in the Pentagon to repeat their success against Iran. Under the rubric of "The Office of Iranian Affairs"; Abram Shulsky, Elizabeth Cheney and other far-right hawks fill out a roster of pro-war advocates. Their task is to prepare the country for war by generating fear and suspicion of Iranís imaginary weapons programs. The group's influence is probably similar to that of Judith Miller who was allowed to spout her bogus claims about Iraqi WMD from headlines across the country. In this case, however, the intention is to omit the critical facts about Iranís activities rather than simply inventing false allegations.

For example, the media invariably excludes the important details about Iranís programs that would allow Americanís to form an educated opinion. These are:

1 The IAEA has consistently said that there is "no evidence" that Iran has a nuclear weapons program or is diverting nuclear material from its research.

2 Iran has been in full compliance with all its treaty obligations for 3 years although it has undergone the most intensive inspection regime in the history of the IAEA.

3 The UN Security Council reaffirmed Iranís "inalienable right" to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and did not order Iran to suspend nuclear enrichment as was falsely reported in the news.

4 The United States has violated its obligations under the NPT by developing a new regime of "bunker busting" low yield nuclear weapons.

5 That the United States is violating the UN Charter by unilaterally threatening a sovereign nation which is not in breach of any UN resolution.

These are the fundamental facts that the American people need to know to make an informed judgment about the present confrontation. Instead, the media simply reiterates the specious claims of government officials without regard to either international law (NPT) or the findings of the UN watchdog agency, the IAEA. We must assume that the media is working with high-ranking officials in The Office of Iranian Affairs to produce news that is so obviously skewed in favor of the administration. After all, their entire raison díetre is to create the rationale for moving the country to war.

A growing number of American elites are uneasy with the precipitous decline of American prestige as well as the reckless approach to foreign policy. Henry Kissinger has joined Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chuck Hegel and other CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) luminaries to pressure the Bush administration to open a direct dialogue with Iran. Until today, Bush showed no sign that he would do so. Despite the many setbacks in Iraq, the "war president" still appears to be entirely under the spell of VP Dick Cheney and Sec-Def Donald Rumsfeld. Regrettably, thereís no indication that Rumsfeld or Cheney are the least bit affected by the widening divisions in elite-opinion. They are in complete control of the policy-making apparatus and should be expected to execute their war plan regardless of its unpopularity or its long-term consequences.

In a recent article by Gareth Porter "Iran Proposal to US offered Peace with Israel", the author reports that in 2003 Iran not only offered "to accept peace with Israel and cut off material assistance to Palestinian armed groups" but made a "two-page proposal for a broad US-Iran agreement covering all the issues facing the two countries". The secret document that was provided to IPS proves that Iran is neither committed to the destruction of Israel nor to the continued sponsorship of terrorist groups.

. "What the Iranians wanted in return," Porter says, " was an end to U.S. hostility and recognition of Iran as a legitimate power in the region" They want to see a "halt in hostile US behavior and rectification of status of Iran in the US" as well as "recognition of Iran's legitimate security interests in the region with according defense capacity." (ISP)

Respect and security; the same demands that one expects from any reasonable sovereign nation.

"In 2003, Bush refused to allow any response to the Iranian offer to negotiate an agreement that would have accepted the existence of Israel." (IPS)

This implies that the decision to attack Iran must have been made in the earliest years of the Bush administration. (Perhaps, even before Bush took office as indicated in the Project for the New American Century)

Will there be a war with Iran?

The UK Herald reported two weeks ago ("US spells out plan to bomb Iran", Ian Bruce) that "the US is updating contingency plans for a strike to cripple Iranís atomic weapon program if international diplomacy failsÖ.The plan calls for a rolling, five-day bombing campaign against 400 key targets, including 24 nuclear-related sites, 14 military airfields and radar installations, and Revolutionary Guard headquarters."

If there is an invasion it will probably be limited to securing the region of Khuzestan which is adjacent to Iraqís southern flank and contains 90% of Iranís oil wealth as well as much of its natural gas. This could be achieved with as little as 15-20,000 combat troops, plus a backup of Special Forces. The rest could be accomplished by aerial bombardments of military installations, radar, artillery placements, missile silos, nuclear sites and Republican Guard facilities. Needless to say, there are not "400 nuclear targets" in Iran. The Herald article implies that the Pentagon is anticipating a "Serbia-type" attack which disrupts major industry, oil production and civilian infrastructure. This strategy has been described in great detail by author John Pilger in his article "Calling the Kosovo Humanitarians to Account" Pilger states:

"NATO's civilian targets included public transport, hospitals, schools, museums, churches. ..bombing bridges on Sunday afternoons and market places."

Citing the goal of opening the region to a "free-market economy", Pilger notes how NATO intentionally targeted state owned businesses to bring Kosovo into the global economic paradigm and remove any stain of its socialist past. Pilger says:

"In the bombing campaign that followed, it was state-owned companies, rather than military sites, that were targeted. NATO's destruction of only 14 Yugoslav army tanks compares with its bombing of 372 centers of industry, including the Zastava car factory, leaving hundreds of thousands jobless. Not one foreign or privately owned factory was bombed."

We expect that the same basic model will be applied to Iran, although the assault will be papered-over by the "state-media franchise" (the "free press") Iran has no nuclear weapons programs and Washington knows it. It is being prepared for "economic reform" and "structural readjustment" so that it can be included into the prevailing system of predatory capital and satisfy the westís ravenous appetite for cheap oil and new markets.

US carrier groups are already moving to the Gulf and the finishing touches are being put on the battle plans. Lt General Sam Gardiner expects that an attack will come as early as June 2006. That seems like a reasonable prediction.


:: Article nr. 23630 sent on 01-jun-2006 00:12 ECT

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