A Case Against War with Iran
There has been a gross misrepresentation of facts to persuade the people of the United States to start another war. Since 9/11, militarists in the United States have represented one Muslim country after another as major threats to US security. In the past, they supported attacks on Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and Afghanistan, as well as endorsing Israel’s attacks on Syria and Lebanon — nine Muslim countries – and also Gaza.
This time, the pro-war voices are exploiting a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report to assert categorically that Iran is building a nuclear weapon that allegedly poses a major threat to the US. But the truth is that the IAEA makes regular inspection visits to Iran’s nuclear facilities and has TV cameras monitoring those sites around the clock. While there is reason to question some of Iran’s actions, the situation and the alleged threat are not as clear-cut as some maintain.
Mohamed El Baradei, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former IAEA director-general, said recently, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.” And he is not alone: All 16 US. intelligence agencies concluded “with high confidence” in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program as of 2003. They reviewed the evidence again in 2009-10 and concluded that there was still no solid evidence that the program had been in any way revived.
We are seeing a replay of the “Iraq WMD threat,” which used false information and sustained innuendo to lead the United States into a war that did not need to be fought. As Philip Zelikow, Executive Secretary of the 9/11 Commission said, “The ‘real threat’ from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The unstated threat was the threat against Israel.”
Since 2005, the United States military and intelligence community have engaged in sustained efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. The Pentagon has studied the Iranian nuclear target and has concluded that it would be futile to attempt to eliminate that program– which is dispersed and mostly underground – through aerial bombing. Defense Secretary Panetta and other experts have stated that even a sustained air attack would only delay any weapons program for a year or two at most. This is a view shared by leading Israelis. Former Mossad head Meir Dagan said that an air force strike against Iran’s nuclear installations would be “a stupid thing,” a view endorsed in principle by two other past Mossad chiefs, Danny Yatom and Ephraim Halevy. Dagan added his opinion that “Any strike against [the civilian program] is an illegal act
according to international law.”
Dagan pointed out another reality: bombing Iran would guarantee that the Iranians would make the decision to go nuclear for self-defense and would certainly lead them to retaliate against Israel through Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, which has tens of thousands of Grad-type rockets and hundreds of Scuds and other long-range missiles. If American politicians are really concerned about the well-being of Israel, they would be doing everything in their power to stop a new war rather than start one.
The United States is already spending as much as the rest of the world combined on National Security and $100 billion per year on a Long War in Afghanistan. The anti-Iran lobby has been beating the drums for an attack on the Persians for years, led by people like Joe Lieberman and John McCain, who have never seen a war that they did not like.
Another Long War on top of Afghanistan is not in America’s or Israel’s interests, whatever some of Israel’s apologists claim, and Iran has never posed any direct threat against Tel Aviv. The pundits who claim that Ahmadinejad said he would “wipe Israel off the map” have it wrong. Genuine Persian language specialists have pointed out that the original statement in Farsi actually said that Israel would collapse: “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time” is the accurate rendition. Wishful thinking perhaps, but far from a threat. The fact is that Iran has not attacked any of its neighbors since the seventeenth century, when it went to war with the Ottoman Turks. Nor does Iran threaten the United States in any way.
President Barack Obama promised to open a dialogue to resolve problems with the Iranians, but that pledge has been an empty one. In reality, the US has spoken to Iranian government officials only once in the past three years and that encounter lasted less than forty five minutes. Since that time, offers to resolve differences through diplomacy have come several times from the Iranians and have been ignored by both official Washington and the mainstream media. Not talking means that war is the only way to obtain a resolution, in this case a very bad outcome for both sides. Washington still has time to make diplomacy and sanctions work, to persuade Russia and China to make joint cause in an attempt to convince all parties to back down from the developing crisis, but it requires serious intent and good faith negotiations to do so.
James Madison once wrote that “Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded…War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. …No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
We Americans are currently winding down what President Obama once labeled a “dumb war;” so we should not undertake another dumb war against a country almost three times larger than Iraq that would set off a major regional war and create generations of terrorist jihadis. Such a war, contrary to what some argue, would not be good for the United States, Iran or even for Israel and it would make no one safer.