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Bush and neocons beating war drums for attack on Iran

Linda S. Heard / Online Journal | April 5 2006

The lunatics have taken over the asylum. Even as most rational people realize that the invasion of Iraq was oiled on the back of fake pretexts and downright lies, the US and its allies are beating their war drums against Iran, using exactly the same pretexts.

The really frightening component is that so many of us are willing to be conned all over again just three years on.

A few days ago, I watched the latest “Doha Debate” on BBC World, moderated by Tim Sebastian. The motion was “Iran poses the greatest threat to security in the region," supported by more than 36 percent of the audience.

It’s surely mind-boggling that so many consider Iran the greatest threat when it is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and there is absolutely no proof that it is developing nuclear weapons.

Conversely, Israel isn’t, though it has at least 200 nuclear warheads pointing at Middle Eastern states, nuclear-armed submarines patrolling the Gulf, and has actually threatened to bomb Iranian nuclear sites, just as it did Iraq’s Osirak reactor in June 1981.

One member of the audience, who said he was an American, told the panel that he considered the US posed the greatest threat to the region -- a comment which received hearty applause.

It’s hard to believe that just five years ago, Iran was quietly going about its business, opening up, liberalizing and sending positive signals to the international community.

Those were the day when CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, award-winning journalist and Washington insider, took us on a sentimental journey to her childhood home and introduced us to some of her more liberal friends.

During a Feb. 28, 2000, interview, Amanpour said: “I believe the United States has been very aware of the changes taking place ever since the election of (Mohammed) Khatami, nearly three years ago.

“And I believe that Khatami’s interview with me -- the only interview he’s given -- when he extended an olive branch to the United States, was a first step. I believe it is now up to the United States to take a fresh approach to Iran and to come up with significant gestures . . . Whenever I go to Iran, I am overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people telling me that they, too, wish to have renewed ties with the United States”

Around the same time, the BBC’s John Simpson was also reported that young Iranians were excited at the prospect of change.

Just a year later, the US duly came up with a significant gesture.

But instead of praising Iran for its newly enlightened path, it was included in George Bush’s “Axis of Evil." This, more than anything, proves to me that the Bush administration had no intention of cementing friendly ties with Iran due to a long-held agenda. Since, just like Iraq, Iran can do no right.

However, unlike Iraq, which attempted to appease the Security Council by reopening its doors to weapons inspectors in 2002, Iran is flexing its military muscle in the expectation of US or Israeli pre-emptive strikes.

It’s becoming clear that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad isn’t prepared to dance a diplomatic tango, as did Saddam Hussein. And, frankly, who can blame him when he looks at the state of Iran’s neighbor, for whom “democracy” has become a dirty, or more accurately, a bloody word.

The Iranian government realizes that appeasement won’t necessarily lead to peace and security. It has gone on the offensive apparently recruiting 40,000 human “time bombs” to be used in case of conflict, carrying out massive military exercises in the Gulf and testing long-range near-stealth missiles as well as a high-speed torpedo.

Rather less in our face is Western saber rattling. While Condoleezza Rice and her UK counterpart, Jack Straw, are traveling around urging a diplomatic solution, the Daily Telegraph’s defense correspondent Sean Rayment provides an inkling of what’s going on behind closed doors.

“The (British) government is to hold secret talks with defense chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran,” writes Rayment. “It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is ‘inevitable’ if Tehran’s leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment program."

This follows on from a report in the Aug. 1, 2005, issue of “The American Conservative," beginning: “In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration that brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran.”

The report says a plan drawn up by the Pentagon, on instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney, includes a large-air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical weapons. “Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing -- that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack -- but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.”

It is believed that small tactical nuclear weapons might be used -- of the type able to destroy facilities deep underground.

Lately, I’ve discussed the possibility of a US strike on Iran with a broad range of experts, Middle East watchers and intellectuals. Almost without exception, they believe such aggression won’t happen, pointing to the lives and treasure the US has already squandered in Iraq and the difficulties in selling a new war to the American public that is becoming ever more jaundiced.

Some observers contend the US is merely engaged in a complex game of poker and when push comes to shove would not risk endangering the world’s oil market and pushing up prices to unimaginable heights. Are they right?

If any other US administration were in the White House, I might feel the same way. But when you have a born-again president, who believes his wars are Creator-inspired, advised by a bunch of “Israel first” neocon ideologues, and others whose pockets are bulging from war-related defense or reconstruction contracts, then the answer to “will they, or won’t they?” is, sadly, anyone’s guess.

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