Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What is the Benefit in Creating Yet Another Enemy?

Several news sources attracted my attention this morning because they dealt with the problems the United States is creating with Iran.

The big question I want to raise is what possible benefit can the United States hope to gain for itself by threatening and antagonizing Iran? The Americans have singlehandedly (except for Israel) done everything short of attacking Iran physically -- arbitrarily labeling Iran part of an “Axis of Evil”, pressing for harsh sanctions because of embryonic nuclear power projects, sending extra war vessels to the seas of the area, leaking threats of proposed nuclear attacks on Iran, interfering with Iranian financial transactions, and now kidnapping Iranian “operatives” (apparently diplomats and negotiators invited by the Iraq government)in the supposedly sovereign nation of Iraq.

The first excuse for making Iran into an enemy was its persistence in developing civilian nuclear power, as it has a perfect right to do under all international agreements and customs.

Why is the United States so frightened of Iranian nuclear power when the nations of Europe are not, as shown by the following news item? We don’t have to consult a world map to know that Europe is a lot closer to Iran than North America, and yet:

"NYT, WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies, officials on both sides say. The resistance threatens to open a new rift between Europe and the United States over Iran."

RESULT NUMBER ONE of the bellicose policies of the U.S. against Iran is alienation of Europe, to which the Bush maladministration still looks for “allies” in addition to pet poodle Britain.

"The United States is the first to be blamed for the rise of Iranian influence in the Middle East," said Khaled al-Dakhil, a Saudi writer and academic. "There is one thing important about the ascendance of Iran here. It does not reflect a real change in Iranian capabilities, economic or political. It's more a reflection of the failures on the part of the U.S. and its Arab allies in the region."

“Vice President Cheney, in a ‘Newsweek’ interview published Sunday, said the deployment of a second U.S. aircraft carrier task force to the Persian Gulf was intended to signal to the region that the United States is 'working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat.'"

What Iranian threat? Threat to what? Iran has never by act or deed declared itself a threat to the United States except in response to U.S. threats. Any threat comes from the United States.

Further question: How does sending warships into peaceful seas signal that the U.S. is working with friends and allies and international organizations? It doesn't take friends, allies, or a U.N. resolution to move aircraft carriers.

“Sen. Carl Levin said that the [new] head of U.S. central command would need to provide ‘straightforward independent advice’ on the most effective course of action for deterring Iran’s attempts to 'acquire nuclear weapons and to dominate its neighbors.' . . . The fact that Admiral Fallon, with his extensive naval aviation experience, was picked [as new head of Central Command] showed the increasing focus of the Bush administration on putting pressure on Iran. . . . Mr. Levin also warned that Syria poses a challenge to security in the region.”

Note: Among the nations mentioned, Israel is the only one in recent history which occupies the territory of other countries, has bombed and invaded a neighboring nation, routinely kills members of a subject population, has a history of territorial expansion, and possesses a nuclear arsenal with which it openly threatens to attack other nations, in particular Iran.

“Iran has found itself strengthened almost by default, first with the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan to Iran's east, which ousted the Taliban rulers against whom it almost went to war in the 1990s, and then to its west, with the American ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, against whom it fought an eight-year war in the 1980s.”

RESULT NUMBER TWO: The U.S. itself has increased Iranian influence and continues to do so by continuing its mad policies in Iraq and forcing Iran to assert and defend itself against U.S. and Israeli threats.

Against expert domestic advice, Bush & Co. have refused even diplomatic initiatives toward Iran and Syria, much less practical cooperation in stabilizing Iraq. As I recall, both Syria and Iran have made offers of assistance to damp down the civil war and help strengthen the Iraqi government. Iran has offered financial assistance for reconstruction. Of course Iran and Syria keep their own national interests in mind, as all national leaderships are obligated to do, but so what? The question is whether those states could be helpful to creating stability in Iraq and letting the Americans get out without having to admit that they were defeated. Instead of seeking cooperation and help from countries which share borders with a land at war, the U.S. has rejected, and threatened them. . . for no explicable reason relating to North American interests.

RESULT NUMBER THREE: The U.S. has deliberately cut off its nose to spite its face by refusing diplomatic overtures from Iran and Syria, and offers or attempts to help the U.S.-created Iraqi government. By alienating Iran the U.S. has increased its own difficulties in Iraq and the Middle East generally.

The next layer of problems arise from what Iran would do in response to an actual American or Israeli attack.

From today’s news wires: “Iranian officials -- emboldened but uneasy over nuclear-armed neighbors in Israel and Pakistan and a U.S. military presence in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan -- have warned that they would respond to an American attack on Iran's facilities.”

"’Iran's supporters are widespread -- they're in Iraq, they're in Afghanistan, they're everywhere. And you know, the American soldiers in the Middle East are hostages of Iran, in the situation where a war is imposed on it. They're literally in the hands of the Iranians,’ said Najaf Ali Mirzai, a former Iranian diplomat in Beirut who heads the Civilization Center for Iranian-Arab Studies. ‘The Iranians can target them wherever, and Patriot missiles aren't going to defend them and neither is anything else. Iran would suffer [from a U.S. attack on Iran] but America would suffer more.’"

Among Iranian responses to aggression could be cutting the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which 20 percent of the world's oil passes. "There is a policy the Iranians have and they've repeated it often -- the Gulf is either safe for everyone or no one."

If attacked by the U.S. or Israel, Iran would retaliate in Iraq, Afghanistan or Lebanon, and with attacks on U.S. targets in the Gulf. I personally believe that the Iranian army might roll right across Iraq, inflicting great damage on the American forces already overextended there.

Furthermore, Hizbullah, the Lebanese party created long ago for defense against Israeli aggression against Lebanon, might also attack U.S. facilities. “Even now, U.S. intel officials stress that they don't believe Hizbullah will actually hit U.S. interests unless Washington strikes first—against either the movement or its key patron, Tehran.”

RESULT NUMBER FOUR: The U.S. would suffer great damage in many places and in many ways if it attacked Iran.

I cannot think of one reason why making Iran a foe rather than a friend serves the interests of the people of Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco, or the American troops in Iraq.

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