By Jorge Hirsch
-- -- History repeats itself, but always with new
twists. We are back to the good old days when a
Declaration of War preceded the start of a war.
occurred on March 16th, 2006. Reversing the old
order, we are now in the
"Sitzkrieg", to be followed shortly by an aerial
"Blitzkrieg" in the coming days.
In the old days, Congress declared war, and
directed the Executive to take action. In the
the Executive declared war last March 16th, then
Congress will pass
H.R. 282, "To hold the current regime in Iran
accountable for its threatening behavior and to
support a transition to democracy in Iran." This
previous ones like it are in direct violation of
the legally binding
Algiers Accords[pdf] signed by the United States
and Iran on January 19, 1981, that states "The
United States pledges that it is and from now on
will be the policy of the United States not to
intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or
militarily, in Iran's internal affairs";
however, this is clearly of
no interest to the
353 policymakers sponsoring the bill.
The US promised Russia and China that
the UN Security Council statement just approved
will not be a trigger for military action after 30
days; true to its promise, the US will attack
before the 30-day deadline imposed by the UNSC
for Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment activity,
i.e. before the end of April. The "justification" is
likely to be an alleged threat of
imminent biological attack with Iran's involvement.
The Declaration of War against Iran
I n the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the
Congressional Declaration of December 8, 1941
stated: " Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan
has committed unprovoked acts of war against the
Government and the people of the United States of
America: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and
House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled, That the state of war
between the United States and the Imperial
Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon
the United States is hereby formally declared; and
the president is hereby authorized and directed to
employ the entire naval and military forces of the
United States and the resources of the Government to
carry on war against the Imperial Government of
Similarly, the formal war declaration against
National Security Strategy of March 16, 2006,
- "We may face no greater challenge from a
single country than from Iran."
- "The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism;
threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East
peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies
the aspirations of its people for freedom."
- "[T]he first duty of the United States
Government remains what it always has been: to
protect the American people and American
interests. It is an enduring American principle
that this duty obligates the government to
anticipate and counter threats, using all
elements of national power, before the threats
can do grave damage."
- "The greater the threat, the greater is the
risk of inaction – and the more compelling the
case for taking anticipatory action to defend
ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the
time and place of the enemy's attack. There are
few greater threats than a terrorist attack with
- "To forestall or prevent such hostile acts
by our adversaries, the United States will, if
necessary, act preemptively."
- "When the consequences of an attack with WMD
are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford
to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize."
- "[T]here will always be some uncertainty
about the status of hidden programs."
- "Advances in biotechnology provide greater
opportunities for state and non-state actors to
obtain dangerous pathogens and equipment."
- "Biological weapons also pose a grave WMD
threat because of the risks of contagion that
would spread disease across large populations
and around the globe."
- "Countering the spread of biological weapons
.... will also enhance our Nation's ability to
respond to pandemic public health threats, such
as avian influenza."
This has to be combined with the 2005 U.S. State
"FINDING. The United States judges that, based on
all available information, Iran has an offensive
biological weapons program in violation of the BWC."
In addition, the March 16 declaration makes it clear
that the US
will use nuclear weapons
in the war against
- ."..using all elements of national power..."
- "Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces
continue to play a critical role. We are
strengthening deterrence by developing a New
Triad composed of offensive strike systems (both
nuclear and improved conventional
and this is further reinforced by the
"National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of
Mass Destruction"[pdf] that states "Offensive
operations may include kinetic (both conventional
and nuclear) and/or non-kinetic options (e.g.
information operations) to deter or defeat a WMD
threat or subsequent use of WMD."
There is of course also the
claim that Iran is a threat because it intends to
develop nuclear weapons. The sole purpose of
that claim, which
flies in the face of all available evidence, is
generate a diplomatic stalemate at the UN that
will allow Bush to state that
other nations share the US concern but not the
resolve to act. However the actual trigger for
the bombing to begin will not be the
by now discredited nuclear threat, rather it is
likely to be
the threat of an imminent biological attack.
There is no casus belli against Iran based
on its nuclear program. The
IAEA has found no evidence that in the 20 years
of its development there has been any diversion of
nuclear material to military applications. The Bush
officially acknowledges that the issue with Iran
arises from a
"loophole" in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
that allows non-nuclear countries to pursue uranium
However it is not a loophole, the right to a full
civilian nuclear program is an integral part of the
compromise, that made non-nuclear countries
agree to it. For the US to call it a loophole means
to abrogate the treaty unilaterally and propose a
different treaty that non-nuclear countries will
have no motivation to agree to.
The Bush administration declares that a civilian
nuclear program that gives Iran
"capability" to build a nuclear weapon is
unacceptable. It could apply exactly the same logic
The State Department says that "Iran is
expanding its biotechnology and biomedical
industries by building large, state-of-the-art
research and pharmaceutical production facilities.
These industries could easily hide pilot to
industrial-scale production capabilities for a
potential BW program, and could mask procurement of
BW-related process equipment." Why isn't the US
demanding that Iran stops its biotechnology research
and development, and that
it transfers all biotech related activities to
The key lies in
Executive Order 13292, which made information on
"weapons of mass destruction" and on "defense
against transnational terrorism" classified. If
concrete details about
Iran's alleged biological weapons programs were
made public, they would be subject to public
scrutiny and they would be discredited, as the
allegations on Iran's "nuclear weapons program"
have been. The US is likely to have "assembled"
classified information on Iran's biological weapons
programs and shared it with selected individuals,
including members of Congress, under the constraint
that classified information cannot be made public.
For example, at the
June 25, 2004 House subcommittee "MEMBERS ONLY
CLASSIFIED BRIEFING on Iran, Middle East
Proliferation and Terrorist Capabilities." The
unclassified portion of that
briefing states "It is time for Iran to declare
its biological weapons program and make arrangements
for its dismantlement."
There is likely to be a
team of "experts" lined up by the administration
that will support its
claims that Iran had a biological weapons program
representing an imminent threat. There is always
room in science for differing opinions, and if an
open scientific debate is not possible because
information is classified, any outlandish claim can
find some supporters in the scientific community.
most likely biological threat to be invoked,
because it has a
natural time element associated with it, is the
threat of a bird flu pandemic caused by a
deliberately mutated H5N1 virus carried
by migrating wild
The Biological Threat
Consider for example
Dr. Ward Casscells, a renowned cardiologist that
has of late
become an "expert" in bioterrorism. Even more
recently, Dr. Casscells
joined the Army as a colonel . According to the
US Defense Department,
"his years of research on now-spreading avian flu
are now deemed cutting edge." However, I know of
no independent credible scientific body that makes
the same assessment: Dr. Casscells has written a
total of four papers on the effect of influenza on
cardiac disease which have been cited by no other
scientists. His paper "Influenza as a bioweapon" has
a grand total of 5 citations, meaning a mere 5 other
papers refer to it; "cutting edge" scientific papers
have hundreds or thousands of citations. His only
other paper on the subject, "Influenza as a
bioterror threat: the need for global vaccination"
has zero citations.
Dr. Casscells' outstanding credentials as a
scientist will be invoked by the administration if
he vouches for the credibility of "intelligence"
indicating that a dangerous mutated bird flu virus
has been developed in an Iranian underground
bioweapons laboratory. Dr. Casscells has been
surveilling the Middle East to
"scope out the possibility for a widespread
outbreak" of bird flu. Because he has been
advocating the view that
"Bird flu is poised to be an explosive problem"
predicted the use of influenza as a bioweapon,
he is likely to be inclined to believe such claims.
Similarly his scientific colleagues at the
"Defense of Houston" committee, that work on
anticipating bioterrorism threats and
are highly lauded by the administration and very
funded by Army grants.
Bush administration has spent
vast sums of money in combating bioterrorism
over $7 billion per year, without any evidence
or precedent for bioterrorism attacks. Nevertheless
there will always be plenty of scientists that
will flock to
where the grant money is and devote efforts to
validate conclusions that are valued by the
organizations giving the grants,
and news media duly publicize the
hyped threat of bioterrorism. Still, last year
700 scientists including 2 Nobel laureates
signed a petition objecting to the diversion of
funds from projects of high public-health importance
to biodefense, calling it a "misdirection" of
priorities. Dr. Richard H. Ebright, a renowned
states that "A majority of the nation's top
microbiologists – the very group that the Bush
administration is counting on to carry out its
biodefense research agenda – dispute the premises
and implementation of the biodefense spending."
On the supposed threat of bird flu, while it is
continuously being hyped by the administration
, expert opinion is that it is not a serious
and is politically motivated. The blaming of
bird flu spread on wild birds is also highly
On March 15th, right before the disclosure of the
new National Security Strategy, I suggested
the bird flu casus belli against Iran, that
would "necessitate" bombing of Iranian facilities
before the bird migration season begins in the
Spring. Several elements emphasized in the March 16
NSS appear to support that scenario,
as discussed above. In a
March 20 press conference concerning federal
preparedness for avian flu, Secretary Michael
Leavitt (who also
warned a few weeks ago to store tuna and milk under
the bed to prepare for bird flu ) stated "Think
of the world if you will as a vast forest that is
susceptible to fire. A spark if allowed to burn will
emerge as an uncontainable fire. That's a pandemic.
If we are there when the spark happens, it can be
squelched. But if allowed to burn for a time it
begins to spread uncontrollably." An aerial attack
on Iranian installations may be touted as the
"squelching" of the bird flu pandemic spark.
Does Bush need congressional authorization to
The answer is contained in the
Statement by the president of October 16, 2002,
in signing into law the congressional authorization
to use force against Iraq. It states
"...I sought an additional resolution of
support from the Congress to use force against Iraq,
should force become necessary. While I appreciate
receiving that support, my request for it did not,
and my signing this resolution does not, constitute
any change in the long-standing positions of the
executive branch on either the president's
constitutional authority to use force to deter,
prevent, or respond to aggression or other threats
to U.S. interests or on the constitutionality of the
War Powers Resolution."
In other words: "I appreciate Congress'
authorization but didn't need it and will not need
it next time with Iran."
War Powers Resolution encourages the president
to consult with Congress "in every possible
yet allows the president to introduce Armed Forces
into hostilities without Congressional
authorization; it simply compels him to terminate
hostilities within 60 to 90 days unless Congress
authorizes an extension. Plenty time enough.
I t is unlikely that there will be a
public announcement of the impending attack before
it starts, since it would generate opposition.
do not want to be implicated and will deny any
knowledge. Who will be officially notified that an
attack is about to take place? Most likely, Iran
Direct conversations between the US and Iran are
about to start, nominally on the subject of Iraq
only. They will also provide the only direct conduit
for the US to communicate with Iran without
intermediaries. An "ultimatum" unacceptable to Iran,
as was delivered publicly
to Iraq on March 17th, 2003, could be delivered
privately to Iran through that route.
The reasons for our actions will be clear, the
force measured, and the cause just.
The initial US attack on Iranian facilities is
likely to be "measured": a highly accurate strike on
selected facilities "suspected" of bioweapons work,
cruise missiles launched
from submarines or ships in the Persian Gulf.
That is a component of the
CONPLAN 8022 Global Strike mission, which
recently became operational and also includes
nuclear preemptive strikes.
The "clear" reasons and "just" cause for the
administration to attack can be stated as follows:
a bird flu pandemic can cause 150 million deaths
and there is even a one percent probability that the
"intelligence" is right, i.e. even if there is a
"uncertainty about the status of hidden programs",
expected number of deaths that would be
prevented by bombing the Iranian facilities is the
product of those two numbers, i.e. 1.5 million,
vastly larger than the few thousand Iranian
casualties due to "collateral damage."
military reaction by Iran to the attack, perhaps
even a verbal reaction, will be construed as
"aggression" by Iran towards the US and Israel,
and result in large scale bombing of Iranian
missile, nuclear and other facilities. Does that
sound absurd? Recall that
the US and
Iraq's no-fly zones well before the Iraq invasion,
and Iraqi response was labeled
"aggression toward planes of the coalition forces."
earth penetrating weapons may be used in the
initial attack, and
certainly will be used in the large scale attack
that will follow.
Why will this happen? Because it was
"pencilled in" a long time ago. The
actions of the US against Iran in
recent years have been clearly directed towards
a confrontation, to
suppress the rise of Iran as a strong regional power
that does not conform to US interests.
Can it be Prevented?
small group of thugs is about to lead America
a line of no return. On the other side of this
line there is no nuclear taboo, no restraint on
preemptive nuclear attacks on non-nuclear nations,
and no incentive for non-nuclear nations to remain
non-nuclear. A global nuclear war and the
destruction of humanity will be a distinct
Americans are largely unaware of what is about
Half a million people go to the streets on
immigration law, yet nobody is demonstrating
against the Iran war that will radically change the
life of Americans for generations to come. The more
informed sectors of society, scientists, arms
control organizations, the media, the political
establishment, the military, are not taking a strong
stand against the impending war.
Congress is silent.
Only people in the know can stop this. Resigning
from the job is not good enough
. People in the know
have to come forward with information that
brings the impending attack to the forefront of
attention of Congress and the American public and
thwarts it. Not doing so is being complicit in a
plan that will bring tragic consequences to America
and the world.
Else, all that will be left is to
bring the perpetrators to justice. Danton,
Robespierre, Mussolini, Petain, Ribbentrop, Goering,
Ceausescu also occupied positions of power and
prominence at some point in their careers.
Hirsch is a professor of physics at the
University of California San Diego.