Countdown Over Iran
By Eric Margolis
-- -- NEW YORK – It’s both
fascinating and dismaying watching the manufactured `crisis’
over Iran reach new intensity each week.
Iran poses no real military threat to anyone, but listening to
the Bush Administration or the US media one would think that
that Tehran was about to unleash a nuclear holocaust on the
What we are seeing is a rerun of the administration’s massive
propaganda offensive that led to the invasion of Iraq. There is
also no doubt that the Bush Administration has been planning a
major air war against Iraq.
The highly respected American investigative journalist Seymour
Hersh even claims the Bush Administration is considering the use
of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran’s underground nuclear
This writer reported last December that the US was preparing a
massive air campaign against Iran and already probing Iranian
air defenses and mounting special forces ground missions to both
target high-value nuclear and strategic targets, and to stir up
domestic unrest among Iran’s ethnic minorities.
On the list for possible US – and likely Israeli – air and
missile strikes: more than twenty Iranian nuclear facilities,
including the Bushehr reactor; airfields, missile and naval
bases; communications nodes; military and intelligence
headquarters; military factories; power plants and oil
No major ground offensive by the US is planned, though its
special forces will play an important role in any attack. The
surest sign of an impending US attack will be the massing of US
strike aircraft in the Gulf and possibly Pakistan and Central
Asia, the arrival of additional US aircraft carriers in the
Arabian Sea, concentration of US Navy minesweepers and
shallow-water vessels around the Strait of Hormuz, and
heightened activity at US bases in Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria,
and, of course, Iraq.
Respected international experts say that it if Iran wanted to
produce nuclear warheads, it would take 5-10 years. UN nuclear
inspectors report no signs Iran is working on nuclear weapons.
But the Bush Administration has used Iran’s gleefully
announcement that it enriched uranium to 3.5% (83% is need for
nuclear weapons), to generate a major US-Iranian crisis seven
months before national mid-term elections. The administration
clearly hopes its lurid claims that Iran is a nuclear threat to
the world will whip gullible Americans back into war fever. A
bombing campaign before elections would likely reverse the
Republican’s steep decline in the polls.
Much of the administration’s anti-Iranian jihad has been
orchestrated, like the attack on Iraq, by Vice President Dick
Cheney, who increasingly emerges as the Rasputin of the Bush
presidency. Cheney is very close to Israel’s political far
right. He is carrying out former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon’s command to the US that once it invaded Iraq, `march
immediately on Tehran.’
Cheney, and the pro-Israel neoconservatives around him, have
long worked closely with Israel’s rightists, Mossad intelligence
service, and Israel’s strategic planners. All agree that Iran,
not Iraq, was the greater enemy of Israel, and one that had at
all costs to be crushed before it could develop nuclear warheads
and the means to deliver them.
Much of the current anti-Iranian hysteria campaign that is
currently being trumpeted by the compliant US media and members
of Congress is being orchestrated from Cheney’s office. It is
clear that in spite of the debacle in Iraq, the vice president
intends to pursue his personal jihad against all Muslim regimes
that are uncooperative and hostile to Israel.
Cheney has persistently frustrated efforts by the US State
Department and CIA to improve relations with Tehran. America’s
mighty Israel lobby has become Cheney’s personal army in this
struggle, and is mounting a high-powered campaign to generate
war fever against Iran. Jewish Americans have been panicked by
false claims that Israel is in the direst nuclear peril.
For its part, Iran has played right into the hands of the war
party in Washington. President Ahmadinejad’s calls for Israel to
be wiped out, his denial of the Jewish Holocaust, and the lavish
song and dance spectacular he produced over nuclear enrichment
delighted many ordinary Iranians. But abroad, Ahmadinejad’s
fiery pronouncements created an international firestorm of
condemnation and made Iran look precisely what Israel’s
supporters claim: a rogue nation with a dangerous, erratic
leadership that absolutely cannot be trusted with nuclear arms.
In short, a Mideast North Korea.
Iranians may be forgiven for over-reacting to nuclear Viagra –
Indians and Pakistanis responded the same way.
But Iran should have adopted a lower key approach to enrichment
and invited UN and European observers to attend.
By flaunting its infant nuclear technology, Tehran provides the
US and Israel with an excellent pretext to attack Iran. In such
an event, Iran will have precious few sympathizers around the
globe. Many will say, `Iran got what it deserved.’ One really
wonders if Iran’s leaders – many battle-scarred veterans of the
frightfully bloody Iran-Iraq war – are daring the US to attack.
The Iranian leadership and the Bush Administration are feeding
off one another, gaining domestic popularity with each now
escalation but drawing their nations into a clash whose outcome
could be dangerously unpredictable and would surely shake the
entire Mideast and world oil markets.
© 2006 Eric Margolis
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