Who will stop the US from attacking Iran?

By Salim Lone

01/19/07 "
National Media" -- -- HARD AS IT IS TO IMAGINE, it is likely that another major war is being planned by the US, this time against Iran. And the arguments being marshalled by the Bush administration are exactly identical to what was being said against Iraq in the build-up to that war in 2003.

The President and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are accusing Iran of developing weapons of mass destruction and of exporting terrorism, just as Saddam Hussein was allegedly doing.

Iran is also being accused of refusing to abide by United Nations resolutions on its nuclear weapons programme, which, like Iraq then, it denies it has.

Word of American preparations for war against Iran has been rife for months, with renowned US journalist Seymour Hersh revealing covert activities which include the presence within Iran’s borders of US special forces fomenting rebellion against the regime.

But for the first time, President Bush’s war-like words against Iran have now been backed up by overt actions. An Iranian consulate was raided in Iraq’s Kurdistan and five diplomats arrested, in violation of international diplomatic protocols. A new aircraft carrier left the US on Wednesday for Iranian waters.

At the same time, a specialist team is headed for US-allied countries in the region to help install Patriot batteries which would protect against the inevitable Iranian missile strikes in case war broke out.

There is worry also that the increase of US troop levels in Iraq, and the proposal unveiled this week by Defence Secretary Robert Gates to do the same for Afghanistan, might also be part of the planning for an Iran war.

Some also view recent US actions in toppling Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union and installing a pro-American government there as part of the encirclement of Iran by regimes which could provide logistical and territorial support for launching attacks.

The US has denied it has any plans for bases in Somalia, and also assures that any potential strike on Iran would be conducted from international waters. But clearly, a war against Iran would require the implicit support of many neighbouring countries, and therefore expose them to serious risk.

More important, however, than the weak regional regimes which stay in power primarily through US support are the major powers of the European Union, and Russia and China, who are all part of the UN Security Council mandated with the solemn responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.

Will they stand by and allow the US to undertake yet another ruinous war which will plunge the world into even greater instability?

They clearly cannot physically stop the US, but they must begin to raise their voices publicly against US plans now rather than when war is imminent, and therefore unstoppable.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon must also play a role, albeit necessarily a much more nuanced one, since even the threat of the use of force is a violation of the United Nations Charter.

Indeed, the United Nations was the centre-piece of the architecture for preserving international peace and security devised primarily by US President Roosevelt when he led the campaign for the world body’s creation.

That architecture now lies in absolute tatters over the graves of hundreds of thousands Iraqis and the global insecurity we have been subjected to by President Bush’s lawless actions.

But the powerful neo-colonial community, most of whose members are also avid supporters of Israel, has been advocating war against Iran for some time now.

I was in a fascinating high-level forum last September in New York in which members of this group vociferously denied that they had pushed for the war against Iraq; it was Iran they had been really after, they insisted!

Ultimately, only the American people themselves can stop such madness, by getting their elected representatives to pass a binding resolution against an attack on Iran.

The November elections and current moves in Congress show that there is no appetite for even an escalation in Iraq. But will there be the stomach to take on a rampant commander-in-chief who seems convinced that a successful strike on Iran will restore at least some of the lost glory (and ratings) he enjoyed in the post 9/11 period?

Copyright - Nation Media Group all rights reserved 2006

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