The 'Surge' and Iran

Monday, December 25, 2006 1:07 PM

They are dusting off the hot seat for Iran. All signs indicate that the Cheney/Bush White House is on track to execute a a "shock & awe" display of power in the skies over Iran. The recent unanimous UN Security Council resolution aimed at Iran's nuclear program is gold for the Washington "neocon" warmongers and for the geopolitical strategists in Tel Aviv. (See article below.) Their spokesperson, the President of the lone surviving "Superpower", will point to the UNSC resolution as confirmation that Iran is building an atomic bomb and that Iran is a threat to humanity, the region, "our allies", etc. The American public will buy that balderdash, as they did when it came to Iraq.

The members of the UNSC have handed the White House a triggering device. One may imagine the arm-twisting and economic blackmail which went on behind the scenes to arrive at such a provocative, cynical and unjustifiable resolution. It targets a regime seeking to generate electricity via nuclear energy under international inspections. At the same time Israel is in possession of hundreds of atomic bombs and the means to deliver them and has never permitted international inspections of its own nuclear facilities.

A straw in the wind: from the December 18th column by Arnaud de Borchgrave in Washington..."A prominent neocon columnist, speaking privately at one of Washington's pre-Christmas bashes, said, "We should bomb their [Iran's] nukes before they nuke Israel."

This statement is a window upon the deranged mindset inside the bunker at the Cheney White House. Everything about the remark is nuts; it embodies the essence of "preemption" without justification. (a) Iran is not planning to nuke Israel. (b) Iran does not have the capability to nuke Israel, whereas Israel has the capability to nuke Iran back to the Middle Ages.

Another straw from another quarter: "Bush will knock out Iran. Unless there is a political earthquake in the US at the end of the year, the US attack on Iran is a near certainty.... Against all the advice coming in from various directions, should the US President still decide to hit Iran, his own party, the Republicans, as well as the Democrats will once again rally around him as they did after 9/11. So will the American nation. At that point in time the US President's ratings could again go past the 50 percent approval mark. George W. Bush is aiming to quit the White House a winner."

-- Major-General Vinod Saighal, former general director of the Indian army’s military training, an embassy military attaché in France and Benelux, and commander-in-chief of the peacekeeping forces in the Near East. In a column dated December 15th, 2006 and entitled "The Stand-off on the Iranian Nuclear Issue".

All in all, this development appears to be a re-run of the invasion of Iraq: keep lying, keep moving, and never look back.

What does the enterprise of Iran have to do with the proposed "surge" of American troops to quell violence in Iraq? Maybe everything. The cover story for "the surge" is that it will make possible Bush's last push for "victory" in Iraq. But could there be another explanation? No one can define what "victory" in Iraq means. More to the point, it is unattainable. Reading between the lines, this is the conclusion of the Baker-Hamilton Report. All that remains to be done now is the long good-bye.

In terms of an exit strategy, the "surge" makes sense, because it will be a straightforward matter of protecting our own troops, as we retreat/withdraw. Most especially, if a U.S. or an Israeli attack on Iran is in the cards.

American troops are now engaged primarily against Sunni "insurgents" and freelance terrorists. If the White House were to order an attack on Iran, or even if Tel Aviv attacks on its own, American troops would then be fighting both the Shiites and the Sunnis simultaneously.

Reinforcements will be urgently required just to help protect the troops and the American civilian personnel already there. The "surge" therefore makes sense, under this scenario. If you add to it the kicker--the upcoming execution of Saddam--the Sunnis will be reignited. The Americans will be attacked from all sides, as Iraq further self-destructs and explodes. Chaos will reign. The "neocons" win again.


Iran backed dangerously into a corner

By Linda S. Heard, Special to [Persian] Gulf News

December 25th, 2006

American and Israeli machinations have once more put this region under threat. Following months of barking from Bolton the bulldog the United Nations Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution designed to slow the Iranian nuclear programme.

It isn't as comprehensive as the former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton and his masters would have liked, concentrating, as it does, on banning the import and export of nuclear-related materials and freezing the assets of certain companies, but it's the best he could prize out of reluctant China and Russia.

Moscow held out the longest and only caved in after a call made by George W. Bush to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. One is driven to wonder about other topics discussed: Russia's proposed WTO membership, perhaps? Israel is ecstatic at this rap over the knuckles and the Bush administration is already touting the resolution as a positive first step towards comprehensive sanctions.

For Iraq watchers this is déjà vu. Here we go again. Another of the region's main players becomes an official pariah, scolded and condemned for enriching uranium, which it has an inalienable right to do under Article 4 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Another, Israel, overturned its policy of nuclear ambiguity when its prime minister inadvertently admitted his country's capability and the so-called international community plays deaf and dumb.

Iran has responded predictably to the sanctions. The country's authorised nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran is even more set on realising its nuclear aims than before while Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Hussaini vows to revise Iran's relationship with the international nuclear watchdog the IAEA. Plus there is talk that Iran may expel the ambassadors of nations with a seat on the UNSC.

In other words, instead of opening up, Iran feels unfairly singled out and under siege. It's little wonder, therefore, that it's poised to withdraw further into its own shell and accelerate its nuclear programme with the addition of 52,000 centrifuges.

In the meantime, Britain's Tony Blair has become an expert flip-flopper. Just a few weeks ago he was advocating unconditional direct talks with Iran but then he went to Washington where he was assigned a new message: Iran is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East by supporting terrorists in Iraq, attempting to oust Lebanon's democratically elected government, and denying the Holocaust. Moderate Muslim states should unite in combating extremist regimes, such as Iran's, Blair said.

Final leg

Blair neglected to mention that like Iraq during the final leg of Saddam's tenure Iran has begun selling its oil in euros, thus undermining the petrodollar.

In the meantime, the US and Britain are moving warships to the Gulf to join the aircraft carrier Eisenhower and the US is set to send more troops to neighbouring Iraq, despite General John Abizaid's insistence that more isn't necessary. This is naked aggression with the possibility of a disastrous outcome - yet another all out war.

Right-wing Israeli elements that view Tehran as an existential threat have been pushing for a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities for some time, warning that if the US doesn't move Israel might do the job itself. The US Vice-President Dick Cheney has made similar warning noises in the past.

Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector turned peace activist and author of Target Iran: The Truth about the White House's plans for regime change believes there is no evidence to suggest Iran is pursuing anything other than a nuclear programme for civilian purposes. He suggests both CIA and Mossad agents are swarming all over Iran but have been unable to unearth any proof of nefarious activity other than deep underground tunnels.

During a conversation with investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, broadcast on Democracy Now, Ritter puts Washington's anti-Iran sabre-rattling down to a nexus between the neoconservatives and the right-wing of Israel's Likud Party.  As occurred in Iraq, Ritter says the White House is hyping the Iranian nuclear peril as an excuse for its real neoconservative-inspired goal regime change as part of the broader pursuit of global hegemony.

Unfortunately, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has played right into the hands of his enemies with his anti-Israeli rhetoric that gave grist to the Bush administration's mill when negotiating the UNSC Resolution. Israeli and right-wing American spokespeople are working the "wipe Israel off the map" statement as hard as they can as "evidence" that Israel is seriously menaced. It's ironic that while Iran does not possess that kind of capability Israel does and showed its willingness to use it in 1973 and 1991 when the country was on nuclear alert.

If either the US and its allies or Israel decides to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, comparisons with Iraq will end there. The sectarian conflict that has possessed Iraq will likely ignite the entire region where nations will be asked to take sides. Worse, in some cases public sentiments and governmental policies could deviate.

Washington and Tel Aviv, aided by London, are taking this region on a collision course. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa once warned that the invasion of Iraq would open the gates to Hell. They opened alright but if there is war with Iran they may take a long time to swing shut.

Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs.