It’s Time To Get Real About Iran

Posted: 10/20/2011 in Foreign Policy

There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

War is peace.” – George Orwell

It is unwise to discuss Iran without a nodding acquaintance with its history. The civilization is one of the oldest on Earth and it would take whole volumes to cover the history of Iran, even just since the Muslim conquest. Skipping ahead to the early twentieth century, the Persian Constitutional Revolution led to the establishment of a parliament, the first of its kind in Asia. The struggle between the constitutionalists and the Shahs continued, however, with the Shahs backed by foreign powers that had gained much in concessions from the Shahs in the past. By 1907 an Anglo-Russian agreement divided Iran into a Russian zone in the north and a British zone in the south. The British promptly abandoned the constitutionalists and reinstated the Shah. In 1908 the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (predecessor of BP) discovered oil in Iran, which reinvigorated interest in the region. During World War I, Iran was occupied by Russian and British forces, but remained officially neutral. In 1921 a military coup led to the rule of Reza Knan and the beginning of the Pahlavi dynasty. The rule of the new Shah was both progressive and despotic. The ruler maintained an iron fist of oppression, corruption, taxation, censorship and state propaganda. On the other hand, there was a push toward equality between the sexes, education, and secularization.

Reza Khan (Reza Shah) abdicated during World War II under pressure from occupying British and Indian forces. Power passed to his pro-British son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who ruled until 1979. Initially, the new Shah allowed the parliament to exercise a fair amount of authority. However, in 1951 parliament began efforts to nationalize Iranian oil, under the leadership of Prime Minister Mosaddeq. Shortly thereafter, a military coup, organized by American and British intelligence agencies (Operation Ajax), removed the prime minster from power. From that time until the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the Shah ruled with unquestioned authority over a population that viewed him (rightly) as a puppet of Western hegemony.

Simply put, these events led directly to the Iranian Revolution, which saw the transfer of power from a Western-friendly absolute monarchy, to the Islamic Republic, where industry was nationalized, laws and schools Islamicized, and Western influences banned. The taking of fifty-two American hostages from the US embassy, an act that was highly popular in Iran, was just one of the events labeled as “blowback” by the CIA. The hostage crisis set off thirty-two years of various levels of economic sanctions.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein took advantage of the political and social upheaval in Iran to invade in the fall of 1980. Although the Iraqi campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, Iranian casualties are estimated to be between 500,000 and 1,000,000, some of whom were victims of the Iraqi army’s chemical weapons. Iraq received financial backing from Egypt, the U.K., the U.S., and China, among others.

Throw in some bickering, normalizing, trading, and protest crackdowns, and here we are today. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 toppled the major Sunni power in the region, strengthening the position of Shi’a -dominated Iran, especially amongst the Shi’ites of Iraq. Despite declarations by the Ayatollah in Iran that forbade nuclear weapons, claims in the U.S. that Iran was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) have not abated.

So it is time to get real about Iran. It is not a small country, and it is not a weak country, especially within its region, but in terms of military strength it hardly compares to Israel, let alone the U.S. The economy of Iran has its good points, but it is hindered by corruption and inefficiency (especially damaging, as 70% of its industry is state-owned). Iran ranks third in the world in oil reserves, but it lacks the capacity to refine enough of it for their own energy needs. There is no significant evidence that Iran has progressed toward nuclear weapons, but even if it had, so what? A lot of countries in the world have nuclear weapons, but there hasn’t been a nuclear attack since, well, we did it. In fact, if you look at our military history, countries without nuclear weapons (e.g. Iraq) get invaded. Countries with them, like Pakistan and North Korea, remain safe.

The Gulf War ended with a “cease-fire” and a containment policy, which included no-fly zones (not mandated by the UN), economic sanctions, and weapon inspections. The UN body UNSCOM was able to verify the destruction of large amounts of weapons, but inspectors left Iraq when the U.S. and U.K. launched a bombing campaign in 1998. Around the same time, the U.S. passed a resolution calling for regime change in Iraq and George H. Bush directed the CIA to facilitate Saddam’s removal. In late June of 1993, President Clinton ordered a missile strike at the Iraq Intelligence Service building in Baghdad. During UN inspections in 1999, Iraq alleged that the inspectors included US intelligence agents, which was later confirmed by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Iraq agreed to new inspections in late 2002. The lead weapons inspector advised the UN Security Council that Iraq was cooperating with inspections and that he expected confirmation of disarmament. An ambassador working for the CIA reported that claims of yellowcake sales to Iraq (from Niger) were “unequivocally wrong”. The Bush administration continued to repeat the allegations. In 2002, U.S. senators were told in a closed session that Iraq was capable of striking America’s eastern seaboard, despite that Iraq had no real air force or navy.

Even though the official military invasion would not come until March of 2003, CIA incursions and intensified no-fly zone enforcement began at least six months prior to that. Even at this point, Iraq continued to claim it was innocent of the weapons violations and tried to make concessions about allowing further inspections. When White House rhetoric made it clear that invasion was eminent anyway, high ranking Iraqi officials attempted to communicate with Washington through various liaisons, apparently hoping to discuss the allegations of WMDs and ties to al-Qaeda. Their efforts fell on deaf ears. The war-hawks in DC had already made up their minds. The one thing Iraq could have done to appease the U.S. was the one thing it would not do: Saddam’s abdication. There were no WMDs, as we know full well today.

Let me be blunt. One particular Iraqi official held a press conference on the eve of the invasion, condemning it, and saying that he did not blame the American people because they had been deceived. Whatever his faults, the hard truth is that man was right, and that man is dead.

Iran’s motivation to develop WMDs, if it is real, is nothing to be wondered at.

Since this is the subject of such high-strung fears, it must be assumed that it is generally believed Iran would actually use a nuclear weapon if they had it, since an unused weapon is not dangerous. However, what would part two of the plan be, exactly? Assuming that Iran, in time, scraped together the resources and know-how to build some nuclear missiles and that they then decided to use them, what next? Despite what the warfare enthusiasts would have us believe, authorities in Iran are not so stupid and insane that they cannot see the ultimate end of that endeavor.

In the minds of the Neocons, however, they must imagine that the Iranian plan goes something like this:

Step 1: Obtain WMDs (aka, Steal Underpants)

Step 2: …?…

Step 3: World Domination!

This is cute and all, but shouldn’t be taken seriously as a matter of foreign policy.

What if Iran was not a real threat? What if we did not have military personal in the Middle East, or anywhere else? What if we just pushed “reset” for our foreign policy and began with diplomacy and trade for all? The Neocons would have us believe that the people in the Middle East would continue to hate us anyway, just because of who we are, because we are free and prosperous, but this is empty demagoguery. As we’ve seen just in the short, and incomplete, history of Iran that I’ve given, they have plenty of reason to dislike and distrust America and other Western powers. If we pulled back now and attempted to “start over” with Iran and other countries, it would not come easy at first, but in the end peace between us would be attainable and we would save uncounted lives and unbelievable amounts of money.

We can’t talk about Iran without touching upon the recent “incident” that has dominated the news and that inspired me to write this piece in the first place. Apparently, some Iranian colluded with [what he thought was] Mexican drug cartels to plot the assassination of a Saudi diplomat while he was in Washington, DC.

Just because an Iranian was [allegedly] involved, why does that then mean the Iranian government was behind it? Is the American government to blame for everything every American does abroad? If so, they probably shouldn’t be assassinating them for it!

The plot itself is so foolish, so full of holes that, if it is the machination of the Iranian government, we have even less to worry about than I thought. It also doesn’t say much about Mexican drug cartels, since they were apparently willing to take on all this hassle for $100,000.

This is all assuming that our government is correct in its assessment of the situation and truthful in its report of it. Forgive me if I’m at least a little skeptical. The warfare class in our country have been itching to stick it to Iran for a long time, so any excuse that comes along is bound to strike me as a little too convenient. I’ll admit here that I gave my government the benefit of the doubt when it came to WMDs in Iraq. Fool me once…

In conclusion, Iran today is not much more of a threat to the U.S. than Iraq was back then (which was none at all). We have no right to deal with other countries with threats and ultimatums, and such behavior does nothing to increase our security. Instead, our imperialistic aggression and meddling has increased the danger to our citizens’ safety and prosperity. Let us not fool ourselves that military action against Iran is impossible because no president, no elected official, would dare suggest yet another military operation. We’ve seen all the evidence we need that there is no limit to the influence of the industrial-military complex in this country. If money is short, they’ll just print it. Not enough young men? Well, that’s why they are still required to register with Selective Service.

Instead of giving ourselves ulcers over the alleged antics of an immaterial nation on the other side of the globe, perhaps we could spend that energy worrying about the things that are threatening us at home, like the growing hostility on the part of our government towards our constitutional rights, or the monetary, economic, and foreign policies that are bankrupting us.

Shutting down military bases and ceasing to deal with other countries with threats and violence is not isolationism, it is the opposite. Opening ourselves up to friendship, honest trade, and diplomacy is the foreign policy of peace and prosperity. “ – Ron Paul


End transmission.


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