February 5, 2007
New Statesman (UK)

Iran: The War Begins

As opposition grows in America to the failed Iraq adventure, the Bush administration is preparing public opinion for an attack on Iran, its latest target, by the spring.

by John Pilger

The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran. For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of "buying time" for its disaster in Iraq. . . .

As the American disaster in Iraq deepens and domestic and foreign opposition grows, "neo-con" fanatics such as Vice-President Dick Che- ney believe their opportunity to control Iran's oil will pass unless they act no later than the spring. For public consumption, there are potent myths. In concert with Israel and Washington's Zionist and fundamentalist Christian lobbies, the Bushites say their "strategy" is to end Iran's nuclear threat. In fact, Iran possesses not a single nuclear weapon, nor has it ever threatened to build one; the CIA estimates that, even given the political will, Iran is incapable of building a nuclear weapon before 2017, at the earliest. Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory, and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations - until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the behest of Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear programme to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have been able to "go anywhere and see anything". They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, says that an attack on Iran will have "catastrophic consequences" and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.

Unlike its two nemeses, the US and Israel, Iran has attacked no other countries. It last went to war in 1980 when invaded by Saddam Hussein, who was backed and equipped by the US, which supplied chemical and biological weapons produced at a factory in Maryland. Unlike Israel, the world's fifth military power - with its thermo nuclear weapons aimed at Middle East targets and an unmatched record of defying UN resolutions, as the enforcer of the world's longest illegal occupation - Iran has a history of obeying international law and occupies no territory other than its own.

The "threat" from Iran is entirely manufactured, aided and abetted by familiar, compliant media language that refers to Iran's "nuclear ambitions", just as the vocabulary of Saddam's non-existent WMD arsenal became common usage. Accompanying this is a demonising that has become standard practice. As Edward Herman has pointed out, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "has done yeoman service in facilitating [this]"; yet a close examination of his notorious remark about Israel in October 2005 reveals how it has been distorted. According to Juan Cole, American professor of modern Middle East and south Asian history at the University of Michigan, and other Farsi language analysts, Ahmadinejad did not call for Israel to be "wiped off the map". He said: "The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." This, says Cole, "does not imply military action or killing anyone at all". Ahmadinejad compared the demise of the Israeli regime to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Iranian regime is repressive, but its power is diffuse and exercised by the mullahs, with whom Ahmadinejad is often at odds. An attack would surely unite them. . . .


John Pilger is a renowned author, journalist and documentary film-maker. A war correspondent, his writings appear in numerous magazines, and newspapers.

Simon Tisdall, "Ahmadinejad on Israel: Global Danger or Political Infighting?," Guardian, December 20, 2005

Enver Masud, "Iran Has an 'Inalienable Right' to Nuclear Energy," The Wisdom Fund, January 16, 2006

Tony Benn, "U.S., Britain's 'Total Hypocrisy' on Nuclear Energy," Democracy Now!, March 10, 2006

[The Iranian proposal also offered to accept much tighter controls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange for "full access to peaceful nuclear technology".--Gareth Porter, "Iran Proposal to U.S. Offered Peace with Israel," IPS, May 24, 2006]

James Bamford, "Iran: The Next War," Rolling Stone, July 27, 2006

Scott Ritter, "Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change," Nation Books, September 12, 2006

"Ahmadinejad Rejects UN Sanctions," BBC News, December 24, 2006

Enver Masud, "Iran-US Nuclear Standoff," The Wisdom Fund, January 21, 2007

[Though Bush insists that no decision has been made on attacking Iran, he offered similar assurances of his commitment to peace in the months before invading Iraq in 2003. Yet leaked documents from London made clear that he had set a course for war nine months to a year before the Iraq invasion.

. . . sources with first-hand knowledge of conditions in Iraq have told me that the U.S. position is even more precarious than generally understood.--Robert Parry, "Iran Clock Is Ticking,", January 31, 2007]

[Zbigniew Brzezinski's . . . description of a "plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran." It would, he suggested, involve "Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran, culminating in a 'defensive' US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan."--Barry Grey, "Ex- national security adviser warns that Bush is seeking a pretext to attack Iran ,", February 2, 2007]

[How malleable (and how well-defined) are Tehran's intentions, and what changes in Washington's policy might lead Tehran to abandon a weapons program? Even if Tehran's intentions do not change, what other options would impede or slow its nuclear program? If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, how would that change its behavior and affect U.S. interests? In particular, why would deterrence, which has kept nuclear peace with other adversaries, not work with Iran?--Paul R. Pillar, "What to Ask Before the Next War: Don't Let the People Who Brought Us Iraq Define the Questions," Washington Post, February 4, 2007]

Sarah Baxter, "Iranian nuclear scientist 'assassinated by Mossad'," Sunday Times, February 5, 2007

AUDIO: "The U.S. and Iran and the Growing Threat of War,", February 5, 2007

[ . . . almost all the sources in the story are unnamed. It also may be worth noting that the author is Michael R. Gordon, the same Times reporter who, on his own, or with Judith Miller, wrote some of the key, and badly misleading or downright inaccurate, articles about Iraqi WMDs in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.--Greg Mitchell, "'NYT' Reporter Who Got Iraqi WMDs Wrong Now Highlights Iran Claims," Editor & Publisher, February 10, 2007]

Greg Mitchell, "'Wash Post' Joins 'NYT' in Trumpeting 'Anonymous' Claims on Iranian Weapons in Iraq," Editor & Publisher, February 11, 2007

Karen DeYoung, "Pace Demurs on Accusation of Iran: General Says He Knows Nothing Tying Leaders to Arms in Iraq," Washington Post, February 13, 2007

Jorge Hirsch, "Congress' Liability in a Nuclear Strike on Iran,", February 19, 2007

[US and British intelligence estimates said that Iran was still five to 10 years away from developing a nuclear bomb--Daniel Dombey, "Iran nears industrial N-fuel production," Financial Times, February 19, 2007]

"US 'Iran attack plans' revealed," BBC News, February 20, 2007

Christiane Amanpour, "Iranian official offers glimpse from within: A desire for U.S. ally," CNN, February 21, 2007

[ . . . most of the tip-offs about supposed secret weapons sites provided by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies have led to dead ends when investigated by IAEA inspectors--Julian Borger, "US Iran intelligence 'is incorrect'," Guardian, February 22, 2007]

[Such incidents have been carried out by the Kurds in the west, the Azeris in the north-west, the Ahwazi Arabs in the south-west, and the Baluchis in the south-east.--William Lowther and Colin Freeman, "US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran," Sunday Telegraph, February 25, 2007]

"Pentagon Whistle-Blower on the Coming War With Iran,", February 27, 2007

[Edward Luttwak, consultant to the US National Security Council, the White House chief of staff and the Pentagon, recently wrote, "Viewed from the inside, Iran is hardly the formidable power that some see from the outside. The natural outcome of ... widening ethnic divisions ... is the breakup of Iran.

"There is no reason why Iran should be the only multinational state to resist the nationalist separatism that destroyed the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, divided Belgium in all but name, and has decentralized Spain and even the United Kingdom. As with the Soviet Union, there is a better alternative to detente with a repulsive regime - and that is to be true to the Wilsonian tradition of American foreign policy by encouraging and helping the forces of national liberation within Iran," wrote Luttwak.--M K Bhadrakumar, "US ally Musharraf in a tangle over Iran," Asia Times, March 7, 2007

"Only 10% in U.S. See Iran as Immediate Threat,", March 19, 2007

[Iran, in a confidential letter posted Friday on an internal Web site of the U.N. nuclear monitor, said its fear of attack from the U.S. and Israel prompted its decision to withhold information from the agency. In the letter, Iran said the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency had repeatedly allowed confidential information crucial to the country's security to be leaked.--George Jahn, "Iran: Attack fears spurred nuclear block," Associated Press, March 30, 2007]

[A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, . . . The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan--Brian Ross and Christopher Isham, "The Secret War Against Iran," ABC News, April 3, 2007]

[An Iranian opposition group based in Iraq, labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, gets protection from the U.S. military despite Iraqi pressure to leave the country.

The U.S. considers the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, a source of valuable intelligence on Iran.--Michael Ware, "U.S. protects Iranian opposition group in Iraq," CNN News, April 5, 2007]

[Because the Speaker had spent most of her political career on bended knee before Israel and its Lobby, there was no way she could have not been aware of how touchy things get when it comes to Israel. A case in point was the number of times that Syria and Iran-both members of the Axis of Evil-have offered to join in a "nuclear weapons free Middle East," which both countries have publicly done.--James G. Abourezk, "How Syria Helped US in "War on Terror",", April 10, 2007]

[Forty-five cruise missiles are primed to strike. According to Russia's leading strategic thinker General Leonid Ivashov: "Nuclear facilities will be secondary targets... at least 20 such facilities need to be destroyed. Combat nuclear weapons may be used. This will result in the radioactive contamination of all the Iranian territory, and beyond."--John Pilger, "Iran May be the Greatest Crisis of Modern Times," New Statesman, April 12, 2007]

[ . . . it is well known in the Afghan bazaar that the country is awash with Iranian weapons that were supplied to Northern Alliance groups during the anti-Taliban resistance in the late 1990s.--M K Bhadrakumar, "Iran, US take their fight to Afghanistan," Asia Times, April 21, 2007]

Michael Roston, "Report: Saudis, US sponsoring covert action against Iran,", May 7, 2007

"Cheney Lines up Middle East Arab Allies for US Iraq Pull-out and Possible Iran Attack," DEBKAfile, May 12, 2007

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito, "Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran,", May 22, 2007

Sheila MacVicar and Ashley Velie with Amy Guttman, "U.S. Working To Sabotage Iran Nuke Program," CBS News, May 23, 2007

Anne Penketh and Eric Silver, "Iran 'accused of attacks in Iraq to bolster US strategy'," Independent, May 25, 2007

[Contrary to what you've been told by the same folks - minus Judith Miller - who sold you on Bush's war of aggression against Iraq, ElBaradei reports that Iran continues to be in complete compliance with its NPT Safeguards Agreement.--Gordon Prather, "Effecting Regime Change in Iran,", May 26, 2007]

Megumi Yamanaka, "Iran Asks Japan to Pay Yen for Oil, Start Immediately,", July 13, 2007

["The [Sixth] Conference notes the reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon states of their commitment to the United Nations Security Council resolution 984 (1995) on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons."

What assurances are those?

Well, basically Russia and China, as well as France and the United Kingdom, will "provide immediate assistance" to Iran if it "is a victim of an act, or an object of a threat of, aggression in which nuclear weapons are used."--Gordon Prather, "More NeoCrazy Media Sycophancy,", July 14, 2007]

Paul Craig Roberts, "Watch For Another 9/11-WMD Experience,", July 18, 2006

[In an explosive new article, the New Yorker Magazine reports that Negroponte's decision to resign as National Intelligence Director was made in part because of the Bush administration's covert actions in the Middle East, which so closely echo Iran-Contra. According to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, the Bush administration, with Saudi Arabia, is secretly funding radical Sunni groups - some with ties to al-Qaeda - to counter Shiite groups backed by Iran. Moreover, this is being done without any Congressional authority or oversight.

Hersh also reports the Pentagon has established a special planning group within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to plan a bombing attack on Iran. The new panel has been charged with developing a plan that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President Bush. Hersh also reveals that U.S. military and special-operations teams have already crossed the border into Iran in pursuit of Iranian operatives."--"Investigative Reporter Seymour Hersh: US Indirectly Funding Al-Qaeda Linked Sunni Groups in Move to Counter Iran," Democracy Now!, July 28, 2007]

Jonathan Cook, "Sacrificed to Zionism: Just as Jews in Egypt and Iraq in the 20th century were manipulated by Israel, so now Iran's Jewish community is in peril," Al-Ahram Weekly, August 2, 2007

Gareth Porter, "The Iran Attack That Wasn't: How reporters trumped up a story about Iranians killing Americans in Iraq," American Prospect, August 2, 2007

[First it was Barack Obama's talk of dialogue with dictators and invading Pakistan to kill Islamist militants, then it was Hillary Rodham Clinton refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons to that end. Now, the Democratic front-runners have been joined by radical Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, who threatened to bomb Muslim holy sites to stop terror attacks.--Matthew Lee, "Sloganeering Troubles Diplomatic Pros," Associated Press, August 3, 2007]

[. . . in 1995 Clinton got the Security Council to pass UNSC Resolution 984 which, inter alia, formally expressed the "intention" of the nuke states to "provide or support immediate assistance" to any non-nuke NPT signatory that is "a victim" of an act - or a threat of an act - of aggression "in which nuclear weapons are used."

Clinton was, thereby, able to get NPT signatories to agree in 1995 on the indefinite extension of the NPT.

Upon becoming president, under our Constitution, George Bush was bound by those commitments - ratified by the Senate - to "facilitate" the widest possible transfer of nuclear materials, equipment and technology to no-nuke NPT signatories and to come to their "immediate assistance" in the event someone threatened them with nukes.--Gordon Prather, "The Illegal and Immoral Option,", August 4, 2007]

Robin Wright, "Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist': U.S. Moving Against Revolutionary Guard," Washington Post, August 15, 2007

[ . . . even if Iran did possess nuclear weapons, the idea that it would use them to initiate a conflict in which Tehran would certainly be destroyed is based on tabloid-style alarmism about the nature of the regime in Tehran--Tony Karon, "Asking the Wrong Questions on Iran,", August 20, 2007

"Israel is aiding Iranian opposition groups, says Strategic Threats Minister Lieberman,", August 28, 2007

[ . . . the reality is the IAEA has once again verified to all IAEA members and NPT-signatories "the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials" by Iran. Furthermore, Iran and the IAEA Secretariat have just announced an important agreed "time table" for "resolution" by year's end of "all outstanding questions" relevant to the implementation of Iran's Safeguards Agreement.--Gordon Prather, "IAEA-Iran Resolving Outstanding Questions,", September 1, 2007]

[THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran--Sarah Baxter, "Pentagon 'three-day blitz' plan for Iran," Sunday Times, September 2, 2007]

Jean Bricmont, "Why Bush Can Get Away with Attacking Iran,", September 4, 2007

Robert Burns, "Abizaid: World could abide nuclear Iran," Associated Press, September 17, 2007

[Joe Lieberman wrote the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq that was passed with Democratic support on October 11, 2002. Lieberman's new resolution setting up a Bush-Cheney invasion of Iran passed by 76 to 22 with Democratic backing on September 26, 2007. These are two dates that will live in infamy in the 21st century.--Mike Gravel, "Democrats Were Charged To End A War, Not Start One," ICH, September 28, 2007]

[We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them. Khrushchev and Mao and of course Stalin, and for a little while Gadhafi was our Hitler. And now we have this guy Ahmadinejad.--INTERVIEW WITH INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST SEYMOUR HERSH: "'The President Has Accepted Ethnic Cleansing'," Spiegel Online, September 28, 2007]

[In the last two centuries has Iran - or Persia as it used to be called - invaded any other nation?--Ed Kinane, "'U.S., not Iran, is the terrorist'," Providenc Journal, September 29, 2007]

[Freedom's Watch will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States--Don Van Natta, Jr., "Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift a New Conservative Group," New York Times, September 30, 2007]

The passage of a more punitive Iran Sanctions Act in July, coupled with last week's approval by a 77 to 22 Senate vote of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment to the Defense Procurement bill, have provided a virtual carte blanche for the White House to attack Iran at will.--Philip Giraldi, "The Myth of the All-Powerful Ahmadinejad,", October 3, 2007]

John H. Richardson, "The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know," Esquire, October 18, 2007

Gordon Prather, "WWIII: Bring It On,", October 20, 2007

[How can it be that Air Force ground crew people at Barksdale could spot the nukes in a flash while nobody at Minot . . . Perfect for a tactical strike on an Iranian nuclear processing or research site, or for a "false flag" type attack that could be blamed on a fledgling nuclear power. Like Iran.--Dave Lindorff, "Nukes Over America - All A Stupid Mistake...Sure it Was,", October 21, 2007]

[. . . if Obama-Biden-Hillary really want to "shore up" the NPT and its associated nuclear-weapons proliferation-prevention regime, the first step is to begin to accept at face value . . . the reports made by the IAEA Secretariat.--Gordon Prather, "Shoring Up the NPT Regime,", January 17, 2009]

[On 10 January Iran announced that it had arrested 10 of its own citizens for the killing of Professor Massoud Ali Mohammadi. Iran's Intelligence Ministry said that the 10 suspects worked for Israel's intelligence service Mossad.--James Reynolds, "Behind the 'Mossad plot' against Iranian scientist," BBC News, January 14, 2011]

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