Thursday, March 16, 2006

Foreign Policy: Iran As The Next Iraq

For the past four to five months the Administration has been stepping up the heat on Iran. One might deduce from this current dialogue on the nightly news programs that Iran is in violation of some U.N. resolution and is building a nuclear bomb as we speak. Hence, President Bush needs to consider all options when dealing with Iran.

So it begins.

The public must be incredibly careful when understanding what this Administration will say with regards to the evident facts of a situation. The almost never-ending list of statements which carefully step away from reality will be legendary twenty years hence. It would appear that this situation will not be much different.

Here are the latest events:
President Bush speaking on the National Security Strategy 2006
In a 49-page national security report, the president reaffirmed the strike-first, or pre-emptive policy he first outlined in 2002. Diplomacy is the U.S. preference in halting the spread of nuclear and other heinous weapons, Bush said.

"If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self-defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur — even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack," Bush wrote.

The U.S. House wishes to put forward legislation that will sanction foreign companies that do business with Iran.
"... Illinois Republican [Henry Hyde] said the bill could "become a powerful tool to prevent Iran's development of weapons of mass destruction."

The State Department had said on Monday the mandatory sanctions would "create tensions with countries whose help we need in dealing with Iran, and shift the focus away from Iran's actions and spotlight differences between us and our allies."

The general pretext is that Iran is doing everything it can to get a nuclear bomb.

While Iran has made some missteps diplomatically in this affair, the general perception that Americans have on this issue is skewed heavily in favor of what the West Wing wants them to believe.

Often mentioned here, Professor Juan Cole has some thoughts on the pretext for war with Iran.

Some of the more relevant quotes from his article:
Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect and monitor its nuclear energy research program, as required by the treaty. It raised profound suspicions, however, with its one infraction against the treaty--which was to conduct some secret civilian research that it should have reported and did not, and which was discovered by inspectors. Tehran denies having military labs aiming for a bomb, and in November of 2003 the IAEA formally announced that it could find no proof of such a weapons program. The U.S. reaction was a blustery incredulity, which is not actually an argument or proof in its own right, however good U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is at bunching his eyebrows and glaring.

The nuclear issue is for the most part a pretext for the Americans to exert pressure on the regime in Tehran. This is not to say that proliferation is not a worrisome issue, or that it can be ruled out that Iran wants a bomb. It is to say that the situation simply has not reached the point of crisis, and therefore other motivations must be sought for the Bush administration’s breathless rhetoric.

President Bush used the terrifying idea of dirty bombs and chemical weapons being released on American soil with a return address of Baghdad, Iraq as the pretext for the last war. It is quite simply astounding that the same gameplan is being rehashed for Iran. The popular media should be just a bit wiser today with its questions for the President - he has given ample proof that one cannot trust his word alone on a subject.

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