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More about Iran, things you know that might not be so

3 October 2009

Some things you might find of interest about Iran, as drift towards war.

Contents

  1. I have here a statement by an obvious ally of Iran working at the highest level of the US government!
  2. Quote of the Day from Jack A Smith, “A Manufactured Crisis“, Asia Times, 30 September 2009
  3. Top Things you Think You Know about Iran that are not True“, Juan Cole, Informed Consent, 1 October 2009
  4. Our war-loving Foreign Policy Community hasn’t gone anywhere“, Glen Greenwald, Salon, 21 September 2009
  5. Comments from the peanut gallery about the Iranian Nuke Crisis
  6. Background Information about Iran
  7. Afterword and More Information on the FM Site

Excerpts

(1)  I have here a statement by an obvious ally of Iran working at the highest level of the US government!  Will the hawks, lusting for war with Iran, denounce this appeaser for his remarks about Iran?

Iran, of course, being, you know, in such proximity to Afghanistan and having significant influence inside Afghanistan, is a big player. They, in my view, they have a lot of very positive influence inside Afghanistan, some of it cultural, some of it financial, just things that any neighbor would have to try to build the stability. I think that if Iran takes a very mature look at a stable Afghanistan and support the government of Afghanistan, then we’ll be — we’ll be in good shape. If they were to choose not to do that, and they were to choose to support insurgents, I think that would be a significant miscalculation.

The culprit is General Stanley McChrystal.  He said this when asked about “Iran’s significance for the Afghanistan equation” after his speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London (see the text of the speech and video of the Q&A at their website here.  This is from Spencer Ackerman’s column The Washington Independent, 1 October 2009.  The parody of Joseph McCarthy is mine.

(2)  Quote of the Day from Jack A Smith, “A Manufactured Crisis“, Asia Times, 30 September 2009 — Excerpt (red emphasis added):

As intended, the hyped disclosure created headlines around the world. It probably convinced many Americans, already primed to detest Iran, that Tehran is building nuclear bombs to obliterate the US and Israel. This is not an unlikely conclusion for many people to accept after 30 years of Washington’s incessant campaign to demonize the government that overthrew and replaced America’s puppet, the dreaded shah of Iran. The US broke diplomatic relations with Iran after this act of lese majeste and the subsequent “hostage crisis”, and has nourished a grudge to this day.

If push does come to shove with Iran it is important to remember how effortless it was to hoodwink the majority of American politicians and the masses of people into backing a completely unnecessary war against Iraq. As in the buildup to the unjust invasion of Iraq, today’s US corporate mass media are playing its principal part to perfection – uncritically echoing government distortions about the danger of Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons. The Iran situation is different, but yet similar in terms of mass public manipulation and the possibility of a future confrontation getting out of hand.

Can this be, once again, a situation of high-stakes geopolitics where things are rarely as they seem? We think so. Let’s look at the immediate charge against Iran, based on the “revelations” of the last week. …

(3)  Top Things you Think You Know about Iran that are not True“, Juan Cole, Informed Consent, 1 October 2009 — See his post for the answers.

  1. Iran is aggressive and has threatened to attack Israel, its neighbors or the US
  2. Iran is a militarized society bristling with dangerous weapons and a growing threat to world peace.
    Iran has threatened to attack Israel militarily and to “wipe it off the map.”
  3. But didn’t President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to ‘wipe Israel off the map?’
  4. But aren’t Iranians Holocaust deniers?
  5. Iran is like North Korea in having an active nuclear weapons program, and is the same sort of threat to the world.
  6. The West recently discovered a secret Iranian nuclear weapons plant in a mountain near Qom.
  7. The world should sanction Iran not only because of its nuclear enrichment research program but also because the current regime stole June’s presidential election and brutally repressed the subsequent demonstrations.
  8. Isn’t the Iranian regime irrational and crazed, so that a doctrine of mutually assured destruction just would not work with them?
  9. The international community would not have put sanctions on Iran, and would not be so worried, if it were not a gathering nuclear threat.

(4)  Our war-loving Foreign Policy Community hasn’t gone anywhere“, Glen Greenwald, Salon, 21 September 2009 — Excerpt:

… The arguments for attacking Iran are so similar to the ones used for Iraq that it’s striking how little effort they make to pretend it’s different (Iran will get nukes, give them to Terrorists, we’ll lose a city, etc.) The Bipartisan Policy Center Report never takes note of the irony that it “justifies” a threat of attack against Iran by pointing to that country’s violations of U.N. Resolutions, even as Article 2 of the U.N. Charter explicitly provides that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of forceagainst the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” — a prohibition which Sens. Robb and Coats demand the U.S. violate over and over. As always, we’re exempt from everything. Just imagine what our elite class would say if Iran’s leading newspapers routinely published articles from leaders of its two largest political parties explicitly advocating a detailed plan to attack, invade, blockade and bomb the U.S.

… It’s hard to overstate how aberrational — one might say “rogue” — the U.S. is when it comes to war. No other country sits around debating, as a routine and permanent feature of its political discussions, whether this country or that one should be bombed next, or for how many more years conquered targets should be occupied. And none use war as a casual and continuous tool for advancing foreign policy interests, at least nowhere close to the way we do (the demand that Iran not possess nuclear weapons is clearly part of an overall, stated strategyof ensuring that other countries remain incapable of deterring us from attacking them whenever we want to). Committing to a withdrawal from Iraq appears to be acceptable, but only as long as have our escalations and new wars lined up to replace it (and that’s to say nothing of the virtually invisible wars we’re fighting). For the U.S., war is the opposite of a “last resort”: it’s the more or less permanent state of affairs, and few people who matter want it to be any different.

… It’s worth noting that, almost invariably, the people who beat the drum for endless, debt-creating wars and a bankruptcy-inducing imperial foreign policy love to parade around as “fiscal conservatives” and “deficit hawks” when it comes to providing actual services to Americans. They support constant war and occupation which burns trillions of dollars and turns us into a debtor nation, and then run around lecturing everyone on the need to restrain spending.

(5)   Comments from the peanut gallery about the Iranian Nuke Crisis

Comments from “The Qom Facility and International Law“, Matthew Yglesias, Think Progress, 29 September 2009 — As usual with Yglesias website, his post is the liberal party line (not worth reading), but some of the comments are excellent.

#1 — stras Says:

Who. Fucking. Cares. If Iran wants a bomb, let them get a bomb. They’re being threatened on a regular basis by two violent, aggressive, nuclear-armed nations, one of which currently occupies two of its neighbors. They’d be crazy to not be building a bomb.

As for violations of the NPT, when India broke the treaty, we more or less agreed to subsidize their nuclear program. For that matter, the United States is not in compliance with the NPT, given that the NPT requires us to disarm.

#4 — UserGoogol Says:

India, Pakistan, and Israel never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, so they are incapable of violating it no matter how many nukes they have.

#6 — ndm Says:

… We would be in a much better, and far more moral, position viz-a-viz sanctioning Iran if we had first of all sanctioned ALL those nations who didn’t sign on to the NPT treaty in the first place. That is a far greater sin than signing on and then violating its terms. (Although the US, under Bush at least, made violating terms of any treaty almost a national obligation.)

#11 — anon says:

Yglesias said: “The good news (again in legal terms) is that the UN Security Council has more-or-less carte blanche to regard situations as a threat to international peace based on their judgment,”

Yep, that is very good news for Iran, because Russia and China are not going to help remove an obstacle to American military dominance in the Middle East.

(6)  Background Information about Iran

  1. Iran’s oil and gas wealth“, US Congress Joint Economic Committee, March 2006 (4 pages)
  2. Iran, Country Analysis Brief“, US Energy Information Agency (EIA), October 2007 (17 pages)
  3. Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, National Intelligence Estimate, November 2007

Not specifically about Iran, but very relevant to this discussion:  Debunking Myths About Nuclear Weapons and Terrorism“, Stratfor, 29 May 2009.

(7a)  Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling). 

(7b)  For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the following:

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

Some of the posts on the FM website about the possibility of war with Iran:

  1. Is Pakistan’s Musharraf like the Shah of Iran? (if so, bad news for us) , 8 November 2007
  2. War with Iran , 9 November 2007 — Why Iran is not necessarily our enemy.
  3. Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger? , 13 November 2007
  4. The new NIE, another small step in the Decline of the State , 10 December 2007
  5. Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 January 2009
  6. Iran – a key state to watch as the new world order evolves, 3 March 2009
  7. Update: war watch – Iran, 29 September 2009
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10 Comments leave one →
  1. mclaren permalink
    3 October 2009 6:06 pm

    Iranian society appears to be disintegrating, if this article you previously cited proves credible. And that article was penned before the current hardline putsch by the mullahs and the massive anti-government demonstrations by the population.

    Iranian society is at present so convulsed by internal strife that they don’t have the time or attention to devote to fomenting trouble elsewhere in the middle east. Indeed, the real question now seems whether, or perhaps how soon, the current fundamentalist Iranian government will suffer a secular counter-revolution.

    American military action against Iran at this juncture represents wild insanity. If we stand by and do nothing, the current fundamentalist government may well fall apart into a secular regime on its own. In any case the general population in Iran remains by far the most pro-American of any country in the middle east, and our moral support for their demonstrations against the regime has accentuated that feeling. It would be the height of folly to do anything to jeopardize that right now.

    Like

  2. anna nicholas permalink
    3 October 2009 7:50 pm

    Oh dear , we need a poll of Iranians to please FM . Can I offer a bit of gossip from an oil rig diver who works out there and Harleys around on his day off : great people , low interest in politics , many proud of Ahmajinny , all administration totally corrupt but at least corruption is in broad daylight and open to all .

    Like

  3. Xiaoding permalink
    3 October 2009 10:20 pm

    Underneath all this tension, the US and Iran are the most natural allies in the world. Hands Off!

    Like

  4. Major Scarlet permalink
    4 October 2009 10:13 pm

    so Juan Cole creates a bunch of strawmen and attacks them and they is newsworthy?

    “Belief: Iran is aggressive and has threatened to attack Israel, its neighbors or the US”

    it would be helpful to know how he defines “aggressive”. in my book, anyone that fields legions of terrorist around the world, slaughters it’s own people, assassinates opposition, etc.. is aggressive. perhaps juan thinks these things are just mildly intemperate.. or just slightly mean and doesn’t rise to the level of “aggressive”. And, since Iran has already attacked Israel through their proxy agent Hezbollah and are committing acts of war on the US in Iraq, it boggles the mind how he can ignore the obvious.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: By your standards the US is the most “aggressive” nation on Earth, by far. For example, see Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)? Part 1 for a partial list of US ops against Iran.

    Ignoring the widespread use of proxy forces (used as alternatives to State-State war), in the Middle East recent history aggressive acts include Israel’s attacking Lebanon and Iraq, Iraq attacking Iran and Kuwait, and the US attacking Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran attacked nobody.

    “Juan Cole creates a bunch of strawmen”

    The example you give is not a strawman. A strawman argument misrepresents an opponent’s position. Many folks say that Iran has threatened to attack Israel. In fact, some Iranian leaders have said things that read like threats against Israel.

    Please review your comments before posting. You’ve replaced Erasmus as the reigning “most often wrong” and “most errors per comment” titleholder.

    Like

  5. Major Scarlet permalink
    5 October 2009 2:19 am

    FM.. the thing is.. Juan Cole doesn’t tell you who the opponent is. we are left with the assumption that it is conventional wisdom that he is attacking yet he doesn’t reference any polls.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: You must be kidding us. First, it is perfectly clear in context the “side” of the debate he’s attacking.

    Second, virtually nobody writes at that level of detail in the mainstream media or for general audience websites. The resulting articles are too long for a mass audience. The material written for this website approaches that level of detail, with highly technical articles in the 2000-3000 word range — and what is for its type a large audience — 50 – 100 thousand hits per month. Small potatoes in the area Cole is seeking.

    Like

  6. Major Scarlet permalink
    5 October 2009 2:24 am

    FM.. i take your opinion that i am “most often wrong” as a compliment considering that you are a left wing idealist. if we agreed on things.. i’d get worried. as for the US being the most aggressive based on my standard… you are mad. what terrorist groups to we have in brazil, lebanon, israel, etc… words have meaning.. if you say we are the “most aggressive”.. care to share with us how we stand up to the actions of the Iranians since they have taken over?
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: I gave a highly specific example concerning the definition of a term. No ideology involved. This is the sort of detail I refer to, characteristic of your comments from the first. Your reply, as usual, ignores this and goes off into space.

    Second, you’re political characterization is inaccurate, also as usual. A widely respected source (and long-time reader of this site), the Zenpundit, classified me as a Paleoconservatives (see On Conservatism and Conservative Voices, 1 October 2009. For a large range of opinions, see Politics of the FM site: radical leftist reformer or right-wing iconoclast?

    Like

  7. Major Scarlet permalink
    5 October 2009 2:59 am

    i classify zenpundit as a left wing site. and since he is probably to the left of you.. i’m sure i see his point of view.. as from my point of view.. you are a left wing idealist. you hardly ever represent the right wing in any of your post.. you have an anti-war/anti use of military schema here. i’ll use this post as a great example of that. a conservative in good standing would never quote or cite juan cole. he is an islamist apologist. but a left winger would. so, at the end of the day, it is about perspective. and so is your judgement of right or wrong. i’ve met tons of liberals that consider themselves centrist but their actually voting record is straight democrat.

    also, my friend bill quick (who has little regard for you other than your ability to apologize) takes you about as seriously as i do.. which isn’t much.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: You have been caught here in dozens of straightforward factual errors, usually responding by silence. I suggest you consider the virtue of admiting when you are wrong. Or even apologizing, when appropriate. Let’s take a quick look at evidence that you are wrong, again:
    * posts highly critical of Obama,
    * posts giving rebuttal to global warming,
    * many favorable posts about William Lind (Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism)
    * posts favorably featuring conservatives such as Mark Steyn, John Derbyshire, Anthony Scalia, James Bowman, and Allan Bloom.
    * even 3 posts speaking positively of Patrick Buchanan.
    Can you write one comment that does not materially misrepresent a key point?

    (2) “bill quick (who has little regard for you other than your ability to apologize)”

    You’re insulting Quick, saying he’s a small man. Given your record for accuracy, we can ignore that. I follow the example of Abraham Lincoln, and apologize where appropriate. From his letter to Major General Grant, 13 July 1863:

    “I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.”

    (3) “a conservative in good standing would never quote or cite juan cole”

    That is one of the dumbest things I have read in the long time. Real men respect truth and logic, and know it is found among people of varying views.

    (4) Perhaps you should post on Quick’s site instead of here. I doubt he exposes your factual errors. Anyway, back to the post under discussion…

    Like

    • 30 December 2012 6:16 pm

      “i classify zenpundit as a left wing site. ”

      Although the competition is intense, that has got to be one of the weirdest statements by “major scarlet”.

      Since 2009 Mark Safranski has been writing at the Small Wars Council (not a home for lefties). His website (Zenpundit) has become a center for anti-jihadist writings and traditional conservative advocacy — such as this against gun control. Both unusual causes for lefties.

      Like

  8. Oblat permalink
    5 October 2009 8:39 am

    >you are a left wing idealist.

    I’ve never seen him at the meetings. The left-right divide makes little sense when discussing American foreign policy, the real divide is really between a rather narrow nationalism and a broader global outlook.

    Like

  9. 6 October 2009 1:17 pm

    Err…it’s news to me that I am a “leftist” (and not even of the idealist kind). It would also be surprising information to a number of publishers and blog sites that solicit my writing.

    Like

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