Heads Up on Anti-Iran Propaganda

By George Cheney

Now is the time to act, with calls for peace, reason and dialogue.
by George Cheney
cheneyiranThe Bush Administration is trying to beat global warming after all-not by addressing the problems that cause it, but by pursuing policies that may end the world as we know it before a rising average temperature has time to wreak its full havoc on the planet. In recent months, the administration has been preparing for war with Iran and is poised to launch a major propaganda blitz to shift the public's attention to a new threat.

Disregarding advice from its own commissioned Iraq Study Group about pursuing diplomatic solutions with other nations, the administration prefers to bring us to the brink of a much wider Middle Eastern conflict. While many would have doubted possibility of this new attack just a year or so ago, evidence is mounting weekly that war between the U.S. and Iran is a live option, even as the British and several other countries announce withdrawal of their forces from Iraq.

A September 2006 House Intelligence Report called Iran "a strategic threat to the U.S.," despite the fact that Iran had offered to negotiate over the dimensions of its nuclear program in 2003. The U.S. has recently sent a second air craft carrier to the Sea of Oman, and it is widely believed that the U.S. may have been conducting a larger military buildup in the area for the past 18 months. As reported widely in the mainstream press, the U.S. now has plans for a five-day air and naval attack on approximately 1,500 strategic targets within Iran. The hope on the part of planners is undoubtedly to avoid a ground assault. In fact, there may already be some U.S. troops on the ground in Iran, gathering intelligence information on key targets. {quotes align=right}Even more frightening-President Bush, the self-proclaimed "Decider," does not believe he needs congressional authorization for a first strike against Iran{/quotes} and "the nuclear option" is under discussion within the administration in terms of so-called "bunker busters."

Please don't be taken in by the administration's using a seductive tale of a new enemy to drag us into another war. The administration is now trying to blame its failed policy in Iraq entirely on Iran as the new "imminent threat" to frighten the U.S. public and goad them toward further sacrifice. This is despite the fact that essentially the same charge currently being made against Iran-that some of its weapons are being used by Shi'a insurgents in Iraq-can be leveled against Saudi Arabia for supplying weapons to Sunni insurgents, who are also in combat with U.S. troops and Iraqi militia. Whatever designs the Iranian government may have for the development of nuclear energy, or even nuclear weapons (although this latter interest remains unsubstantiated), a so-called "preemptive" attack will not address the utter destruction of Iraq, will not invite collaboration or change from Iran's government, and will do nothing to shore up America's tattered credibility as a democratic and peaceful superpower.

Such a war could well unite the political factions within Iran against a common enemy-the U.S. It could convince many of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims that leaders in the West are longing for a new Crusade after all and would result in untold human loss and environmental devastation. Given current tensions in several neighboring states, a war with Iran would almost certainly devolve into a regional and perhaps even global conflict.

This is precisely why an attack on Iran would be "the horror scenario," according to realist Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former National Security Advisor in the Carter Administration. In testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month, Brzezinski explained that the Bush administration is setting up a situation where a "spark" of provocation from Iran, and one that might actually be encouraged by the U.S., would be used as a justification for U.S. bombing of Iranian uranium-enrichment facilities or even a full-scale attack on the country, under the label of a "preemptive" strike.

Hillary Mann Leverett, the former National Security Council Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Affairs from 2001 to 2004, during an interview on CNN on February 12, criticized the Bush administration for trying to provoke Iran into aggressive action as a pretext to justify "limited strikes" against the country's nuclear and military installations. {quotes}With the recent detainment of an Iranian diplomat and others, Washington is clearly trying to provoke an aggressive response from Tehran. {/quotes}

We have read the script before: It begins with the complete ignorance of history, stars the latest "New Hitler," and puts unrelated or weakly connected events together to bring on the third act of "shock and awe." With this simplistic narrative and a misguided prescription, Bush may soon offer to cure one tragic war with another. The policy being contemplated toward Iran is not moral, is not rational, and can never succeed-except as a recipe for disaster.

In no way could such a war by the U.S. be termed "preemptive" unless Iran had actually initiated an attack on the U.S. or be unmistakably on the brink of doing that. In the terms of Just War Theory, the contemplated first strike would be, instead, "preventative," and its moral standing would be highly questionable-just as was the U.S. attack on Iraq in March, 2003. At a time when nuclear weapons specialists insist that Iran would be two to 10 years away from the kind of high-level uranium enrichment necessary to produce nuclear weapons, a first strike of any sort (nuclear or otherwise) by the U.S. would have no legal or moral standing in the international community.

An important aspect of this situation almost entirely overlooked by our mainstream media is that both the U.S. and Iran are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. {quotes align=right}Under the provisions of the treaty, non-weapons states such as Iran are permitted to pursue a nuclear program for peaceful purposes. This involves the use of uranium enriched at a very low level for the generation of electrical power.{/quotes} Under the same treaty, weapons states like the U.S. are obliged to move in good faith toward complete nuclear disarmament. And, this is precisely the kind of leadership that the U.S. should be providing, not only to its own citizens and to those of Iran but to the wider world.

Now is the time to act, within your scope of influence, to counter the propaganda. The drumbeats of war must be drowned out by timely calls for peace, reason, and dialogue. Write editorials, call your elected officials, create town meetings, construct a blog, screen the film "Wag the Dog," hold discussions with family and friends. Let's all put an end to this new act of madness before our leaders tell us it is "inevitable."

George Cheney is a concerned citizen, educator, writer, speaker, and facilitator who has worked on issues of social and economic justice since the late 1970s. He lives in Salt Lake City.

This article was originally published on February 28, 2007.