Where the Real ‘Iran Threat’ Lies

The endless double standards demonstrated by U.S. pols and pundits toward U.S. “friends” vs. “enemies” have created a wildly distorted frame for a public trying to distinguish between genuine threats and propaganda themes, as Lawrence Davidson found regarding Iran.

By Lawrence Davidson

The investigative reporter and author Gareth Porter has recently published a book entitled  A Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. An impressively written and researched work, it is also frightening in its implications. For if Porter’s allegations are accurate, it is not Iran that the American people should fear – it is their own politicians, bureaucrats and an “ally” named Israel.

According to Porter, there has never been a serious nuclear weapons program undertaken by Iran. By the way, this is a conclusion that is supported by the heads of all American intelligence agencies reporting annually to Congress. Unfortunately, this repeated determination has been scorned by the politicians and poorly reported by the media.gareth-porter-cover

As a result the American people lack the knowledge to independently judge Iranian actions as regards nuclear research, and so can be led to erroneous conclusions by those pursuing their own political or ideological ends or, as in the present case, the intrigues of a foreign government.

Following the end of the Cold War, the U.S. foreign relations, military and “defense” bureaucracies quickly focused on the issue of terrorism. And well they might, for their own policies of backing all manner of right-wing dictatorships had identified the U.S. as an enemy of almost every resistance movement on the planet.

These wrongheaded policies provoked violent responses, including the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. From that point on, the threat of terrorist attacks, particularly involving “weapons of mass destruction,” or WMDs, became the main selling point of every bureaucrat, politician and soldier looking for a bigger “defense” budget.

President George W. Bush was the main promoter of this line of thinking and the invasion of Iraq the major corresponding catastrophe. Memories of that disaster, so expensive in lives and treasure, along with the lingering war in Afghanistan, have caused a war-weariness among the American people that may be their ultimate saving grace.

Enter the Zionists

With Iraq in shambles and no longer a “threat,” the attention of American policy makers turned to Iran. Forgetting all about the horrible blunder our neoconservative President Bush and his advisers had made over Iraqi WMDs, an even larger coalition of political forces started a slow buildup of popular anxiety over Iranian nuclear research. But where was the evidence? For this, one can always rely on the Israelis.

Porter describes how successive Israeli governments exaggerated the threat of Iran in order to, among other things, rationalize their own expansionist ambitions and bind the United States government ever closer to Israeli interests. In 2004, a laptop, allegedly taken from an Iranian scientist, was given by the Israelis to U.S. intelligence agents. Since 2008 much of the so-called evidence for an Iranian nuclear weapons program has come from material on this computer. Porter makes a convincing argument that this data, as well as additional material, are Israeli forgeries.

Despite the fact that Iran has satisfied both the American intelligence services and the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons development, U.S. politicians and media refuse to let the matter go. Hence the recent spectacle of the U.S. Senate presenting an almost veto-proof bill demanding yet more sanctions on Iran, despite the likelihood that such an act would ruin diplomatic negotiations and make hostilities all the more likely.

One has to ask in whose interest is such an obsessive anti-Iranian stance? Not the interest of the United States. Indeed, the Senate gambit started to unravel when President Obama implied that the demand for more sanctions on Iran threatened U.S. national interests.

On the Ground in Iran

I recently spent 11 days in Iran as part of group of Academics for Peace (a subdivision of Conscience International), returning to the U.S. on Jan. 29. On the ground in that country is a mix of optimism and anxiety. Some Iranians feel persecuted by the U.S. government. They can’t understand why sanctions have been imposed upon them. They like the American people and look forward to a return of the tourist trade, but the behavior of the U.S. government is often a mystery to them.

As is so often the case, U.S.-sponsored sanctions have hurt ordinary people with no influence on policy. The sanctions have resulted in inflation, higher rates of pollution, less-safe civilian aircraft, shortages of some medical supplies, the isolation of Iranian banks, and the reduction of exports.

Gallup poll taken in Iran in late in 2013 showed that 85 percent of respondents felt that sanctions had hurt their standard of living. On the other hand, other countries, such as China, have taken advantage of the Western refusal to deal with Iran. Presently the country is full of Chinese businessmen and their inexpensive imports.

The Obama administration’s willingness to finally take up Iran’s offer to negotiate differences (one should remember President Khatami’s spurned offer made in 2003) has raised great hopes. Many Iranians are simply holding their breath hoping for that elusive final comprehensive agreement between Iran and the P5 + 1 powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany).

One should also note that there is a minority of Iranians, mostly technicians, scientists and some businessmen, who are of a mixed mind when it comes to sanctions. On the one hand, banking and export limitations are a real economic hindrance. And, for all of those in the West concerned with the free flow of information, there seems to be an ongoing ban against Iranian scholars by American scholarly journals.

On the other hand, there are Iranians who find at least some of the sanctions genuinely beneficial. The fact is that Iran has become a lot more self-sufficient under the sanctions and these people don’t want to see the country lose that edge. The government is developing industrial and research parks to keep its R&D pace going. But what will happen when and if the sanctions go away? Will Iran’s economy get sucked into the neoliberal vortex of the Western marketplace?

While there are sanction-related problems, the Iranian economy has not been stilled. In the capital of Tehran, along with the traffic congestion and air pollution, there are a myriad of building projects. These are not signs of a society shriveling on the vine. To go beyond the present level of sanctions and impose the ever more draconian measures proposed by the U.S. Senate comes close to an act of war.

Iran is not like the United States. The women cover their hair in public and men do not wear ties. Most of the time men do not shake hands with women, nor is affection shown between sexes in public.

The government is different too. While there is an elected president and parliament, there is also a Supreme Leader who has the last say on most matters. However, unlike those leaders in the U.S., Iran’s leadership has not yet misled their people into foreign wars.

The “Iranian problem” is really a U.S. problem. It points up very deep flaws in the U.S. political system, where money is legally considered “free speech” and policy formation often follows the wishes of the highest bidder.

We have too many built-in incentives for war in this country: a military-industrial complex that employs millions, both Democratic and Republican politicians who find political success in supporting “defense” contractors, neoconservative ideologues who want the U.S. to militarily dominate the globe, self-interested bureaucrats whose budgets depend on an endless array of alleged threats, and special interest lobbies tied to foreign powers seeking to turn American aggressiveness toward targets of their own choosing.

The outcome is often policies that kill and maim millions. It is only the present war-weariness of the American people that, for now, holds all of this destructive influence at bay.

The only reasonable conclusion is that Gareth Porter’s portrayal of the conflict with Iran stands true. And, as a consequence, the American people have far less to worry about with Iran than they do with the machinations of many of their own leaders.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. 

Share this Article:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • NewsVine
  • Technorati
  • email

4 comments on “Where the Real ‘Iran Threat’ Lies

  1. Bill Jones on said:

    It is obvious that any Country whose primary foreign policy goal is the subversion of the US political system is an enemy . That the NSA hands details of all politicians and judges phone calls and emails to such a hostile foreign power is astonishing.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57602543-83/nsa-hands-israel-intelligence-data-on-us-persons/#!

  2. Joe Tedesky on said:

    Apparently there is no money in peace, or at least that is what some do believe.

    General Wesley Clark back in 2005 spoke about a war strategy which once implemented would change the Middle East as we know it for a very long time. Then General Clark looked like a severely ill conspiracy theorist, now not so much.

    Israel has already lost the public relations war with the rest of the world, and now it appears they are losing the American people. If you don’t believe me start reading the reader comments on any blog, and these comments show just how angry everyone is with Netanyahu and AIPAC. Did I mention also our US Congress?

    America has such great soft diplomacy to export it’s a wonder we even need a military. The US would be wise to try and become the Frank Capra America, and distance ourselves away from Cheney’s Neocon America which we have become. Scrap the Patriot Act, destroy the CIA and NSA as we know it, and live up to the US Constitution for this would serve as well. It would not only serve Americans well it would serve all citizens of this planet to beyond well.

  3. What Rouhani Says:

    .Condemns the killing of innocents
    .Talks about a positive approach to technology
    .Talks about the end of outside involvement in Syria
    .Claims Iran’s nuclear project is peaceful

    What Rouhani Does:
    .Executes hundreds of innocents in Iran
    .Prevents Iranians from freely surfing the internet
    .Supports Assad who murders innocents
    .Continues developing Iran’s military nuclear capability

    Behind the smiles and the mirth brought about by Hassan Rohani’s triumph in the first round of the Iranian presidential election, there lurks a personal tragedy: his elder son took his own life in 1992 in protest of his father’s close connection with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    “I hate your government, your lies, your corruption, your religion, your double acts and your hypocrisy,” wrote the future president’s son in his suicide note, published in London by exiled Iranian political commentator Ali Reza Nouri.

    “I am ashamed to live in such environment where I’m forced to lie to my friends each day, telling them that my father isn’t part of all of this. Telling them my father loves this nation, whereas I believe this to be not true. It makes me sick seeing you, my father, kiss the hand of Khamenei,” read the letter published in the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat

    Official Iranian press attributed the young man’s suicide to unrequited love.
    Rohani had harsh words for his son who he said committed a great sin in putting an end to his life; however he still made sure he was buried in a select plot in the temple of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

    Iran’s newly elected president pledged Monday, in his first press conference since being elected to presidency, to follow a “path of moderation” and promised greater openness over the country’s nuclear program, emphasizing messages from Western leaders since his victory that have brought cautious hope of new openings with Tehran.

    But he said he would not support halting Iran’s uranium enrichment, which is a key stumbling block on talks between Iran and world powers.

    Iran’s president-elect said the United States must recognize Iran’s nuclear rights and pledge not to interfere in its internal affairs before direct talks between the two countries can take place.

    “The issue of relations between Iran and America is a complicated and difficult issue,” Rohani said. “It is an old wound that needs to be … healed.”

    • steve@ssgreenberg.name on said:

      What Rouhani Does
      .
      .
      .
      .Continues developing Iran’s military nuclear capability

      Did you somehow miss the opening paragraphs of the story.

      “According to Porter, there has never been a serious nuclear weapons program undertaken by Iran. By the way, this is a conclusion that is supported by the heads of all American intelligence agencies reporting annually to Congress. Unfortunately, this repeated determination has been scorned by the politicians and poorly reported by the media.”

      Did you read anything past the headline, or did you come right to the comments section?