America Gets Stupid, Again, on Iran

For many American politicians and pundits, the smart career play again is to clamber on the bandwagon for war with Iran, just as they did for war with Iraq. But the recycled neocon tough talk and the renewed pandering to Israeli leaders could take the world down another catastrophic path, Lawrence Davidson writes.

By Lawrence Davidson

It is estimated that up to a million people died as a function of George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, which Bush later said was based on “faulty intelligence,” the ex-president’s way of passing the blame. The reality was that Bush insisted that accurate intelligence he was getting from traditional sources was false and that lies he was being told by other parties were true.

Now, there is Iran. Over and again the intelligence community has told the powers that be that Iran is not engaged in a nuclear weapons program. And over and again the men and women in Congress and the White House have insisted that these traditional sources of information are wrong and that the stories that are coming from other sources (in this case the Israeli government and its special interest agents in Washington) know better.

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh

As in 2003, so it is in 2012. The politicians appear to be out for blood. One wonders how many dead and maimed bodies will satisfy them? Perhaps it will be a million dead Iranians.

The only difference is that today, we have a president who is hesitant to go to war this very moment. As General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has put it, the major difference between the U.S. and Israel on military action against Iran is timing. For President Obama, first comes the “diplomacy” of ultimatums combined with draconian sanctions, and then comes the slaughter. Perhaps it will come in his anticipated second term.

I have written about this more than once before and it is hard to find anything new to say. Yet, given the play of events, what has been said before warrants being said again. Therefore, below your will find a piece originally posted last June 10, but amended where necessary to bring it up to date.

A Nuclear Weapons Program

On June 3, 2011, the investigative reporter Seymour Hersh gave an interview to Amy Goodman for the radio program “Democracy Now!” The topic was Iran and whether or not it is developing nuclear weapons. Hersh answered this question definitively for Goodman as he did shortly thereafter in a comprehensive piece for The New Yorker (June 6, 2011) entitled “Iran and the Bomb: How Real is the Threat?

His answer: there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. There is no threat. This position has been confirmed by two National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on the question of Iran and nuclear weapons. These expressed the collective opinion of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Their unanimous conclusion has been that “there is no evidence of any weaponization.”

This was reconfirmed in mid-February of 2012 by an array of top U.S. intelligence chiefs appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee to give their annual report on “current and future worldwide threats” to national security.

Hersh set his understanding of the issue against the background of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In that case there was no credible evidence for weapons of mass destruction yet the United States had high government officials going around talking about the next world war and mushroom clouds over American cities. Both the U.S. Congress and the general population bought into this warmongering.

Hersh is obviously worried about a replay of that scenario. Thus, in his interview, he said “you could argue it’s 2003 all over again. There’s just no serious evidence inside that Iran is actually doing anything to make nuclear weapons. So, the fact is … that we have a sanctions program that’s designed to prevent the Iranians from building weapons they’re not building.”

In 2003, those kinds of sanctions, applied to Iraq,along with the accompanying misinformation campaign, led to a tragic and unnecessary war. Are we now doing it all over again? As Amy Goodman pointed out, “the Obama White House … has repeatedly cited Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to the world.”

President Obama asserted as much in a May 22, 2011, speech before AIPAC and again in his March 4 talk to the same organization. On the latter occasion Obama told his audience, “I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.

“That includes all elements of American power: a political effort aimed at isolating Iran, an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.” All this for something that is simply not happening.

If this is the case, what in the world was President Barack Obama talking about when addressing AIPAC? And what are the members of Congress talking about when they address this same issue? The vast majority of them take the same line not of President Obama, but of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu who thinks Obama is weak and naive and that there should be war against Iran now.

In addition, this morbid fantasizing about Iran’s nuclear ambitions has captured the attention of the mainstream press. Amy Goodman asked Hersh about a New York Times report of May 24, 2011, stating “the world’s global nuclear inspection agency [IAEA] … revealed for the first time … that it possesses evidence that Tehran has conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that experts said could be used for only one purpose: setting off a nuclear weapon.”

Hersh quickly pointed out the that the word “evidence” never appeared in the IAEA report and, it turns out, the type of nuclear trigger the New York Times was referring to is so fraught with technical problems that, according to Hersh, “there is no evidence that anybody in their right mind would want to use that kind of a trigger.” So, what in the world is the New York Times telling us?

What is Real?

Questions One and Two: The questions about Iran’s nuclear program are not open-ended. They have real answers. First, is Iran developing nuclear energy? The answer to this is a definitive yes. No one, Iranian or otherwise, denies this. Their aim here is energy production and medical applications. This is all legal.

Second, is it developing nuclear weapons? According to every reliable expert within the intelligence agencies of both the United States and Europe, the answer is no. These answers describe reality in relation to Iran and its nuclear activities.

Question Three: The really important question. Why do American politicians and military leaders refuse to accept reality as regards this issue? That too must have an answer. And intelligent people who investigate these matters should be able to figure it out. I consider myself in this crowd, and so I am going to venture forth with my answer.

Answer to Question Three: It is Politics. However, it is not just U.S. politics. Others have helped write the script. These others can be identified by asking to whom are American officials pledging to pursue the Iranian nuclear weapons fantasy? The president’s pledge has gone to AIPAC and the Israelis. Members of Congress have done the same.

Israeli politicians are addicted to the Iran threat. Iran serves, alongside the Palestinians, as the latter-day ruthless anti-Semite who would destroy the Jews. Zionists seem to need this kind of “existentialist” enemy, the equivalent of the Islamic fundamentalist taking the place of the hateful communist as the great enemy that the United States also seems to need.

And, as it turns out, the Israeli lobby is more influential in formulating U.S. foreign policy toward Iran than all of the nation’s intelligence services put together. Hence U.S. politicians from the president on down, chase shadows, not just verbally, mind you, but in terms of definable policy (like sanctions against Iran).

U.S. politicians and military leaders cannot talk like this and create policy like this without the mainstream press following along. Where there is smoke, there must be fire. Plus, ever since the Iranian hostage crisis (1979-1981), Americans have been told that the Iranians hate us.

So, whether it is Fox TV whose fanatical conservative backers have always lived in a bi-polar fantasy world of good and evil, or the New York Times, whose quasi-liberal backers empathize with Israel just enough to buy into that country’s paranoia, the message is that the Iranians are crazy people out to destroy the West. And the evidence? Who needs it?

Acting on False Assumptions

What happens when a well-armed individual cannot tell the difference between reality and unreality? What happens when a well-armed individual just knows, in his gut, that the other guy is plotting to destroy him? Chances are something horrible will happen.

And, the American public ought to know that this is so, because collectively we have already lived out this tragedy in 2003. In that year we had leaders who were much more influenced by their guts, by religious imagery, by duplicitous Iraqi con men, by scheming Zionists and ideologically driven neo-cons, than anything vaguely resembling hard evidence. That “something horrible” cost the lives of up to a million human beings.

So let us get this straight. It seems there are two worlds. The real world of facts and evidence and the unreal world of fantasy. Our political leaders and their advisers are, apparently, stuck in the unreal one. Their words, and their policies, are built on the assumptions of this fantasy world. They go to war and kill people based on beliefs that are demonstrably false.

And the rest of us? Most of us are stuck in our own local niches and beyond them we do not know what is real or unreal. So we rely on others to tell us what to believe. Who are the others? They just happen to be our political leaders, their advisers and follow-the-leader media commentators. Well, that makes a nice little circle. And, a fatal one at that.

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 Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

17 comments for “America Gets Stupid, Again, on Iran

  1. Judah the Lion
    March 17, 2012 at 16:45

    Is Iran Responsible For The Attacks On Gaza?

    Ronn Torossian

    Largely disregarded by the Western media are recent reports indicating that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was advised by Iranian officials to deflect worldwide criticism from him by diverting attention toward Israel and the Palestinians. Emails intercepted by Syrian opposition and released by The Guardian show that the bloodshed in Syria is being orchestrated by a mightier power.

    The coincidence of the increased terrorist activity since last Friday, firing approximately 200 rockets at Southern Israeli towns and cities from Gaza and the email chains, leave little to manufacture. This is a well coordinated attempt to distract the West from Syria’s mass killings and Iran is pulling the strings. One email urges Assad to center on: “Resistance”; “Hostility to Israel, the first enemy of the Muslims”; and “Protection of Palestinian people’s rights (real prayers should be in the direction of Jerusalem).” The email then added “Maybe here the president can reiterate his stance by condemning forcefully the recent Israeli practices and policies to Judaise Al-Quds (Jerusalem).”

    The Iranian advice to Assad is to use “powerful and violent” language in his opposition to Israel. If such language, email messages or other revelations ever emanated from even the furthest right-wing elements of the Israeli government, what kind of international uproar would be heard?

    The memo further stated:

    “Here the subject of Israel comes up and it becomes necessary to put stress on the particular merits of the president by linking the foreign pressures on Syria, which differs in its toughness and content to other countries in crisis, with the geographical proximity to Israel and the position of the people and the regime towards Israel.”

    Would it be absurd to believe that the Arab world is similarly asking Gaza’s Hamas to fire missiles at Israel to deflect the mass killings in Syria. Thankfully, at least for now the attacks were stymied by the Iron Dome system, and they have stopped for now. Egypt helped broker the tentative truce. Yet, few in the media asked the simple question of why the Palestinians were attacking from Gaza if they control Gaza? There is no “occupation” in Gaza – its controlled by the Palestinian Arabs, who elected the terrorist organization Hamas in 2007, and until today refuse to recognize Israel – a bit duplicitous.

    What did the terrorists in Gaza want? Could it really just be to kill Jews and eradaicate the Jewish state?

    Even the Jewish Telegraphic Agency seems to miss the point with a headline which reads “Israeli retaliatory strikes hit Gaza amid cease-fire,” as if Israel was hitting a real country, run by good, decent people who ceased fire. Media never questioned whether Al-Qaeda was to blame when America hit back following the attacks of 9/11. When innocent people get attacked and killed, a free and sovereign nation has the right – and the responsibility to respond. Considering that a terrorist organization controls Gaza why is it a surprise that the Israeli Army protects its people? A simple continued double standard.

    For months on end we heard about peace flotillas when Israel protected itself from Gaza’s previous attacks. It is still amazing that none of those concerned advocates have organized a flotilla to Syria – despite the facts that thousands have been killed by the Syrians, by their own president. Few remember that in the mid 90’s Israel received tremendous pressure to surrender the Golan Heights to Assad. President Clinton at the time said of Assad “I think he has reached the conclusion that in the interest of his people, his administration and his legacy can make a meaningful and lasting peace.”

    Is the man we see today the same one whom Mr. Clinton spoke about? How much more vulnerable would Israel be had it ceded the Golan? Even our religious and “right-wing” community desires peace. Hasbara Fellowships, a project of Aish International, created “Israel Peace Week” on 65 university campuses in the U.S. to counter the BDS and Israel equals Apartheid activities. The leftist media still ignores the fact that Israel wants peace, while others want to destroy the Jewish state.

    Is there a way for Israel’s publicity machine to be more effective in showing the glaring hypocrisy of certain media and anti-Israel pundits and advocates?

    Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, 1 of the 25 largest PR Agencies in the US

  2. Jim Faubel
    March 11, 2012 at 13:49

    One wonders if Israeli politics (or American politics, for that matter) would survive if we didn’t have our enemies to hate.

  3. Kenny Fowler
    March 11, 2012 at 11:13

    The Neocon propaganda mouthpieces are in full desperation mode, furiously banging the war drums. They see their dream war against Iran slipping away. Iraq is over and everyone is heading for the exit in Afghanistan. Their fear mongering and lies are not working this time. The GOP is infected with the stupidity in their anti-Obama campaign mode for the coming election. A few war hawk Democrats and Lieberman are on board but that’s about it. The only way the war happens now is if the Israeli’s are stupid enough to attack alone. Are they that stupid?

  4. Hillary
    March 11, 2012 at 08:54

    There are hundreds of nuclear power plants all around the globe, but non can be built anywhere close to Israel ?

  5. rosemerry
    March 11, 2012 at 03:25

    “a political effort aimed at isolating Iran, … an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions” (Pres.Obama) Even this, as in Iraq, is unjustifed, cruel and vicious targeting of a whole population, as in Gaza. The self righteous belligerence of the USA throughout its history helps us understand its close “friendship” with Israel. Their attitudes towards “enemies”, who cannot ever be negotiated with, let alone have right on their side, are similar. Sovereign States need to be treated with respect, but the UN is mocked by the US and Israel. World peace is to be avoided at all costs, in their eyes.

  6. photon's feather
    March 10, 2012 at 18:49

    I blame Lyndon Johnson. If he hadn’t covered up both Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty and their launching of the military attacks that began the Six-Day War, we might have restrained this bully before it became such a monster.

    The American public might have had an entirely different perception of the ‘victims’ of the Middle East.

    (This is not to suggest that those are the only glaring errors in our relationship to Israel, but that was the most obvious time, I think, to expose Israel for what it truly was.)

  7. Morton Kurzweil
    March 10, 2012 at 17:59

    The Bush invasion of Iraq was a war to end all dependence on foreign ownership of oil extending the American Empire with nineteenth century bravado.
    Iran is imploding under seventh century religious autocracy. Israel is surrounded by Islamic populism that is democratic when compared to the criminal dictatorships of the last century.
    It will take generations before these populations can reach a level of freedom that accepts the scholastic liberalism of the 10th and 11th centuries created in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo and Cordoba produced before they were eaten by the malignancy of orthodoxy. We have seen the same religious fanaticism at work on the civil liberties of the United States.
    It is the emotional attachment to beliefs that produce feelings of certainty that will condemn humanity, not the fear
    of the unknown.

    • March 10, 2012 at 20:41

      Don’t forget the Spanish crusaders. Moors, Jews, and, yes, even Christians were getting along passably before driven out, thank you, before Ferdie and Bella gifted us with the Spanish Inquisition and Columbus (a genocidist).

  8. speak truth
    March 10, 2012 at 17:50

    Please watch 60 minutes tomorrow night. Leslie Stahl has the horrible Chief of the Mossad on as her guest. Even that war monger doesnt not believe Iran is a threat, in fact he quoted General Dempsey stating “Iran is rational”. Of course they are. Its the right wing uber war mongering blood thirsty Bibi the Bully and Euhud Barak who are the villians in this scenario. One thing the US and our citizens better understand. There is a new sheriff on the world stage again…Putin. He will stand strong against Israel and the US. Those demonstrators in the streets of Russia, are the old commies, and Russian Jews who wanted the billionaire to win, because he is a zionist who would have also signed up for war on Iran. To all the zionist jewish community in this country. You better make up your mind. You stand with the US the country you live in, or you must self deport to Israel your true country and take AIPAC and JDL with you.

    • Otto Schiff
      March 11, 2012 at 02:19

      Above, spoken like a true antisemite. Putin is not a Jew. His supporters ar a Russian majority. I do not support AIPAC> The JDL he refers to does not exist.He probably means the Anti Defamation League (that should go after him.) They are not involved in Iran policy.

  9. incontinent reader
    March 10, 2012 at 13:23

    To Judah the Lion, It’s not antisemitic, or anti-Israel. It’s anti- the false narrative and destructive policies of the Likud.

    • Otto Schiff
      March 11, 2012 at 02:07

      Netanyahoo is a fascist.However the Iranians also have fascist tendencies.
      The only way is negotiation.

  10. Judah the Lion
    March 10, 2012 at 11:08

    more pro arab antisemitic nonsense from davidson.

    • Ken Hildebrandt
      March 10, 2012 at 15:47

      An article this detailed and informative deserves a serious rebuttal, not a sweeping generality with no foundation.

      You don’t even address that estimates as high as a million people were killed due to lies. Reminds me of the Joseph Stalin quote, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” To some people perhaps, but not to those who think, care, and value human life.

      We should also consider who overthrew the Iranian government in 1953, and has been strong-arming them ever since, as per this one minute plus video,

    • March 10, 2012 at 20:20

      The “Lion” seems to be out of breath.

    • March 13, 2012 at 01:13

      I see naught but facts.

      Nine years ago, we were told outroght fabrications that led to the deaths of over a million human beings. I will not be party to a second round.

Comments are closed.