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Stopping the Rush to War against Iran

Written by Sheldon Richman on 24 January 2012.

A growing group of individuals and organizations has designated Saturday, February 4, as a “National Day of Action” aimed at preventing a war against Iran. The manifesto is simple: “No War, No Sanctions, No Intervention, No Assassinations.” 

Nothing is more urgent than stopping the march to war now underway. Economic warfare has begun already. Sanctions and embargoes are belligerent acts under international law; such policies goaded the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941. The U.S. State Department recently reassured Israeli leaders, who along with their American lobby are in a bigger hurry for war than President Obama is, that the sanctions will devastate the Iranian economy — more precisely, the Iranian people.

U.S. officials also say that Iran’s economy will be throttled by the crippling of that country’s central bank. Sanctions authorized by Obama in late December aim to stop the rest of the world from doing business with the bank, which would amount to isolating the Iranian people from world commerce. If successful, this would create indescribable misery for average Iranians. (Rulers always find a way to get by.)

The demanded oil boycott is accompanied by a U.S. suggestion that Iranian oil be replaced with Libyan oil, which sheds new light on the Obama administration’s intervention in the Libyan civil war and the regime change it accomplished. Not all nations can be counted on to boycott Iranian oil, but those that do not will still be in a position to demand lower prices from Iran’s government. 

Meanwhile, Iranian scientists are being assassinated, and various Iranian facilities are mysteriously exploding. This is surely the work of the CIA or the Israeli Mossad or both of them in conjunction with Iranian groups with histories of violent activity. The covert war is on. 

The national day of action, with events planned in many cities, is intended to bring all of this to the attention of a complacent American people. Americans are said to be war-weary after an eight-year occupation of Iraq (in fact, twenty years of hostilities) and a decade-long and continuing war in Afghanistan, a quagmire if there ever was one. You’d think a war-weary people would be demanding no war against Iran, but Americans seem not to be paying attention.

George W. Bush famously botched the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The American people were fooled once by unsubstantiated claims about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and his readiness to use them on short notice. There were no such weapons, of course — as many informed authorities said before the U.S. invasion — but those who want to bomb Iran appear to believe that this method of spreading war fever among Americans will work one more time. 

Hence the incessant propaganda about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program — for which there is zero evidence. America’s dozen-and-a-half intelligence agencies have twice reported that Iran scrapped its initial program more than eight years ago. The International Atomic Energy Agency regularly inspects the country and certifies that its uranium has not been enriched to weapons-grade. What Iran has done is consistent with developing nuclear medicine and electrical power.

Yet Iran is now subjected to low-level but deadly warfare and threats of a massive bombing campaign because it will not — and cannot — prove a negative: that it is not developing nuclear weapons.

Does Iran represent a serious nuclear threat? Israel’s defense minister and several former Mossad directors say no. “Defense” Secretary Leon Panetta, like Israeli intelligence, is not convinced Iran has decided to build a weapon. Even leading American neoconservatives acknowledge that a nuclear Iran (if such came to be) would not attack Israel, which has its own nukes, much less the United States.

Then why the march to war? The U.S. and Israeli governments will not tolerate limits on their hegemony in the Middle East. Iran is a big, populous, and long-existing country that inevitably will be a major force in the region. Therefore, U.S. and Israeli dominance requires a subservient Iran — like the brutal U.S.- and Israeli-sponsored Shah’s regime was until it was overthrown in the Islamic revolution of 1979.

To repeat: nothing is more urgent than stopping this march to war against Iran. Let’s make February 4 the day it was reversed.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.

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