Iran and Reality: A Flickering Light on the Edge of Disaster

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The very best outcome of a war with Iran – the most benign result possible to imagine – will be deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and a floodtide of terror and carnage set loose on a world in overwhelming economic crisis. That is the best possible outcome. The worst is the slaughter of tens of millions of innocent people from the nuclear attacks that we know George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have advocated in their maniacal war planning: tens of millions dead, hundreds of millions poisoned, whole nations brought to ruin and a planet mortally sickened. Between these two poles of ungodly mass slaughter and unfathomable genocide lie the only possible realistic outcome of a war with Iran. And we stand on the very brink.

We stand there because cunning thugs are exploiting the carefully cultivated ignorance of not only the general American people but also of almost all of the American Establishment as well – the "great and the good," the "best and the brightest," the technocrats and thinkers, the media and government, the tycoons and the corporate chiefs. Most of these "leaders of society" are as ignorant about the reality of Iran as any high school dropout stacking boxes at Wal-Mart. And so the terms of any discussion ("debate" is too strong a word to describe the bellicose bipartisan "consensus" against Iran) about the Bush Faction's accelerating rush to a new war is already completely divorced from reality. It's like trying to decide which cartoon character would be the best one to keep your house from burning down – while you stood there on your real-live lawn and watched your real-live house burn down. It's meaningless, it's stupid, it's destructive. And that's all we're getting out of Washington, that's all we're getting from the media.

But in his article in The Progressive, Professor Muhammad Sahimi offers a beacon of clarity, with straightforward prose, based on hard facts and experience. It is this perspective that should now be ascendant in the halls of Congress and ringing through the airwave – but it is nowhere to be found.

We've discussed here many times the various reasons why the Bush Faction wants war with Iran, and the political, financial and ideological aggrandizement they think they will gain from it. But as they push us closer and closer to this fateful conflict, it becomes less important why they want it; the obvious fact that they do want it, that they have been maddened by whatever inner worms of the spirit to pursue this lunatic course no matter what the cost – this is what is most important now. Whatever its origin, their mad ambition must be thwarted. To do this, we must know the truth and deal with reality. Professor Sahimi provides us with both.

Excerpts from the article:
Back in March, the Bush Administration released its new “National Security Strategy of the United States,” and regime change in Iran leaps out of it as a goal. “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran,” the document baldly states in a grand exaggeration. And for all the recent talk about Iran’s nuclear threat, the document does not confine its discussion of Iran to the nuclear issue. “The United States has broader concerns,” it says. “The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism, threatens Israel, seeks to thwart Middle East peace, disrupts democracy in Iraq, and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom.”

All of these issues, along with the nuclear one, “can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people,” the document states. “This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy.” President Bush and Condoleezza Rice may stress in public that they are giving diplomacy a try, but this document makes clear that they have something else in mind.

If the Bush Administration attacks Iran, it would be violating the U.N. Charter. And it would also be violating the Algiers Accord that the United States signed with Iran in 1981 to end the hostage crisis. Point I, paragraph 1, of that accord states, “The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”

Not only is the goal of regime change illegal, it is also unachievable.

“Democracy cannot be imported, nor can it be given to a people by invading their nation, nor by bombing them with cluster bombs. It must be indigenous,” says Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights advocate who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
...Iran is not Iraq. Iraq was formed only in 1932 with artificial boundaries that have no historical roots. Iran, on the other hand, has existed for thousands of years as an independent nation. Hence, Iranian nationalism is extremely fierce. Military strikes on Iran would create a potent mixture that combines fierce Iranian nationalism with the Shiites’ long tradition of martyrdom in defense of their homeland and religion. The attacks would engulf the entire region in flames.

“Iranians will not allow a single U.S. soldier to set foot in Iran,” declares Ebadi, and this is a woman who has been imprisoned by Iran’s hardliners and is constantly harassed for her work on behalf of political prisoners…

Although a large majority of Iranians despise the hardliners, anyone who has the slightest familiarity with Iran’s history knows that intense bombing of Iran will not lead to their downfall. Rather, it will help them consolidate power.

“The conservatives need an external enemy in order to preserve their power,” says Mohammad Reza Khatami, a leading reformist and younger brother of the former president. By creating an unnecessary crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, the Administration has played right into the hands of Iran’s hardliners…

During Iran’s presidential elections of 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ran on a platform of “bringing the oil wealth to people’s homes,” promising a robust economy, elimination of corruption, and ample employment opportunities for Iran’s young and educated people. It has now become clear that Ahmadinejad could not deliver on those promises. Knowing this, he has used the U.S.-created nuclear crisis not only for inciting Iranian nationalism, but also for distracting people’s attention from Iran’s vast economic, social, and political problems, as well as attempting to suppress Iran’s democratic movement.

“The best the U.S. government can do for democracy in Iran is to leave us alone,” Akbar Gangi, an Iranian investigative journalist who spent six years in prison for reporting on the murder of dissidents by Iran’s intelligence agents, said on a recent trip to the United States.

Iran has a wide spectrum of reformist and democratic groups that are all against U.S. intervention in Iran’s internal affairs and its goal of regime change. They favor political evolution and have made it clear that, for many reasons, they will not work with the United States. Many wonder aloud why the U.S. did nothing when the reformist Khatami was elected in 1997. Washington could have lifted its economic sanctions against Iran that hurt only ordinary Iranians, but it did not. After Khatami’s government helped the U.S. defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, President Bush responded by listing Iran as a charter member of the “axis of evil.”

… With his deplorable statements regarding Israel and the Holocaust, President Ahmadinejad has not helped the situation any. But within Iran’s political power structure, important decisions regarding its foreign policy and national security are not made by its president. Iran’s official policy is to recognize the two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict, if the Palestinians also accept it.

Much has been made of Iran enriching a minuscule amount of uranium at 4.8 percent that is far from serviceable in the making of nuclear weapons. By contrast, Brazil enriched uranium to a 20 percent level and limited IAEA’s visits to its enrichment facilities. South Korea, Taiwan, and Egypt have all been caught by the IAEA trying to secretly enrich uranium or design a nuclear bomb or engage in experiments without declaring them to the IAEA. But where is the U.S. outrage at such violations? And Israel, of course, already has about 200 nuclear weapons, and Pakistan, Iran’s neighbor to the east, is also armed with nuclear weapons. Such hypocrisy has angered Iranian reformists and human rights advocates.

Nor will they accept aggression.

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