Sunday :: Sep 9, 2007

Attack Iran? I don't think so


by Erin Alecto

ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

That dire announcement is dated December 11, 2005.

Many times before (as early as 2003), and since then, similar breathless warnings about an imminent attack on Iran have regularly erupted from the press and the blogs, only to fade into the background as the deadlines come and go. The story is always the same; the US and Israel vow to prevent a nuclear Iran, the Iranians declare they only want the nuclear facilities for electricity and promise to continue the drive to build more centrifuges, the UN is asked to call for more sanctions, Russia and China say they want more negotiations, and finally, "The US Will Attack On ______. The only constant, it seems, is this flurry of alarmist rhetoric always flares up before an IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and capabilities is due to be released. This time is no different. Follow along:

VIENNA (Reuters) - The chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog will tell skeptical nations on its governing board this week Iran's pledge of atomic transparency should be given a chance to work, not dismissed as a time-buying ruse.

An ambiguously-worded deal Iran agreed with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to explain the murky scope of its nuclear program faces scrutiny at a meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board starting on Monday.

Indeed, while the most recent alarm bells have been sounding all summer, IAEA Director Mohamed El Baradei has been reporting that Iran's cooperation is a “significant step forward” and that Iran's uranium enrichment program is continuing at a slower rate than expected. He will present his report on developments since his last report in May, a time which, not coincidently, found the blogs also in an uproar about an expected "New Moon in June" deadline. While El Baradai has indicated that Iran is not to be trusted, and despite Ahmadinejad's belligerent rhetoric lately, the report is expected to show that negotiation and diplomacy are working.

So, what is behind the latest hyperventilation about an impending Iran attack? It could be Cheney’s recent exhortation to the press to pound the drum for an attack (coinciding with the internalized meme of product launches in September), combined with Bush’s latest fear-mongering about a “nuclear holocaust,” (which he's been doing for years since the "Axis of Evil speech). Add to that, the “recent” release of a paper (pdf file) by Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher that’s making the rounds this week. Oddly enough, Mr. Plesch has been warning about an attack “any day now” since February citing the movement of US carriers to the area, carriers that have now dispersed after conducting war games in a show of force for Iran’s benefit. While the paper gives a detailed analysis of how an attack might go down, there’s very little in the way of evidence that an attack is imminent. The authors point to bombast from the likes of Ledeen and Kristol, as well, which isn't evidence so much as insane cheerleading. As with other his other warnings, and the ensuing weeks of excited speculation that didn't pan out, I came away from the paper unconvinced.

I also noticed that there was no discussion on China and Russia’s positions or how they might react to a US attack; huge considerations that should be addressed, in my opinion. Both countries have been adamant in their desire for negotiations for a resolution; not surprising considering they have a vested interest in the region. Last month, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Bishkek, President Hu Jintao of China and President Ahmadinejad both expressed a desire “to enrich bilateral ties and enhance cooperation” between the two countries. I find it hard to believe that with China's steadily growing demand for oil, it would stand by and allow its source to be pummeled by the competition.

As for Iran/Russia relations, it appears progress is being made on the start-up of the Islamic state's first nuclear power plant, postponed, supposedly, by Iran’s failure to meet payment deadlines, though “Iranian officials say they have made the proper payments and that Moscow is delaying due to pressure from the West.”

That could very well be, considering the already strained relations between the US and Russia over missile defense earlier this year. I can’t say that I’m disappointed that the deal isn't certain in light of this story from last week’s APEC summit:

Central to talks between Prime Minister John Howard and Russian President Vladimir Putin today was a nuclear cooperation agreement that will allow Russia to buy Australian uranium for its expanding atomic energy program. ... Soon after touching down, Mr Putin headed to Mr Howard's office to meet the prime minister and senior members of his cabinet.

His arrival in Australia follows a similar historic visit to Indonesia, where the two nations struck a deal worth $1.2 billion to sell Russian weaponry to Jakarta.

Of course, Putin promises he will not sell yellowcake to Iran for processing, but I’m not really sure he’s trustworthy. One wonders if Bush and Howard chatted about these developments during their meetings at the APEC summit.

So, is the US is getting ready to attack Iran? I’ll believe it when I see it.

I believe Cheney and his surrogates would like nothing better and I believe that Bush is crazy enough to do it. I believe they’re hoping against hope that Iran will do something stupid to provoke it, or some militia group attacks somewhere in the US so they can blame “Iranian terrorists” for it. I believe that the Cheney administration will do anything to distract the people from the expected negative reports on Iraq this week as well as the upcoming nomination of a new Attorney General, which will generate more press about the abrupt resignation of the disgraced Gonzales. I also believe progressives have become fatalistic after the weak showing of the new Democratic Congress, and the Summer of Capitulation and are therefore more susceptible to rumors that have been going around so long, they have, for me, reached the status of urban myth.

Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to: belief. Just because the US has contingency plans of attack for just about everything (except an invasion of Iraq, seemingly), doesn’t mean they’ll actually use them. Although I believe nothing is beyond this administration, I just don’t believe they can or will start another war with Iran.

Erin Alecto :: 12:00 PM :: Comments (27) :: Digg It!