I constantly write about Iran because I both fear what Israel and/or America may do to the nation and the profound human rights abuses occurring inside the country.
But these days the threat of military action against the Islamic Republic is growing. Many of the same figures who pushed for war against Iraq have now turned their sights on Tehran. There seems to be little faith in the futile sanctions program and a leading opposition figure today says they only help strengthen the regime:
“These sanctions have given an excuse to the Iranian government to suppress the opposition by blaming them for the unstable situation of the country,” Mehdi Karroubi said in email responses to the Guardian.
So what are the Western powers aiming to do? Tightening sanctions. Iran is being bullied and the world wonders why it lashes out. Frankly, from its perspective, like with North Korea, building a nuclear weapon would be a wise insurance policy (though there is no evidence to prove any nuclear weapon’s program).
Now we have Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic with a long essay on the increasing chances of an Israeli strike against Iran. It’s a piece infused with emotional blackmail, with stenographer Goldberg giving space to countless Israeli leaders and officials warning that their country may well attack soon. The message to America? You should do the job for us, or else.
Over to hyperbolic Goldberg:
It is possible that at some point in the next 12 months, the imposition of devastating economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran will persuade its leaders to cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is also possible that Iran’s reform-minded Green Movement will somehow replace the mullah-led regime, or at least discover the means to temper the regime’s ideological extremism. It is possible, as well, that “foiling operations” conducted by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through sabotage and, on occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have hindered Iran’s progress in some significant way. It is also possible that President Obama, who has said on more than a few occasions that he finds the prospect of a nuclear Iran “unacceptable,” will order a military strike against the country’s main weapons and uranium-enrichment facilities.
But none of these things—least of all the notion that Barack Obama, for whom initiating new wars in the Middle East is not a foreign-policy goal, will soon order the American military into action against Iran—seems, at this moment, terribly likely. What is more likely, then, is that one day next spring, the Israeli national-security adviser, Uzi Arad, and the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the White House and the Pentagon, to inform them that their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has just ordered roughly one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran—possibly by crossing Saudi Arabia, possibly by threading the border between Syria and Turkey, and possibly by traveling directly through Iraq’s airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft. (It’s so crowded, in fact, that the United States Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade its airspace. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.)
In these conversations, which will be fraught, the Israelis will tell their American counterparts that they are taking this drastic step because a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years. They will tell their American colleagues that Israel was left with no choice. They will not be asking for permission, because it will be too late to ask for permission.
When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel—regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program—they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.
If a strike does succeed in crippling the Iranian nuclear program, however, Israel, in addition to possibly generating some combination of the various catastrophes outlined above, will have removed from its list of existential worries the immediate specter of nuclear-weaponized, theologically driven, eliminationist anti-Semitism; it may derive for itself the secret thanks (though the public condemnation) of the Middle East’s moderate Arab regimes, all of which fear an Iranian bomb with an intensity that in some instances matches Israel’s; and it will have succeeded in countering, in militant fashion, the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which is, not irrelevantly, a prime goal of the enthusiastic counter-proliferator who currently occupies the White House.
Read the whole piece. It’s shameless propaganda dressed up as journalism. Also known as: how to start another war by speaking to people who want wars and don’t question official lies. Just like Iraq. And to think Goldberg is seen as a serious, Jewish journalist by the corporate press. Please.
In fact, Iranian society is evolving and cracks are reportedly appearing.
This recent feature in the New Yorker by Jon Lee Anderson paints a more nuanced picture. It certainly doesn’t ignore the government’s increasingly brutal crackdown on dissent but it features cries for change from those in the elite. Perhaps this is the most revealing part:
In private, supporters of the [Green] movement spend a lot of time thinking over the events of last year. They are often dispirited, even rueful. “People miscalculated,” one of my Iranian friends said. “They thought everyone in the country was like themselves, and that the rest of the country was like Tehran.” The demonstrations, in his view, had as much to do with social class as they did with politics. Mousavi’s and Karroubi’s voters in the Green Movement were largely middle or upper class. The soldiers and the Basij who attacked them were for the most part Ahmadinejad voters, drawn, like the President himself, from the less privileged majority of the city’s population, based predominately in the south of the city. The Green Movement’s ability to put significant numbers of protesters—estimates range from hundreds of thousands to three million—onto Tehran’s streets sometimes created the impression that they represented a majority in the country. “They were wrong,” my friend said. “And their leaders misunderestimated—to paraphrase your former President Bush—just how savage the regime could be.” Adopting a mocking tone of voice, he added, “ ‘What, you thought that with your vote you’d get change? That you actually had a choice?’ ” A friend of his had been detained and released after agreeing to sign a statement of repentance. “His interrogator told him, ‘This time you have no choice. You either submit or I’ll ram this stick up your ass. That’s your choice.’ ”