Sunday, February 19, 2006
"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous... Having said that, all options are on the table." George W. Bush, February 2005.
Witnessing the Bush administration’s drive for an attack on Iran is like being a passenger in a car with a raving drunk at the wheel. Reports of impending doom surfaced a year ago, but now it’s official: under orders from Vice President Cheney’s office, the Pentagon has developed “last resort” aerial-assault plans using long-distance B2 bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles with both conventional and nuclear weapons.
How ironic that the Pentagon proposes using nuclear weapons on the pretext of protecting the world from nuclear weapons. Ironic also that Iran has complied with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowing inspectors to “go anywhere and see anything,” yet those pushing for an attack, the USA and Israel, have not.
The nuclear threat from Iran is hardly urgent. As the Washington Post reported in August 2005, the latest consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies is that “Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years.” The Institute for Science and International Security estimated that while Iran could have a bomb by 2009 at the earliest, the US intelligence community assumed technical difficulties would cause “significantly delay.” The director of Middle East Studies at Brown University and a specialist in Middle Eastern energy economics both called the State Department’s claims of a proliferation threat from Iran’s Bushehr reactor “demonstrably false,” concluding that “the physical evidence for a nuclear weapons program in Iran simply does not exist.”
So there’s no urgency - just a bad case of déjà vu all over again. The Bush administration is recycling its hype over Hussein’s supposed WMD threat into rhetoric about Iran, but look where the charade got us last time: tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, a country teetering on civil war and increased global terrorism.
Yet the stakes in Iran are arguably much higher.
Consider that many in the US and Iran seek religious salvation through a Middle Eastern blowout. “End times” Christian fundamentalists believe a cataclysmic Armageddon will enable the Messiah to reappear and transport them to heaven, leaving behind Muslims and other non-believers to face plagues and violent death. Iran’s new Shia Islam president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, subscribes to a competing version of the messianic comeback, whereby the skies turn to flames and blood flows in a final showdown of good and evil. The Hidden Imam returns, bringing world peace by establishing Islam as the global religion.
Both the US and Iran have presidents who arguably see themselves as divinely chosen and who covet their own country’s apocalypse-seeking fundamentalist voters. And into this tinderbox Bush proposes bringing nuclear weapons.
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