by Jeff Huber
"Obama from the Bullpen" discussed how the president-elect's edict that the U.S. will not keep permanent bases in Iraq helped avert Cold War II, but he has far to go to fix all of the foreign relations fiascos he's about to inherit. "Puckered Persians" addresses how Obama needs to handle the Iran piece of the puzzle.
The neocons may have lost the election but they still own the narrative. For nearly a decade they've repeated their message of messianic fear and loathing through Rupert Murdoch's Big Brother Broadcast and the compliant mainstream media over and over and over and over until that's what everybody says so it must be true.
One has to wonder, then, how much of the neocon line on Iran Barack Obama had swallowed when he said at his first post election press conference that, "Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening."
Our intelligence services say that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in fall of 2003. I'm not convinced they ever had one at all, exactly. The Russians didn't start building Iran's first nuclear reactor until fall of 2002. It's hard to say how much of a nuclear weapons program they could have developed in a year starting from scratch, but it couldn't have amounted to the program my dogs have going on in the back yard.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has stated for years that it has not found evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Iran has stated for years that it is not developing a nuclear weapon and has no intention to. The only people making boo noise about "Iran's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons" are knot heads repeating the disinformation propaganda that originated in Dick Cheney's Iran Directorate, a special task force designed to instigate war with Iran the same way Cheney's Office of Special Plans and the White House Iraq Group pulled the intelligence shake and bake and the media hoax that sold us on the invasion of Iraq.
And as historian and journalist Gareth Porter recently reported, those "smoking laptop" documents that the Cheney Gang claimed maybe kinda sorta indicated Iran has a nuclear weapons program were maybe kinda sorta forged.
Iran has ballistic missiles that maybe kinda sorta work and maybe kinda might reach Israel. But without nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles are just real expensive mortar rounds, even if you put bugs or gas in the nosecone.
Iran's conventional forces can't project power against Israel. Its army has never operated more than ten miles from its border, and that was in the only war Iran ever fought, one that Iraq started by invading Iran, by the way. (Iran never invaded anybody, which is a lot more than you can say for, um, Israel-yay.) Iran's antique air force would shoot itself down or run out of gas before it got halfway across the Persian Gulf, and its coast guard of a navy would sink of natural causes before it reached the Red Sea. Their navy might be able to close the Strait of Hormuz for a little while, but not to the extent that a barrel of oil would cost the same as a B-2 stealth bomber. They might be able to embarrass our Navy, if they get lucky. A torpedo up the prop locker of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier might put it out of action for the duration; we might even have to tow one of those behemoths all the way home. It's pretty near impossible to sink a carrier, though. The Klingons might be able to pull it off, but like Iran's nuclear weapons program, the Klingons don't actually exist.
Bush administration highfaluters, including General David Petraeus, have for almost two years accused Iran of arming and funding Iraqi militias, but they have yet to produce a shred of real evidence to back up their claims. Ironically, though, what Obama refers to as the "brilliant job" Petraeus has done in Iraq largely consisted of handing out guns and money to militias. Plus, by virtue of having brokered a peace deal between Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki and cleric and militia leader Muqtada al Sadr, Iran is primarily responsible for the reduced levels of violence in Iran that Petraeus gets credit for.
Less than 10 percent of is Iran is arable. The rest is mainly mountain and desert. Iran's population and infrastructure are gathered in eight major cities. If Iran ever were to acquire a nuclear weapon and put it in a ballistic missile and launch it at someone, the retaliation would effectively end the 6,000-year old Persian civilization in the course of an afternoon.
In a May speech in Montana, Obama said "Iran, they spend one one-hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance." Remarkably, in that same speech, he called Iran a "grave threat."
We might reasonably conclude that back in May, when he was still running against McCain, he was throwing a bone to the neocons and the Pavlov's dogs of war that still buy their agenda. But why is he making scary sounds about Iran now? Out of habit? Because it's a grand tradition for America's politicians to pander to its warmongers?
I'm about fed up with that kind of bull plop. I voted for change, didn't you?
Next: the central front of the Second Cold War with the Axis of Energy.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Scott Horton's interview with Jeff at Antiwar Radio.