We don’t have a clue what’s actually going on in Iran. Is there a crackdown on opposition leaders, or merely a major operation underway to quell extreme civil unrest? A 6 July Los Angeles Times headline declared, “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard takes command.” (LAT later changed the web headline to “Iran's Revolutionary Guard acknowledges taking a bigger role in nation's security.”)
The first paragraph explains that the Revolutionary Guard has taken over its nation’s security, which is its job, which is the reason it was formed in the first place. The twelfth paragraph of the story reads, “The Basiji militia…is also said to be mobilizing to crack down on the demonstrators.” The NYT normally sources this kind of inflammatory, irresponsible statement to unnamed “officials.” The LAT didn’t bother to source this story to anybody; it even used passive voice.
Very little of the media’s reporting on Iran is fact based. As journalist Gareth Porter recently noted, both the Bush and Obama administrations have charged Iran with giving aid to the Taliban but neither have offered no evidence to support their allegations.
The Pentagon’s top weasel wordsmiths have led the misinformation parade.
In an April press conference, Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said, in reference to Iranian authorities, "We’re seeing some evidence that they’re supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan." When pressed to explain what “some evidence” consisted of, Mullen backed down and admitted there was no "constant stream of arms supply at this point," and he was basing his charge on evidence from “some time ago.”
In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in April, General David Petraeus said, "In Afghanistan, Iran appears to have hedged its longstanding public support for the Karzai government by providing opportunistic support to the Taliban." Appears to have hedged? Providing opportunistic support? Ooh, that sounds bad, but what in the wide world of sports and leisure does it mean?
That’s the same kind of unsupported innuendo Petraeus used to accuse Iran of funneling weapons into Iraq. Accusing Iran of stepping up the flow of weapons into Iraq in September 2007, he said, "It appears that that is increasing and we do not see a sign of that abating." You can’t see a sign of something abating if it was never happening in the first place. The only party ever proven to have provided weapons to insurgents in Iraq is Petraeus himself. In August 2007, the Government Accountability Office reported that about 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols distributed to Iraqi security force trainees vanished in 2004 and 2005, when Petraeus was in charge of training Iraqi security forces.
Petraeus is the most shameless, self-serving general we’ve had since “Dugout Doug” MacArthur. Petraeus’s worst piece of Socratic skullduggery regarding Iran also came in September 2007. Just after the GAO had fingered him as the individual most responsible for arming the insurgency, Petraeus accused the Iranians of everything from arming Iraqi militants to assassinating Iraqi politicians. He challenged the Iranians to “show me” his charges were false. That was a Machiavellian ploy worthy of the first bona fide arch villain of the third millennium, Dick Cheney. The young Mr. Bush administration promised to prove its allegations of Iran’s support of the Iraq insurgency in January 2007, when it also announced the surge strategy. It never did, and most of those allegations have been discredited.
Cheney’s Iranian Directorate manufactured intelligence on Iran in much the same way that his Office of Special Plans cooked the intelligence that “justified” the invasion of Iraq. Cheney was, and still is, on the leading edge of the long war oligarchy’s effort to convince the world that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Cheney attempted to alter the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran to reflect his hard line stance on Iran’s nuclear program. He howled like the Wolf Man when the report was published stating that Iran had halted its nuclear program in the fall of 2003. He and his allies continue to tout the “Iran’s relentless drive for a nuclear weapon” mantra, and the media continue to echo it for them.
Having a fistful of nuclear weapons would paint a Bullseye on Iran’s back. Nukes are a deterrence weapon. The problem with deterrent weapons is that by the time you use them, they’ve already failed to stop whatever they were supposed to deter. The second Iran used a nuke on one of its neighbors, the U.S. or Israel would virtually obliterate the entire Persian race in retaliation. Possessing nuclear weapons would actually destroy Iran’s national security, as they would justify a massive preemptive strike by vastly superior powers.
Cheney’s disinformation machine has created almost universal belief that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that he would use nuclear weapons to “wipe Israel off the face of the map,” but as Professor Juan Cole has pointed out, Ahmadinejad said nothing of the kind. Ahmadinejad's exact quote was, "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Cole explains that Ahmadinejad simply expressed the desire that the Israeli government would disappear as the Shah of Iran’s regime collapsed in 1979.
Iran has never attacked another country in its 74-year existence. It is incapable of projecting conventional land power more than a few miles from its borders; its air and naval power cannot operate significantly beyond the Persian Gulf. Iran’s defense budget is less than one percent the size of ours.
After the electoral shenanigans in Ohio and Florida that led to two ruinous terms for the Bush/Cheney regime, what business do we have condemning the results of any election held in another country?
The only thing we know Iran to be “guilty” of is its ambition to develop a nuclear energy industry and become a major political and economic force in the Gulf region.
Could someone explain to me again why the Obama administration shouldn’t engage Iran’s top leadership in direct negotiations, or why it would possibly need an excuse for doing so?