Where Have We Heard this Tune Before?
“History is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake.”
- James Joyce, Ulysses
We have only to examine a map of the Middle East, and contemplate the sequence of steps taken there, to conclude that Iran has been the objective of Cheney and Bush ever since - as Ashfield attorney Buz Eisenberg declared at a recent public gathering in Amherst - they came into office in a coup d’etat.
Afghanistan on the east was attacked a month after the events of September 11, 2001, Iraq on the west assaulted March 20, 2003. On Iran’s southeastern border, the unreliable ally Pakistan is tamed by this administration’s supply of nuclear technology to India at Pakistan’s rear. North of Iran lie Turkey and Turkmenistan with their US military bases.
The carrier Nimitz is joining the aircraft carrier Eisenhower in the Persian Gulf, and the Reagan carrier group is scheduled to reach the area by April. Each of these three ultra modern carrier strike groups (CSGs) also includes destroyers, missile-armed cruisers, attack submarines, and a host of supply vessels – in all, as many as 60 warships.
This force, projecting more destructive power than all the navies in history combined, has as its mission controlling a large area of sea, maintaining air superiority over the region, and support and protection of landings of troops on the shore. Cheney, Bush, and their spokespesons are disingenuous when they claim, “We have no plans to attack Iran.”
While basing missiles in Cuba in 1961, could Khrushchev have been believable contending his deployment lacked plans for their possible
use against America. The unasked question is, “Under present circumstances, why would Iran not respond belligerently to aggressive gestures near its shores? And too, why wouldn’t Iran seek the nuclear arms that most of its near neighbors, and the hovering US fleet possess?” Iranians cannot ignore the fact that Israel launched a preemptive attack on Iraq’s nuclear facilities at Osirak in 1981, and they speak of doing the same to Iran today.
Addressing a gathering at Wollman Hill on January 24, weapons inspector Scott Ritter predicted the arrival of that third carrier group near Iran in April will signal an aerial attack on nuclear facilities of Iran; its command and control defenses; destruction of the Iranian air force, ships and submarines; and an assault upon Tehran. With a population of 14-million, this is one of the largest urban centers in the Middle East.
Seymour Hersh has similarly detailed Cheney-Bush war strategies in the New Yorker. Ritter’s informed assessment includes US launch of nuclear weapons and thus a momentous unraveling of the 62-year understanding baring their use. “Other countries,” he said, “would no longer feel restrained.”
According to State Department and UN diplomat Peter Galbraith, Bush launched the Iraq war not knowing there was any difference between Sunni and Shia. They were all, well, “Muslims.” Ignorance, hubris, and incompetence have mired administration plans for regime change in Iran. Our November elections removed their co-conspiring Republican allies but, barring forceful new congressional legislation, Cheney and Bush continue to hold unrestrained fingers over the button for two more years - as well, the wherewithal to alter transition through the approaching presidential election. Make no mistake: though their 2002 lies for war tarnished credibility, they will invent any necessary rationale for war. They intend to attack their central objective, Iran.
America’s aggression in the Middle East, like the struggles that
for centuries convulsed and altered the borders of Europe, substitute an imperialist thrust of power and force for an earlier balance of powers and peace achieved and maintained through diplomacy. From World War I onward, the victors in that conflict have been tempted to sustain their wartime expeditions through occupation and administration. The goals of such dominance are control of the extraordinary resources of that region and also, more recently, privatization and control of the local economy. With oil reserves dwindling, the primary US objective is to control the richest sources and deny access to rivals India and China.
Like geography, the study of history suggests controlling Iran has long been among Western ambitions in the region. World War I ushered
both increasing need for oil and opportunity to control its source. The weak Ottoman Empire, encompassing nearly all of the Middle East except Persia (renamed Iran in 1935), was threatened by Russia and therefore allied itself with Russia’s foes, the Germans. This proved opportunity for Russia’s partner Britain to conquer and extend authority in the region where, with the collapse of the Ottomans, they fabricated the unstable mixture of peoples called Iraq and militarily controlled development of Middle East oil.
Allied forces invaded Iran during World War II, but the historically pivotal meddling there occurred in 1953 when Dulles and Eisenhower joined the British in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh. Acting in support of the British Petroleum Company (BP), they reinstalled the monarchy in the person of the brutally repressive figure the West knew as the Shah of Iran. While the Shah was armed and supported, proving a stable puppet for western interests, opposition steadily grew.
In January 1979, the Shah was forced to flee. Ayatollah Khomeini soon after established Iran as a religious state. When the US refused to deliver the Shah to stand trial in Iran, militants took 52 employees of the American Embassy hostage and held them for 444 days.
Reagan and his agent Oliver North were willing to provide arms to Iran in order to fund the Contra army in its attempt to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, but every manner of US aid was provided to Saddam Hussein when, in 1980, he took Iraq into an 8-year war against Iran. Iran, the more determined and resilient combatant, prevailed. This history is not only nightmare but prophetic, and our media tend to tell only one side of the story.
Iran offered to negotiate differences with the US in 2003 and, despite his belligerent pose, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he would come to the table now were it not for US insistence on preconditions to such talks. Setting preconditions exposes devious US purposes and plans: negotiations would not bring the outcome Cheney and Bush are seeking.
They have little to show for their venture into either Afghanistan or Iraq, but when this pair accomplish their regime change and democratization plan for Iran, perhaps they will take the Shah’s son Reza Palhavi from the shelf and have him pick up where his infamous father left off. My guess is, not yet finished losing two other wars, they are getting far ahead of themselves.
In his extraordinarily detailed The Great War for Civilization, long-time London-based Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk relates an incident during the Iran-Iraq war that, I think, profiles the foe Cheney and Bush would have American’s youth take on. “There was a young man sitting with us … and suddenly we noticed that his head had fallen forward … then we saw blood running … a bullet had hit him in the head … he turned slightly … put his hand in his pocket and took out a Koran … and was looking at it. It was a scene I will never forget all my life, the power of his commitment.”
We wrote warnings of the consequences of attacking Iraq – the unleashing of rival factions and risk such an act would end in urban
warfare. 110 Western mass residents were arrested protesting invasion. Four years on, we note that Iran is a country that poses no threat to America, that it has not aggressed against its neighbors. New propaganda for war bears echoes from both the recent and distant past; attacking Iran conjures for us the Third Reich’s fabrication for conquest and cleansing – the betrayal in Germany’s World War I surrender and the threat to Germany posed by Jews (read now, the threat of Muslims to America).
Is the meaningless escalation in Iraq designed to distract Congress while this new aggression is prepared? The founders devised the genius of impeachment but failed to anticipate how our democracy would cope with a mounting, then sudden constitutional threat, such as revelation that megalomaniacals hold the unrestrained power to assault another country and control the resultant dissent by declaring martial law at home.
We are in the midst of a national crisis, perhaps one greater in depth and breadth than that of our Civil War.
Carl Doerner is a retired New York City teacher participating in the upcoming Citizen Diplomacy delegation to Iran in May.