Marjorie Cohn: Bush Setting up Attack on Iran
Bush Setting up Attack on Iran
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 08 May 2006
Now that the mission - whatever it was - has not been accomplished in Iraq, Bush is setting up a potentially bigger disaster in Iran.
Last month, Seymour Hersh revealed that the US military is making preparations for an attack on Iran. Recent events confirm Hersh's report.
The Bush administration is stepping up the pressure on the Security Council to pass a resolution that the US will use to justify an invasion. John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, is pushing Council members to vote on a resolution this week.
Hersh wrote, "There is a growing concern among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush's ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change."
A former defense official who still advises the Bush administration told Hersh that the military planning is grounded in the belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government."
This reasoning is counter-intuitive. Iranians who become the victims of US aggression are much more likely to rally around the Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran and fight to expel the foreign infidels.
"Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups," Hersh learned from current and former American military and intelligence officials.
One of the military proposals calls for the use of bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapons against underground nuclear sites. That would mean "mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years," a former senior intelligence official informed Hersh.
A Pentagon adviser said the Air Force would strike many hundreds of targets in Iran, 99 percent of which have nothing to do with nuclear proliferation.
It would not just be Iranians who take the hits, the Pentagon adviser told Hersh. "If we go [into Iran]," he said, "the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle." Our troops in Iraq would be at risk of retaliation from Iran and the Muslim world, according to the Washington Post.
Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, said Tuesday that in response to an invasion of Iran by the United States, Iran's first target would be Israel.
Once again, Team Bush is whipping the media - and its consumers - into a frenzy of fear, this time against a nuclear Iran.
Two weeks ago, Condoleezza Rice said that Bush administration officials "have to be concerned when there are statements from Iran that Iran would not only like to have this technology but would share it, share technology and expertise." Rice also said, "We can't let this continue."
Never mind that Western nuclear scientists said last month that Iran lacks the skill, material and equipment to fulfill its immediate nuclear ambitions, the New York Times reported.
Once again, a "preventive" war initiated by Bush would violate the United Nations Charter, which forbids the use of armed force against another country unless it poses an imminent threat, or when the Security Council authorizes an attack.
Bush is following the same route he took on the way to regime change in Iraq. He pressured members of the Security Council for a resolution threatening Iraq. The Council passed Resolution 1441. France, Russia and China issued a joint statement specifying, "Resolution 1441 (2002) adopted today by the Security Council excludes any automaticity in the use of force." In other words, the US would have to return to the Council to secure authorization to invade Iraq.
Bush was unable to secure a second resolution from the Council that would authorize an attack on Iraq. So Bush rationalized his invasion by cobbling together Resolution 1441 and two prior Council resolutions from the Gulf War. None of these, separately or collectively, provided a legal basis for Bush's war on Iraq.
A draft Security Council resolution on Iran, which is supported by Britain, France and the US, was circulated on Wednesday. The next day, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said, "My conviction is that military action is certainly no solution." Russia and China, the other two permanent members of the Security Council, concur with de Villepin's sentiments.
But, as it did in Iraq, the British government would likely support Bush if he decides to attack Iran.
Tony Blair has signaled his support of a US military strike, warning that ruling out military action would send a "message of weakness" to Iran.
Last month, Britain's then foreign secretary, Jack Straw, branded the idea of a nuclear strike on Iran as "completely nuts." He said military action against Iran was "inconceivable," and warned his Cabinet colleagues that it would be illegal for Britain to support US military action against Iran.
On Friday, Straw was rewarded for his candor with removal from his position as foreign secretary. Both the Independent and the Guardian in London wrote that Straw's "fate was sealed" after an angry call from the White House to Blair. The Independent reported that friends of Straw believe Bush was extremely upset at Straw's comment that the use of nukes against Iran was "nuts."
When asked a few days ago about the possibility of a nuclear strike on Iran, Bush stated unequivocally, "All options are on the table."
The Bush administration is undoubtedly pushing the draft resolution as a step along the way to its unilateral use of armed force against Iran.
The draft states that the Council would be "acting under Chapter VII" of the UN Charter. This means that it would be based on a finding of a threat to international peace and security, would be legally binding, and could be the basis for the later imposition of sanctions or the authorization of force.
Yury Fedotov, the Russian ambassador in London, explained that Russia opposed the Chapter VII reference because it is reminiscent of past resolutions on Iraq and Yugoslavia that led to US-led military action which had not been authorized by the Security Council.
"We have serious doubts sanctions would work," Fedotov said. "[They] could pave the way to a military action. The military option is a nonsense. It's [an] adventure that could threaten international stability in this region and beyond."
Indeed, there is no basis for a finding that Iran poses a threat to international peace and security, according to John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy.
Although the International Atomic Energy Agency found Iran to be in non-compliance with some requirements of the non-proliferation and disarmament regime, the IAEA has clearly said there is no evidence that Iran has diverted its declared nuclear materials to weapons.
President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad, who is not necessarily the controlling power in Iran, has engaged in belligerent rhetoric. "This is deplorable," says Burroughs, "but it does not establish a threat to the peace. There has also been belligerent rhetoric coming from Israel and the United States."
Given the stakes, it would seem logical that the Bush administration would pursue a diplomatic solution and avoid another disastrous conflagration in the Middle East.
Hugh Porter reported in Asia Times that even Ahmedinajad is amenable to negotiation. The Iranians, he writes, are willing to compromise on enrichment if they can achieve security guarantees against attack.
But Bush refuses to talk to Iran's leadership. Richard Armitage,deputy secretary of state in Bush's first term, warns that "diplomacy is not simply meant for our friends. It is meant for our enemies."
When he inaugurated Iran into his "axis of evil," Bush defined Iran as our enemy. Sanctions, or an attack, on Iran would hurt the Iranian moderates, whom the US should view as allies.
Moreover, invading Iran may well achieve precisely the opposite of what it portends to do. Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace maintains it would strengthen Iran's resolve to develop nukes. It "is almost certain to accelerate a nuclear bomb program rather than destroy it." Cirincione said, "It's clear to me there's no military solution to the Iran problem."
Bush's threatened aggression against Iran is no more about nuclear weapons than Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction. It is propelled by an agenda of the neo-conservatives and Washington's pro-Israel lobby. The US seeks to control the entire Middle East and its valuable oil deposits by changing Iran's regime, installing a US-friendly government, and building permanent US military bases.
It's deja vu with the 1953 CIA coup that removed the democratically-elected Mossadeq and installed the tyrannical Shah of Iran. After 25 years of tyranny, the Iranian people rose up and removed the Shah from power, replacing him with Ayatollah Khomeini's theocracy. The chickens came home to roost.
Bolton said Saturday, "We are still working to achieve unanimity [in the Security Council] ... but we're prepared to go to a vote without it."
It is time to take the military option against Iran off the table.
Marjorie Cohn, a contributing editor to t r u t h o u t, is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.