Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why Don't We Listen to Those in The Know?

Most Americans who actually know something about the Middle East -- including fluency in its languages -- are appalled by the ease with which AIPAC and its allies in the endless wars movement have duped our media into once again shilling for a wrongful war over there.

The idea that Iran is developing a nuclear war capability -- absolutely false, and even the U.S. and Israeli intelligence factories admit it -- is being repeated nolo contendere on front pages and TV broadcasts every day.

AIPAC (the American Israel Political Action Committee) waved its magic checkbook again this week, and again a horde of our politically powerful, led by Dr. Kidglove himself, rushed to toady up  to them at their meeting in Washington. Kidglove fell all over himself assuring the assembled Jewish hawks that he was covering Israel's ass. The nub of what he said was that the only issue dividing Israel and the U.S,. is not whether to bomb bomb bomb Iran, but when. Let's wait a while, he urged his friend, Bibi Netanyahu. A nuclear Iran just isn't acceptable, so let's do the big bombing thing before there is such a thing as a nuclear Iran.

Never mind that this is an even more bellicose stance than that of the Bush administration, which Democrats used to decry.  Never mind that it's unprovoked, preemptive war, which is an international crime.  Never mind anything other than the relentless, obscenely profitable war industry, a worldwide alliance of which AIPAC is only one very visible part.

Chris Hedges, journalist and author, has lived and worked in the Middle East as  bureau chief and correspondent.  He spoke to the "Occupy" protesters outside the AIPAC meetings last weekend and this is what he said:

What is being done in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, is a pale reflection of what is slowly happening to the rest of us. It is a window into the rise of the global security state, our new governing system that the political philosopher SheldonWolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” It is a reflection of a world where the powerful are not bound by law, either on Wall Street or in the shattered remains of the countries we invade and occupy, including Iraq with its hundreds of thousands of dead. And one of the greatest purveyors of this demented ideology of violence for the sake of violence, this flagrant disregard for the rule of domestic and international law, is . . . AIPAC. . . . AIPAC does not speak for Jews or for Israel.

I am no friend of the Iranian regime, which helped create and arm Hezbollah, is certainly meddling in Iraq, has persecuted human rights activists, gays, women and religious and ethnic minorities, embraces racism and intolerance, and uses its power to deny popular will. And yes, it is a regime that appears determined to build a nuclear weapon, although I would stress that no one has offered any proof this is occurring. I have spent time in Iranian jails. I was once deported from Tehran in handcuffs. But I do not remember Iran orchestrating a coup in the United States to replace an elected government with a brutal dictator who for decades persecuted, assassinated and imprisoned democracy activists. I do not remember Iran arming and funding a neighboring state to wage war against our country. Iran never shot down one of our passenger jets, as did the USS Vincennes—nicknamed Robocruiser by the crews of other American vessels—when in June 1988 it fired missiles at an Airbus filled with Iranian civilians, killing everyone on board. Iran is not sponsoring terrorist strikes within the United States, as our intelligence services and the Israeli intelligence services currently do in Iran. We have not seen five of our top nuclear scientists since 2007 murdered on American soil. The attacks in Iran include suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, sabotage and “targeted assassinations” of government officials and other Iranian leaders. What would we do if the situation were reversed? How would we react if Iran carried out similar acts of terrorism against us?

Juan Cole is professor of history at the University of Michigan; recognized throughout the world as an expert on the Middle East, where he has lived, studied and taught; author of several peer-reviewed books and a translator of Arabic and Persian languages.  He writes:

Returns in Iran’s 9th parliamentary election since the 1979 revolution show that Ahmadinejad's lay populists have taken a drubbing,  and that hard line supporters of clerical Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are ascendant. A week and a half ago, in a major policy speech, Khamenei said:

“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”

It has been alleged that Ahmadinejad is a mass-murdering hard liner, seeking nuclear weapons with which to destroy Israel. This puzzling emphasis on Ahmadinejad comes despite the president’s relative lack of power in the Iranian system. The commander in chief of the armed forces is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Who sets nuclear policy? Ali Khamenei. In Iran, the “president” is more like a vice president (think Joe Biden) than a real executive. Ahmadinejiad could noit even fire an intelligence minister (Haidar Moslehi) he disliked. Khamenei reinstated him.

(Now) Khamenei’s hand has been significantly strengthened. And he has signalled to the Iranian people yet again that he won’t use that strength for belligerent purposes or to pursue a nuclear warhead, which the Iranian ayatollahs consider a tool of the devil– since you can’t deploy it without killing large numbers of civilian non-combatants.

So despite the consistent anti-nuclear position of the most powerful man in Iran; because of the mistranslation of a non-policy statement he made about the Netanyahu regime several years ago; despite the fact that on the ground inspections in Iran by the international nuclear inspection teams found no evidence of an Iranian weapons program; despite the fact that whatever nuclear technology Iran has (enrichment of uranium at far less than weapons levels) was sold to them by the United States 40 years ago; because the media and Congress and the White House eagerly buy the lies and misrepresentations of AIPAC, the United States now has an official policy that is perilously close to unilateral, preemptive war on another sovereign nation.  What madness!

That's the very word -- "madness" -- used by William O. Beeman, yet another world-recognized Middle East expert and academic, who is chairman of the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota. Beeman points out that the former head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, has called an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”  AIPAC, says Beeman, "has a completely unrealistic view of the interests of Israel. They reflect only the views of its most rabid right-wing politicians.”

Unless a great many more Americans wake up to what Hedges, Cole, Beeman and others are telling us, we'll soon be pasting those plastic ribbon decals on our SUV's to "Support Our Troops" in yet another unwinnable, unspeakable, illegal, immoral and devastating war in the Middle east.

When will they ever learn?

1 comment:

  1. thank you, thank you, thank you, for this elegant post. hedges and cole. cole and hedges. i am moved to suggest an oct 2001 hedges article (he was NYT middle east bureau chief) for harper's entitled "gaza diary" which amplifies the description of gaza, here, in an unforgettable way.
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