With evidence accumulating that Iran is not actually building a nuclear weapon, the sanctions and oil embargo imposed by the United States and Europe looks increasingly like the provocation that it is.
Behind the rhetoric, all sorts of interests are involved, political and economic, many of them connected to divisions emerging in the wake of a global recession that worsens by the day.
America, for example, does not used oil imported from Iran but the rising economic power of China does. So Washington will undoubtedly use the embargo to exert pressure on Beijing amidst a brewing trade and currency war.
President Obama is seeking re-election with the country’s cities, towns and rural communities enduring mass unemployment, homelessness, food stamps and poverty. Talking tough against Tehran is a useful diversion while brushing up Obama’s image as a man prepared to use the country’s military muscle.
Throw in the wild card of a weak Israeli government (which has fallen out with Obama) facing waves of social discontent and looking for any excuse to attack Iran, the danger signs are there. A miscalculation by either side could easily lead a full-scale war.
What you won’t find widely reported is the fact that intelligence and military agencies in the US and Israel don’t believe that Iran has made a decision to build a nuclear weapon.
Ray McGovern, retired CIA analyst and co-founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, says: “In recent days, that judgment has been expressed by high-profile figures in the defence establishments of the two countries – U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak.” He gives chapter and verse to back up his case. It is also a view shared by the Institute for Science and International Security.
But McGovern is concerned that the New York Times, which misled the world in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, is playing a similar role: “In this up-is-down world, America’s newspaper of record won’t even report accurately what Israel (or the CIA) thinks on this important issue, if that goes against the alarmist conventional wisdom that the neocons favour.”
He adds: “If Iran is not working on building a nuclear bomb, then the threats of pre-emptive war are not only unjustified, they could be exactly the motivation for Iran to decide that it does need a nuclear bomb to protect itself and its people.”
There is rhetoric on both sides. Iran doesn’t have the military capability to shut the Strait of Hormuz, as it has threatened. Its navy is made up of a handful of small ships and would be obliterated within minutes of a confrontation with the American fleet on standby in the region.
The Islamic government is facing real economic difficulties as a result of the sanctions already in force. Unemployment and inflation have soared in recent months, while the currency, the Iranian rial, has lost 40% of its value against the US dollar within a year.
A huge black market is dominated by the Revolutionary Guards, who used wanton violence in the crackdown on street protests over the last couple of years.
Iran is surrounded by nuclear weapons in the shape of China, India, Pakistan and the American fleet. And, of course, Israel. The hypocrisy in the official denials that the Israelis have an arsenal of nuclear weapons is overwhelming. If all this was about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, where are the sanctions against Israel?
Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, is undoubtedly behind the murder of Iranian nuclear scientists over the past year. And prime minister Netanyahu doesn’t give a fig for Obama’s re-election prospects and could defy Washington with a pre-emptive strike this year.
In the end, the Iranians have a right to defend themselves. If nuclear weapons are a deterrent, and Israel has them, it is natural Iran should want one. The Iranian regime is reactionary and oppressive but is not an imperialist power. That’s why we have to say, no any attack on Iran by the US, Israel, Britain and France.