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Author Topic: Noam Chomsky Makes Case for Iran Nuclear Deal  (Read 8868 times)
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« on: May 10, 2018, 04:52:02 PM »

Nothing can compare with the U.S. “war on terror.”

By: Noam Chomsky - telesurtv.net
(This article was orginally published in 2015)

The nuclear deal reached between Iran and P5+1 was greeted with relief and optimism throughout the world, with striking exceptions: the U.S. and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which are consumed with visceral fear and hatred of all things Iranian. In the U.S, even sober commentary declares Iran to be “the gravest threat to world peace” and warns that we must be vigilant, given the exceptional gravity of the Iranian threat.

It is perhaps of some interest that the world sees the matter differently: it is the United States that is regarded as the gravest threat to world peace (WIN/Gallup). Far below in second place is Pakistan. Iran is ranked well below, along with Israel, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

It is worthwhile to explore the reasons for the concerns of the rejectionist triad. What exactly is the colossal threat of Iran?

The threat can hardly be military. U.S. intelligence years ago concluded that Iran has low military expenditures by regional standards and that its strategic doctrines are defensive, designed to deter aggression; and that “Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.”

Details are provided in an April study of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which finds that the Arab Gulf States outspend Iran on military weaponry by a factor of almost 10 to 1. The qualitative difference is even greater. The Arab Gulf states have “some of the most advanced and effective weapons in the world [while] Iran has essentially been forced to live in the past, often relying on systems originally delivered at the time of the Shah,” which are virtually obsolete. The imbalance is of course even greater with Israel, which, along with the most advanced U.S. weaponry and its role as a virtual offshore military base of the global superpower, has a huge stock of nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, there is deep concern about Iran’s aggression. In his letter to Congress to rally support for the deal, President Obama assured them that Washington “would unilaterally maintain economic pressure and deploy military options if needed to deter Iranian aggression,” the NY Times reported. Obama did not give examples of Iranian aggression, but there is one: in 1971, the U.S-backed Shah invaded two islands belonging to the United Arab Emirates, the only case in several hundred years.

Other concerns are Iran’s role as “the world’s leading supporter of terrorism,” primarily its support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Whatever one thinks about them or other beneficiaries of Iranian support, Iran hardly ranks high in support for terrorism worldwide, even within the Muslim world. Among Islamic states, Saudi Arabia is well in the lead as a sponsor of Islamic terror, not only by direct funding wealthy Saudis but even more by the missionary zeal with which the Saudis promulgate their Wahhabi-Salafi version of Islam. ISIS is an extremist offshoot of Saudi religious extremism and its fanning of jihadi flames.

In generation of Islamic terror, however, nothing can compare with the U.S. “war on terror,” which has helped to spread the plague from a small tribal area in Afghanistan-Pakistan to a vast region from West Africa to Southeast Asia. The invasion of Iraq alone escalated terror attacks by a factor of seven in the first year, well beyond even what had been predicted by intelligence agencies. Drone warfare against marginalized and oppressed tribal societies also elicits demands for revenge, as ample evidence indicates. And current plans are to increase drone flights by 50 percent, doubtless increasing the estimated 3000 or more killed.

No serious analyst believes that Iran would ever use a nuclear weapon, thus suffering instant destruction. There is however real concern that a nuclear weapon might fall into jihadi hands – not from Iran, where the threat is slight, but from U.S. ally Pakistan, where it is very real. Two leading Pakistani nuclear scientists, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian, warn that increasing fears of “militants seizing nuclear weapons or materials and unleashing nuclear terrorism [have led to] the creation of a dedicated force of over 20,000 troops to guard nuclear facilities.” Furthermore, this force is not “immune to the problems associated with the units guarding regular military facilities,” which have frequently suffered attacks with “insider help.” In brief, the problem is real, and largely ignored, displaced by fevered fantasies concocted for other reasons.

Do Iranian leaders intend to develop nuclear weapons? Evidence is lacking today, but that they had such intentions in the past was asserted openly on the highest authority, which declared that Iran would develop nuclear weapons “certainly, and sooner than one thinks.” The father of Iran’s nuclear energy program and former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization was confident that the leadership’s plan “was to build a nuclear bomb.” A CIA report also had “no doubt” that Iran would develop nuclear weapons if neighboring countries did (as they have).

All of this was under the Shah, the highest authority just quoted. That is, during the period when high U.S. officials – Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kissinger and others -- were urging the Shah to proceed with nuclear programs, and pressuring universities to accommodate these efforts. My own university, MIT, arranged to admit Iranian students to the nuclear engineering program over the very strong objections of the student body, but with comparably strong faculty support.

Opponents of the nuclear deal charge that it did not go far enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Some supporters agree that there should be additional measures, holding that “the whole of the Middle East must rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.” The author of these words, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif, adds that “Iran, in its national capacity and as current chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, is prepared to work with the international community to achieve these goals.”

Minister Zarif was referring to the regular 5-year NPT review conference, which ended in failure in April when the U.S. once again blocked the efforts to move towards a WMD-free zone in the Middle East (joined this time by Canada and Britain), as Obama had in 2010.

A nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East is a straightforward way to address whatever threat Iran’s nuclear programs allegedly poses. And as these comments make clear, a great deal more is at stake in Washington’s continuing sabotage of the effort, protecting its Israeli client. This is not the only case when opportunities to end the alleged Iranian threat have been undermined by Washington, raising further questions about just what is actually at stake.

What then is the real threat of Iran that inspires such fear and fury? Recall the analysis of U.S. intelligence that Iran’s nuclear programs (with no effort to produce bombs, as far as intelligence can determine) are “a central part of its deterrent strategy.”

Who would be concerned by an Iranian deterrent? The answer is plain: the rogue states that rampage in the region. Far in the lead in this regard are the rejectionist triad. That is too obvious to review in the case of the U.S. and Israel. Saudi Arabia is joining the club with its invasion of Bahrain to suppress a reform movement there and now its murderous assault on Yemen, accelerating the humanitarian catastrophe there

For the United States, the characterization as a rogue state is familiar. Fifteen years ago, Samuel Huntington warned in Foreign Affairs that for much of the world the U.S. is “becoming the rogue superpower,” considered “the single greatest external threat to their societies.” His words were echoed shortly after by the president of the American Political Science Association, Robert Jervis, who observed that “In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States.” As we have seen, global opinion supports this judgment today by a substantial margin.

Furthermore, the mantle is worn with pride. That is the clear meaning of the insistence of the leadership and the political class, in media and commentary, that the U.S. reserves the right to resort to force if it determines, unilaterally, that Iran is violating some commitment. It is also a long-standing official stand of liberal Democrats, for example the Clinton Doctrine that the U.S. is entitled to resort to “unilateral use of military power” even for such purposes as to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources,” let alone alleged “security” or “humanitarian” concerns.

In his letter to Congress, cited earlier, Obama reiterated the doctrine that the U.S. will use force, unilaterally, as it chooses. And the doctrine is accepted with such unanimity that it elicited no comment. The same was true when Obama declares that the alternative to the nuclear agreement is war – meaning an attack by the U.S. or Israel. Who else contemplates such actions – in fact openly declares the intention to carry them out, if it chooses?

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