Saturday, December 22, 2007

Intelligent Report Stalls Bush March to More War

by Geoff Olson, Vancouver Courier

Published: Friday, December 21, 2007

We've been given an extension on Peace on Earth this season. It turns out--surprise!--that Iran has no WMDs, and no means to make them.

Two weeks ago, the release of the National Intelligence Estimate, an annual summary by 16 separate US intelligence agencies, revealed Tehran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003. The demonologists in the White House panicked with the revelation that their latest devil, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wasn't fibbing. The same can't be said--surprise!--for the chief executive inquisitor, George W. Bush.

According to White House spokesperson Dana Perino, U.S. president Bush was told in August that Iran's nuclear weapons program "may be suspended." Bush was informed "the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran's covert nuclear program."

Yet in spite of this briefing several months ago, Bush was talking about "World War III" soon thereafter, with similar apocalyptic rhetoric coming from U.S. vice-president Cheney. Although the NIE is a definite setback for the Bush administration, the recent discovery that Ahmadinejad is less interested in weapons of mass destruction than powering his palace train set has only shifted White House rhetoric. The supposed global threat from Iran is now hedged in a thicket of qualifiers: if, when, could, etc.

The CIA, which was left holding the bag after the neocon's cherry-picking of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War, appears to have had no interest in a sequel of finger pointing. We may also be seeing some cracks appearing in the governing elite's united front. Undoubtedly some influential figures blinked in their globe-sized game of Risk--especially after Russian president Vladimir Putin told Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei that a U.S. attack on Iran would be regarded as an attack on Russia.

All players, China included (which is now closely allied with Russia), fear the game of brinkmanship in the Mideast could unleash the Law of Unintended Consequences like the Tasmanian Devil on meth. And what exactly is the U.S. problem with Iran, if it's not actually weapons of mass destruction? Could it be coincidence that the three members of the "Axis of Evil," Iraq, Iran and North Korea, have made past moves toward trading in currencies other than the U.S. petrodollar? Without the military enforcement of U.S. funny money as the world reserve currency, the American domestic economy would be more "house of cards" than "house of Saud."

In an online essay, former diplomat Richard Cummings summed up the sad recent history of Iran. He recalled an incident from the past, during lunch with a female friend who was attending the University of Pennsylvania. Cumming's friend happened to be the daughter of then-Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh. It was a student hangout, and a waitress recognized her. "Well, I guess you'll be going home to Iraq for summer vacation," the waitress said amiably. "Iran," Rudy said. To which the waitress replied: "Oh well, whatever."

Cummings' recollection of the "whatever" response sets him off on a well-worded rant on Iran's fate. Back in the 1950s, Mohammad Mossadegh, a Jeffersonian Democrat, looked to Washington as his model for Tehran. In a spirit of populist fervour, he nationalized the oil fields out of British Petroleum's domain. The British sued in the World Court and lost, and turned to Uncle Sam to get their oil fields back. Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA station chief in Tehran, got busy, noted Cummings: "Rent-a-Mobs appeared, the CIA paid off the military, and Mossadegh fled in his pajamas." Once Mossadegh was out, the Shah ascended to his Peacock throne, with all dissent violently stifled by paramilitary forces. Iran became one of the world's greatest violators of human rights.

The Law of Unintended Consequences arrived in the form of the scowling fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini, who renationalized the oil fields and gave the green light to the embassy hostage taking. It was the first "emboldening" of Islam, setting the world on the present course of dueling theocracies. All the result of Anglo-American provocation, and the stillbirth of democracy in Iran. And then there was the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, with Britain and the U.S. playing off both sides through military aid.

Cummings' essay, "Iran, Iraq, Whatever," is a sobering lesson about power politics masquerading as goodwill toward men. But with the release of the NIE report, plans for an insane upgrade to the "clash of civilizations" appear to have been shelved, at least for the time being. Peace on Earth is always a work in progress

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