'The State It's In' - Squall Editorial
Is Iran Next?
US neo cons stamp their foot on the military accelerator
Here we go again. While postwar Iraq continues to crumble, the Bush administration is now setting its sights on Iran in its so-called effort to reshape the Middle East and bring democracy to countries ruled by vicious dictators. But the Bush administration is again presenting flimsy evidence and see through intelligence information claiming Iran poses an immediate threat to the United States.
The US still hasn't uncovered any weapons of mass destruction WMD) in Iraq. US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, said in an interview reported by CNN (27 May) that its possible the WMD in Iraq may have been destroyed prior to the war. So right now, the Bush administration doesnt have much credibility with countries that rightfully opposed the war in Iraq.
Ari Fleischer, Bushs press secretary, said during his daily press briefing on Tuesday (27/5) that Iran hasnt taken the appropriate steps to round up al-Qaeda terrorists allegedly hiding out within its borders and that Irans pursuit of nuclear weapons puts the US in grave danger. Therefore, regime change is in order.
"The future of Iran will be determined by the Iranian people, and I think the Iranian people have a great yearning for government that is representative of their concerns," Fleischer said.
Fleischer also said Iran's claim that its nuclear program is designed to produce fuel for civilian nuclear reactors is a "cover story."
"Our strong position is that Iran is preparing instead to produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons," Fleischer said. "That is what we see."
An Iranian opposition group says the Iranian government is building two secret nuclear sites that might already be partially operational, producing enriched uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), claims the Iranian government has "planned it" so that it can "be able to get the bomb by 2005."
The NCRI provided detailed information about the previously undisclosed sites Lashkar-Abad and Ramandeh, about 25 miles west of Tehran, but offered no direct evidence.
Iranian officials have denied harbouring al-Qaeda operatives and say the country would vigorously defend itself against any US threat, which in the eyes of the Bush administration, could set the stage for another war and further increase anti-American sentiment. It could also put the US in more danger of terrorist attacks, according to several Democratic lawmakers.
However, the real cover story is the one the Bush administration is spinning in order to win public support for what was already planned for Iran months ago, well before Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Before the United States military decimated Iraq, the neoconservatives at the highly influential think tanks - the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)- were already advising Bush administration officials, like Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, on how to overthrow the ruling parties in Iran, Libya and Syria after the war in Iraq was over.
Many of AEI and PNACs former members are now working in Bushs administration. PNAC influence on Bushs foreign and defence policies are now so powerful that many of its recommendations on how to transform the military have already been adopted by the Pentagon.
But unlike Iraq, using military force in these other countries to replace incumbent rulers wasnt being considered as a way to oust the regimes, according to former Bush administration officials. Whether or not that becomes the course of action now is debatable, but even if military force isnt used for regime change in Iran or other Middle Eastern countries, the reasons for engaging in political warfare in that region are just as troubling as the reasons given for the military attack on Iraq: intelligence information suggesting these countries pose an immediate threat to the US is thin and possibly non-existent.
Still, the Bush administration has its agenda and it seems Iran is indeed its next target. Instead of military action, the Bush administration will encourage a popular uprising in its effort to overthrow Irans supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and lend financial support to Iranians to get the job done.
To get Iranians to rise up against its government, US Senator, Sam Brownback (Republican-Kansas) has drafted an amendment to the Senate Foreign Authorization bill titled The Iran Democracy Act which calls for using the new Radio Farda to host programming from Iranian Americans who communicate with their families inside Iran about the desire for an internationally monitored referendum vote on what form of government Iran should have.
The amendment would also provide grants for private radio and TV stations in the US that broadcast pro-democracy news and information into Iran. The amendment also provides funds to translate books, videos and other materials into Persian - specifically, information on building and organizing non-violent social movements.
Moreover, Brownback introduced legislation that would establish an Iran Democracy Foundation to provide grants to the Iranian-American community and for the radio and TV Stations in the US that broadcast directly into Iran.
This is the kind of political warfare the Bush administration believes will force Irans government from power. But the Bush administration will have a hard time convincing Iranians that it can follow through on its promise. For one, anarchy is running amok in postwar Iraq and many critics have accused the Bush administration of abandoning its goal of democratizing the country. Furthermore, Iranians remember how the first President Bush encouraged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein during the 1990s only to be abandoned by that administration and ultimately slaughtered by Hussein.
But that doesnt stop the think tanks from believing that it can be done. And these think tanks are prime movers in Bushs thinking.
"For Iran, the approach might be compared to the approach which the United States and other democratic states took to Poland in the 1980s," said David Frum, President Bushs former speechwriter, who is credited with coining the phrase axis of evil in an April 5 presentation at AEI. "In Poland, as in Iran, an economically incompetent authoritarian regime ruled over an increasingly angry population. In Poland, as in Iran, a mass opposition movement rose up against the regime: Solidarity in Poland, the student democratic movement in Iran. Back in the 1980s, the United States and its allies never confronted the Polish communists directly. Instead, they imposed stringent economic sanctions on the regime--and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for its covert newspapers and radio stations and to support the families of jailed or exiled activists as the regimes economy disintegrated, the Polish communists were compelled first to open negotiations with Solidarity, next to permit Solidarity to compete in semi-free elections, and finally to step aside for a Solidarity government. Fourteen years later, Poland is a democratic state and a staunch NATO ally."
Richard Perle, who sits on the US Defence Policy Board, a group which advises Donald Rumsfeld, is more blunt about the reasons for going after Iran and he is not shy about suggesting that military force be used if necessary.
"The idea that our victory over Saddam will drive other dictators to develop chemical and biological weapons misses the key point: They are already doing so. That's why we may someday need to preempt rather than wait until we are attacked," Perle said in a letter to AEI members earlier this month.
Michael Ledeen, another influential AEI scholar, claims the US ought to "bag" Irans regime because of its anti-American views: "The Iranian people have shown themselves to be the most pro-American population in the Muslim world, but the Iranian regime is arguably the most anti-American on Earth. Let's support the people, and help them bag the regime."
And, unfortunately, the record of the Bush administration so far clearly shows that what the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century say today, George W Bush is doing tomorrow.