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Two strategies against Iran

Bush gang's plan to attack undercut by NIE report

Published Dec 16, 2007 10:41 PM

A bitter dispute within the Bush administration became a public fight on Dec. 3 when all 16 U.S. spy agencies jointly announced, in a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report, that Iran had neither a nuclear program nor nuclear weapons.

This intelligence about-face was not the result of new spy data or a better spying technique. It was a political move taken by the U.S. military itself to stop the clique headed by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney from the dangerous adventure of bombing Iranian nuclear installations when the Pentagon is already hopelessly bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This victory for Iran reflects the strength of the national liberation struggles in the Middle East, which have not been stopped by Pentagon threats or bombings. It also is a result of anti-war sentiment in the U.S., as even the Pentagon owns up to difficulties recruiting soldiers to fight in the Middle East.

The NIE report removed the linchpin holding up the Bush-Cheney argument for aggression against Iran: the nuclear weapons myth. Immediately after the report’s release, the attempt by the White House to corral the U.N. Security Council for a third round of sanctions against Iran fell apart.

Who is behind the report? “The secretaries of state and defense and the leaders of the uniformed military had decided that diplomacy was the best way to deal with an admittedly hostile and dangerous force in Tehran.” (Time, Dec. 17)

Tehran ‘has no nuclear weapons’

The NIE report represented all 16 U.S. spy agencies, eight of them directly linked to the military. Its conclusions are available online. It assessed with “high confidence” that “in 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” had not restarted it, and today “has no nuclear weapons.” While Iran continues to enrich uranium as part of its civilian nuclear energy program, the report finds it likely that Iran would not have enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon until 2015.

The NIE contradicted its own earlier findings, made in 2005, that Iran was secretly building nuclear weapons. The NIE issued this bombshell five years after a 2002 report in which U.S. spies claimed that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.” This blatantly false statement gave the Bush gang its rationale for launching what many in the military now see as their debacle in Iraq.

While Bush and Cheney were trying to construct a similar pretext for bombing Iran, the Pentagon spy agencies undercut the pretext.

A year ago “Bush asked the [Joint Chiefs of Staff] about attacking Iran. He was told that a bombing campaign could do severe damage to Iran’s military and nuclear facilities, but the Chiefs said they were opposed to such a strike because of the probable ‘blowback.’ The Iranians, Bush was told, could make life very difficult for the U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. They could shut off the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, thereby creating a global economic crisis.” (Time)

In truth, U.S. generals have reasons to avoid a war at this time against a country of 71 million whose population is militantly anti-imperialist and showed what they could do just 30 years ago, when they staged a fierce and mass revolutionary struggle that ousted a U.S. puppet, the hated shah of Iran.

But Bush was moving ahead anyway, so the military pulled the rug out from under him. “The truth about Iran appeared to shatter the last shreds of credibility of the White House’s bomb-Iran brigade, and especially that of Vice President Dick Cheney,” wrote Time magazine.

A victory for Iran

This is why Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “This report tries to extract America from its impasse, but it also is a declaration of victory for the Iranian people against the great powers.” (aljazeera.net, Dec. 5) This view is held by the Iranian people as well, according to Al Jazeera’s reporter in Tehran.

While U.S. spies have exposed one lie, it does not mean that what they are saying now is the whole truth. Iran says it has never sought to produce atomic weapons. “Ali Lariyane, delegate of the Supreme Leader of the National Higher Security Council, said if the U.S. government has any evidence of this, it should hand it over to Mohammad El Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” (Prensa Latina, Dec. 7)

Iran, an oppressed country, has every right to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the U.S. and Israel, which are bent on Iran’s destruction and pose the real threat in the Middle East. Israel has 75 to 200 nuclear warheads, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The U.S., with more than 9,000 nuclear warheads, has a string of bases in the Middle East, three aircraft carrier groups in the Arabian/Persian Gulf with guns pointed at Iran, and troops on two of Iran’s borders, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Want to subvert Iran

The main movers in the report are National Intelligence Director Adm. Mike McConnell and Thomas Fingar, chair of the National Intelligence Council. McConnell, who came out of retirement to take on this study, was the chief security advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and during the first Gulf War. Fingar has a long intelligence history with the State Department and was part of John Negroponte’s inner circle.

Members of Congress had requested the NIE report. Among elected officials mentioned in the New York Times in conjunction with the report is Republican Sen. Charles Hagel of Nebraska.

In a recent speech at the Center for Strategic and International Relations on U.S.-Iran relations, Hagel gave more details on the view of the departments of State and Defense and of the Joint Chiefs on how to approach Iran.

“Loose talk of World War III, intimidation, threats, bellicose speeches only heighten the dangers we face in the world. ... What confidence should we have in a strategy that, to date, has nothing to show for it ... that has achieved no tangible changes to Iran’s nuclear program and actually has seen the Middle East become more dangerous and Iran more defiant? Is the U.S. pursuing a policy that could very well produce a self-fulfilling prophecy of the president’s warning of World War III?

“By refusing to engage Iran in direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks, we are perpetuating dangerous geo-political unpredictabilities. Our refusal to recognize Iran’s influence does not decrease its influence, but rather increases it.

“Our strategy must be one focused on direct engagement and diplomacy ... backed by the leverage of international pressure, military options, isolation and containment ... not unlike the strategies that the United States pursued during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.”

‘Talks’ as cover for destabilization

Hagel continued, “Inside Iran, there are social strains and serious differences of opinion. ... There are political divides in Tehran. ... Our strategy should exploit these differences. ... The United States must be wise enough ... and patient enough ... not to follow the same destructive path on Iran that we did on Iraq.”

The forces backing the NIE report are just as hostile towards Iran as Bush and Cheney. They merely think other tactics would be more successful in bringing down Iran. For example, at a conference on regional security in Bahrain on Dec. 8, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called Iran “a grave threat to regional security even without nuclear weapons.” (New York Times, Dec. 9)

If Bush doesn’t bomb Iran in the next year, it doesn’t mean that the next administration won’t. Norman Podhoretz, a senior neoconservative and a cheerleader for bombing Iran, is foreign policy advisor to Rudolph Giuliani’s presidential campaign. And neither of the Democratic Party frontrunners, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, has pulled back from shrill and aggressive positions on Iran.

Mass struggle made Pentagon blink

This is a falling out among thieves on how best to bring Iran down and how to stop the struggle in the Middle East. The NIE benignly describes itself as “the intelligence community.” It is really a collection of assassins, liars, mass murderers and destabilizers of progressive governments. The Bush-Cheney forces are no different. Both sides are hired guns for a U.S. ruling class determined to control Middle Eastern oil.

It is the strength of the mass liberation struggles—from Iran to Iraq to Afghanistan to Lebanon to Palestine—which made the biggest military colossus in the world blink. The spy report is an admission that Pentagon bombs cannot stop the mass struggle and often drive it forward. It is this struggle that will determine the fate of the Middle East.