War With Iran: History and Consequences

by | Nov 21, 2011 | Videos | 0 comments

by James Corbett
November 21, 2011

This month’s release of a new International Atomic Energy Agency report into Iran’s nuclear energy program has caused a flurry of diplomatic activity, political posturing, and breathless news headlines about the supposed imminent threat of an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Given the nature and tenor of the coverage of the IAEA report in the mainstream press, one might be forgiven for believing that the agency has in fact uncovered new signs that Iran has made any concrete steps toward creating a nuclear weapon since it suspended that program in 2003 or that there is any evidence whatsoever that Iran has made any progress in the development of nuclear weapons technology.

In reality, however, the report contains no new information about Iran’s alleged attempts to create nuclear weapons, a fact quietly conceded by even the most hawkish opponents of Iran’s nuclear program, including former weapons inspector David Albright.

Given the distinct lack of any new evidence whatsoever to support the contention that Iran is in fact developing nuclear weapons, the question may well be asked why this report is being trumpeted so loudly in the press, and why the public is being told there is the need for urgent action on this case. The seeming paradox of an urgent need for action on an issue that has in reality remained static for nearly a decade is resolved when one understands this recent round of fearmongering as a small part of a much longer history of western interference in Iranian politics, a history that stretches back for the better part of a century.

In 1941, British and Soviet forces executed a joint surprise attack on Iran. The British were concerned about their Ango-Iranian Oil Company interests, the Soviets ended up securing petroleum concessions before their withdrawal in 1946, and both were interested in securing the Trans-Iranian Railway for the Allied war effort.

When Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh was elected Iranian Prime Minister in 1951, he nationalized the country’s oil reserves, thus enraging Britain,whose Anglo-Iranian Oil interests were once again threatened. The British began an Iranian oil embargo and secured US help in fomenting a coup that succeeded in overthrowing Mossadegh via a CIA operation codenamed TPAJAX that was led by Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of the former US President Teddy Roosevelt. The coup ushered in a new era of brutal dictatorship in which the Shah ruled with an iron fist, protected by the bloody rule of his secret police, the much-dreaded SAVAK.

In 1979 an Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khoemeini deposed the Shah and installed a new Islamic Republic, although reports persist to this day that Khoemeini had been protected and promoted by the British, French, and Americans, who had become wary of the Shah’s nationalist tendencies.

In 1981, the American hostages who had been seized at the US embassy during the revolution were released in what is now widely acknowledged to have been a political deal cut with representatives of the Ronald Reagan campaign, a deal which supplied Iran with weapons and access to US funds in return for delaying the release of the hostages until Reagan had been elected president.

In 1988, American forces shot down an Iranian commercial airliner with two SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles over the Straits of Hormuz, killing all 290 passengers and crew, including 66 children. It had been shot down by an American cruiser which was in Iranian waters at the time of the incident, and the plane had been in Iranian airspace at the time it was destroyed. The US never admitted wrongdoing for the incident nor so much as apologized, although it did pay a $61.8 million dollar compensation package as a result of International Court of Justice proceedings.

In the light of this historical background, the current round of Iranian hysteria has to be seen as only the latest version of a very old story of imperial conquest in Persia, and part of a greater strategy to dominate one of the key countries in the Middle East.

In its latest iteration, this story relies on the exclusion of a central hypocrisy: that the only nuclear power in the Middle East is in fact Israel, a country with the sixth largest nuclear stockpile in the world that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty whose weapons have never even been formally acknowledged, let alone inspected by the IAEA.

In this story, Israel, the only nuclear power in the region and the largest recipient of US military aid, supposedly faces an existential threat by the idea that one day the Iranian government might actually develop the capability of constructing a single nuclear warhead. Nevertheless, Israel has been at the heart of the latest round of warmongering over Iran, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu openly rallying his cabinet for a pre-emptive strike on Iran on the same day that reports emerged of a secret meeting between the Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defense Force, Lt. General Benny Gantz, and the British military chief, Sir David Richards.

Given the growing number of diplomats, intelligence chiefs and heads of state who have lined up to caution Israel about such a strike, led perhaps most ominously by an increasingly aggressive China and a Russia that still poses a formidable military threat, many are asking what Israel hopes to gain by starting a conflict that many analysts have noted would be the most dangerous step yet on the path to a full-scale World War III scenario.

I had the chance to put that question to investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, who recently penned an article on the issue, earlier this week.

Now, the IAEA is preparing a resolution condemning Iran for its nuclear activities, leaving the door open for yet more punitive sanctions on the Iranian government. As the world braces for what looks increasingly like the early stages of yet another war in the volatile region, Iran continues to deny that it is seeking to develop atomic weapons, Israel continues to dodge the question of its own nuclear stockpile, and the United Nations Security Council looks set once again to be the vehicle for the justification of sanctions and potential war.


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