Perspective The papers are reporting that Israel is arranging safe passage for its jets to bomb Iran. A Kuwaiti paper says that Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates have given their permission for the planes to overfly those countries. The British paper The Telegraph quotes a senior unnamed Israeli defense official who says Israel is bargaining with the U.S. for an “air corridor” over Iraq. A U.S. carrier strike group sits off the coast of Iran with another one approaching. The administration continues to ratchet up the rhetoric. It now blames Iran for the Iraq insurgency. Another war could be weeks away.
Will Americans be fooled again? We went through this before. Three presidents and Congress said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and were a threat “to the world.” He had VX and smallpox. He had a nuclear program. He was in league with al-Qaida. The United States launched 10 years of sanctions and four years of all-out war, yet none of the charges were true.
The regime in Tehran is repulsive. Its “Holocaust Conference” was a sick joke. But Iran hasn't started a war in 200 years and there's no evidence it's suicidally planning a war against the United States or Israel. Yet the drumbeats for another shock-and-awe assault are getting louder.
Iran's activities monitored
Iran is indeed enriching uranium, but it's all under the eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency and there hasn't been any report that any of the material has been engineered to the point where it could be used in a bomb. Scott Ritter, the former Marine intelligence officer and U.N. arms inspector, who got it right about Iraq's lack of WMD, has been saying for years that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, only a nuclear energy program.
It was started by the late Shah of Iran with United States approval. Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning New Yorker journalist, spoke at Yale on Jan. 31. He said the CIA has informed the administration that it can find “no evidence of a parallel program” in Iran to secretly make nuclear bombs.Yet even if Ritter and Hersh are wrong and Iran makes some nuclear bombs, how is that a serious threat to the United States or to Israel? Both countries could reduce Iran to a radioactive cinder in a few hours.
The charge that Iran is fueling the insurgency in Iraq is ludicrous. Iran is Shia.The Shia in Iraq have not fought the US troops except in two battles in 2004. The Iraqi government is dominated by the Shia pro-Iran parties. They are collaborating, not fighting the United States. The supposedly new high-tech “shaped charge” weapons have been used for decades and are well-known to Iraqi army veterans.
Nuclear attack against Iran?
Incredibly, it's quite possible that a United States-Israeli attack on Iran could involve nuclear weapons. Last month the Times of London reported that Israel is practicing bombing runs simulating attacks using “tactical” nuclear weapons. Its ultra-right wing government is spreading hysteria.The Israeli media trumpets stories from politicians and historians saying that Iran is planning a new Holocaust. It's whipping up the public to approve an atomic attack. U.S. politicians make no criticism, explaining that this “option” must be left on the table.
That an unprovoked attack on Iran would be a grave violation of international law is of no consequence to the administration, but consider what the effect of an attack would be on the U.S. and on our troops. Iran could suspend its oil sales. It could rocket the oil sheikdoms that gave Israel safe passage. It might be able to block oil transport through the Straits of Hormuz. Are we ready for $100 barrel oil? Are we ready to have our troops in Iraq become sitting ducks for Iranian missiles? And what if the Iraqi Shia do start to mount their own insurgency?
There is some hope of avoiding this disaster. The politicians are pathetic. None of them has come out forthrightly saying there's no need for war with Iran. According to the London Times, some U.S. generals are prepared to quit if Bush gives an order for an attack on Iran, but that would come too late. The people have to speak out angrily and massively and denounce the folly of an attack on Iran. They have to do it now.
Stanley Heller is chairman of the Middle East Crisis Committee, based in Woodbridge. He lives in West Haven