Stirrings of a New Push for Military Option on Iran
Analysis by Jim Lobe*
WASHINGTON, 9 Jul (IPS) – "From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August," explained then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card back in September 2002, in answer to queries about why the administration of George W. Bush had not launched its campaign to rally public opinion behind invading Iraq earlier in the summer.
And while it’s only July – and less than a month after the U.N., the European Union (EU) and the U.S. Congress approved new economic sanctions against Iran – a familiar clutch of Iraq war hawks appear to be preparing the ground for a major new campaign to rally public opinion behind military action against the Islamic Republic.
Barring an unexpected breakthrough on the diplomatic front, that campaign, like the one eight years ago, is likely to move into high gear this autumn, beginning shortly after the Labour Day holiday, Sep. 6, that marks the end of summer vacation.
By the following week, the November mid-term election campaign will be in full swing, and Republican candidates are expected to make the charge that Democrats and President Barack Obama are "soft on Iran" their top foreign policy issue.
In any event, veterans of the Bush administration’s pre-Iraq invasion propaganda offensive are clearly mobilising their arguments for a similar effort on Iran, even suggesting that the timetable between campaign launch and possible military action – a mere six months in Iraq’s case – could be appropriate.
"By the first quarter of 2011, we will know whether sanctions are proving effective," wrote Bush’s former national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, and Israeli Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog in a paper published last week by the Washington Institute for Near Policy (WINEP), a think tank closely tied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
"(T)he administration should begin to plan now for a course of action should sanctions be deemed ineffective by the first or second quarter of next year. The military option must be kept on the table both as a means of strengthening diplomacy and as a worst-case scenario," they asserted.
While Hadley and Herzog argued that the administration should begin planning military options now – presumably to be ready for possible action as early as next spring – others are calling for more urgent and demonstrative preparations.
”We cannot afford to wait indefinitely to determine the effectiveness of diplomacy and sanctions," wrote former Democratic Sen. Charles Robb and Air Force Gen. Charles Wald (ret.) in a column published in Friday’s Washington Post in which they warned that Tehran "could achieve nuclear weapons capability before the end of this year, posing a strategically untenable threat to the United States".
"If diplomatic and economic pressures do not compel Iran to terminate its nuclear program, the U.S. military has the capability and is prepared to launch an effective, targeted strike on Tehran’s nuclear and military facilities," they wrote.
Their column was based on the latest of three reports promoting the use of military pressure on Iran released by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) since 2008 and overseen by BPC’s neo-conservative foreign policy director, Michael Makovsky.
Makovsky, whose brother is a senior official at WINEP, served as a consultant to the controversial Pentagon office set up in the run-up to the Iraq War to find evidence of operational ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein as a justification for the invasion.
The BPC report, "Meeting the Challenge: When Time Runs Out", urged the Obama administration, among other immediate steps, to "augment the Fifth Fleet presence in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, including the deployment of an additional (aircraft) carrier battle group and minesweepers to the waters off Iran; conduct broad exercises with its allies in the Persian Gulf; …initiate a ‘strategic partnership’ with Azerbaijan to enhance regional access…" as a way of demonstrating Washington’s readiness to go to war.
"If such pressure fails to persuade Iran’s leadership, the United States and its allies would have no choice but to consider blockading refined petroleum imports into Iran," it went on, noting that such a step would "effectively be an act of war and the U.S. and its allies would have to prepare for its consequences".
Of course, some Iraq hawks, most aggressively Bush’s former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, have insisted that neither diplomacy nor sanctions, no matter how tough, would be sufficient to dissuade Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapons and that military action – preferably by the U.S., but, if not, by Israel – would be necessary, and sooner rather than later.
Since the Jun. 12, 2009 disputed elections and the emergence of the opposition Green Movement in Iran, a few neo- conservatives, notably Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Michael Ledeen of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), have argued that a military attack could prove counter-productive by rallying an otherwise discontented – and possibly rebellious – population behind the regime.
But with the Green Movement seemingly unable to challenge the government in the streets that argument has been losing ground among the hawks who, in any event, blame the opposition’s alleged weakness on Obama’s failure to provide it with more support.
"Unfortunately, President Obama waffled while innocent Iranians were killed by their own government," wrote William Kristol and Jamie Fly, in Kristol’s Weekly Standard last month.
"It’s now increasingly clear that the credible threat of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program is the only action that could convince the regime to curtail its ambition," wrote the two men, who direct the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the successor organisation of the neo- conservative-led Project for the New American Century (PNAC) that played a key role in preparing the ground for the Iraq invasion.
Neo-conservative and other hawks have also pounced on reported remarks by United Arab Emirates (UAE) Amb. Yousef al-Otaiba, at a retreat sponsored by The Atlantic magazine in Colorado this week to nullify another obstacle to military action – the widespread belief that Washington’s Arab allies oppose a military attack on Iran by the U.S. or Israel as too risky for their own security and regional stability.
"We cannot live with a nuclear Iran," Otaiba was quoted as saying in a Washington Times article by Eli Lake, a prominent neo-conservative journalist.
"Mr. Otaiba’s …comments leave no doubt what he and most Arab officials think about the prospect of a nuclear revolutionary Shiite state," the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, a major media champion of the Iraq War, opined. "They desperately want someone, and that means the U.S. or Israel, to stop it, using force if need be."
Otaiba was interviewed at the conference by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, an influential U.S.-Israeli writer who in a widely noted essay published by The New Yorker magazine in 2002 claimed that Hussein was supporting an al Qaeda group in Kurdistan and that the Iraqi leader would soon possess nuclear weapons.
Goldberg, who asserted in his blog this week that "the idea of a group of Persian Shi’ites having possession of a nuclear bomb …certainly scares [Arab leaders] more than the reality of the Jewish bomb," is reportedly working on an essay on the necessity of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities for publication by The Atlantic in September.
*Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at

Global Elite Designed Sanctions to Kill and Impoverish the People of Iran

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Kurt Nimmo
July 9, 2010

Omid Memarian, writing for IPS, warns that sanctions recently imposed on Iran by the United Nations and the United States will adversely impact that country’s middle class. “Although the United States and its allies insist that the latest round of U.N. sanctions against Iran targets high-level government officials rather than the general population, interviews with a number of analysts, activists and journalists in Tehran reveal a growing concern over the impact on the country’s middle class,” Memarian writes.

On July 2, Obama imposed new sanctions on Iran.

German–Iranian political scientist Ali Fathollah-Nejad documents how “smart sanctions” are punishing Iran’s population at large and not its insulated leadership. “Sanctions – either ‘crippling’ or ’smart’ — ultimately harm ordinary citizens. ‘Smart sanctions’ is as much of an oxymoron as ’smart weapons’ which supposedly by ’surgical strikes’ only take out evil components. Indeed, much as in the case of their militaristic brothers-in-spirit, in the end the ‘collateral damages’ of ’smart sanctions’ remain dominant,” writes Fathollah-Nejad.

In August of 2009, author and Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, Hamid Dabashi, stated the obvious when he responded to the calls by the usual cast of rabid neocons — from the Hoover Institution, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the American Enterprise Institute (all played key roles in the invasion of Iraq) — for more severe sanctions.

“From imposing ‘crippling sanctions’ to initiating ‘covert operations,’ all the way down to military attack by Israel and/or the United States amounts to a familiar scenario that has a very simple and coded antecedent in modern Iranian political culture: the CIA-engineered coup d’état of 1953, for which President Obama apologized during his speech at Cairo University in June 2009,” writes Dabashi. “Contrary to the vision and wisdom of the president, the political machinations of the U.S. Congress and the flawed advice offered by this group of panelists amount to a belligerent threat against the regime. That will exacerbate its self-righteous warring posture and have chilling consequences for the grass-roots civil rights movement inside Iran.”

In fact, as Paul Craig Roberts has noted, support for the “grass-roots civil rights movement inside Iran” has come primarily from the CIA. “The protests in Tehran [in 2009] no doubt have many sincere participants. The protests also have the hallmarks of the CIA orchestrated protests in Georgia and Ukraine. It requires total blindness not to see this,” writes Roberts. If Mir-Hossein Mousavi had succeeded in winning the election last year — an election accompanied by CIA orchestrated demonstrations — he “would have privatized the oil sector and brought back the Monarchy. The son of the former Shah, Reza Cyrus Pahlavi, would have ascended to the throne” once occupied by his father, notes French journalist Thierry Meyssan.

The globalist establishment, including the neocon faction, understand that political demonstrations, color revolutions, and CIA directed bombing and assassination campaigns inside Iran will not overthrow the government and lead to the re-installment of the Shah or some other regime amenable to their agenda. Instead of an effort to foment a coup or a highly unlikely uprising on the part of the Iranian people, sanctions and covert warfare inside Iran are designed to create social and political tension.

In May, Rep. Ron Paul characterized the sanctions as an act of war.

In order to understand what the elite have in mind for Iran, consider the sanctions imposed on Iraq. The near-total financial and trade embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council against Iraq — at the behest of the United States — following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in response to that country’s slant drilling of Iraqi oil was not intended to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait or even, as later insisted, to punish Iraq for its supposed weapons of mass destruction program. The sanctions were designed to completely destroy Iraq as a political, social, and cultural entity. The plan was to turn Iraq into yet another obedient and impoverished New World Order client state and destroy Saddam Hussein’s flirtation with Arab nationalism — the pan-Arab nationalism of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt profoundly influencedyoung Ba’athists like Saddam — and put to rest once and for all his dream of becoming the modern Nebuchadnezzar of the Arab world.

“Seven years of the most comprehensive sanctions in modern history have reduced Iraq and its people to utter destitution,” Rick McDowell wrote in 1997, six years before the sanctions were supposedly lifted during the second U.S. invasion of the country. “To date, more children have died in Iraq than the combined toll of two atomic bombs on Japan and the ethnic cleansing of former Yugoslavia. The UN’s Department of Humanitarian Affairs reports that Iraq’s public health services are nearing a total breakdown from a lack of basic medicines, life-saving drugs, and essential medical supplies. The lack of clean water-50 percent of all rural people have no access to potable water-and the collapse of waste water treatment facilities in most urban areas are contributing to the rapidly deteriorating state of public health.” For the full extent of the sanctions, see Eric Hoskins, MD, The Truth Behind Economic Sanctions: A Report on the Embargo of Food and Medicines to Iraq.

Iraq Genocide by UN Sanctions.

Hoskins’ research reveals nothing less than a full frontal assault on Iraq — radically increased morbidity and mortality, rampant infectious disease and epidemics, widespread malnutrition, a population-wide reduction in general health status, a significant reduction in available medicines, curtailed food imports and agricultural production, and deterioration in water quantity and quality (as Thomas J. Nagy of George Washington University documented in 2001, the Pentagon intentionally used sanctions to degrade Iraq’s water supply).

As Joy Gordon wrote in 1999 (Sanctions as Siege Warfare), “sanctions appeared to be a nearly ideal device for international governance.” More specifically, sanctions serve as an ideal device to destroy a targeted country — in the case of Iraq, following a devastating military campaign — and open it up to globalist domination.

This pattern is now repeating itself in the concerted effort by the United States and the United Nations against Iran, albeit without a military campaign to increase the severity of sanctions. It appears, however, that the U.S. and Israel are setting the stage for just such a military campaign. Iran’s fledgling nuclear program will serve as the excuse for an attack in much the same way Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMDs served as an excuse to re-invade and further decimate Iraq in early 2003.

Iran, like Iraq before it, is much too proud and independent for the global elite. They are determined to reduce the last few remaining bastions outside their bankster economic control to smoldering ruins. In order to do this they must contrive a plausible excuse and hype a threat that does not exist.