The drums of war in Washington are beating yet again. U.S. government officials, along with corporate media pundits, are calling for military action against Iran. Using similar logic that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq (that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction,” which turned out to be a lie), the United States and Israel continue to assert that Iran is using its nuclear energy program to build a bomb.
President Obama, in his recent State of the Union address, stated: “Let there be no doubt. America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.”
Far-right-wing media pundit Tucker Carlson, in an interview on Fox News, took the rhetoric even further, saying: “Iran deserves to be annihilated” and that the United States has the moral authority to carry out a preemptive attack against Iran.
While there are certain similarities between the threats made against Iraq and the current calls to war against Iran, there are some marked differences as well. The media hype and public statements against Iran have not yet reached the fever pitch that we witnessed in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S. ruling class is somewhat divided on their approach to Iran and is hesitant to throw all their weight behind an invasion at this point, given the volatility of the global political situation at the moment.
With 76 million people, Iran is well over twice as populous as Iraq and more advanced economically. An invasion of Iran would be a massive undertaking for the U.S. and Israel and would stretch their military resources to the limit.
The mainstream media have painted Israel as the wild card in this situation, claiming they might attack Iran even if the United States has no desire to intervene militarily in the region. Israel relies on billions of dollars in U.S. aid annually to pay for its own armaments and military operations. To go to war with Iran, Israel would need at least tacit approval and support from the United States.
Moreover, Israel’s leaders are also divided on the idea of carrying out a preemptive strike against Iran. While Prime Minister Netanyahu has criticized the sanctions, saying they have not done enough to halt nuclear development in Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has insisted that Iran has not crossed the “point of no return” in developing a nuclear weapon.
Even U.S. intelligence reports contradict the accusations by politicians and media pundits that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. The Los Angeles Times reported on Feb. 23 that “U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb.” Nonetheless, prominent figures, including presidential candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties, continue to make threats against Iran.
In any case, many point out that the U.S. and Israel have already been carrying out a low-intensity war against Iran for years, via sanctions, strategic bombings of nuclear facilities, and targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Press TV reported that CIA and Mossad (Israel’s spy agency) agents were involved in aiding the assassination of Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who was killed in a car bombing on Jan. 11 near a college in Tehran. This case is only one of many that have come to light over the past year, though little attention is given to it in the mainstream corporate media.
While it is still unclear whether an armed attack on Iran is on the horizon, we in the antiwar movement should not dismiss statements by the U.S. and Israel threatening military action. We must stand firm in demanding no military intervention or sanctions against Iran, and be ready to protest in the streets if an attack takes place.
From March 23-25, in Stamford, Conn., antiwar activists from all around the country will be gathering at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference to say no to U.S. military intervention abroad. We encourage all who can attend this timely national antiwar conference to register on-line at unacpeace.org, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
> The article above was written by Daniel Xavier, and first appeared in the March 2012 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.