Posts Tagged ‘Iran’
The US has announced new, unilateral sanctions against Iran. Thus continues the march toward war.
Noted cheerleaders for the Bush administration’s foreign policy approach, Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kyl, have suggested that the aim of the sanctions is to increase the pressure for Iran to engage in diplomatic negotiations:
“Far from taking us closer to war with Iran, as some have irresponsibly suggested, these kinds of targeted sanctions represent our best chance to influence Iran’s action so as to be able to avoid military action,” they said.
But, as Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards points out, this approach has the potential to escalate tensions with Iran toward the point where armed conflict appears justified. As Edwards notes:
Today, George Bush and Dick Cheney again rattled the sabers in their march toward military action against Iran. The Bush Administration has been making plans to attack Iran for many months. At this critical moment, we need strong leadership to stand against George Bush’s dangerous ‘preventive war’ policy, which makes force the first option, not the last.
I learned a clear lesson from the lead up to the Iraq War in 2002: if you give this president an inch, he will take a mile – and launch a war.
Edwards’ statement is particularly aimed at Hillary Clinton, who he argues has failed to provide clear opposition to Bush’s march toward war. But in the context of the Australian election, we might question whether the two major parties are providing implicit or explicit support for a move toward military action.
Interestingly, the rationale given for these sanctions manages to tie together the two lines of attack the Bush administration has attempted to use in building support to act against Iran. The Iranian military groups that have been linked to supporting terrorism are now also being tied to nuclear proliferation. I wonder how much longer it will be before we start to hear a direct connection of the two – i.e., talk of mushroom clouds in Baghdad or Jerusalem, from terrorists using IRGC- or Quds-supplied nuclear bombs.
UPDATE: Dolly and Tony Burke were asked about the sanctions on Lateline last night, with neither displaying any concern about the possible escalation toward military conflict. Downer is confident the United States will soon be joined by other nations in imposing sanctions and says he does not believe the US is on a “path to war”. Burke would not even comment on the United States, instead focusing on the Iranian leadership’s inflammatory rhetoric.
Tucked inside the White House’s $196 billion emergency funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an item that has some people wondering whether the administration is preparing for military action against Iran.
The item: $88 million to modify B-2 stealth bombers so they can carry a newly developed 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordnance penetrator, or, in military-speak, the MOP.
So where would the military use a stealth bomber armed with a 30,000-pound bomb like this? Defense analysts say the most likely target for this bomb would be Iran’s flagship nuclear facility in Natanz, which is both heavily fortified and deeply buried.
“You’d use it on Natanz,” said John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org. “And you’d use it on a stealth bomber because you want it to be a surprise. And you put in an emergency funding request because you want to bomb quickly.”
“It’s kind of strange,” Pike said. “It sends a signal that you are preparing to bomb Iran, and if you were actually going to bomb Iran I wouldn’t think you would want to announce it like that.”
Maybe Pike is right. Maybe this is even an intentional strategy to appear to be preparing to attack Iran, in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on them. I wish I could have any confidence that those possibilities are true, but I find it more plausible that the Bush administration is gearing up to attack and is too arrogant and/or stupid to care whether Iran, let alone the general public in the Western world, knows it is coming.
Last week, Ken Lovell suggested that the two critical questions that should have been asked in last night’s debate were:
1. What advice will you be giving to the Bush Administration about its apparent intention to attack Iran?
2. If the USA does attack Iran, what will your government’s response be? And no, that is not a ‘hypothetical question’, it’s a very real one that may well arise within a few months.
Despite extensive discussion of foreign policy and “national security” (i.e., terrorism and withdrawal from Iraq) in the debate, nobody mentioned Iran. Howard had the gall to trumpet a “discussion” that will commence tomorrow about changing the role of Australia’s troops in Iraq. But there is a genuine potential for the entire situation in the Middle East to change, as the Bush administration ramps up its rhetoric about Iran. After months of neoconservative rumblings about the need to take whatever action is necessary about Iran, the President weighed in last week by suggesting that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could lead to World War III.
“The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences,” Mr Cheney told a conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
He said that progress toward a more stable and peaceful Middle East would depend on responsible conduct by countries in the region, such as respect for neighbours’ sovereignty and compliance with international agreements.
“If you apply all these measures it becomes immediately clear that the Government of Iran falls far short and is a growing obstacle to peace in the Middle East,” Mr Cheney said.
Given the scope of what the Bush administration does not regard as torture, I’m hesitant to rule out anything when Cheney talks about “serious consequences” for an entire nation.
ELSEWHERE: CNN has coverage of Cheney’s speech.
Larvatus Prodeo notes that in the aftermath of troop casualties in Afghanistan, finger-pointing at Iran has begun. Based on the discussion in the comments thread, it appears that Admiral Nelson’s quote may have been taken somewhat out of context and that it’s shoddy reporting. However, one would like to think that an experienced Government Minister could manage to deflect some silly questions and keep the focus where it belongs at this time – on observing and honouring the passing of a dedicated Australian soldier.