Iran's Weapon of Mass Destruction: The End of "Good Things"
As the U.S. begins it’s slow march toward the latest entry in it’s epic diary or wars and invasions it’s both sobering and saddening that we find ourselves here again so soon. Witnessing the situation is almost like some form of slow-motion, masochistic, Déjà vu. It’s like watching a tape of yourself being tortured, frame-by-frame on continuous loop. Coming directly on the heels of the unmitigated disaster that was and is the Iraq invasion, which it should be clear to EVERYONE by now was launched under false pretext, the Bush Administration using the same techniques of lies and bullying is positioning itself for a war with Iran. Those who understood the true reasons for the Iraq invasion that had nothing to do with terrorism, democracy, or Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), probably saw this possibility off in the distance. However after witnessing things go so horribly in Iraq many of us probably thought that the U.S. would not be willing to step over the line and attempt anything similar, any time soon – WRONG! “This government is a habitual line-stepper!” More than that, many probably hoped and wanted to believe that there was no way the American people could be so stupid, apathetic, and ineffectual – AGAIN!
However, with the American propaganda machine in full effect 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, and 366 days of the year it appears there is no bottom to the depth of the naiveté, willful ignorance, and fear of the American populace. Though I am always leery of poll data especially since it is often used to shape public opinion rather than represent it, recent polls suggest the American populace is once again drinking the proverbial “Kool-Aid”. In a USA Today-CNN-Gallup Poll conducted in February 2006 eight out of 10 respondents predicted Iran would provide a nuclear weapon to terrorists to attack the United States or Israel. Six out of 10 respondents said Iran itself would deploy nuclear weapons against the United States. In another Gallop poll, Iran with 31% of the vote replaced Iraq as the country Americans consider to be their greatest enemy, an increase of 14% this time over last year. If there is a silver lining these same polls also reflected that most of the respondents thought the Iraq war was a mistake, doubted the Bush administration’s ability to handle “the situation” in Iran, feared the U.S. would act too quickly militarily against Iran, and placed the President’s approval rating under 40 percent.
These numbers reflecting the American fear level concerning Iran, still fly in the face of the known facts. To date there is NO proof that Iran has a nuclear weapons program nor are they in violation of any resolutions or ordinances, set forth in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or any other internationally recognized arms agreement – a claim the United States and Israel certainly cannot make (Israel doesn’t even recognize the NPT). The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, has repeatedly said his inspectors have found nothing to support American and Israeli claims of a clandestine weapons program despite almost three years of intrusive inspections. Even U.S. intelligence estimates from as recent as, as August 2005, predict "Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, almost doubling the previous estimate of five years." At earliest, the Institute for Science and International Security estimates that Iran could have a bomb by 2009, assuming a lack of technical difficulties, and all “best case scenarios” played out for Iran. Iran has invaded none of its’ neighbors and demonstrated no territorial ambitions in the region. Meanwhile Israel is understood to have more than 100 nuclear warheads (likely targeted at countries throughout the Middle East), both India and Pakistan have secretly developed nuclear weapons in violation of the NPT while maintaining relationships with the U.S., and Pakistan’s military dictatorship has attempted to export nuclear technology. In fact on recent visits to India and Pakistan, the U.S. signed an agreement with India to give India access to U.S. nuclear power technology and fuel, and also re-affirmed Pakistan’s position as an ally in America’s fake “war on terror”.
The continued disaster in Iraq indicates it may very well be insane for the U.S. to pursue another such adventure in Iran, but it appears that is exactly what they are positioning themselves to do. But if this once again isn’t about weapons then what is it about? What would cause the U.S. to pursue such a reckless and desperate course of action? If the situation in Iraq and all the trouble the U.S. has had controlling Iraq’s oil is any caveat then it can’t just be Iran’s substantial reserves of “black gold” (oil) – can it? Is the age of “peek oil” that far advanced? Successive American presidential administrations have had contingency plans for seizing oil resources throughout the Middle East since at least the 1970’s and probably earlier, but the apparent urgency appears to be being driven by an additional factor. It is due to Iran’s only true “weapon of mass destruction”, the one the U.S. fears more than 100 Iranian nukes.
As promised by Iran and almost NEVER reported in any mainstream American news outlet (I challenge anyone reading this to find a story in the mainstream press about Iran’s oil exchange), March of 2006 will mark the opening Iran’s oil exchange (bourse), barring possibly a crisis of some sort in that nation. The exchange will be an oil trading market for Middle East and OPEC producers determined to seize more control of trading and will be in direct competition with the U.S. controlled Petroleum Exchange (IPE) and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Most importantly trading on this exchange will be done in the European Union’s currency, the EURO.
If the implications of such a move aren’t clear immediately, allow me to clarify. The American dollar and economy is saddled by 8 trillion dollars of debt and trade deficit exceeding 800 billion dollars, not to mention Bush’s 2007 budget and those forecast by that budget have promised to continued deficits into the foreseeable future. In March of this year, US Senate voted to raise the US national debt ceiling 781 billion dollars to some nine trillion dollars, which marked the fourth time during the current Bush presidency that Congress has been asked to allow the federal government to go deeper into debt in order to pay its bills on time. It’s arguably the world’s greatest monument to financial mismanagement and economic charades. Since the removal of the dollar’s pegging to Gold in 1971by then President, Richard Nixon, the dollar has been finalized as “fiat currency” (money that is made legal tender by the decree, or fiat, of the government but that is not covered by a specie reserve”). Though all currency exchange is based on some degree of “confidence” and belief more than things of truly tangible value, the financial practices and debt standing of the U.S. would make the U.S. dollar a currency of seriously limited value were it some other country. The U.S. dollar maintains its value only so long as other nations continue to believe in it and are forced to use it.
The primary reason the U.S. dollar has been able to maintain it’s “value” internationally is that it is only currency the major oil and petrochemical exchanges will do trades in (thus the nickname “petro-dollars”), which makes it the world’s reserve currency (the U.S. dollar currently accounts for almost 70% of global currency reserves). In order to purchase petroleum nations must hold massive amounts of U.S. dollars in their reserves to finance these transactions. The reason the U.S. is able to continue it’s unsustainable economic ways, and to accumulate obscene amounts of debt is because they, and only they, can print Dollars, knowing that the rest of the world will have to take them. A successful Iranian oil exchange denominated in Euros could cause hundreds of billions of dollars to flood back into the U.S., crushing the dollars value, and likely setting off a crippling cycle of hyper-inflation and economic malaise not witnessed in most of our lifetimes. Many believe such a switch happening rapidly is unlikely since a crash in the dollars value would devalue the rest of the holdings of the nations dumping the currency, but even a gradual shift would change the world’s geo-political landscape.
It wouldn’t be the first time such an attempted currency switch played a major roll in a war, in fact it wouldn’t even be the first time in the last 5 years. Prior to the United State’s most recent attack on Iraq, Saddam Hussein had outlived his usefulness to the U.S. (or so they believed) and Iraq’s military weakness and lack of WMDs made it a prime target for invasion. However the fact that likely sealed Hussein’s fate was his decision in November 2000 to switch to the Euro as the currency for Iraq’s oil transactions and to convert his $10 billion reserve fund at the U.N. to euros. What seemed initially like a political statement ended up making Hussein’s regime a good amount of money as the dollar depreciated significantly against the Euro in the period thereafter and throughout 2002. It was likely a situation that Washington was not going to allowed to be repeated by any other major oil exporting nations, especially one that was not already economically marginalized such as Iraq. The U.S. is maneuvering to initiate another unilateral attack against another sovereign nation, not just to try to seize control of more Middle Eastern oil reserves, but to protect it’s fragile debt-ridden currency and “ponzy-scheme” of an economy from the “market forces” the U.S. rulers swear by, when it suits them.
So now, we get to watch the song and dance at the United Nations, the Security Council, etc, all over again. Even without security council backing, at the end of the rainbow I envision U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, reading a speech that probably has already been written, before the bombs start raining. The Bush Junta has used Iran’s suspension of purely VOLUNTARY "confidence-building" measures that have nothing to do with Iran's obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and that Iran agreed to with Britain, France and Germany to appease the U.S. in return for economic incentives and safeguards concerning Iran's national security, to build a case for referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council. Notice I said “try to refer Iran” to the Security Council. That’s because as initially as pointed out by nuclear physicist Gordon Prather in his recent article, “March Madness”, and consistently INCORRECTLY REPORTED by the mainstream media, Iran was NOT referred to the Security Council because there was NOTHING to report. Contrary to false reports by the Associated Press, what actually happened was that certain members of the IAEA Board claiming to have been unable to "satisfy" themselves of "the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's program" called on Iran to implement certain additional measures beyond their obligation.
Even after several weeks of arm-twisting and threats led by the U.S. it wasn’t until Wednesday, March 29th, that the U.S. was able to clear the way for the possibility of some kind of Security Council action against Iran. The 15-nation Security Council for the 1st time demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities, unanimously approving a statement that asked the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to report back in 30 days on Iran's compliance with demands to stop enriching uranium. The statement, which is not legally binding was billed as a step toward compelling Iran to make clear that its program is for peaceful purposes. Thus far Iran has strongly rejected any request to end the enrichment program, which is NOT in violation of their NPT obligations as Iran's chief representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has told the press that "it is impossible to go back to suspension" and "this enrichment matter is not reversible”.
Diplomats would not say exactly what will happen if Iran does not comply with the statement within 30 days, but Security Council backed sanctions much less anything more serious could be a good while away, if on the horizon at all, since Russia and China hold veto power and strongly oppose such measures. However, like the dutiful servants of the war machine they are, the mainstream media has continually misreported this story giving the false impression that the impending U.S. executed or directed attack on Iran will be in response to an Iranian failure to comply with some treaty or will be directed by the Security Council. I suppose more than good ol’ fashion stupidity, mainstream media misinformation is the primary culprit in the ignorance and non-participation of the American citizenry and this is a perfect example of such misinformation in action.
This Time We All Pay
And so even with the American military overstretched and overstressed in Iraq and Afghanistan the war machine will likely continue rolling along for these are not policies and plans made by the prudent and just, but by the desperate and irrational. And more importantly these plans are made by and for the super-wealthy cabal who actually run the country, and as such these decisions will not be paid for in their blood or that of their children, but in the blood, death, and misery of those of us who are not wealthy. The U.S. clearly cannot feasibly launch a ground invasion of Iran or successfully occupy it. In all likelihood the U.S. will attempt to attack Iran using air strikes or “greenlight” an attack from their regional military proxy, Israel. In either situation, the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. or Israel cannot be ruled out, thus clearly showing the world that the nations claiming to fight for the preservation of “civilization” are the primary purveyors of the barbarism they claim to be struggling against. Iraq is and was terrible, but war with Iran will be the end of those “good things” left in America, and the end of the American people’s ability to not take responsibility for their countries foreign policy.
Whether militarily, financially, or morally, the U.S. will pay dearly for an attack on Iran. Even without nuclear weapons Iran - with ground forces estimated at 800,000 personnel, long-range missiles that could reach Israel and possibly as far as Europe, in addition to much of the world's oil supply being transported through the narrow, Strait of Hormuz, which Iran borders to the north – is hardly the military “pushover” that was Iraq. Faced with a unilateral attack from the U.S. or Israel it’s unclear what the Iranian response might be as they could block the Straight, a central oil route and send energy prices to crippling heights. Such an event would not just affect the U.S. but would be felt around the world, take Japan for instance who would be hit especially hard due to their dependence on foreign oil and hyper-sensitivity to the U.S. dollar. Now just step back and think of how many of the economies of other “rich and powerful” nations are tied to Japan and these have similar sensitivities, and you will understand the meaning of the word – “echo”. Though unlikely, it is even possible that Iran has secured a crude nuclear device of some sort, possibly from another country. If Iran doesn’t already have such weapons, pursuing them at this late stage in the game probably does more to play into the plans of American and Israeli aggression than anything else, but in light of all the American and Israeli saber rattling, and America’s track record of aggression, could anyone blame Iran if they did?
Even with a quick “victory”, which judging by Iraq is highly unlikely, the international repercussions of another American unilateral will reverberate around the globe and possibly be the “2 x 4 that broke the camels back”. Europe imports far more oil from Iran than the U.S. Meanwhile, China and Russia have already indicated their opposition to military action as well as sanctions against Iran, and both have economic ties to with that nation. Their stakes cannot be ignored as they too have cards to play and both possess nuclear weapons. Russia has already ignored Washington’s pleas and announced it would honor a $700 million contract to arm Iran with surface-to-air missiles. China has strategic energy contracts across the world, including in Iran. We should all be hope and/or pray that such actions wouldn’t lead to a open military conflict that drags in nuclear armed nations like China and Russia, but the more likely scenario is pretty threatening too. Both Russia and China hold large reserves of US dollars, which they could dump at any time. If this U.S. attacks Iran who is to say that some of the nations holding large amounts of U.S. debt won’t be willing to “cut off some of their nose to spite the United State’s face”, with an eye toward long term currency prospects. China alone on any given day holds over a trillion dollars of U.S. debt. Will China and Russia and numerous other nations just sit back and watch again as Washington tries to re-draw the map and redefine power relations geo-politically speaking? Certainly other nations understand the weakness of the U.S. economy and the vulnerabilities of the Dollar. Just last month, in response to another recent dispute with the U.S., Syria switched all of their foreign currency transactions to Euros from dollars, though this moved was likely also to prevent Syrian assets from being frozen.
A Little Rot, A Lot of Decay
Depending on your accounting method conservative estimates of the Iraq war cost put it’s economic cost around $250 billion, though the actual economic price tag in hidden cost is likely several times that. It seems every three months the Bush administration is asking for, and being granted, another 60-80 Billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For fiscal year 2005 military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to rise from 6.8 Billion to 9.8 Billion, per MONTH! Meanwhile overall the American military budget is almost 3 times as large as all of it’s potential adversaries COMBINED! It should be abundantly clear at this point that both the empire and the emperor have no clothes. The U.S. sees no way out of its’ predicament other than through military aggression, but this in fact is just a symptom of a larger problem; the U.S. is the belly of the beast of a decaying capitalist economic system.
As much as it pains me to watch us travel down this path again, it also pains me to be part of another war protest of several hundred thousand Americans only to have the “mainstream news” pretend the protest didn’t happen. I’ve always advocated large scale protest, among other tactics for a number of reasons, one of them being because I believe it helps further shift public sentiment, but at this point public sentiment has apparently been shifted against the war among other things. Another damn rally and cute slogans is not going to stop this administration from attacking Iran! Something more has to be done. Surely large groups of people have taken more direct action against governments more openly oppressive than this one. Surely other citizens of “developed” countries have angrily taken to the streets, for example as I write this an attempt to roll back worker protections in France for young workers is leading to near riots. If we collectively, as a society, cannot utter a resolute “NOT AGAIN” and muster the courage to stop an attack on Iran, then wouldn’t it be the case that we will deserve whatever negative repercussions result from it, if not far worse?
Contrary to the popularly held American belief, the United States is NOT the center of the universe! What goes on outside this nation’s borders and our roll in it matters, and this time “when the shit hits the fan” you won’t just be able to flip the channel or turn on your Playstation, while people die someplace far away. Maybe “we the people” are in such a stupor because we haven’t suffered enough and it’s true that “when all things fail to unite the people, conditions will”. Perhaps we truly can only feel our own pain and the only way to bring the empire’s war machine to a grinding halt is for the cost of the machine to be more openly evident in our personal lives. If this is so, bring on the draft, bring on hyper-inflation, bring on higher gas prices, bring on more military spending increases and further social program rollbacks, because we can’t once again be just hapless bystanders in another monumental crime of U.S. foreign policy and expect the “good times” to continue to roll. NO, this must and should be the end of “good things” as we knew them!
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Released: March 30th, 2006
The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of Playahata.com.