Google+ Studio 25: The Fog of Fear

23.4.13

The Fog of Fear

The Telegraph in an article from Tuesday, 23 April 2013, warns everybody that Britain and US 'risk repeating Iraq invasion mistake with Iran'. Some would say it is a fair warning. But, is it?

"The same sort of lies and falsehoods are being uttered about Iran as were told about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction ten years ago, and in some cases by the same people."
Manipulation of some kind? Let us take a look at what they are saying.
I would expect a respectable news deliverer as "The Telegraph" to have a clearer picture of the recent past and of the present. The facts are that the Baathist regime in Baghdad had a history of hiding a nuclear program (maybe not at the time of the invasion, but they clearly had a history); attach that history to an almost continuous state of war, repeated obstructions to the IAEA inspection teams, violent suppression of  any political opposition (or, does anybody doubt that?) and a belligerent rhetoric, and you have a loose cannon. Up until now it is not complicated; the complications arise in interpreting all these facts, in developing policies to minimize, eliminate or quarantine the potential "time-bomb". Yes, they chose muscle over diplomacy, they fabricated, manipulated or misinterpreted "evidence" and they pictured everything in the color of "do or die". Divergent reports on WMD programs or connections to terrorist organizations, some of which were really far-fetched, were sidelined or disregarded. There was a huge media offensive in support of a "muscular" course of action. The psychedelic atmosphere was fueled daily, and we were fed tons of assumptions painted as facts. Some of us were able to see behind the smoke screen, but the vast majority bought the story and when majority was won, the ball started to roll downhill.
 Connecting Iraq with Al-Qaeda was a huge blunder; the very idea that a repressive dictator would support an organization that undermined his very own authority is ridiculous.
In the midst of comparisons with those times and those decisions, some are simply not capable of seeing through a new smokescreen, but this time covering the other side. Maybe out of fear of repeating past mistakes, maybe out of an incapacity to see the differences between Baathist Iraq and Iran of now, there is tendency of generalizing instead of analyzing. A generalizing attitude that would induce a a tendency to either put Iran under the same assumption that led to military initiative in Iraq or, on the other extreme, start from a set of opposing assumptions.
"Nobody can say with certainty that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons in secret. But it would be very hard for them to do so. This is because the country is a fully signed up member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has for the most part obediently respected its provisions, and continues to do so today.
This means that Iran's enrichment facilities are open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), as are its other nuclear facilities. Over many years the IAEA has verified that no nuclear material has been diverted from these facilities for possible military purposes.
Most experts consider that it would be impossible for Iran to produce weapons-grade uranium for a bomb without being spotted by IAEA inspectors.
It is certainly true that the IAEA is currently in dispute with Iran over some of its nuclear activities. But it is not in breach of its NPT commitments, and here the contrast with India and Israel, both allies of the west, is so very striking. Their nuclear facilities are almost entirely closed to international inspections, and Israel is in open defiance of UN security council demands to make them available for inspection.
The unfairness (grotesque from an Iranian point of view) is glaring.
Iran, which has no nuclear weapons, is the object of ferocious economic sanctions and threats of military action. By contrast Israel (with perhaps 400 nuclear bombs and the capacity to deliver them anywhere in the Middle East) is the object of more than $3 billion a year of US military aid."
Indeed, nobody can say with certainty that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons in secret. Well, they (Iranian government) can tell us all if they do, and even more, they can prove it. Instead, they chose to point fingers at Israel (not that I agree with their nuclear program). Apart from that, Israel is not a party to the NPT, neither are India or Pakistan, so they are not obliged to report to it. DPRK has left the treaty too. Iran didn't.

Well, yes, Israel has the A-bomb in their arsenal, but I don't remember them threatening Iran with extinction. I also don't remember them using it against its declared foes, that used the very same belligerent rhetoric against them. But that is not even the point; the point is that absolutely no one trusts Iran anymore.
British politicians fuel the myth. Last year Defence Secretary Philip Hammond spoke of how Iran is believed to be working 'flat out' to build nuclear weapons. while Foreign Secretary William Hague told The Daily Telegraph last year that Iran was 'clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme.' Remarks like this from cabinet ministers add weight to the powerful narrative that Iran's nuclear ambitions must be curbed, enhancing the case for ever harsher economic sanctions and, if that fails to do the job, for military actions. Meanwhile the mainstream media is behaving as it did in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when, instead of questioning every aspect of the case for military action, it became the cheerleader for war.

"This brings us to the biggest falsehood of all - the claim that Iran is defiantly refusing to engage reasonably with the west. If anything the opposite is the truth. More than once, the Iranians have shown themselves ready to negotiate.
They did so in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 atrocities, which was met with candlelit vigils in Tehran and denunciations by senior clerics. Iran provided intelligence briefings and help in the war against the Taliban, even going so far as far as to offer to rescue US pilots shot down over Iranian territory. According to James Dobbins, the diplomat who led the US delegation in the negotiations leading up to the 2001 Bonn agreement on Afghanistan, 'in 2002 and again in 2003 Washington actually spurned offers from Tehran to cooperate on Afghanistan and Iraq and negotiate out other US/Iranian differences, including over its nuclear programme.' In 2005 Iran floated another deal at a meeting with a European negotiating team at the Quai d'Orsay. It offered to open up all its nuclear facilities to intrusive international inspection, along with a series of other concessions, so long as the west recognised its right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, a right to which it is entitled as a signatory of the NPT. This deal was (say foreign office sources) killed off by Tony Blair, acting on behalf of George W Bush.
A deal along the these lines could be struck today. But it would require America and the west to stop treating Iran as a pariah state, and instead as a proud, independent nation with legitimate regional interests.
If we fail to take this course of action, the consequences look bleak.
Within months the world could be plunged into a new round of war and bloodshed, with the added risk of global economic collapse. Such an outcome would not just be terrible. It is wholly unnecessary."
There is no falsehood that Iran is refusing to engage reasonably with the west. Iran has repeatedly shown itself ready to negotiate only on matters of minimal significance, not on core issues.

"The IAEA has long expressed concern about Iran's nuclear programme, but its latest report (November 2011) lays out the case in much greater detail than before.
Drawing on evidence provided by more than 10 member states as well as its own information, the IAEA said Iran had carried out activities "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device".
It said that some of these activities could only be used to develop nuclear weapons - though it did not say that Iran had mastered the process, nor how long it would take Iran to make a bomb.
The report documents alleged Iranian testing of explosives, experiments on detonating a nuclear weapon, and work on weaponisation - the processes by which a device might be adapted and hardened to fit into the nose-section of a missile.
There are some allegations that are listed openly for the first time, including the claim that Iran has used computer modelling on the behaviour of a nuclear device.
Previously, the IAEA complained that Tehran had not fully co-operated with its inspectors, though it did say that Iran had displayed "greater transparency" during an inspection visit in August 2011.
In March 2012, it was announced that Iran had agreed to take part in fresh six-party talks and allow IAEA inspectors to visit its key military research site at Parchin, under certain conditions."
"The technology used to enrich uranium to the level needed for nuclear power can also be used to enrich it to the higher level needed for a nuclear explosion.
Iran hid an enrichment programme for 18 years, so the Security Council says that until Iran's peaceful intentions can be fully established, it should stop enrichment and other nuclear activities.
Under international law, an order from the Security Council is held to supersede rights granted by other international organisations. The Council has ordered sanctions under Article 41 of the UN Charter, which enables it to decide "what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions". The Council has also called on Iran to ratify and implement an arrangement allowing more extensive inspections as a way of establishing confidence."
BBC News

And here is the official report of the IAEA that came out in February 2013: IAEA
Now, if we read carefully we should be able to detect that inspections did have restriction. Restrictions related with the core issue at hand: a potential military use. Affix to this the nature of the regime, their irrational behavior and bellicose rhetoric, and you have the recipe for a potential disaster on global scale. It is not a matter of the west against Iran, but one in which the whole world (apart form DPRK, I believe) is expecting Iran to use reason, not to flex their muscles.
No one in his right mind would want another war, but no one in his right mind can say it is an over-inflated crisis either. Right now, we should not push war as a solution, but at the same time we should not show our fear for it either; with fear comes irrational decisions and lesser judgments.  We need to put it on the table and call it for what it is.