By Lawrence Davidson, Reader Supported News, 18 July 2010
On July 15, 2010, Time Magazine carried an article entitled, “An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table.” According to the piece, the point man for this growing belligerency is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It is to be noted that when the same Robert Gates served the infamous George W. Bush (the year was 2008), he actually helped talk that president out of attacking Iran. At the time we were bogged down in Iraq and so yet another war in the Middle East was, according to Gates, “the last thing we need.” Now it is 2010 and we are bogged down in Afghanistan. No matter, Mr. Gates appears to have changed his mind. Or perhaps, he has been instructed to do so. “I don’t think we’re prepared to even talk about a nuclear Iran…. We do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons.”
All of this is mighty strange. First of all, there is no supportable evidence that Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons. UN inspections and even US intelligence reports fail to support this conclusion. This being the case, why does Robert Gates speak as if a nuclear Iran is imminent? One possibility is that he and others in Washington are working from assumptions based on what the US would do if it was in Iran’s shoes. To understand this better we can ask what Mr. Gates and President Obama would do if, magically transformed into Iran’s leaders, they were confronted with the following questions and answers?
Who backed Saddam Hussein in his war on Iran? The United States. Who attacked Iraq and then blamed much of the resistance coming from Shia quarters on Iran? The United States. Who has virtually surrounded Iran with potentially hostile military bases? The United States. Who has very likely abetted violent terror attacks by some of Iran’s minority groups? The United States. Who now speaks of Iran in tones remarkably similar to those used for Iraq prior to invasion of that country? The United States. Who speaks almost daily of launching a military attack on Iran? America’s number one “ally” Israel. Who characterized Iran as one of the three “rogue” states making up the axis of evil? The United States. And finally, and perhaps most relevant to our present situation, which one of those three “rogue” states has not been invaded or threatened with attack by the United States? The one with the nuclear weapons (North Korea). The Defense Secretary does not have to be a genius to assume that, despite the lack of hard evidence, Iran might very well seek to be nuclear-armed. Because that is almost certainly what Washington would do if it were in Tehran’s place.
At this point someone ought to stop and ask why the United States cares if Iran has one or two or three nuclear warheads for defensive purposes? In modern times Iran has never invaded or even attacked another country unless it was attacked first. The whole notion that Amadinejad wants to “wipe Israel off the map” is a Zionist propaganda story based on a mistranslated speech. It is on the same level as the neo-con tale about Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti infants out of incubators. …
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Lawrence Davidson is a professor of Middle East history at West Chester University.