Saturday, August 27, 2005
Bush exit through Iran?
THE undue and unwarranted haste in the American moves against what Washington describes as Iran's plans to develop nuclear weapons and its alleged role in the insurgency in Iraq is strengthening the belief that the US is inching towards military action against that country.
There are many who believe that destabilising Iran and regime change in Tehran could be part of US President George W Bush's "exit strategy" from Iraq. Those who support this theory argue that it makes better sense because everything else that the Bush administration does and says does not make sense in the Iraqi context.
American casualties are mounting in Iraq, Bush's popularity rating is dipping fast, the anti-war movement in the US is growing in strength, moves are underfoot in Congress to hold the administration responsible for misleading the legislature on Iraq into the disastrous war, several Bush confidants could face criminal charges for deceptive actions bordering on treason, and many critics are even calling for impeaching the president.
Given these problems, Bush's declarations that he had done and is continuing to do the right things in Iraq and his pledges that he would stay the course do not make sense to many unless seen in the wider context of planned action against Iran.
Chris Floyd, a strong proponent of this argument, writes in the Moscow Times: "The 'high' Bush got from his Iraq assault is now wearing off, politically and personally. He needs another hit of blood and destruction. And don't think he's worried about the prospect of a much wider conflagration arising from a bombing strike against Iran. After all, chaos and instability only mean more money for his war-profiteering family and cronies — and greater authority for 'war leaders' seeking to 'secure the Homeland'."
'False flag attack'
According to reports in the US press, Vice-President Dick Cheney has already given the green signal for military action against Iran immediately in the event of a terror attack in the US.
Some reports speak of plans for a "false flag" operation that would point the finger at Iran and justify American military strikes against that country.
In this context, the emerging story of a US general who was relieved of his command is significant.
Reports in cyberspace as well as linked but not-so-explicit articles in mainstream papers suggest that General Kevin P. Byrnes, commander of the army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, was relieved of his command because he opposed plans for a "staged attack" in the US that would be used to justify action, both political and military, against Iran.
Officially, the four-star general was relieved of his command because he had an "extramarital affair with a civilian.”
An article under the title "Nuclear Terror Drill to Go Live? Let's Hope Not" (www.rense.com) says "Byrnes was about to lead a coup against the hawks in the military and executive branch determined to lead America into a global conflict, leading to devastating ramifications for the country, as well as financial and social chaos.”
According to the article, the "hawks" were planning to stage a "false attack" at a US military base in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of a routine exercise in September this year.
During that exercise, a real nuclear warhead was to be smuggled off a ship and detonated while the official report would have been that the warhead was a dummy and someone had replaced it with a real one and the suspicion would be pointed at Iran, under this scenario.
This would have allowed the US administration to seek immediate UN Security Council sanctions against Iran and eventual UN approval for US military action against Iran, according to the plot.
Byrnes was commander of the same base where the nuclear terror drill was to occur.
He was said to be among "a growing faction of discontented high-ranking officers are attempting internally to try and stop the Bush administration’s imminent plans for war with Iran in an effort to avert global war.”
Apparently, Byrnes knew in advance of the plot and objected to it, and hence he was relieved of his job.
It was strange that the Pentagon cited "extramarital affair" as the reason for relieving Byrnes whereas there is no precedent to such action. Generals and high-ranking officers in the military are not dismissed from service for sexual affairs. They are given a reprimand and it is entered into their service record.
It was also strange that the Pentagon even refused to say whether it was a male or female who had this "extramarital" affair with Byrnes. Again, that is questioned by many people who point out that the Pentagon has deliberately left it vague in order to silence Byrnes. Under the laws that govern the US military, Byrnes could be sent to jail if he talks about whatever he knew about US military activities while in service. Therefore , the argument goes, Byrnes is not talking about what had actually happened.
Washington has adopted a multi-pronged approach against Iran. On one front, it is trying to have the UN Security Council impose sanctions against Iran for alleged violations of the international nuclear regime. Another front is accusations that Tehran is behind the mounting insurgency in Iraq and is harbouring Al Qaeda militants; and then come charges that Iran is in gross violations of human rights.
The nuclear front
The facts of the so-called Iranian nuclear crisis are largely clear. Iran is exercising its right as any sovereign country to develop nuclear energy, and it is doing so under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has certified that the country does not have a programme to develop nuclear weapons.
Even if Iran were to deviate from its commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and clandestinely develop nuclear weapons, it is estimated that it would take seven to 10 years before it succeeds in doing so. It means there is enough time for the "feverish diplomacy" that the US says it is trying to use to run its course and arrive at a measure that would pre-empt Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capability.
If Tehran appears to be defiant, then that attitude reflects its resentment over the US-engineered pressure and bullying tactics. The Iranians know that they are perceived as a hurdle to American strategic objectives in the region and that Washington wants to reshape Iran to suit American interests.
However, Tehran playing into the American hands. Bush wants the Iranian "crisis" to worsen so that he could use military force against Iran, according to seasoned analysts and commentators.
It is no secret that Iran is in American gunsights for "regime change." Bush promised his neoconservative gurus that this would be one of his priorities in his second term during his campaign for the November 2004 elections which gave him another four years in office.
Bush has stated that "all options," including the use of force against, remained open in order to persuade Iran to drop its alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.
The key question that Bush or anyone else in his administration does not answer is: Why should Shiite Iran would want to help Sunni insurgents oust a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government led by Iran's natural allies.
Floyd says: "That's the kind of self-defeating stupidity one might expect from the Bush poltroons, who have spent $300 billion and almost 1,900 American lives to establish an unstable, terrorist-ridden, fundamentalist Islamic state in the centre of the Middle East. But it's unlikely that the subtle Persians, with 3,000 years of statecraft behind them, would be foolish enough to kill the golden goose that Bush has handed them by destroying Saddam and installing their allies in power."
However, that logic seems to have failed to penetrate into the thinking of the Bush administration.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week: "It's true that weapons clearly, unambiguously, from Iran have been found in Iraq."
It has to be remembered here that Rumsfeld had once claimed that he knew where Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were hidden: "They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and east, west, south and north somewhat."
Several thousand Iranians are indeed held in detention in Iraq, with many of them facing charges that they were involved in the insurgency and carried out bombings and other attacks against the US forces there and their allies. A few of them have already been convicted and sentenced to death.
The Al Qaeda 'link'
It could not be ruled out that there are Al Qaeda elements present in Iranian territory, having fled there from Afghanistan after the US invasion of that country. However, there could not be much substance to charges that Iran is using them to stage attacks across the border in Iraq and other countries, experts on international terrorism say.
Had there been any truth to such allegations, they point out, the US would have cranked up the pressure on Iran to new heights in the context of the US-led war against terror by naming Tehran as a sponsor of international terrorism.
Tehran has said an unspecified number of Al Qaeda activists are in Iranian detention but has not named them. At one point, it was reported that it handed over some of them to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh made a request.
Of course, the Iranian support for Lebanon's Hizbollah, an avowed opponent of Israel and which is blamed for anti-US attacks during the 1980s in Lebanon, is another bone of contention. Hizbollah, which represents the Lebanese Shiite community, is listed in the US list of "terrorist" organisation and Iran's links with the group would be used by Washington to boost its charge that Tehran supports international terrorism.
Floyd asserts in the Moscow Times:
"The plain fact is that Bush doesn't want diplomacy to work against Iran. He wants the situation to reach a crisis point that will 'justify' military action. It's the only form of politics he knows: You foment (or invent) a crisis, then use deceit, fear and brute force to impose your radical agenda. And the takedown of Iran is a long-held ambition of the corporate militarists behind the Bush Faction's relentless quest for 'full spectrum dominance' over world affairs.
When seen against this assertion, the consistent expressions of US concern over Iran's nuclear programme is explained.
Despite reported findings by scientists that bomb-grade uranium traces found in Iran came from contaminated Pakistani equipment, the State Department insists that the US approach is right and the world shares Washington's concern.
The Washington Post has reported that a panel of scientists from the United States, Russia, France, Japan and Britain, supports Iran's claim that the traces of highly enriched uranium came from contaminated centrifuges imported from Pakistan.
Washington had pointed to the material as evidence that Iran was making bomb-grade ingredients.
It is unlikely that the Bush administration would accept any argument which contradicts its allegations against Iran. That is what happened in the case of Iraq ,and we might yet have to live through a similar experience, perhaps if only because Bush's "exit stragey" for Iraq runs through Iran.