Rolf Maurer 5/17/14 Green Party of Connecticut
adapted from a 2012 UNAC conference talk, given 3/25/12
While the build-up to all conflicts is replete with propaganda to mobilize populaces in support of war, examining the propaganda emanating from Israel, in particular, often invites a level of intolerance that would apply to few other countries.
This singular taboo came to my attention during a protest rally in New York, where one of the marchers, while defending Iran, took exception to a political cartoon blown up to poster-size, highlighting the hypocricy regarding Israel's extensive, illegal nuclear arsenal side-by-side with the contrived obsession with Tehran's unsubstantiated nuclear weapons program.
Israel cannot be removed from the discussion, as it is Israel that is hosting 9,000 American soldiers since January 2012 (1), deployed in preparation, along with numerous American naval vessels and aircraft literally surrounding the target nation. It is Israeli media and political figures who assert Iran wants to "wipe it off the map"; it is Israel, not Iran, that has a history of military actions against its neighbors, including Iran.
Regarding myths and distortions, the "Map-Wiping" argument is an appropriate place to start for its tiresome ubiquity. For instance, when invoked yet again, this time by Commentary magazine's Jonathan Tobin during a March 5, 2012 Democracy Now! debate with Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University's Department of History (2), Khalidi didn‘t even bother addressing the reality behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's storied battlecry in his defense of Iran.
Attributed to a speech made in 2005, an actual translation from Farsi of what he said makes no reference to wipe, map, or even Israel (3). In fact, the context of the president's words was a condemnation of the Israeli government, not the state, or its people, as a whole.
Even if it were otherwise, it is Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei who is at the top of the politicial structure in post-revolutionary Iran, not the president. Khamenei has gone on record that the Republic "...logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous."(4)
A comparable example of how misinterpretation caught a life of its own is the declaration of Soviet Premier Krushchev in Poland in the 1950s, when he promised his Western counterparts, infamously using his shoe as a gavel for emphasis, that the USSR would "bury you"--invoking not a military threat, as was widely diseminated, but an economic one against capitalist societies. (5)
Through the current crisis, Israeli representatives have are no exception when it comes to belligerent bravado: in an interview from David Hirst's 2003 update of 1978's controversial The Gun and the Olive Branch about the Arab-Israeli conflict, Hebrew University military scholar Martin van Creveld asserted "We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force."(6)
If parties on the global stage were to take to arms out of sheer dread of words as is currently advocated, we would probably not be here now. But while you can't justify a war because of what amounts to harsh language, however incendiary, a more concrete harbinger is the end of formal communication.
American war planners understand this fully, given that thanks to the Iran Threats Reduction Act it is now illegal for members of Congress to engage in any direct talks with their Parliamentary counterparts in Iran. (7)
Underlying the claim that Iran means to destroy Israel is the assumption that Iran is uniformly driven by a culture of anti-Judaeism. Case in point being the "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust", a two-day event conference held in Tehran a few years ago with presidential endorsement, widely regarded as a Holocaust-denial convention. (8)
While incendiary, again, this is not reason to attack a country that has not been at war against another nation for 250 years (save in self-defense)--a record that exceeds Sweden's two centuries of peace.
Especially as its population includes, not only Muslims, Christians, but also, at 25,000, the largest Jewish population in the region outside of Israel, free to attend synagogues and pursue a lifeway in accordance with their own beliefs, as well as enjoy representation in the Iranian Parliament.(9)
In short, for Israel to attack Iran pre-emptively in order to protect lives on religious grounds would actually be counter-productive.
Conversely, any hypothetical nuclear strike against Israel ordered from Tehran, would have severe blowback consequences, as Iran would be dowwind of any nuclear fallout. (10)
Of course, this brings to mind the "Madman" argument—-that the leadership is so crazed and unpredictable; he'll do it anyway.
Considering the range of domestic social and technical accomplishments under the current presidency, resulting in free education through college, universal health care and broad industrial development, it's hard to comport this with a foreign policy predicated on national suicide. (11)
The bulwark of a pro-attack argument depends on an assumption of unified conviction on the part of all parts of all the governments being on the same page. Yet, in contrast to other governmental elements in both countries, both American and Israeli intelligence services concur that Iran has no nuclear weapons.(12)
If the afformentioned double-standard regarding the presence of hundreds of nuclear bombs in Israel's Dimona desert facility--in open defiance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran abides, versus the red herring argument about Iran's bogus arsenal holds any official cache, it is ostensibly through the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Yet with the Washington-pressured replacement of El-Baradai as head of the UN agency by Yukiya Amano, recently disclosed via Wikileaks as a puppet of U.S.interests (13), no better example of IAEA inconstancy can be found than comparing how it covers the unfolding Fukishima Daiichi nuclear disaster with the supposedly globe-spanning threat of the Iranian nuclear program.
February 2012 findings presented before an Ocean Sciences meeting in Salt Lake City revealed a 1000-fold increase in radiation than previously recorded, 400 miles off Japan's coast. While the impact for sea life and, of course, sea commerce is nothing short of devastating, the IAEA, farcically, insisted that this was nothing to worry about. (14)
This is in response to solid evidence of radiactive effluence that will impact the world for hundreds, perhaps, even thousands of years--certainly resulting in dramatic increases in cancer rates for the Northern hemisphere from an atmospheric standpoint, alone, according to acclaimed anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott.
Meanwhile, even as the Iranian government offers to make its facilities open to further inspections, somehow, it is to be believed that even the absence of evidence constitutes potential evidence of a cleverly secreted weapons program. Even as nuclear power plants cannot operate without regularly releasing contaminants into the environment.
As National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, Brian Becker has repeatedly observed, all claims of elaborate subterfuge fall flat considering that the Iranian nuclear facilities are comprehensively monitored by the only impartial method at the IAEA's disposal—-its video cameras.
The Real Threat
So, why, then is Iran developing domestic nulcear power? After all, it is often observed, as the nation has so much oil, there is no defensible rationale for going in such a direction, unless it is a guise for building bombs.
Unlike the United States, Iran is realistic about the finite supply of accessible oil and is pursuing nuclear power as a backup, or transitional plan, once petroleum reserves are gone, to a renewable energy infrastructure. (15)
Even in the U.S., the Energy Department quietly admitted in 2010 that world's Peak Oil threshold, that is, that point beyond which more energy would go into extracting oil from inside the Earth than would be expended on the surface, was crossed back in
The US reached its own peak sometime in the 1970s, as predicted by the dean of Peak Oil theory, respected petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert some twenty years prior. (17) In fact, things have become so accute, with oil output measured not just in MMBOs (millions of barrels of oil), but also MMBOE (millions of barrels of oil equivalents), the question of the real motive behind the West's Iranian nuclear fixation is self-evident.
From a global resource perspective, where everything is peaking at almost the same time—-water, minerals, as well as petroleum, the drive to secure what remains assumes an especially desperate tenor when it is paired to an economic ideology that is almost pathological in its expansionist tendencies.
This marriage is why the US, for the first time since the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster of Pennysvania, has commissioned two new nuclear power plants of its own in Georgia. (18)
It's not about independence from so-called foreign oil (in most cases, the oil industry is unavoidably international in nature), nor is it about some green-inspired "nuclear rennaissance" (from mining, construction, operation through decomissioning, nuclear plants are notorious for CO2 emissions, as well as cumulative radioactive by-products).
Its about payback: the present administration has strong fiancial/campaign ties (particularly Obama and current Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emmanuel) to General Electric, designer of the Entergy Yankee facility in Vermont, who's continued operation was recently
defended by the Supreme Court, and Exelon, another nuclear operator with facilities in several states.(19).
Such are the priorities in the face of advances in Western solar and wind technology that can now easily exceed nuclear's performance(20).
Business favoritism aside, in an age of corporate globalization—-and at all levels--the issue is not the provenance of a material resource, but the provenance of who controls it.
Right here in Stamford (CT), the city water supply is managed by Aquarion Water, a subsidiary of the Aquarian Company of New York, which, in turn, is owned by Macquarie Bank of Australia. (21)
If there is any immediate threat percieved by the West on the part of Iran's energy program, it is its self-directed committment to local and eventually regional needs, before cronyism or transnational interests.
This is why the State Department has made so much of Iran's diplomatic parternship with Venezuela, which, as state operator of Citgo, has a similarly responsible orientation regarding the distribution and sales of its own energy resources.
While Hillary Clinton had been diligent in her term as Secretary of State in going from country to country surrounding Venezuela to build an alliance against Iran's ally (not too dissimilar to the role of the Arab League poised against Iran), Hugo Chavez' policy regarding direct sales of heating oil to impoverished American communities is arguably the only thing standing between recent winters and families freezing to death. (22)
Meanwhile, the US seems peculiarly committed to cannibalizing itself from within, as it is determined to devour resource-rich nations from without.
For too long, as suggested in the work of Richard Heinberg, the late Michael Ruppert and other post-petroleum researchers, industrial society has been putting eggs from a single hen, into too many baskets.
From plastics and fertilizer, to pharmeceuticals and fuel, from automtive tires to the asphalt upon which they make contact, too much of what defines our material existence comes from just one source.
But, because short-sighted private ambitions are allowed to trump public need at every turn, the United States is hurtling in the opposite direction Of Iran and other countries that presume to manage their own economic and resource destinies.
Comparing the Iranian replica drone, sent to the White House in response to its request for a return of the downed original, and a Matchbox drone I chanced upon at a supermarket the other day encapsulates things pointedly: The former was produced by an Iranian-based plastics company using local labor and local material, whereas, the Matchbox "SB94 Drone" was made FOR New York-based Mattel, Inc. BY factory labor in Thailand.
Neck-and-neck with the race for the last of the world's resources is the one for the cheapest human ones, too (or the willingness to sabotage a state's integrity so that it will ultimately furnish same).
This competition has come home to roost with the American Legislative Exchange Council (23), which streamlines corporate control over the legal process, inspiring the selling off of public lands to assorted foreign firms, the harassment of the few remaining home-grown operations, like Gibson Guitars, into oursourcing its labor (24), as well as government/corporate collusion to replace en mass even white collar labor with employees from other countries working for one-third the pay (25).
Despite sanctions that mean to cripple the country with a tangibility that cannot compare with its neighbor's persistent cries of existential threats, Iran's robust manufacturing sector, including autos, appliances, pharmeceuticals, as well as military hardware is reminisicent of the United States—-say, from the '50s through the late '60s (26).
Of course, culturally, legally, politically, economically, Iran is not like the United States; each has its respective shortcomings and advantages, and Washington and media commentators truck heavily in the realities and perceptions used to maintain such needless divides.
What matters is a constant awareness of how much the shapers of foreign policy want us to care more about the first two aspects described above, than pay heed to how much they care about the latter two.
In the end, the enemy is not religious animosity, stealth nuclear weapons, or head coverings. It's an extractive, even parasitical socio/political construct that can only be resisted with a dedicated repetition of the facts, while striking common cause, wherever a bastion of resistance, like Iran, prevails.