One More Step Down the Road to War with Iran

From Juan Cole’s Informed Comment.

US Sanctions on Iran
October 26, 2007

The Bush administration announced wideranging new sanctions on Iran on Thursday, which target three Iranian banks, nine companies associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and several individuals, as well as the IRGC (roughly analogous to the National Guard in the US, i.e. a populist adjunct to the formal Iranian army).

These unilateral sanctions clearly reflect frustration on the part of Bush/Cheney that they have not been able to convince the UN Security Council to apply international sanctions. (Iran has not been demonstrated to be doing anything that is illegal in international law.)

The sanctions may work but may not. The Dutch Shell corporation is thinking seriously of bucking the US and helping develop Iranian oil and gas production. China is negotiating a big deal with Iran. The world is energy hungry. Iran has energy. The US is a debtor nation, and has gone even more deeply into debt under Bush. It may just not be able to stand in the way of the development of Iranians energy.

The hypocrisy of the Bush case is obvious when it complains about Iran supporting Hizbullah and Hamas. The Kurds based in American Iraq have done much worse things to Turkey in the past month than Hizbullah did to Israel in June of 2006. Yet when Israel launched a brutal and wideranging war on all of Lebanon, destroying precious infrastructure and dumping enormous amounts of oil into the Mediterranean, damaging Beirut airport, destroying essential bridges in Christian areas, and then releasing a million cluster bomblets on civilian areas in the last 3 days of the war– when Israel did all that, Bush and Cheney applauded and argued against a ‘premature’ cease-fire! Yet they are trying to convince Turkey just to put up stoically with the PKK terrorists who have killed dozens of Turkish troops recently and kidnapped 8 (again, more than the number of Iraeli troops that were kidnapped). Bush’s coddling of the PKK in Iraq is not different from Iran’s support for Hizbullah, except that the PKK is a more dangerous and brutal organization than Hizbullah.

Not to mention the US-backed Kurdish front against Iran itself, as Farideh Farhi explains.

Among the more fantastic charges that Bush made against Iran was that its government was actively arming and helping the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. In fact, the Taliban are extremist Sunnis who hate, and have killed large numbers of Shiites. Shiite Iran is unlikely to support them. The neo-Taliban are a threat to the Karzai government, which represents the Northern Alliance (Tajiks, Hazara and Uzbeks) along with non-Taliban Pushtuns. The Hazara are Shiite clients of Iran, and both the Tajiks and the Uzbeks are close to Tehran. The neo-Taliban are being supported by Pakistan, which resents the Northern Alliance, not by Iran, which favors it.

That Iran is trying to destabilize the Shiite government in Baghdad is absurd. The Bush administration charge that Iran is the source of explosively formed projectiles is based on very little evidence and flies in the face of common sense; in fact these bombs are probably made in Iraq itself or perhaps come from Hizbullah in Lebanon.

The charges are frankly ridiculous, and certainly are so if proportionality is taken into account. That is, if one bomb was sold by an Iranian arms dealer to the Taliban for profit, a hundred bombs were given to the Taliban by Pakistan for tactical reasons. Likewise, the Shiite militias in Iraq have killed very few American troops when the US troops have left the Shiites alone; most attacks on the US come from Sunni Arabs.

The Senate Kyl-Lieberman resolution helped legitimize this new Bush policy, which is why the senators should not have voted for it. It took us one more step down the road to war with Iran.


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