What "All Options are on the Table" Really Means

by FLOYD RUDMIN

Conscious or not conscious of your own bad intentions, you suspect theirs to be still worse. Their notion of your intentions is the same. Measures of mere self-defense are naturally taken for acts of aggression. The same causes produce, on both sides, the same effects; each makes haste to begin for fear of being forestalled. In this state of things, if on either side there happen to be a Minister [of War], or a would-be Minister, who has a fancy for war, the stroke is struck, and the tinder catches fire.

Jeremy Bentham, 1789, "Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace."

For more than a year, the USA has been openly threatening to bomb Iran. Some scenarios see the use of nuclear bombs. "All options are on the table" says Bush, Cheney, Rice, and most of the candidates in the 2008 Presidential race.

The reason? They say they feel threatened by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power technology, although they formally granted Iran that right when they ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. The IAEA has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. They say they feel threatened by Iran’s support of the Shia militia, especially those in Iraq and Lebanon. Iran has traditionally played the role of defending Shia communities, even in the Ottoman era. They say they feel threatened by Iran’s opposition to Israel’s expansion and Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, which is against international law and many UN resolutions. The say they feel threatened by Iran’s energy exports and its ability to influence world prices. In general, they feel threatened by an independent nation in an oil-rich region they wish to dominate. Therefore, they threaten to bomb Iran. "All options are on the table."

The UN Charter, Article 2, section 4 states that

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

America is a founding member of the UN and has thus made that provision a part of its own national law. According to the US Constitution, treaties constitute the highest law of the land. It is thus illegal under US law to threaten to bomb Iran. Nevertheless, they threaten war. They move excessive numbers of warships into seas surrounding Iran. They cultivate client states, build bases and deploy troops on all sides of Iran.

One consequence of these threats is that Iran must prepare to defend itself. On Oct. 20, a top Iranian military commander announced that Iran is ready to retaliate with 11,000 missiles in the first few minutes after an American surprise attack. The missiles are aimed at the military bases, ships at sea, and economic assets of the threatening nations. To launch that many missiles AFTER a shock-and-awe surprise attack means that Iran must have distributed the ability to launch missiles. There is not one launch button and one commanding finger on the button.

There are many buttons and many different fingers on them. War is now on a hair trigger, and the risk of accidental war is now very, very, very high. War might be started by an Iranian religious fundamentalist eager to go to heaven, or patriot eager to defend Iran, or a traitor eager to destroy Iran, or someone depressed or bored or simply misreading a radar screen and thinking a flock of birds are an incoming attack.

The USA has over 300,000 military and support personnel in the region around Iran, all of them now the target of 11,000 missiles on hair-trigger. That is what repeated threats of war have achieved.

The epilogue by Jeremy Bentham, written more than 200 years ago, aptly describes what is happening now. War seems inevitable. With war will come thousands of deaths, maybe millions, and whole economies will collapse, the first being that of the USA since it is most dependent on imported oil.

The epilogue quote comes from Bentham’s book, "Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace." He coined the concept of "international law" and first conceived of the idea of a united nations. In the 18th century, those were merely ideas. Now, in the 21st century, they are reality. We have international law and a United Nations. But the USA and other belligerent nations have decided to act contrary to international law and in violation of the United Nations, with the consequence that their military forces and economies are now in jeopardy.

Among all of the options on the table, the most likely are self-destruction and national suicide.

FLOYD RUDMIN is Professor of Social & Community Psychology at the University of Tromsø. He can be reached at frudmin@psyk.uit.no

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”