Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bill Clinton and the Bogus Iran Threat

by

Tragically, President George H.W. Bush passed up a chance for a rapprochement with Iran because, after the Soviet Union imploded, the national-security apparatus needed a new threat to stave off budget cutters in Congress. Iran became the “manufactured crisis,” according to author Gareth Porter’s new book by that title.

Doubly tragic, Bush’s successor, Bill Clinton, compounded the dangerous folly by hyping the bogus threat. Why? That might be a good question for progressives to ask possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who enjoys basking in her husband’s supposed presidential successes.

Porter writes,

That ramping up of pressure on Iran by the Clinton administration was still driven by the same bureaucratic incentives that had appeared at the end of the Cold War, but it shifted into overdrive because it was linked to support of the Israeli government’s drive to portray Iran as the great threat to peace in the world.

Clinton’s advisers saw the threat of nuclear proliferation as the path to beefing up the national-security apparatus. It was perfect for justifying new weapons systems and a continuing role as world policeman.

Moreover, the military focus on Iran, Porter adds, “dovetailed with the Clinton administration’s move to align its Iran policy with that of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.” Before assuming power, Clinton signaled his intention to be “more explicitly pro-Israel than the Bush administration had been.” To that end, he selected Martin Indyk as his campaign’s Middle East adviser. Indyk had been an adviser to former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir; a researcher at the chief pro-Israel lobbying organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; and cofounder of AIPAC’s spinoff think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Today, Indyk is President Obama’s chief envoy to the failed U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian talks.)

The Clinton administration implemented the “dual containment” policy against Iraq and Iran. But Porter reports that Robert Pelletreau, the Middle East policymaker in the State Department, acknowledges “that it was ‘pretty much accepted in Washington’ that the policy had originated in Israel.”

Was there a case against Iran to justify the policy? The administration charged Iran with abetting international terrorism, beefing up its armed forces, and seeking nuclear weapons. But was there evidence?

Porter’s book is a heavily documented brief showing that Iran never had a policy or took steps to acquire nuclear weapons. It sought a uranium-enrichment capability in order to produce fuel for its civilian nuclear program, but it did not seek weapons. Moreover, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa condemning nuclear weapons as a sin against Islam.

As for Iran’s military, the government sought to acquire medium-range missiles, but this was entirely consistent with its defense needs: Saddam Hussein of Iraq was a standing threat (he had launched an eight-year war complete with chemical attacks and missile strikes on Iran’s cities, including Tehran), and Israeli leaders often spoke of the need for a preemptive strike against the Islamic Republic, like the one staged in 1981 against Iraq’s nuclear-power reactor at Osirak.

And terrorism? “Reflecting both the hostility toward Iran within the national security bureaucracy and the influence of the Israeli line on its Iran policy, the Clinton administration also adopted the same a priori assumption that Iran was a threat to the issue of terrorism,” Porter writes. In other words, Clinton didn’t need evidence. Porter provides several examples of Iran being falsely blamed for terrorism committed by someone else. The pattern of blame without evidence persists.

Finally, why were Israel’s leadership and American supporters so determined to put Iran at the center of U.S. foreign policy, especially when Israel’s government had previously, if covertly, cooperated with the Shiite Islamic Republic on the grounds that both countries had a common enemy in Sunni extremism? Porter’s detailed and documented chapter on this aspect of the manufactured crisis concludes,

“The history of the origins and early development of Israel’s Iran nuclear scare and threat to attack Iran over its nuclear and missile programs highlights a pattern in which both the [Yitzhak] Rabin and [Benjamin] Netanyahu governments deliberately exaggerated the threat from Iran, in sharp contradiction with the Israeli intelligence assessment. The ruse served a variety of policy interests, most of which were related to the manipulation of US policy in the region.”

Sheldon Richman  is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).

 

Sheldon Richman, author of the forthcoming America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyons
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]