FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Neoconservative Obsession With Iran

by

Americans could be enjoying cultural and commercial relations with Iranians were it not for U.S. “leaders,” who are more aptly described as misleaders. Because of institutional, geopolitical, and economic reasons, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were not about to let that happen. They thought America needed an enemy, and Iran filled the bill.

President George W. Bush appeared to follow in his predecessors’ footsteps, Gareth Porter writes in his important new book, Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. But Bush added his own twist: the neoconservative zeal for regime change in the Middle East, a blind fanaticism about the magic of American military power that overwhelmed all sense of realism about the world. The results have been costly in lives and resources, and despite the current talks with Iran over its nuclear-power program, the neocon legacy might yet include war against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Bush’s predecessors were determined to deny the Islamic regime all legitimacy. The regime came to power after Iran’s U.S.-backed autocratic ruler was overthrown in 1979, a quarter-century after the CIA overthrew a democratic government and restored him to power. As part of their efforts to undermine the Islamic Republic, American presidents strove to keep it from building even civilian nuclear power and medical-research facilities. However, as a signer of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is subject to inspections and is permitted to acquire equipment and materials for generating nuclear power and medical isotopes. As a result of the U.S. government’s obsession with undermining Iran’s regime, attempts by the Shi’ite government to cooperate with the U.S. government were repeatedly rebuffed, even when rapprochement would have been in an administration’s interest, for example, in the battle against a common enemy, al-Qaeda.

On the surface, Bush’s anti-Iran policy, signified by his listing the country in the “axis of evil,” looked like those that came before. “But,” Porter writes, “like so much of the politics and policies surrounding the issue, that public posture was a cover for a rather different policy. The administration was actually less concerned about the Iranian nuclear program than about delegitimizing the Iranian regime. And that ambition for regime change distorted the Bush policy toward the nuclear issue, perversely skewing it toward provoking Iran to accelerate its [uranium] enrichment program.”

In fact, Hillary Mann Leverett, who coordinated Persian Gulf and Afghanistan policy for Bush’s National Security Council, told Porter that Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff took the view that “After regime change, we may not want to oppose nuclear weapons by Iran.”

The Bush people thought that the U.S. government could fundamentally change the Middle East with military power. “The administration’s strategy … was based on the firm conviction that the Islamic regime in Iran would fall within a few years as part of the broader redrawing of the political map of the region that the neoconservatives were planning,” Porter writes. Iraq would be first, “turning Iraq into a base for projecting US power into the rest of the Middle East. The result was expected to be a string of regime changes in those countries that had not been de facto allies of the United States.… And it would leave Iran surrounded by pro-American governments in Kabul, Baghdad, and Istanbul. Iran was targeted as the biggest prize of all in the regime change strategy.”

If that didn’t bring regime change, war would.

Predictably, things did not work out as Bush’s neocons planned. Iraq gained a pro-Iranian government, while remaining mired in horrendous sectarian violence. Afghanistan’s government is corrupt, autocratic, and ineffective against the Taliban. Bashar al-Assad of Syria, an ally of Iran, remains firmly in power despite U.S. efforts to aid an opposition dominated by al-Qaeda-type jihadists. And Iran’s supreme leader, who backs an elected president determined to reconcile with the West, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration did everything in its power, including lying, to stop the more realistic British, French, and Germans from reaching agreement with an Iranian government eager to ensure the transparency of its nuclear program and, in return, have economic sanctions lifted.

Let’s hope President Obama doesn’t let the neocons destroy the current chance at reconciliation.

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

 

Sheldon Richman keeps the blog “Free Association” and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society.

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The Greatest Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail