• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683.


The Neoconservative Obsession With Iran


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.

October 13, 2015
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook Is Listening to You
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000