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).

 

More articles by:

Sheldon Richman, author of 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.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail