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Decertifying the Iran Nuke Deal: Trading History for Hysteria

Photo by Lorenzo Tlacaelel | CC by 2.0

Many Americans are outraged that President Donald Trump has chosen to decertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran (JCPOA). It is a belligerent, aggressive, and stupid move. We are embarrassed and ashamed of having a president so ignorant of world affairs and so indifferent to the deadly consequences our actions could have across the globe. Trump is taking us in a uniquely dangerous direction.

Should the US Congress follow Trump’s lead, it will be our moral obligation to reject and reverse its decisions. In order to stem the tide of destruction, other nations must take independent action, unite to oppose the madness taking hold of the United States, and join together with those Americans who know that this government neither represents us nor understands what is in our best interests. What has become an urgent international scenario, taking center stage in world news, was nevertheless foreseeable and preventable. This crisis grew out of a history deliberately blotted out of American historical memory, across successive generations, with the complicity of its public education system, its media establishment, and consecutive political administrations based in Washington DC.

Had our history with Iran been based on trust, fairness, and cooperation it is improbable that we would be facing the crisis that threatens us now.

There is no national collective memory of our duplicitous and self-aggrandizing foreign policy toward Iran. An apology for our behavior would hardly suffice, though it might at least serve as a beginning.

In 1953 when, with the UK, the Americans ousted democratically elected president Mossadiq from power, replacing him with Mohammad Reza Shah there was no outcry from within the government or its citizenry against so a blatant an act of treachery. On the contrary US businesses celebrated their 40% oil concessions and the virtual undoing of Mossadiq’s effort to nationalize Iranian oil. American control and power in the region grew, as Britain’s declined.

Under the increasingly tyrannical leadership of the Shah, Iran’s dependence on Western investments and arms sales grew. As the Iranian people’s dissent to the Shah’s regime flowered, the CIA and Israel’s Mossad stepped in to create, fund, and train members of SAVAK, the notorious state secret police. Our leadership was fully aware that SAVAK was responsible for torture, imprisonment, beatings, and executions of those who dared speak out against the Shah’s policies of repression. Even as President Jimmy Carter came to office ostensibly championing universal human rights, this focus was farcical as US entrenchment in Iran expanded.

The United States’ government turned Iran into its bodyguard in the Gulf, leaving it to monitor the region on our behalf as it waged bloody war on Vietnam and Cambodia. Although there were positive exchanges among US and Iranian citizens — in education, technology, and mutual understanding — these were overshadowed by economic downturns and a shrinking middle class as outside nations profited from Iran’s rich natural resources. Our plunder became your despair. Widespread civil unrest spread across the country leading almost inevitably to the overthrow of the Shah’s regime and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In November 1979, Iranian citizens took 52 Americans hostage in the US embassy in Tehran for 444 days. Americans were shocked and outraged, but it would have come as no surprise to those who remembered or took part in the coup that overthrew Mossadiq. It was hatched in that very same embassy. We did not tremble remembering our 1953 betrayal of democratic Iran in order to create a client regime whose purpose would be to further perceived US national security interests – because this “crisis” was recorded in a vacuum; one with no context or history.

We preferred instead to paint Iran as our own ‘Great Satan’; to ensure its devastation during the eight year-long Iran-Iraq War in which a young Donald Rumsfeld welcomed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein into the charmed circle of American allies — as long as he didn’t step out of line. When, in the course of the bloodiest war of the 20th century, Iraq used mustard gas against Iranian soldiers, the US denied it as propaganda. Only when Saddam Hussein gassed the Iraqi-Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988, killing over 5000 people, did the truth emerge — including information that the Americans supplied Iraq with the materials necessary to produce chemical weapons. Using chemical weapons to wipe out a small city did not threaten our alliance with Iraq. Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was the far greater crime for us. It threatened a precarious regional stability we nurtured for our own benefit.

How ironic it is to realize that the early stages of Iran’s nuclear weapons’ program began with the training of Iranian physicists in laboratories of universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the reign of the Shah.

Today, as anti-Iranian and Islamophobic sentiment in the United States spreads, our xenophobic, barely literate president openly encourages it. The “Iran Deal” Trump bellows, is an “embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” Sadly, Trump is unable to see that he is the international embarrassment; one of the worst and most toxic presidents the United States has ever elected. Considering the American leaders only of the last two decades, this is a scathing commentary, indeed.

Some of us understand that what the centers of power in the United States genuinely fear is an independent Iran whose influence is growing across the Middle East. Multiple IAEA inspections, reports, and independent organizational investigations of the JCPOA have certified and re-certified the Iran’s compliance with the treaty.

Lost in the bickering over which sanction should come next or what constraint should be added to the ‘plan of action’ to curb undoubted ‘sinister’ plans by the Islamic Republic was Tehran’s call, years ago, for a nuclear weapons’ free zone in the Middle East. This call was drowned out by Israel’s categorical NO, followed by hysterical denunciations of the nuclear weapons Iran doesn’t have —that nevertheless pose an existential threat to the region’s only nuclear armed superpower.

No one would expect a JCPOA agreement in which Israel were subjected to regular inspections by the IAEA; in which Israel’s people and economy would suffer under the burden of heavy, relentless sanctions; in which Israeli hegemony in the Middle East was allowed to continue because no other power would be allowed to build nuclear weapons. Scandalously false accusations of Tehran’s strategic intensions allow Israel to justify (yet again) its obscene arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons stockpiles. Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu openly desires a military strike on Iran. His Saudi counterpart and de facto ally, desires the same thing.

What has so far kept both of these nations from attacking Iran with state-of-the-art military technology largely manufactured in, and then sold by, the United States, is the small thread of sanity among world leaders and among the ‘cooler’ heads of the US military and political establishments that still prevails.

This thin thread of sanity has failed miserably so far to protect the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Under the Trump administration, it could snap altogether. A simple solution would be for an international JCPOA on how to contain the United States, curb its bullying, defuse its sanctimonious threats, and undo its grotesque perception of itself as a beacon of Enlightenment to be appreciated and deferred to by all other nations. How else will we stop the existential threat to the world posed by this mighty nuclear monster?

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Jennifer Loewenstein is a human rights activist and faculty associate in Middle East Studies at at Penn State University.  She can be reached at: amadea311@earthlink.net

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