Sunday, October 4, 2009

Time To Stop The Hypocrisy on Iran

What Is NOT Being
Discussed In The
Iran Nuclear Story

By Bill Fletcher, Jr

Last week’s announcement of the discovery of a previously unknown but suspected nuclear research and production site became a major story in the Western media. The Obama administration, along with its allies in Europe, saw this as evidence of Iranian duplicity on the matter of its nuclear intentions. Though Iran admitted the existence of this facility, the manner in which it did so seemed to be directed at heading off the expose' from other sources.

The outrage that was expressed concerning Iran’s revelation is, at best, overstated. While no one has been able to prove that Iran’s nuclear program is anything other than what it has claimed that it is—peaceful—the assertion from most of the mainstream Western press is that it is military in intent. This, by the way, despite the 2007 intelligence report indicating that Iran dropped its military nuclear program some years ago.

The outrage against Iran is also hypocritical. While the focus of the mainstream Western media has been on Iran’s alleged intent toward a weaponized program, in another part of the Middle, East Israel appears to possess somewhere between 100-200 nuclear weapons. No one is actually quite sure precisely because (1)Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and (2)Israel refuses to confirm or deny its nuclear program.

So, as pointed out by many observers, the real nuclear issue in the Middle East is not Iran’s nuclear intent but none other than Israel’s actual possession of such weaponry. Israel not only possesses such weapons but also possesses delivery systems for these weapons. Yet, mainstream political and media personnel in the West refuse to discuss this. In a noted exchange between iconic White House reporter Helen Thomas and the then newly elected President Obama, the President refused to answer Thomas’s questions regarding Israel’s nuclear program. He did a dance around the question that would have made Fred Astaire proud.

Idiotic and anti-Jewish remarks by Iranian President Ahmedinejad have been seized upon in order to focus the world’s attention on Iran’s nuclear intent. The fact that President Ahmedinejad often seems out of touch with reality and is cavalier in his concerns and remarks is disquieting. Yet none of that speaks to the actual power structure in Iran and what Iran intends to do with its nuclear program. While Israel used its nuclear program to support apartheid South Africa, nothing of the sort can be placed at the doorstep of Iran. Iran occupies no one’s territories, while Israel occupies Palestinian territories. While Iran has been very cagey with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel has completely ignored any and all international inquiries into its nuclear intent.

Once again Israel is excused by mainstream Western opinion for what it does because it is all justified in the name of protecting Israel, and by implication, Jews who were the victims of the Holocaust. While Iran’s Ahmedinejad may attempt to deny or explain away the Holocaust, most sane individuals on this planet not only acknowledge it but have seen it as an indictment of Western so-called civilization and Western barbarism previously directed at the colonial world brought home to Europe.

Yet the Holocaust does not justify the possession of nuclear weapons any more than the fact that US overthrew one Iranian government (Mossadegh in 1953); supported a criminal dictatorship (the Shah); and attempted to overthrow the newly formed Islamic Republic through support for Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980, would justify an Iranian nuclear program today. Yes, the Iranians have every reason to be suspicious of US intent toward their country and their region. They additionally have every right to seek respect from Western nations, particularly after a history of abuse experienced at the hands of Western countries.

The focus on Iranian nuclear intent, however, seems completely over the top in terms of scale and possibilities. A real and scary nuclear standoff exists between India and Pakistan yet there is anything but an aggressive approach towards this situation by the USA. India, which, along with Israel, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has had a blind-eye turned toward it as its nuclear program went forward as did, by the way, Pakistan. In fact, with regard to Pakistan the main concern has been not whether Pakistan will use nuclear weapons against India but rather whether the Pakistani security system can adequately protect the weapons from capture by terrorists. In neither case does the West seem particularly concerned that both of these countries have the capability to turn their respective capitols into glowing mounds of sand.

Iran, on the other hand, knows fully well that any attempt to use nuclear weapons against its neighbors, not to mention against Israel, would result in an immediate retaliation. There would be no percentage in such a game, not to mention that Iran lacks a full delivery system that could get its weapons across US-dominated Iraq, US puppet Jordan and into Israel.

Each time the focus turns to Iran and its alleged intent I become nervous, largely because the specter of an Israeli or US military strike seems a possibility. There are those in both of those countries who believe that a quick air strike can teach Iran a lesson. It probably would; perhaps a lesson like how to shut off oil from ever leaving the Persian/Arabian Gulf. I suppose that would equally be a lesson for us in the West.

[ Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.]

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