“Meaningful democracy cannot survive without the free flow
of information, even (or especially) when that information
threatens the privileged and the powerful.”
~Senator Paul Wellstone, D-MN (1944-2002)
Ever since an Iran nuclear agreement became imminent — and especially since mid-July when success was publicly announced — I’ve wondered why it is that virtually every Republican out there today, given the chance, will hurl epithet after epithet at both the process and the result, even as they completely disregard the fact that the US is the only participant in the negotiation where acceptance remains under severe challenge. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that when the most probable consequence of rejecting this particular negotiated settlement is war, the better choice would be to accept the settlement as agreed upon, and then work diligently to guarantee long term success. But no, to many that’s apparently not considered a viable option.
Why is that? Might there be an undercurrent of some sort, one that effectively defines the “why” behind the vehement resistance to civility?
A look back to the days of the issue’s genesis can often be instructive, and can often serve to reveal undercurrents, especially when said undercurrents have a particular politic as their basis. In this particular instance, the concern over Iran’s nuclear program first came to a head in 2006, even though three years earlier a negotiable and potential settlement was refused by the West.
Following are some selected quotes that essentially lay out the conflicting undercurrents, and if pressed into today’s context seem to point a finger at the essence of the politic that defines the obvious disregard for the negotiated agreement.
1. The New York Times noted in January 2006 that Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Natanz after negotiations with European and American officials collapse. (highlight mine)
2. Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at MIT addressed the issue a number of times beginning in August, 2006 when he discussed some background information:
In 2003, Iran offered to negotiate all outstanding issues with the US, including nuclear issues and a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The offer was made by the moderate Khatami government, with the support of the hard-line ‘supreme leader’ Ayatollah Khamenei. The Bush administration response was to censure the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer. … I should add that to the outside world, it sounds a bit odd, to put it mildly, for the US and Israel to be warning of the ‘Iranian threat’ when they and they alone are issuing threats to launch an attack, threats that are immediate and credible, and in serious violation of international law, and are preparing very openly for such an attack. Whatever one thinks of Iran, no such charge can be made in their case. It is also apparent to the world, if not to the US and Israel, that Iran has not invaded any other countries, something that the US and Israel do regularly.
The debate over Iranian interference in Iraq proceeds without ridicule on the assumption that the United States owns the world. … [T]he charges against Iran are part of a drumbeat of pronouncements meant to mobilize support for escalation in Iraq and for an attack on Iran, the ‘source of the problem.’ (April 5, 2007)
Iranians and Americans … generally are in agreement on nuclear issues. The Iranian-American consensus includes the complete elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere (82% of Americans); if that cannot yet be achieved because of elite opposition, then at least a “nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East that would include both Islamic countries and Israel” (71% of Americans). Seventy-five percent of Americans prefer building better relations with Iran to threats of force. In brief, if public opinion were to have a significant influence on state policy in the U.S. and Iran, resolution of the crisis might be at hand, along with much more far-reaching solutions to the global nuclear conundrum. (April 5, 2007)
3. George W. Bush and his anti-Iran rhetoric; (August, 2007)
Iran . . . is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. . . . Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent and target Israel. . . . Iran is sending arms to the Taliban. . . . Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes. . . . Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.
Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. . . . We will confront this danger before it is too late.
The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months — despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq. . . .
Iran’s leaders cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis.
I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities. . . . We’ve conducted operations against Iranian agents supplying lethal munitions to extremist groups.
4. Chomsky seems to have addressed Bush’s nonsensical blather in November, 2007:
[S]uppose it was true that Iran is helping insurgents in Iraq. I mean, wasn’t the United States helping insurgents when the Russians invaded Afghanistan? Did we think there was anything wrong with that? I mean, Iraq’s a country that was invaded and is under military occupation. You can’t have a serious discussion about whether someone else is interfering in it. The basic assumption underlying the discussion is that we own the world. So if we invade and occupy another country, then it’s a criminal act for anyone to interfere with it. What about the nuclear weapons? I mean, are there countries with nuclear weapons in the region? Israel has a couple of hundred nuclear weapons. The United States gives more support to it than any other country in the world. The Bush administration is trying very hard to push through an agreement that not only authorizes India’s illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons but assists it. That’s what the U.S.-Indo Nuclear Pact is about. And, furthermore, there happens to be an obligation of the states in the Security Council and elsewhere to move towards establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region. Now that would include Iran and Israel and any U.S. forces deployed there. That’s part of Resolution 687. Now to your question. The real reasons for the attack on Iran, the sanctions, and so on go back into history. I mean, we like to forget the history; Iranians don’t. In 1953, the United States and Britain overthrew the parliamentary government and installed a brutal dictator, the Shah, who ruled until 1979. And during his rule, incidentally, the United States was strongly supporting the same programs they’re objecting to today. In 1979, the population overthrew the dictator, and since then the United States has been essentially torturing Iran. First it tried a military coup. Then it supported Saddam Hussein during Iraq’s invasion of Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. Then, after that was over, the United States started imposing harsh sanctions on Iran. And now it’s escalating that. The point is: Iran is out of control. You know, it’s supposed to be a U.S.-client state, as it was under the Shah, and it’s refusing to play that role. (November, 2007)
5. Here are a handful of other responses from both sides which clearly indicate that War was the preferred option only to those in the Bush administration.
“The policies of Iran constitute perhaps the single greatest challenge to American security interests in the Middle East and around the world.” ~Sec’y of State Condolezza Rice; October, 2007
“Ahmadinejad has nothing in Iran that we can’t penetrate … Forty-eight hours duration, hitting 2,500 aim points to take out their nuclear facilities, their air defense facilities, their air force, their navy, their Shahab-3 retaliatory missiles, and finally their command and control. And then let the Iranian people take their country back.” ~Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, Fox News pundit; 2007
“There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.” ~Unnamed former intelligence official, as quoted by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, October 8, 2007
“We’re on a path to irreversible confrontation with a country we know almost nothing about. The United States government has had no diplomats in Iran for almost 30 years. American officials have barely met with any senior Iranian politicians or officials. We have no contact with the country’s vibrant civil society. Iran is a black hole to us – just as Iraq had become in 2003.” ~Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek Magazine, circa October, 2007
The bottom line seems clear: when the choice was between war and a negotiated solution, War was the inevitable choice of the political right wing, aka the Republican Party, and the reasons for that choice were NOT reality or fact based.
Sadly, in the intervening near decade, nothing much has changed. Details have evolved, of course, as have the names and the voices of those involved. But attitudes remain constant. The sole significant difference between this day and a decade ago is that political control is no longer firmly in the hands of those to whom war is the invariable answer. The margin of negotiation advocates may be razor thin, but it appears that common sense will finally prevail, and common folks in every affected country should be pleased that such is the case.
Let us hope the sanity continues through and beyond the 2016 elections.
“Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,
to unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.”