• Iran
  • December 16, 2007
  • 5 minutes read

Another Peace Scare

Another Peace Scare

12/12/07 “ICH” — – The US intelligence community”s new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) — “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” — makes a point of saying up front (in bold type): “This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons.” The report goes on to state: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program .”

Isn”t that good news, that Iran isn”t about to attack the United States or Israel with nuclear weapons? Surely everyone is thrilled that the horror and suffering that such an attack — not to mention an American or Israeli retaliation or pre-emptive attack — would bring to this sad old world. Here are some of the happy reactions from American leaders:

Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the NIE”s conclusion that Iran discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003.[1]

National Security Adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said: The report “tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem.”[2]

Defense Secretary Robert Gates “argued forcefully at a Persian Gulf security conference … that U.S. intelligence indicates Iran could restart its secret nuclear weapons program “at any time” and remains a major threat to the region.”[3]

John R. Bolton, President Bush”s former ambassador to the United Nations and pit bull of the neo-conservatives, dismissed the report with: “I”ve never based my view on this week”s intelligence.”[4]

And Bush himself added: “Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. The NIE says that Iran had a hidden — a covert nuclear weapons program. That”s what it said. What”s to say they couldn”t start another covert nuclear weapons program? … Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, “Okay, why don”t we just stop worrying about it?” Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously. My opinion hasn”t changed.”[5]

Hmmm. Well, maybe the reaction was more positive in Israel. Here”s a report from Uri Avnery, a leading Israeli columnist: “The earth shook. Our political and military leaders were all in shock. The headlines screamed with rage. … Shouldn”t we be overjoyed? Shouldn”t the masses in Israel be dancing in the streets? After all, we have been saved! … Lo and behold — no bomb and no any-minute-now. The wicked Ahmadinejad can threaten us as much as he wants — he just has not got the means to harm us. Isn”t that a reason for celebration? So why does this feel like a national disaster?”[6]

We have to keep this in mind — America, like Israel, cherishes its enemies. Without enemies, the United States appears to be a nation without moral purpose and direction. The various managers of the National Security State need enemies to protect their jobs, to justify their swollen budgets, to aggrandize their work, to give themselves a mission, to send truckloads of taxpayer money to the corporations for whom the managers will go to work after leaving government service. And they understand the need for enemies only too well, even painfully. Here is US Col. Dennis Long, speaking in 1992, just after the end of the Cold War, when he was director of “total armor force readiness” at Fort Knox:

For 50 years, we equipped our football team, practiced five days a week and never played a game. We had a clear enemy with demonstrable qualities, and we had scouted them out. [Now] we will have to practice day in and day out without knowing anything about the other team. We won”t have his playbook, we won”t know where the stadium is, or how many guys he will have on the field. That is very distressing to the military establishment, especially when you are trying to justify the existence of your organization and your systems.[7]
In any event, all of the above is completely irrelevant if Iran has no intention of attacking the United States or Israel, even if they currently possessed a large stockpile of nuclear weapons. As I”ve asked before: What possible reason would Iran have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?