By Kenneth J. Theisen
The Obama administration is conducting a propaganda campaign to enhance its freedom to act against Iran. Such actions may include war.
On April 19th the Pentagon presented to Congress a “Report on Military Power of Iran” (see Washington Post article). Just prior to the report being released, the New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote a secret memorandum to Obama’s national security adviser General James Jones in January.
The Times characterized the memo as stating that the U.S. “does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability….” The Times went on to state that Gates’ memo “…came in the midst of an intensifying effort inside the Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence agencies to develop new options for Mr. Obama. They include a set of military alternatives, still under development, to be considered should diplomacy and sanctions fail to force Iran to change course.”
In the last week various members of the ruling class have spoken out publicly about Iran. These have included representatives of the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress. They are doing so to garner public support among the American people for the actions that will be taken against Iran, which could include military attacks.
On April 16th, National Security Advisor Jones talked about the secret Gates’ memo when he said, “On Iran, we are doing what we said we were going to do. The fact that we don’t announce publicly our entire strategy for the world to see doesn’t mean we don’t have a strategy that anticipates the full range of contingencies — we do.”
Jones also stated, ““The president has made it clear from the beginning of this administration that we need to be prepared for every possible contingency. That is what we have done from day one, while successfully building a coalition of nations to isolate Iran and pressure it to live up to its obligations.” When administration officials refer to the “full range of contingencies” it must be made clear that this includes military options.
Gates issued a statement on April 17th through Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell stating, “The secretary believes the president and his national security team have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort considering and preparing for the full range of contingencies with respect to Iran.”
According to the New York Times again “a senior administration official described last week in somewhat clearer terms that there was a line Iran would not be permitted to cross. The official said that the United States would ensure that Iran would not “acquire a nuclear capability,” a step Tehran could get to well before it developed a sophisticated weapon.” In other words, the U.S. will stop Iran from even having the ability to create a nuke.
How might the U.S. halt the ability of Iran to “acquire a nuclear capability?” According to the Times, in December 2009 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen wrote a ‘chairman’s guidance’ to his staff. In it he wrote, “Should the president call for military options, we must have them ready.”
On April 18, 2010 Mullen delivered a speech at Columbia University. In it he said that Iran "has been a great focus for years, not months" and "the military option has been on the table and remains on the table." He went on to state, "The diplomatic, the engagement piece, the sanctions piece — all those things, from my perspective, need to be addressed."
In understanding the current moves of the administration we need to view the various weapons used by the U.S. as part of its entire imperialist arsenal. These weapons are not mutually exclusive. They include diplomacy, sanctions, propaganda, and the military option. They can all be used simultaneously or with emphasis on one or the other at various times. Iraq is a good example. Before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 all these imperialist weapons were utilized against Iraq. We should also remember sanctions alone killed more than half-a-million Iraqis even before the invasion occurred.
In trying to deal with Iran, both the Bush regime and the Obama administration have emphasized diplomacy, sanctions, and propaganda. But they have repeatedly also used the threat of the military option, while very actively preparing for possible attack. Just because such an attack has not yet taken place does not mean that it is not a very real possibility that must be actively opposed.
Also we must not be deceived by thinking that an attack against Iran will require the kind of build-up that took place before the invasion of Iraq. Due to the present U.S. commitment of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is very unlikely that the U.S. is contemplating an attack on Iran with major ground troop forces. It simply does not have such forces currently available. Instead a military attack is more likely to involve air and sea forces, with the possible use of limited special forces operations. Such an attack while requiring some build-up, could take place fairly quickly and the build-up could occur without much public knowledge.
Much of what would be needed to prepare for an attack on Iran is already in place. Naval fleets are already in position to launch attacks. Bombers and missiles are in place that could launch attacks with an order from Commander-in-Chief Obama. The administration has placed Patriot anti-missile batteries, mostly operated by Americans, in several states around the Persian Gulf. Vast supply arsenals are pre-positioned throughout the region. U.S. Special forces have been trained to seize and protect Iranian oil fields.
One goal of any U.S. attack on Iran would be to destroy or cripple Iranian nuclear facilities. These would include facilities that Iran has done much to protect including underground ones. In order for the U.S. to do this it would need so-called bunker buster weapons.
As an indication that the U.S. is indeed preparing for “the full range of contingencies” readers should look at an article that appeared in the Sunday Herald on March 14, 2010 (see http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/world-news/final-destination-iran-1.1013151) In that article the Herald reported that according to a cargo manifest from the U.S. navy 387 bunker busting bombs were to be shipped to the British Island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. This island is a virtual munitions bunker and staging area for the U.S. The British removed the island’s native population and it has been a military platform for the U.S. to launch attacks throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Most of what happens on the island is a closely guarded military secret. The island has about 50 British personnel and over 3000 American military personnel stationed there.
As part of any possible preparations for an attack on Iran the Obama administration is using the “fear card” just as the Bush regime before used Saddam’s WMDs to scare up support for the invasion of Iraq.
The report to Congress is just part of building up the fear propaganda. According to the report, “With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015.” Coupled with U.S. officials’ constant propaganda statements about Iran developing nukes that is intended to scare the hell out of Americans to allow the U.S. imperialists a free hand to attack Iran to “protect” the American people.
The report also stated, “Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.” And just last week the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran could produce bomb-grade fuel for at least one nuclear weapon within a year, but that it would probably need two to five years to manufacture a workable atomic bomb. Bomb plus missile must mean we had better hide under our beds soon or give the Obama war machine a free hand.
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee at the same hearing that the Obama administration views challenges posed by Iran as a top national security concern. “First, we are working to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” she told the assembled senators.
To understand the threat against Iran we should also consider the Obama administration’s recently unveiled Nuclear Posture Review. The Review looks at scenarios in which the U. S. would launch a nuclear strike. When asked about North Korea and Iran in light of the review, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that “all options are on the table” for such nations. In other words we are not just talking about dropping bunker busters on Iran, but that even nukes could be used against Iran.
But if fear of Iran’s nukes is not enough to create the fear that would be necessary to generate public support the Obama administration also pulled out it terrorism card. The Pentagon report to Congress emphasized Iran’s influence and support of Hezbollah and Hamas, alleged terrorist groups that interfere with American interests. According to the report, “We assess with high confidence that over the last three decades, Iran has methodically cultivated a network of sponsored terrorist surrogates capable of conducting effective, plausibly deniable attacks against Israel and the United States.” The report claims that Iran has provided weapons and as much as $200 million a year to re-arm Hezbollah since the 2006 invasion of Lebanon by Israel.
The Pentagon report also stated that Iran played a “destabilizing” role by supporting factions in Iraq and Afghanistan against the U.S. interests. It reads, “Iran also offers strategic and operation guidance to militias and terrorist groups to target U.S. Forces in Iraq and undermine U.S. interests.” It also claims that Iranian weapons are being used by the Taliban and other factions in Afghanistan against the U.S.