- This week David De Batto posted an article on rense.com
called "An Iran Attack Scenario - A Catastrophe". With his extensive
background in intelligence, military service and on the ground service
in Iraq, DeBatto makes a compelling case for a colossal global mess. Some
might say that he deliberately cobbled together the worst case versions
of any disasters that Iran, under attack by two nuclear powers, might
inflict in defending itself. However, there is nothing off the screen
or beyond the art of the possible in De Batto's house of horrors. Rather,
they reflect the possible defensive reactions of a society determined
not to be destroyed without a struggle. Iran simply is threatened-has
been threatened repeatedly-with "shock and awe" attacks up through
and including nuclear by Israel and the United States, while the rest of
the world largely stands silently by. The horrors that De Batto describes
unfortunately are not beyond the possible reactions of any modern state
that is determined to survive such an assault or make its assailants pay.
- Such is the profile of modern--to be sure--asymmetric
warfare that has flowered in the atmosphere of coercion and bullying that
pervades American foreign policy. It is probably true, as many analysts
suggest, that no one is likely to take on the world's sole "superpower"
in a pitched battle. However, it is equally true that the tools of subversion
and unconventional warfare also have flowered. Moreover, all the tools
of modern warfare, except perhaps nuclear weapons, have been regularly
for sale for some time by-of course-their makers. As De Batto's inventory
of awesome devices and gimmicks illustrates, even Iran, an alleged third
world country, has a horrifying capability.
- Why are the Zionists and their apparent American policy
slaves prepared to risk disaster in the process of an attempt that is
likely to fail to destroy Iran's nuclear interests or capabilities? The
published rationale is that Iran is one of the principal sponsors of international
terrorism. The charge typically is made to look as if Iran is simply lashing
out without cause by committing or sponsoring terrorism everywhere on
the planet. In truth, Iran's focus long has been Palestine. The roots of
modern Middle East terrorism lie almost entirely with efforts of Palestinians,
sympathetic countries and groups to stop or to promote global attention
to Israel's rape of Palestine. They include the spate of American hostage
takings in Lebanon during the 1980s, the attempted or actual destruction
of four American embassies, the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship, and
numerous hijackings of aircraft. Iran's principal link to terrorism is
its support for groups involved in many of those attacks.
- Israel's singular goal, at least the aim of its Zionist
leadership, is to assure that no regional power, regardless of that power's
other affiliations, becomes a nuclear challenger. Nuclear monopoly in the
region, along with the best military capabilities that Israeli skills
and US money, technology and support can develop, provides the cover for
continuing Israeli takeover of what is left of Palestine. Even as the Olmert
government alleges that it is working with Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank
to protect Palestinians, Israeli settlements are expanding, more Palestinian
lands are either being taken or denied to their owners. Jerusalem is slowly
being scrubbed of Palestinians who have had family seats there for centuries.
To finalize these evictions Palestinian homes are destroyed, and other
Palestinian residents are simply being denied entry. Polite American official
protests, rumblings in the UN, or private protests of American churches
and others have no effect.
- Where any risk whatsoever of a nuclear challenge emerges,
Israel simply bombs the facility, as in Iraq, or even a possible facility,
as in Syria. In sum, Israeli takeover of the remainder of Palestine is
being facilitated by nuclear blackmail.
- It is worth looking at the impact of this strategy on
surrounding countries. Realistically stated, Israel simply is operating
as a rogue state. It can do so with impunity so long as it has exclusive
regional nuclear power and the unwavering backing of the United States.
But its strategy has a perverse effect: With or without the blessing of
outsiders, including other nuclear powers or the UN, Middle Eastern countries
will simply keep trying to gain mastery of nuclear technology. Working
under the apparent microscope of world attention only makes the task more
difficult. It does not make acquiring nuclear technology impossible, because
so much of the knowledge is already on the street.
- The more Israel uses nuclear blackmail to try to keep
the other Middle East states in line, the more attractive non-nuclear
states see nuclear weapons as a power tool, and the more dedicated becomes
the effort of some countries to acquire nuclear technology. Eventually
some of them will succeed, because key components of the technology are
worth a great deal more than gold, and somebody will figure out how to
get those pieces and sell them.
- The critical problem, therefore, is the environment.
Much of the tussle with Iran centers on what the Iranians have the right,
opportunity and will to do or to know.
- The first environmental fact is information flow. Since
creation of the Internet, more and more of the technology for making nuclear
weapons has made its way to websites. The search term "nuclear technologies"
alone brings up more than three million references. "Nuclear weapons"
will bring up over twelve million references. Those, of course, are the
accessible sites. Much of that information is not about details of technology,
but one can learn a lot. Thus, a lot of what anyone needs to know is common
- The second environmental fact is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty. Unfortunately, few seem to know what the treaty says about peaceful
nuclear programs. Article IV, paragraph 1 says "Nothing in this treaty
shall be interpreted as affecting the *inalienable right* of all the parties
to this Treaty *to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy
for peaceful purposes without discrimination*." The treaty does not
say anywhere that the fuel cycle is off limits. Note that the right is
"inalienable", meaning essentially that it cannot be redefined
or revoked by any other member.
- So long as they stick to "peaceful purposes",
the Iranian argument is that, as a signatory of the Treaty, they have
a right to proceed without interference. The issue is the requirement for
transparency. That is where the oversight of the IAEA (the International
Atomic Energy Agency) comes into play. Here, compared to weapons owning
states, the Iranian record is good. It is not perfect, but far more is
readily known about Iranian nuclear programs and activities than the public
knows about the three non- treaty weapons owners (India, Pakistan, and
Israel). The IAEA has no access to those programs, and it has no oversight
of the weapons programs of any nuclear club members (US, Britain, France,
China, and Russia). This lopsided information universe is simply not conducive
to openness. It is even less so when nuclear weapons states threaten non-nuclear
- The third environmental fact, therefore, is the threat
gradient. The most certain way to convince a country that it needs better
weapons and defenses is to attack it or threaten it. As Saddam Hussein
learned, once attacked it is too late. In the Iran case, the evidence
accumulates that Iranian leadership sees the country subject to attack
and is preparing accordingly. If, as its political and religious leadership
assert, it is not interested in nuclear weapons, constant US and Israeli
threats could persuade Iranians to change their minds. At the very least,
the constant US/Israeli harassment could cause them to hedge their bets;
go for capabilities that permit either peaceful programs or moves toward
weaponization. Their large banks of centrifuges for fuel refining suggest
they are giving themselves the option. At the very least, US and Israeli
threats have pushed the Iranians toward extensive investments in conventional
weaponry. That includes missiles that are capable of reaching Israel.
Some accounts suggest there are enough of these to destroy the country.
- In this perspective, US and Israeli threats emerge as
self-fulfilling prophecies. Much if not all of the problem with Iran is
in the heads of US and Israeli officials, or in the minds of neo-cons
and other think tankers who have fabricated and embellished the Iran "threat"
since the beginning of the George W. Bush administration.
- Perhaps the ultimate flaw is in the Israeli negotiating
style that the Bush team seems also to prefer. Under that style, both
the US and Israel insist that concessions in advance of negotiations are
mandatory. That posture has not worked either with the Palestinians or
the Iranians, but no one seems to notice. Hamas, whose leaders best characterize
the Palestinian negotiating position, refuses to affirm Israel's right
to exist in advance of negotiations. The Iranians refuse to stop refining
nuclear fuel in advance of negotiations. Whether Iran would be satisfied
with reliance on third parties for nuclear fuel is a matter for diplomatic
discovery, but under the Bush administration the US does not talk to its
enemies. While stealing the remainder of Palestine, successive Israeli
administrations refuse to make meaningful concessions to anybody. Herein
lies the problem with Iran.
- The writer is the author of the recently published work,
A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist
on rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US
Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman
of the Department of International Studies of the National War College
and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency
Planning. He will welcome comment at firstname.lastname@example.org