Backtalk January 11, 2006

Nuking Iran With the UN’s Blessing

Dear Mr. Jorge Hirsch,

I agree with every single word you wrote in your above article. But I was waiting to read your suggestions as well, meaning what the world, including the U.S.A., should do concerning the irresponsible Iranian mullahs getting nuclear arms.

It is not needed to remind you of the recent statements of the new Iranian president about wiping out Israel and so on. What do you suggest is an appropriate path to avoid Armageddon?

Being a citizen of a peaceful Scandinavian country, naturally we are concerned. But we should also know how the irresponsible Iranian present regime could be stopped.

~ H. Hakimi, Oslo, Norway

Jorge Hirsch replies:

Dear M. Hakimi,

As I mentioned in this and other columns, I don’t believe there is any real evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran’s arguments are convincing to me (see “Are Iran’s Arguments Sound?“), and much can be factually checked. For example, Iran states as a justification for pursuing its nuclear activities in a “discrete” way that “Valid and binding contracts to build nuclear power plants were unilaterally abrogated….” If you look at this .pdf file, a document on “Argentina as an exporter of nuclear technology,” you find there that indeed Argentina unilaterally canceled contracts with Iran and had to pay compensation; certainly that document cannot be assumed to have a “pro-Iran” bias.

The IAEA has not found any evidence that Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons. ElBaradei’s answer on whether Iran has a nuclear weapons program is “we, as I mentioned, have not found any evidence to date.” See also Washington Post article of Aug. 23, 2005, “No Proof Found of Iran Arms Program – Uranium Traced to Pakistani Equipment.” Eighteen years is a long enough time to have allowed Iran to make more progress towards nuclear weapons if they had wanted to.

The best way to ensure that Iran will not pursue nuclear weapons is to allow it to pursue civilian nuclear technology under full IAEA supervision, as many other countries do.

The statements of the Iranian president that Israel “should be wiped out” and the suggestion that Israel be moved to Europe I agree are unfortunate; however, they are not a statement that Iran intends to do such things. Spain states that Gibraltar should belong to Spain: does that mean Spain intends to take Gibraltar over militarily, and does it entitle Britain to launch a preemptive attack against Spain? Iran has never attacked anybody. Compare that with the fact that both Israel and the U.S. have launched unprovoked attacks against Iraq (in 1981 and 2003, respectively), and they are threatening to do the same with Iran.

A ‘Legal’ US Nuclear Attack Against Iran

So, what should be done if Iran nukes Israel, or if they allow a terrorist organization to acquire a nuclear weapon?

~ B-jamin

Jorge Hirsch replies:

Iran does not have nuclear weapons, is not close to having nuclear weapons, and there is no evidence that it wants nuclear weapons nor that it made any effort to get nuclear weapons. So it cannot do any of the things you suggest. The accusations to the contrary have the same truth content as the accusations that Iraq had WMD, conclusively proven false by now. The latest reports (see James Risen’s book) are that the CIA wants Iran to have nuclear weapons; however, Iran is not obliging.

A Criminal Administration

Dr. Roberts comes through again with another great and accurate article. It is particularly interesting that you quote the Federalist Society as calling for more “energy in the executive.” It is no surprise that this phrase comes directly from the pen of Alexander Hamilton, a man who literally worshiped executive power. In Federalist no.70, he wrote, “Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government.” Keep in mind this was the man who thought the Constitution didn’t go nearly far enough in enlarging federal powers. His plan in the convention called for the total abolition of the states and the concentration of all power in one supreme national government in Washington, and the rest of the Federalists weren’t too far behind. This is a man whose party pushed through the tyrannical Alien and Sedition Acts. This is a man who favored the creation of large standing army in America to replace the redcoats he had just helped to defeat. The neoconservatives in the Federalist Society are the true ideological ancestors of the old Federalists. I believe George Will was correct in saying that today’s America represents the complete triumph of Hamilton’s vision of government and society.

~ Keith

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Yes. And “energy in the executive” is the title of neocon Terry Eastland’s book extolling executive power.

The neocons are much worse than Hamilton. Neocons are Jacobins. Very ideological and very dangerous. Neocons are America’s worst enemies.

US Headed for Confrontation With Iran

Dear Mr. Hadar,

It amazes me, as an Iranian born and raised, how little you and others like yourself know about Iran or, understand the complex political and social structures in Iran. Yet, this lack of knowledge does not stop experts and writers from expressing shabby opinions, left and right!

The hostile and condescending attitude of the American government toward Iran over the past nearly three decades needs to be studied for the benefit of all Americans.

The U.S. is still very angry with Iran over the hostage crisis of the post-revolution because it caused a great deal of embarrassment for Americans in the international arena. Let us not forget the phony coup d’etat of 1953 that was designed by Americans and operated by American agents from the U.S. embassy in Tehran and which led to the demise of the democratic and popular government of Dr. Mossadegh.

The Americans’ excuse at the time was that Mossadegh had close tie to the communists in Iran; this assessment was a sheer lie since Americans only had their own interest in mind and the shah was the right guardian for them. Ironically, the day after the coup of 1953, not a single member of Tudeh Party (the communists) appeared in protest of Mossadegh’s removal from power. …

The majority of Iranian people dislike this regime and after getting a taste of a clerical government for nearly 30 years, they prefer a democratic secular government. Well why don’t they act, you ask? They simply don’t want chaos or to risk another war like the one with Iraq, which invaded Iran right after the revolution because Saddam knew that the former military of the shah’s regime was in disarray or dismantled. They also see no viable, organized alternative to the current government to take charge. They certainly don’t trust an American’s puppet government put in place, nor do they trust the MKO, who proved to be traitors in their eyes after they joined Saddam. Another uprising would lead to more death, destruction, and economic despair in their view. And as long as the clerical regime can convince the people that Americans, Europeans, and Israelis are after their oil and the domination of the region, they find themselves unable to tackle this regime (self-preservation). Incidentally, this may explain why the mullahs refuse to talk to Americans!

What should America do?

(1) Stop this dumb policy of regime change and democratization of the region.
(2) Release the frozen Iranian assets and lift sanctions.
(3) Open the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Show the same respect that you show to other tyrannical regimes in the world.

Once the mullahs lose the American threat as an excuse, they’ll be forced to give even more freedom to the exasperated Iranian youth. That could be the start of a genuine democratic movement within the Islamic Middle East, and who knows where it could lead? It is time to allow the Iranian revolution to get on the path of an evolution.

~ M.A. Tehrani

Leon Hadar replies:

Dear Mr. Tehrani:

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I’m not sure whether you’ve read my analysis since you don’t critique any of the points I’ve raised and seem to direct your arguments against “experts and writers” who “express shabby opinions, left and right!” Perhaps you only had the time to read the title of my piece, leading you to conclude that I’m urging a confrontation with Iran, which is not the case. I warn of such a confrontation. In fact, I don’t disagree with the major themes of your historical narrative, nor do I have any problems with your policy prescriptions. I’ve called in the past several times for a diplomatic dialogue between Washington and Tehran.

“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly threatened to eliminate Israel…”

I did not hear this! What I heard him say was that”Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth.” That is not a threat. Unless I missed a more direct statement of Iran’s intent to destroy Israel, a retraction of some sort is seriously needed to dispel this misstatement.

~ Mark Hance

Leon Hadar replies:

Dear Mr. Hance:

By calling Israel a “tumor” and urging that it be “wiped off the map,” the Iranian president “has publicly threatened to eliminate Israel.” And, by the way, that’s how I would describe Israeli and American positions if their leaders had described Iran as a “cancer” and urged that it be “wiped off the map.” So no retraction on my part here.

Diplomatic Rout

Prather’s articles on Iran’s nuclear ambitions are extremely informative and useful. However, there is one implication in them that I find disconcerting. He has argued extensively that Iran is only pursuing U-238 enrichment for peaceful purposes and therefore we should leave them alone. However, what if they really do intend to make a nuclear weapon? If we could correctly read their intentions in this regard, would that mean it would be OK to bomb and/or invade Iran? I for one think that would be a disaster.

Iran’s enemies have nuclear weapons, and they are known to attack non-nuclear powers but never nuclear ones. It is only rational for Iran to pursue the nuclear option. I am afraid we will just have to let them go ahead (hmm, why not trade Israeli bombs for potential Iranian ones? That could work).

~ Michael Syvanen

Gordon Prather replies:

I have never argued that Iran’s nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes. On the contrary, given what the neo-crazies did to Iraq, if the mullahs didn’t want nukes to deter another war of aggression against them, they really would be crazy. What I have argued is that the IAEA-NPT-NSG Safeguards regime is the only game in town, and so far as ElBaradei has been able to determine, there is no evidence (or “indication”) that Iran has or intends to have a nuclear weapons program.

Kurdistan: A Gangster State

I really must take exception to today’s column by Justin Raimondo. It takes events entirely out of context and misrepresents the history and current situation of the Kurds and Kurdistan.

What is an honorable state in that region? The racially based criminal state in Anatolia? The religiously based states in Persia and Palestine? Mr. Raimondo is criticizing the Kurds, so recently emerged from underneath a decades-long campaign of physical and cultural genocide in southern Kurdistan, for having failed to achieve the sort of utopia that Americans themselves have not achieved.

Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talabani paid with decades of their lives in hardship and exile for the modest accomplishments that the Kurds of southern Kurdistan have achieved today, i.e., the right to remain physically alive, to reproduce, and to speak, read, and write their own language and maintain their culture. The region (southern Kurdistan) is surrounded by bloodthirsty and ruthless states who have proven by their conduct over and over that they desire nothing less than to extinguish the Kurds as a people – both physically and culturally. Remember, it is only recently that Kurdish women, children, and elderly were trucked out of their villages into the desert en masse, there to be machine-gunned into pre-dug pits and buried with bulldozers. Even the Arabized elite in the cities suffered arrest, imprisonment, torture, witnessing the murder of family members and the rape of young virgin daughters, confiscation of property and, if they were lucky, deportation to Iran.

As someone whose family has suffered grievously as a result of these racist campaigns, almost always backed by the West, I ask Mr. Raimondo to at least have the grace to meet with Kurdish leaders in the United States or visit Kurdistan before propounding the sort of out-of-context tripe in his column today. By continuing this campaign against the much-wronged Kurds, Mr. Raimondo makes himself a convenient tool of the Turks – who have a long history of being far more dangerous to the West and also to their neighbors.

If Mr. Raimondo is interested in learning the truth and acquiring some perspective, I will be happy to try to put him in touch with Kurdish leaders here. If he is willing, a trip to Kurdistan itself could doubtless be arranged.

(My own family suffers to this day from the mass murder campaign waged by Saddam in the 1980s against the Kurds. The harm and damage just goes on and on even in the lives of the survivors. For to sign on to the anti-Kurdish campaign of the Turks and those like-minded is beneath your otherwise laudable Web site.)

~ Judith Foster Wali

The Political Folly Awards of 2005

Bush has a plan to win the war? Makes me think of a Monty Python or Black Adder skit about WWI, where a soldier learns of a secret British command plan to win the war. The soldier is STUNNED to learn that ANY planning was involved in that whole bloody cock-up.

I’m not sure which is scarier: that Bush thinks he has a plan that will work, or that Bush thinks he has a plan at all.

By the way, if this damn war is such a hot idea, how come neither of Bush’s kids are in service?

~ Wade Kane, SMSgt. Air Guard (Ret.)

How Stands the Empire?

Pat Buchanan wrote:

“That place in the sun the Greatest Generation won for us, and the Cold War generation kept for us, the baby boomer generation appears to have lost.”

Yo, Pat. This assertion is inaccurate and insulting. Make that half the baby boomer generation. Overwhelmingly the Republican half. If you feel insulted (as I do) at being lumped into that set of persons responsible for the implosion of American greatness, then I’ll help you out and further delimit the set of responsible persons: Make that, “Overwhelmingly the dimwit true-believer Republican half.”

There should be a rule that when you’re looking to assign blame, you name those specifically responsible. Using a broad noun defames the innocent and shields the guilty in the cloak of anonymity.

~ Jeff Davis


Dear Sam:

It is today Jan. 9, and the latest letter in the Backtalk section is still “Christmas in Malaysia,” first published New Year’s Eve. You must receive hundreds of letters daily. What happens to them? I for one would like to read what other visitors to this site are saying in response to your columnists. Can you please start to print more letters, like at least one a day? Sam, are you there? I would like you to reply to this e-mail so I have proof you exist and are indeed awake.

~ Andy Kornkven

Sam Koritz replies:

Dear Andy:

We’re averaging about two or three messages per day in Backtalk, which seems about right. Readers who want more readers’ writing might want to check out the Antiwar Forum. Backtalk pages are usually being posted a little more frequently than once a week, which is probably just a little less often than ideal. It’s true that almost two weeks have passed since the previous Backtalk page and this one, which is certainly too long. Sorry about that, Backtalk fans. This delay was largely due to a computer problem that I expect to have remedied shortly.

Before I go out (church, shopping, etc.) I write down the war casualty figures on a stick-um label. I wear on it my shirt. No antiwar slogans, just the numbers. When people ask me, I tell them what the numbers represent. Many are surprised by the wounded figure. I also include the numbers in my e-mails. I would like to see this become a national practice.

~ Bill Lucas, 2,172/15,881

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