On To Tehran?

Okay, let’s play "Name That Nation": Al Qaeda is supposedly hiding there, the country’s rulers are fast developing "weapons of mass destruction," and the population, we are told, longs for "liberation."

No, it’s not Iraq before the recent war, but Iran before the next war. How long before is an open question….

All the stories they told us about Iraq are now being repeated, shamelessly, in an Iranian context, the only difference being that, this time around, no one is even bothering to verify or treat them as anything other than a pretext for "Operation Iranian ‘Freedom.’" Osama bin Laden’s son, and two other top Al Qaeda chieftains responsible for the recent Riyadh bombing are said to have found refuge in northern Iran, near the border with Afghanistan, "according to intelligence sources." What sources, from which agency – or which country? It isn’t quite clear. What is clear is that we are now entering phase two of the neoconservative plan to effect regional "regime change" and refurbish the Middle East with rulers more to America’s and Israel’s liking. Get on board the War Train. Next stop – Tehran. Toot! Toot!

This war, too, is going to be a "cakewalk": the Iranian people are just waiting for us to intervene, and they will rise up and overthrow the mullahs – just like the Iraqis didn’t rise up and overthrow Saddam. And the parallels don’t end there….

While Iraq has the Iraqi National Congress and a convicted embezzler as America’s puppet-of-choice, our Iranian sock-puppets are even more bizarre: the matriarchal cult-like Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), based on a weird amalgam of Islam and Marxism and ruled over by Maryam Rajavi. Yes, a woman in a country where the role of women has always seemed irretrievably stuck in the tenth century – B. C. And she’s a radical feminist! That should bring the lefties on board, if – or, rather, when – it comes to war.

Iran, for its part, vehemently denies providing assistance to Al Qaeda, whose leader has, after all, called for the overthrow of the Tehran regime. But Osama’s hostility to the secular Ba’athists didn’t give the Iraqis an alibi acceptable to the Americans, and the Iranians will do no better. Although U.S. officials deny it, low-level negotiations between the U.S. and Iran have reportedly been severed, and the announcement by the Iranians that they have arrested some Al Qaeda members has provoked an American demand that they be handed over. The two sides are now locked in to a crisis mode that can only end in one of two ways: the capitulation of the Iranians, which seems unlikely, or a U.S. military strike against Iran.

The same double-pronged attack formerly endured by Iraq is now being launched against the Iranians. If the Bushies fail to establish a viable Iranian connection to Al Qaeda, then they can always get them on a "weapons of mass destruction" charge. The reason being that such allegations, including possession of chemical and biological weapons, are impossible to disprove. This time they won’t bother with the UN, and Congress, too, will get very short shrift: according to the Bushies – and every President since Harry Truman – they don’t even have to consult our elected representatives until after the fact.

With Iraq and Afghanistan constantly threatening to slip out from under U.S. control, the prospect of conquering and occupying Iran is more than merely daunting. U.S. resources and military capabilities would be stretched well beyond the breaking point. As in the case of Iraq, the War Party has started out by telling us that the "opposition" forces are capable of overthrowing the regime with just a little help from Washington. In order to earn their subsidy, the pro-U.S. opposition – in this case, the commie-feminist-MEK – is acting as a channel for charges of WMD possession. This ups the ante considerably, and sets the clock to ticking: we can’t wait for the Iranians to rise up, we’ll soon be told, because the ayatollahs will have the Bomb in a matter of months or even weeks.

The Iranians contend that they are pursuing a nuclear program designed solely to provide plentiful electric power to their woefully underdeveloped country, but surely this is a matter that can be solved by inspections. The U.S. is seeking to have the International Atomic Energy Commission verify what is, or is not, being cooked up in Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it is the matter of the Al Qaeda connection that could prove to be explosive.

The arrest of Al Qaeda operatives on Iranian soil, if confirmed, shows at least that Tehran and Bin Laden are not allies. Furthermore, this time the Saudis (and Moroccans) have experienced their own version of 9/11, and they, too, are demanding that the plotters be handed over – to Riyadh. Such a hand-over would short-circuit U.S. war plans, and send the War Party back to the drawing board in search of a new pretext for an invasion.

But once the War Party has its sights set on a goal, it rarely relents. The Iranians had best prepare for the worst. Sooner or later, the same crowd that "liberated" Iraq will have its way with Iran, with or without a popular uprising against Tehran. In Iran we have a fully-certified member of the Axis of Evil said to be in possession of WMD and high-ranking Al Qaeda leaders. If Pentagon planners haven’t yet been asked to come up with an invasion scenario, it’s probably for fear of a leak.

Iran, like Iraq, can be contained, and poses no military threat to the U.S. Its rulers, left to themselves, will alienate and anger their own people to such an extent that a revolution will be inevitable. Only U.S. intervention, ironically, can save the mullahs, now: by giving them the chance to pose as patriots and defenders of Iranian independence against U.S. aggression.

The idea that we are going to establish "democracy" in Iran by overthrowing the region’s largest functioning democracy – Tehran is presided over by an elected President, albeit one whose power is circumscribed by the unelected theocracy – is typical of the absurdities now being promulgated by the neocons. Their preferred candidate to succeed President Mohammed Khatami: the son of the late Shah Reza Pahlavi. Replacing a democratically-elected President with a King installed by U.S. force of arms – that’s the neocons’ idea of "democracy."

– Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].