President Obama has been topping news reports repeatedly recently with his various statements regarding Iran, Israel and the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear power. Most recently Obama met with Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, and in a widely quoted statement informed him that the U.S. “had Israel’s back.” This comes in the wake of Netanyahu claiming that Israel would “reserve the right to defend itself,” with the potential for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear sites a strong possibility.
Obama also said in an interview with The Atlantic that, “as president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” regarding his support of Israel vs. Iran in this nuclear showdown. While President Obama may not bluff in his support of Israel, which has a massive and powerful lobby that he needs if he hopes to get reelected in November, he’s been bluffing on Iran’s status as a potential nuclear threat to the American people for years and it’s time we called him on it.
For the past 8 years, dating back to 2004 and even earlier, every U.S. intelligence agency has agreed that Iran is not a threat to build a nuclear weapon. In a widely covered report, all of the 16 American intelligence groups concurred that while Iran may be enriching uranium, they had all but given up on its nuclear weapons program, which was halted in 2003. The agencies issued a report in 2007 with this assessment and again in 2010. And in a recent report, Iran’s lack of modern technology has hampered even their basest efforts at enriching nuclear materials.
Despite this overwhelming evidence that Iran is simply a paper tiger, we are under a constant barrage of media coverage and hyperbole from all sides about “what is to be done about Iran.” At current, Obama has said that “All options are on the table,” in regards to U.S. action against Iran, basically saying that we’ll be more than happy to invade, bomb and sanction them at the slightest provocation, despite their being years away from even testing a weapon if they pursued it. The ramped up and ongoing discussions, plus strong posturing by both the U.S. and Israel, seem to indicate that war could be on the near horizon, which would make sense for the Obama Administration, as he would then be seen as a “Wartime President.”
Throughout our country’s history, being in office during wartime has assured reelection. The irony of Obama’s case is that he was partly elected the first time based on hollow promises to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, when he has only expanded the efforts in those countries in addition to waging campaigns in other nations. It would only make sense for him to take the U.S. into war against Iran – the big nuclear threat – to bolster his polling position and carry him through to a second term. Even staunch anti-war proponents on both sides have been fooled into believing that Iran must be stopped at all costs from having a bomb, thus making Iran an easily sold engagement.
The tactic is of course reminiscent of “Hate Week” in “1984,” wherein a common enemy is targeted to distract the population from domestic issues (like our massive debt and crumbling economy) and to solidify support behind Big Brother. And of course more recently it has been referred to as “Wagging the Dog,” and while that is a bit of a lighthearted term when referring to a potential and probable war that will cost thousands of American lives, the meaning behind it is poignant. The greater issue is the state of the U.S. economy, the value of the dollar and our nation’s liberty, not the paper tiger that is Iran.
Amidst the rhetoric coming out about military actions, Obama is also accelerating sanctions against Iran, with the latest targeting Iranian financial institutions. From Reuters:
Significant difficulties in making dollar payments to Iranian banks have forced Iran’s trading partners to look for alternative ways to settle transactions, including direct barter deals.
“In its trade transactions with other countries, Iran does not limit itself to the U.S. dollar, and the country can pay using its own currency,” central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani was quoted as saying. “If a country should so choose, it can pay in gold and we would accept that without any reservation.”
China and Russia, two of Iran’s largest trade partners, have already said that they will continue to import oil from Iran, which also presumably means they will abandon the dollar for these transactions in lieu of gold. The implications of this could be dire. The BRIC countries have already had in-depth discussions about abandoning the dollar as their reserve currency for international transactions. Should they officially do this, the value of the dollar would plummet, sending our economy into a tailspin. This is one situation where China’s massive holdings of U.S. debt actually help us, as they don’t want to lose all of that investment.
Sanctions also have a much broader impact on relations between the U.S. and the Middle East. Sanctions rarely impact those in power. North Korea is a perfect example – they have been sanctioned for years, yet the leadership of that country is unaffected, while the citizens take the hit. North Korea’s strict control of information flow and propaganda assures that the populace believes that the U.S. is solely responsible for their plight. Do we think Iran would be any different? They also have a tight hold on information and issue constant propaganda. As sanctions trickle down to impact Iranian citizens, their resentment towards Americans will grow exponentially. This perpetuates the ongoing cycle in the Middle East that causes terrorism and that has been happening since the 1970s. Presidential Candidate Ron Paul has uniquely spoken out against this recurring theme. We are not being attacked because we are “free'” or because of our ideological differences. We are being attacked because of this constant meddling in the affairs of other countries in this region.
It is impossible to “win the hearts and minds” of these people when we have put them in dire conditions for so long and they have grown up with the belief that the U.S. is responsible for their economic plight. We are simply circling around again and again with our approach to the Middle East, and sooner or later following this ridiculous model, we are bound to go down the drain.
Iran is simply the latest rerun in what has become a very tiring, stale and dangerous program.
Laugh it up, Barack.
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