The saber rattling aimed at Iran seems to be in one of its lulls right now. But lots of us remain concerned that the Bush-Cheney administration still wants to go out with one more bang-an attack on the nuclear facilities in Iran. Which would, of course, be an act of war, and a war of aggression at that. Once upon another time, a war of aggression was considered a war crime.
These worrisome days seem eerily familiar. We’re being told that a country in the Middle East is a threat to us and its neighbors, that its government is fruitcake nutty, and that it has diabolical plans to use weapons of mass destruction against us or our friends at the first opportunity. Where have we run into this script before? Oh, yes. It’s the same flawed set of arguments used to justify our invasion and occupation of Iraq. Now we’re being told similar things about Iran.
We’ve routinely been assured that Iran is smuggling weapons into Iraq to support the insurgency there, and that the weapons are being used to kill Americans. Nobody’s been able to provide any evidence beyond the allegations themselves. A couple of months ago, reporters in Iraq were alerted to a news conference where Iranian weapons captured in Iraq were to be displayed. The news conference was abruptly called off when the military admitted it could not positively identify the weapons as coming from Iran. Despite the lack of evidence, we’re still being told that Iran is helping kill Americans in Iraq.
Meanwhile, it appears we ourselves are guilty of meddling inside Iran.
Readers may recall the name of Scott Ritter. He’s an ex-Marine who was a weapons inspector for the United Nations. In the days before the 2003 invasion, he warned that American assumptions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were wrong. For that, he was ridiculed and all but called a traitor. But it turned out that he was right.
He’s still around. And he’s done a lot of reporting on Iran and the administration’s inclination to start a fight with Teheran. Last week, Scott Ritter published a long article for an online magazine in which he claimed that the CIA has been actively involved in supporting an Iranian resistance group that’s responsible for repeated acts of sabotage-with all too deadly consequences-inside Iran. Oddly enough, the group, the Mujahadeen-e Khalk, is listed as a terrorist organization by our own State Department. The MEK worked with Saddam Hussein and even fought as his ally in the war against their own countrymen. But the MEK shares the same goal as the Bush-Cheney administration: regime change in Teheran. So they’re useful for American purposes. When’s a terrorist not a terrorist? When he’s on your side.
Scott Ritter goes further than accusing the MEK of being our surrogate in a secret war inside Iran. He claims the group was involved in the discovery of a laptop computer that’s supposed to contain evidence of a nuclear weapons program inside Iran. The computer’s innards have been the backbone of the allegations that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. But the acquisition of the computer through the MEK raises serious questions about the information supposedly contained in the computer. The way the computer fell into American hands through the MEK is reminiscent of the way false intelligence was fed to the United States in the runup to the invasion of Iraq by an Iraqi opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress.
Despite the seeming lull in the saber-rattling toward Iran, events are moving on their own timetable. Iran has consistently said its nuclear program is not aimed at developing weapons, a claim supported by our own intelligence agencies. But a deadline for Iran to suspend its nuclear program has just passed. And we’ve warned that if Iran doesn’t comply with our demands we will impose further economic sanctions and perhaps other, unspecified measures. Right now, Congress is considering legislation that might lead to an air, land and sea blockade of Iran. Such a blockade would be considered an act of war.
Scott Ritter concluded his article with these words: "One day, in the not-so-distant future, Americans will awake to the reality that American military forces are engaged in a shooting war with Iran. Many will scratch their heads and wonder, `How did that happen?’ The answer is simple: We all let it happen. We are at war with Iran right now. We just don’t have the moral courage to admit it." In the ancient myths about the Trojan War, Cassandra was a Trojan princess who had the ability to foretell the future. But she was also cursed with the inability to make anybody believe her. Scott Ritter has already played the role of a modern Cassandra in the invasion of Iraq. The next few months will tell if he’s reprising that role with Iran.
George Arnold is opinion editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s northwest edition.
The Arkansans Democrat Gazette,
COLUMNISTS American Cassandra
5 August 2008
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette