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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Iran, the New Iraq

We're making progress with Iran. That's not a Bush administration talking point and by "we," I mean the international community -- minus the US. Iran, increasingly isolated in the world over it's nuclear research, is finding it hard to go it alone in the world. According to the United Nations, Iran is taking positive steps toward resolving what is at its core a diplomatic problem. The White House, not being huge fans of diplomacy, haven't really been making much progress. In fact, the Bush administration seems to be dedicated to further entrenching enemies.

While Bush is busy trying to freak everyone out over Iran, they're cooperating with the international community.

UN News Centre:

Iran has addressed the questions of the United Nations nuclear watchdog about its past plutonium programme and both parties now consider that matter resolved, according to a statement posted on the UN agency's website.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) yesterday published on its website the text [PDF] of a joint work plan on how to resolve outstanding issues between the agency and Iran after a request to do so from Tehran.

That text states that Iran provided clarifications to the IAEA to help explain all remaining questions it had about its plutonium programme, and that the agency agreed on 20 August that the matter has been resolved.

Don't get too excited. It's uranium that the Bush administration is freaking out about, not plutonium. So, as far as they're concerned, nothing has changed.

Despite the news, the president has decided that the level-headed, pragmatic approach to Iran is to scare the bejeezus out of everyone with nuclear weapons that even the administration admits are only hypothetical; as if 'may want nuclear weapons' and 'has the power to end the world' are the same thing.

Agence France-Presse:

US President George W. Bush branded the Islamic Republic "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," citing its backing of Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Shiite fighters killing US troops in Iraq.

"And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust," he told the American Legion veterans group [in Reno, NV].

It's a little late to worry about that, Israel's had nukes for decades -- the middle east is already "under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust" -- a reality the US has always pretended doesn't exist. If anyone turns the middle east into a big nuclear shooting gallery, it'll be the notoriously trigger happy israelis. That is, if the US doesn't beat them to it. There have been reports that the US is considering using "low yield" "tactical" nukes against Iran. In today's world, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would qualify as "low yield."

Meanwhile, it's not just US citizens Bush wants to get all freaked out, we're busy poking Iran with a stick.


U.S. soldiers arrested members of an Iranian government delegation Tuesday at a hotel in Baghdad and took them to an unidentified location, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported.


The U.S. military said it detained some "Iranian citizens with Iranian passports" and their Iraqi escorts, who carried Iraqi Department of Energy badges, at a checkpoint in the Abu Nuwas market in eastern Baghdad's Rusafa district.

The Iranians and Iraqis were detained when "a group of individuals in several vehicles" stopped at the checkpoint, and "several occupants were observed to have weapons," the military said.


The number of people arrested was not immediately clear, though Associated Press Television showed U.S. soldiers escorting 10 blindfolded people -- their hands bound in front of them -- from the hotel into military vehicles and driving off.

If Iran had blindfolded and taken US personnel like that, the headlines here would be about "hostages." To a certain extent, those headlines would be correct. The iranian delegation was there at the invitation of the iraqi government and they were arrested on only the flimsiest of excuses. But the US doesn't take hostages, so these people are now "detainees."

So what's the deal here? Has the Iraq war worked out so well that we're now ready to roll into Iran? A british study from Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament tells us that it's pretty damned certain that the US has prepared for it.

Raw Story:

...Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a weak or failed state." Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration's National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power...

Map showing Iraq and Afghanistan border IranI'd argue (and have) that eliminating Iran is the "War on Terror's" entire reason for being. As I said back in June, "...if you take a look at the map, it becomes pretty obvious that war with Iran was the plan all along. Afghanistan on one border and Iraq on the other puts Iran between two staging areas (with nominal ally in the 'war on terror,' Pakistan, also on the border). They're merely arguing for attacking Iran ahead of schedule."

Making progress with Iran means something different to the Bush administration than it does to anyone else. While the sane people consider "progress" as a process of moving away from war in Iran, Bushies consider war with Iran the goal we're progressing toward.

Which is why resolving issues between the IAEA and Iran means nothing in the White House. It's not a step in the right direction for them.


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