Iran the Aggressor? Not According to the Pentagon — Which Agrees with Ron Paul

(William Grigg)    According to television personality Bill O’Reilly, Iran is a global menace akin to Nazi Germany, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is Neville Chamberlain revisited, and the Pentagon must be prepared for war to contain Tehran’s aggression at any cost. Appearing on NBC’s Today Show to flog his most recent ghost-written bestseller Killing Lincoln, O’Reilly sneered: “His foreign policy disqualifies him in my eyes as an American — not as a journalist. I don’t think we need another Neville Chamberlain with Iran. So, he wants to be friends with Iran, that’s swell.”

Citing a key Bush-era National Intelligence Estimate and subsequent CIA findings, Dr. Paul has consistently emphasized that the Iranian government — although domestically repressive — is not pursuing aggressive designs against the United States. For this reason, Iran — like Soviet Russia and Communist China before it — can be dealt with through conventional diplomacy, rather than through pre-emptive war, as every other Republican candidate insists.

O’Reilly, who is Fox News’s ambassador to the geriatric warmonger demographic, consistently displays an unfavorable ratio of certitude to knowledge. He appears to be unaware of a recent official Pentagon threat analysis of Iran which validates Dr. Paul’s assessment.

According to the Pentagon — which self-appointed super-patriot O’Reilly must consider a nest of appeasers — the Iranian military is not configured for apocalyptic warfare against the United States, Israel, or any other country:

To ensure regime survival, Iran’s security strategy is based first on deterring an attack…. At present Iran’s forces are sufficent to deter or defend against conventional threats from Iran’s weaker neighbors such as post-war Iraq, the GCC, Azerbaijan or Afghanistan but lack the air power and logistical ability to power much beyond Iran’s borders or to confront regional powers such as Turkey or Israel. (Emphasis added)

“Stated simply Iran wants to obtain the necessary weapons to defend itself in a bad neighborhood where it finds itself surrounded by a global superpower,” summarizes Shaun Booth of the political and economic affairs blog Milwaukee Story. “The hyping of the potential nuclear program in Iran is Washington’s attempt to establish a pretext that would garner public support for a strike/destabilization campaign on Iran. The obvious goal would be regime change. So the real reason the Pentagon sees a nuclear program in Iran as a threat is not because it would be used as a first strike weapon against Israel, but because it would make it more difficult for the US and its allies to take out the regime in Tehran.”

Every star is a US military base. (Courtesy of Juan Cole.)

Oddly enough, this perspective is shared by some of the most impassioned supporters of war with Iran, who are worried that a nuclear-armed Iranian regime might prove to be both reasonable and impossible for Washington to push around.

The American Enterprise Institute is one of the most prominent of the Washington-based think-tanks promoting preemptive war against Iran. Danielle Pletka, who heads the group’s foreign policy section, is an unabashed war hawk regarding Iran.

In a recent address, Ms. Pletka offered a revealing assessment of the real dangers posed by a nuclear Iran: “The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it; it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it.” This would result in Iran being perceived as a “reasonable power,” rather than a rogue regime.

Thomas Donnelly, Pletka’s comrade at AEI, insists that war with Iran is necessary not to prevent nuclear genocide, but in order to preserve “the balance of power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East.”

For years, the American public has been barraged with apocalyptic predictions that a nuclear-armed Iran would launch a genocidal attack on Israel. The AEI, which is one of the most hawkish neo-con think-tanks in Washington, appears to believe that if Iran is seeking a nuclear arsenal, it’s doing so for the purposes of deterrence, not aggression.

It should be noted as well that the current Iranian regime is not the first to pursue nuclear power — or a nuclear weapons capacity.

During the administration of Gerald Ford, the U.S. government supported Iran’s nuclear program. At the time, Iran was ruled by Shah Reza Pahlavi, a brutal militarist dictator whose regime was propped up by a spectacularly vicious secret police agency, and who maintained a military configured for regional adventurism. Despite concerns over nuclear proliferation, the Ford administration encouraged the Shah’s effort to develop nuclear energy as a hedge against declining oil production.

Today, the Islamic theocracy ruling the country insists that its nuclear program is a continuation of the Shah’s efforts – which were, once again, supported by Washington – to diversify its energy industry.

Where the Shah openly admitted in 1974 that his government was seeking to build nuclear weapons, the current regime insists that it has no intention of doing so. Yet Washington, which provided the Shah with a huge military establishment and supported his efforts to develop nuclear power, treats Iran’s current effort to develop nuclear power as a cause for war.

During the past sixty years, the U.S. has targeted Iran for a coup, propped up a vicious dictator, encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade that country, and threatened it with pre-emptive war. Given that none of this has worked, restoring diplomatic relations with Iran would hardly constitute appeasement — at least, to anybody not residing within the cartoon realm in which a blustering, self-satisfied ignoramus like Bill O’Reilly is regarded as a legitimate pundit.

Read more at the Milwaukee Story.

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