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Commentary Last Updated: Sep 16th, 2010 - 00:23:53

Driving the mullahs mad
By Dan Lieberman
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 16, 2010, 00:20

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After engaging in counterproductive conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and creating havoc in Nicaragua, Somalia, Caribbean Islands, Central America, and a host of other places by supporting unpopular leaders and governments, the U.S. is headed towards dispatching its sons and daughters into another venture with the usual reason -- to save their freedom.

Although U.S. policies can be shaped so that Iran becomes a force for peace, the present trajectory of policies tends towards another counterproductive and destructive engagement. In its descriptions of what constitutes a malevolent Iran, the U.S. State Department defines itself. By demolishing the myths that U.S. governments dramatize, we can more clearly observe a path for peace and stability in the Middle East.

The State Department Press Briefing on Terrorism Report, August 5, 2010, depicts Iran as the leading supporter of international terrorism. Why?

The report states �Iran remained the principal supporter of groups that are implacably opposed to the Middle East Peace Process,� meaning Hamas and Hezbollah.

If the principal supporter of groups �implacably opposed to the Middle East Peace Process,� equates to support of international terrorism, then U.S. support of implacable Israel positions the U.S. as international terrorism�s leading supporter. Charges that Iran is arming Hamas don�t seem relevant. Hamas has not displayed significant quantities of useful weapons, and in the aftermath of the Gaza war, the IDF did not display any captured armaments.

In response to a question of why Hamas is classified as an international terrorist organization if it has not killed any Americans, a State Department spokesperson haltingly stated; �Hamas, in the past, has killed Americans,� without specifying who, where and when. American travelers, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, have been killed in bombing attacks against Israel, but never specifically targeted.

Then there is Hezbollah. The U.S. State Department claims that �Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support to Lebanese Hizballah and has trained thousands of Hizballah fighters at camps in Iran. Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has assisted Hizballah in rearming, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.�

These statements are undoubtedly true but are understandable and highly exaggerated. The Sh�ia in Lebanon and Iran are closely related by ancestry and by Lebanese Sh�ia cleric travels to Iran to attend schools of teaching. Iran supplied funds to rehabilitate a Lebanon destroyed by Israeli attacks. Not helping their relations would be considered odd.

Arms! Training! Hezbollah has mainly defensive weapons; no aircraft -- no tanks, no guided missiles, no fleet -- only anti-tank Russian missiles, some anti-aircraft weapons and the famous rockets, which are mainly non-guided Katyusha, and are more revenge weapons than effective offensive armaments. After Israel seized an arms cache heading to Lebanon, the U.S. administration quickly accused Iran of supplying the arms. Britain was guarded, saying there is only a �suggestion that Iran has been caught illegally exporting weapons.�

In response to a similar question asked of Hamas, �Why is Hezbollah classified as an international terrorist organization if it has not killed any Americans?� a State Department spokesperson replied; �Hezbollah, in the past, has killed Americans.�

Hezbollah, in the past? Americans were killed 25 years ago, during the early 1980s in Lebanon by militants who claimed they were avenging the killings of Lebanese civilians by U.S. forces, and these actions (25 years ago) occurred before the formation of an incipient Hezbollah. The perpetrators have never been identified as definitely being Hezbollah, or acting under orders of the Lebanese Sh�ia organization.

Meanwhile the United States gives Israel two billion dollars each year to purchase the latest weapons, and although by U.S. law the weapons are to be used only for defensive purposes, the fighter bombers, drones, tank provisions and other armaments are used in severely punishing offensive engagements.

Which nation has killed the most Americans outside of a war zone? Answer is Israel, whose military has killed, wounded and apprehended many American civilians who have tried to assist Palestinians from being evicted from their land. The Israeli Air Force murdered 34 U.S. naval personnel in an attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in international waters on June 8, 1967, during the Six Day War.

The U.S State Department continues to dig itself in deeper: �Despite its pledge to support the stabilization of Iraq, Iranian authorities continued to provide lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Sh�ia militant groups that targeted U.S. and Iraqi forces.� All said with no proof furnished!

The U.S. started the civil strife in Iraq, is in the middle of the civil strife, polarized Iraq�s religious factions and then complains that it is a target in the civil strife. If the U.S. is concerned with dubious Iran support that might have caused American deaths in Iraq, imagine how Iranians feel about documented U.S. military assistance to Saddam Hussein in Iraq�s war with Iran, which caused hundreds of thousands of Iranian deaths.

Finally our tour arrives at Afghanistan. According to the same State Department, �Iran�s Qods Force provided training to the Taliban in Afghanistan on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments to select Taliban members, including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives.�

No proof shown and hardly likely that proof can be provided. Iran has been a sworn enemy of the Taliban since the Taliban came to life, and is the nation that contributed most funds to the forming of the Karzai government, only to be rebuffed by the U.S. Is it logical that suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the Islamic Republic would start supporting a sworn Sunni enemy?

Gareth Porte, in an article, US Uses False Taliban Aid Charge to Pressure Iran,, July 03, 2009, refutes the State Department�s charges:

�The only explicit U.S. claim of specific evidence relating to an Iranian arms shipment to insurgents in Afghanistan has been refuted by data collected by the Pentagon�s own office on improvised explosives.

�In an April 2008 Pentagon news briefing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said in reference to Iranian authorities, �[W]e�re seeing some evidence that they�re supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.� When pressed by reporters for the evidence, however, Mullen admitted that there was no �constant stream of arms supply at this point� and that the basis for the charge was primarily �evidence some time ago� that Iranians were providing amour-piercing EFPs (explosively formed projectiles) to the Taliban.

�But in response to a query from this writer last July, the Pentagon�s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organisation (JIEDDO), which is responsible for tracking the use of roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, provided the first hard data on EFPs found in Afghanistan. The data showed that there was no connection on which to base even an inferential connection between those EFPs and Iran.�

An aggressive and powerful nation classifies Iran as part of an axis-of-evil, has troops on both its borders and maintains an armada in the Persian Gulf. In 1988, the patrolling USS Vincennes shot down Iranian Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 civilian passengers. Shouldn�t Iran be anxious? What would any weak and powerless nation, who felt threatened, do? Develop a nuclear deterrence of course. Has the U.S. ever thought that its presence and actions have led the Islamic Republic to pursue the doomsday bomb?

Despite the lack of any undue Iranian disturbances to a peaceful world or direct contributions to international terrorism, and despite the U.S. endless wars, direct stimulation of international terrorism and close support to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, nations that have previously supported the Taliban and have housed international terrorists, the U.S. State Department accuses Iran of being the leading supporter of international terrorism and of destabilizing the Middle East, while it characterizes itself as a force for peace and freedom. And the American public believes these distorted characterizations.

If U.S. policies towards Iran are the shortest route to endless violence and instability, what are the more proper procedures for establishing a constructive path to peace and stability?

Establishing peace in the Middle East dictates the resolution of at least three issues:

(1) Keeping Israel from controlling the debates and from constantly fanning the flames of hatred and war. It�s not about Israel. It�s about the Arab world and the western world. Yet, it�s always about Israel.

(2) Resolving the Sh�ia/ Sunni divide, or at least stop making it grow. The author�s article: Reconciliation of Sunni and Sh�ia, discusses this recommendation:

�The Sunni/Sh�ia divide, portrayed as a religious conflict, is actually an economic conflict. Caliphs who centralized rule of each of the two Muslim sects no longer exist as temporal leaders, and only spiritual Imams determine divisions. Differences between the two Muslim groups on Mohammad�s succession, Muslim prayer and Koran interpretation incite resentment between Muslim�s extreme religious leaders, but are not sufficiently significant for many of the 1.2 billion Muslims to waste their time and energy in futile battles. A Sunni Muslim is defined by adherence to the five pillars of Islam. Sh�ia Muslims follow similar principals and are therefore �fellow� Muslims. The masses of Islam are no different than the masses of Protestants who don�t care to whom and how their neighbor prays.�

�Similar to Northern Ireland, where Irish Catholics protested against their second class citizenship and economic persecution by English Protestants, the deprived Sh�ia minorities (majority in Bahrain) legitimately protest their economic subservience. Hezbollah has led the venture to achieve Sh�ia equality in Lebanon, and due to their efforts, despite western propaganda, Lebanon is evolving to a more democratic, egalitarian and stable state. Anti-Shiitism is one of the most punishing of the anti-isms and is aggravated by a western world, which excuses nefarious policies by its preferences. Recognition of the rights of the Sh�ia will diminish the Sunni/Sh�ia divide.�

(3) Stop treating Iran as a cause of friction and solicit its support. Its religious extremism and internal politics don�t please western democracies, but Iran is much more tolerant than Saudi Arabia and much more democratic than almost all other Arab nations.

Iran�s principal negative quality is its fundamentalist government. The government doesn�t sit well with its own people or with the world community, and its retrograde nature serves to make U.S. actions seem credible. Despite U.S. State Department rhetoric, Iran has no detrimental effect on the U.S. domestic economy or legitimate U.S. overseas interests -- just the opposite -- both Iraq�s Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, and Afghanistan�s President Hamid Karzai have been quoted that Iran is a positive force in their countries.

�Why doesn�t the U.S., which is concerned with nations in which U.S. troops battle, acknowledge that Iran can contribute to Middle East stability? The reason is simple. The U.S. poses the fundamentalist Iranian government, which is much less fundamentalist than the Saudi Arabian government, as a threat to Middle East peace and to western civilization. These threats must be countered, and the U.S. has volunteered to counter it. This altruism permits the U.S. to have a fleet in the Persian Gulf and burgeoning military bases in Iraq.�

The U.S. Administration�s Secret Love for Iran, Alternative Insight, October, 2007

Iran cannot possibly use a nuclear weapon for offensive purposes nor does it have any reason to do that. The Mullahs have never attacked any country. By mutual cooperation with Iran, the Afghan and Iraq problems probably could be greatly reduced, if not resolved.

The irrepressible and enigmatic President. Ahmadinejad might have actually gotten it correct: �Today the defense of Iran is identical with the defense of the existence of humanity.�

Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. He can be reached at

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