US- Iran relations: Fifty years of deceit
By Gaither Stewart
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Feb 1, 2008, 01:09

Recently, the prestigious Milan daily, Corriere della Sera, published the translation of an article by neocon Robert Kagan. The Italian version of the article bore the headline �Trattare Con Teheran? Meglio Farlo Subito� (Negotiate With Tehran? Better Do It Now.) The article had a sub-head written in red: �The Nuclear Threat.�

As I read the four-column article I ticked what for me were dubious or false statements and claims, either of fact or opinion. Kagan�s apparently smooth article is predictably infected with an underlying hypocrisy and well known America-centrism making the writer�s occasional hypocritical attempts at any kind of balance laughable.

His first sentence set the tone for the rest when he hemmed and hawed about whether the National Intelligence Estimate findings that Iran interrupted its nuclear arms program in 2003 are accurate. It soon becomes clear that Kagan does not accept the report�s conclusion. For him, many aspects of the report are to still to be clarified.

Departing from the report-based assumption -- remember, a report unconvincing for Kagan -- he rationalizes that since it is too late for Bush America to attack, it is better for Washington to negotiate now rather than wait until after US presidential elections. That is, not attack militarily now and negotiate. He recalls that the chief reason Europe has put pressure on Tehran to negotiate is fear of American military action against Iran. For Europe, in fact, the fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb is secondary.

From that point the article slides then rushes, in an avalanche, downhill, down into the swirling inferno of neocon thinking. In the writer�s opinion, negotiation in any case will seem like weakness of America�s position, thus displaying his recurrent mistrust in the role of diplomacy, endemic in the Bush administration. Iranians, he warns, could use negotiations to exploit the divisions between the USA and its allies. The mere idea that negotiation is ipso facto weakness reflects the warlike mentality of the Bush administration, which, as the majority of Americans today realize, is the heart of the problem with Iran.

So why does Kagan want negotiations? His justification for negotiations now rather than later -- which is not only desirable but also necessary -- is that the USA is not in a weak position in the Middle East and the world today. He cites as examples of US strength the success of the surge in Iraq and the general resurgence of the nation of Iraq . . . and the isolation of Iran! Ye gads! How in God�s name could even neocons make such a claim at this late date when the rest of the world is witnessing the resurgence of violence in Iraq, Turkish encroachments in Iraqi Kurdistan, the total separation of the Shi'a and Sunni variations of Islam, and the dissolution of the country? That�s progress, eh, Kagan?

An Afghanistan in chaos and the US quietly invading huge and in any case uncontrollable Pakistan, whose dictatorship has the A-bomb, will strengthen America? A renewed Cold War menacing US-Russian relations because of America�s aggressive and arrogant threats is strength? Get outta here, Kagan!

Now, in the first place, to speak of the isolation of Iran is pure America centric neocon propaganda. For huge Russia, Iran is most certainly not isolated; Iran is neighbor and ally. Iran is not isolated for or from Europe; Iran is a major trading partner. Iran is not isolated from China, nor from Asia as a whole. The reality is, Iran is isolated from the USA. In fact, as far as isolation is concerned, neocon strategy by the likes of Kagan, among the 12 most notorious neocons, has led to the isolation in the world of the USA. Lonely and isolated from the rest of the world today.

To continue my comments on Kagan�s analysis of reasons to negotiate now, I ticked the writer�s doubts about the NIE report, that is, the sum of US national intelligence on Iran. �If the NIE report is correct, Iran could decide to use the time before negotiations with a new US administration in 2009 to ready its bomb!�

As for the content of eventual negotiations, the neocon analyst continues to demonstrate his bad faith. He pontificates oh so placidly that Iran MUST clarify the numerous questions raised by the International Agency For Atomic Energy concerning the nuclear program of the regime in Tehran. It MUST consent to thorough inspections and monitoring of its structures. It MUST agree to UN resolutions concerning uranium enrichment. Negotiations MUST also include the subject of Iranian terrorism, its support of Al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and extremists in Iraq, the violations of human rights and political repression in Iran.

It never occurs to Kagan that he is walking on very thin ice. Whose terrorism are we speaking of anyway? What about US institutional terrorism? In his in depth analysis, Kagan does not indicate that Iran might turn the same questions against the USA: questions concerning the fictions surrounding Al Qaida, Hezbollah�s solid political base in Lebanon, the Hamas victory in democratic elections in Palestine, America�s violations across the board of human rights from one end of the earth to the other and above all the vanishing democracy in America itself. In the eyes of Moslems, the suspension of many civil liberties under the USAPATRIOT Act and the outrageous violations of international law in the gulag of Guant�namo are expressions of Islamophobia and have nothing to do with the purported war on terrorism.

Kagan writes that if Tehran respects nuclear controls, halts its support of terrorism, treats its people with �justice, humanity and tolerance,� it can be accepted into the community of nations with all the concomitant economic, political and security benefits. The writer then concludes, oh so placidly, with the explosive affirmation that if Iran responds with obstructionism or if it refuses dialogue -- which he says is not a remote eventuality -- such intransigence can only turn against Iran in the future. A warning? A threat? Firm in his faith, Kagan believes that America can�t lose! For the American offer to negotiate can also cause divisions within Iran. Bush has good cards in his hand, Kagan irrationally believes. He just has to play with astuteness and creativity and play in the right way.

Kagan�s views are hardly surprising. They are in line with the neocon philosophy that the USA should use its power forcefully around the world, in America�s interests, in keeping with the neocon neo-Jacobitism, which considers America the world supervisor and policeman.


Meanwhile, what is happening in the everyday reality of US-Iran relations? Each day we see on TV the gray, menacing US warships sitting just off Iran�s coast at the Strait of Hormuz. What we don�t see is the US threatening buildup in Azerbaijan along the Caspian Sea on Iran�s northwest borders. What we don�t see is the war that the United States and Great Britain have been waging against Iran for at least two years. Actually, for 50 years.

Negotiate from a strong position, eh! Keep Iran on the verge of insurrection or counter-revolution or another coup as in 1953. An article in Italy�s alternative press depicts the quiet war being waged inside Iran as recounted by high officials of the CIA, Defense Department, United Nations and retired officers of the Canadian Air Force. Financing terrorist groups inside Iran to overthrow the Tehran government, recruitment of spies and operatives with the goal of creating an opposition, coupled with the usual propaganda back home in America about the need for �regime change,� that newspeak euphemism for overthrowing a government you don�t like . . . or that doesn�t like you.

Anyone with an ear for history recalls the USA-organized coup against the nationalist government of Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953 for daring to nationalize Iran�s oil industry, a tragedy that Iran has never recovered from. The coup against the government of Mossadeq, Time Magazine�s Man of the Year in 1951, brought to power the brutal regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, by an ironic twist of history paving the way for the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Now Washington is moving again in the same direction, apparently unaware of history repeating itself.

Here, as always, it is good to keep on eye on oil. The motives for Western aggression in the Middle East have always had to do with oil. In 1944, US interests in oil output there was only 16 percent. In 1955, US interests had grown to 58 percent. Profits from Middle Eastern oil are greater than elsewhere because of low labor costs and the high productivity of the wells. High profits are the result.

Western oilmen were shocked in 1951 when the reformist Iranian Premier Mohammad Mossadeq decided to nationalize the oil industry, then British controlled. After a lot of saber-rattling, Great Britain retired from the scene and the USA stepped in. The subsequent coup d��tat that overthrew Premier Mossadeq and reinstalled the amenable Shah on the throne was one of the newly founded CIA�s first major actions. The justification of the then CIA director, Allen Douglas, was: �Where there begins to be evidence that a country is slipping and Communist takeover is threatened [such was his English!] . . . we can�t wait for an engraved invitation to come and give aid.�

Fifty years ago just as today!

In June 2005, coups and revolutions later, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran�s ultra-conservative mayor defeated former President Rafsanjani in a run-off election and became Iran�s first non-cleric president in 24 years. In recent times, the relatively free press has been targeted by conservatives; pro-reform publications have been closed and reformist writers, journalists and editors jailed. The reform movement in the government has been crushed though it apparently is still alive and strong among youth.

Promising a new era for Iran, an era of peace and progress, President Ahmadinejad vowed to plough ahead with Iran�s controversial nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad was born in the countryside near Tehran. He is a former Revolutionary Guards officer, was actively involved in the revolution, and participated in the occupation of the American Embassy in midtown Tehran in 1979. He is known as �the man of the barefoot people.� That is, of the poor masses of Iran. The gap between rich and poor is striking in modern Tehran itself.

War among conservatives

Today, neocon conservatives are pitched against Iranian conservatives, each labeling the other �the force of evil.�

Europeans concede Iran the right to develop nuclear energy though realistically aware that control is next to impossible. Iran needs nuclear energy. But the doubt is do they want to make a bomb? Iranians instead look around and see that many of their neighbors have nuclear weapons: Israel, India, Pakistan, China, Russia.

It has been said that an immediate problem of the warlike Bush stance is making an unpopular man in Iran, popular. For Ahmadinejad is apparently not loved by urban youth, many of whom are English-speaking, in contact with the world via 7 million Internet accesses, cell phones, SMS and TV. But they, too, love their country.

Here are some considerations: Iran is a big Middle Eastern country, and like Israel non-Arab. Israel does not really want a clash with Iran, nor does Iran really want a clash with Israel. Though Ahmadinejad appears as the immediate problem, he is not the only power in Iran. Ahmadinejad heads one class, but not the modern part of the country. Nor the clergy. A power struggle seems to be in progress. As his fiery speeches show, Ahmadinajad needs an enemy.

In the same way, George Bush�s administration at this late date still needs an enemy. How the �regime change� in Iran is to be achieved is crucial. European observers warn that the USA cannot afford to err again as in Iraq, where, as Condoleeza Rice admitted, �America has made thousands of mistakes.� Iran is simply too strong.

Gaither Stewart is a senior contributing editor at Cyrano's Journal Online. Originally from Asheville, NC. he has lived his adult life in Germany and Italy, alternated with residences in The Netherlands, France, Mexico, Argentina and Russia. After a career in journalism as a correspondent for the Rotterdam newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, he began writing fiction. His collections of short stories, "Icy Current Compulsive Course, To Be A Stranger" and "Once In Berlin" are published by Wind River Press. His new novel, "Asheville," is published by He lives with his wife, Milena, in Rome, Italy. E-mail:

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