Monthly Review
Subscribe to


for Subscribers

Buy directly
from the

and support

Donate to MR! $

Follow mrzine_notes on Twitter


Subscribe to MRZine




28.10.11 About MR

Monthly Review Press

Revolutionary Doctors
ARY DOCTORS: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care by Steve Brouwer

Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution
ING THE VENEZUELAN REVOLUTION: Hugo Chavez Talks to Marta Harnecker by Hugo Chavez and Marta Harnecker

When Media Goes to War
WHEN MEDIA GOES TO WAR: Hegemonic Discourse, Public Opinion, and the Limits of Dissent by Anthony DiMaggio

The Politics of Genocide
THE POLITICS OF GENOCIDE by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

Obama Administration Escalates Confrontation with Iran: Why?
by Mark Weisbrot

The Obama Administration announced two weeks ago that a bumbling Iranian-American used car salesman had conspired with a U.S. government agent posing as a representative of Mexican drug cartels to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.  This brought highly skeptical reactions from experts here across the political spectrum.

But even if some of this tale turns out to be true, the handling of such accusations is inherently political.  For example, the U.S. government's 9/11 commission investigated the links between the attackers and the Saudi ruling family, but refused to make public the results of that investigation.  The reason is obvious: There is dirt there and Washington doesn't want to create friction with a key ally.  And keep in mind that this is about complicity with an attack on American soil that killed 3,000 people.

By contrast, the Obama Administration seized upon the rather dubious speculation that "the highest levels of the Iranian government" were involved in this alleged plot.  President Obama announced that "all options are on the table," which is well-known code for possible military action.  This is extremist and dangerous rhetoric.

University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, a leading Mideast scholar, offered that Obama may be "wagging the dog" -- looking for a military confrontation to help his re-election in the face of a stagnant economy and high unemployment.  This is certainly possible.  Recall that George W. Bush used the build-up to the Iraq war to secure both houses of Congress in the 2002 election.  He didn't even have to go to war.  The run-up to war worked perfectly to achieve his main goal: all of the issues that most voters cared about and were threatening to cost Republicans one or both chambers of Congress -- the jobless recovery, Social Security, corporate scandals -- disappeared from the news during the election season between August and November.  President Obama's advisers certainly understand these things.

Of course the latest saber-rattling could also just be part of a long-term preparation for war with Iran, just as President Clinton spent years preparing the ground for the Iraq war launched by Bush.  Once this is done, war is difficult to stop; and once these wars are launched, they are even more difficult to end, as 10 years of useless, bloody war in Afghanistan show.

That is why international initiatives to roll back the march toward war, such as the nuclear fuel-swap proposal brought forth by Brazil and Turkey in May 2010, are so important.  The Iranian government has recently offered to stop enriching uranium if the United States would provide uranium for Iran's medical research reactor -- which it needs for hundreds of thousands of cancer patients.  This uranium would not be usable for weapons.  The proposal was endorsed by leaders of the American Federation of Scientists.

Brazil is one of the few countries with the international stature, independence, neutrality and respect to help defuse this confrontation.  We can only hope that it will make further attempts to save the world from another horrible war.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C.  He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.  This article was first published by CEPR on 27 October 2011 under a Creative Commons license.  Em Português.
| Print