The Guardian 19 September, 2007

Is Bush planning war in Iran?

Marjorie Cohn

The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the Pentagon has plans for three days of massive air strikes against 1200 targets in Iran. Two weeks ago Alexis Debat, Director of Terrorism and National Security at the Nixon Centre, told a meeting of The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal, that the military did not intend to carry out "pinprick strikes" against Iranian nuclear facilities. He said, "They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military."

In his August 28 speech to the American Legion, Bush called Iran "the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism" and pledged to "confront Tehran’s murderous activities."

Bush’s WMD-hyping against Iran is déjà vu in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Disaster, where he played loose and fast with the truth about Iraq’s alleged WMDs. His statement that a nuclear Iran could put the region "under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust" conjures up his images of a "mushroom cloud" in the hype-up to Iraq.

How inconvenient for Bush that the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently found Iran’s uranium enrichment program is operating well below capacity and is nowhere near producing significant amounts of nuclear fuel. The IAEA report says Iran "has been providing the agency with access to declared nuclear materials, and has provided the required nuclear material accountancy reports in connection with declared nuclear material and facilities."

Iran and IAEA agreed on a plan with a step-by-step timetable of cooperation to settle unresolved issues. The agreement said there were "no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran’s past nuclear program and activities" and characterised the accord as "a significant step forward."

"This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues which triggered the crisis in confidence", said the IAEA Director General, Mohamed El Baradei. "I’m clear at this stage you need to give Iran a chance to prove its stated goodwill."

In 2003, when El Baradei reported there was no evidence that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, and as Saddam Hussein became more cooperative with the weapons inspector, Bush became "infuriated," according to journalist Bob Woodward.

Bush’s current vow, "We will confront this danger before it is too late," is the Iran incarnation of his illegal pre-emptive war doctrine. In a clear signal he is seeking regime change in Iran, Bush called for "an Iran whose government is accountable to its people, instead of leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons."

In 2002, Bush/Cheney created the White House Iraq Group to lead a propaganda campaign to bolster public support for war with Iraq. The White House decided to wait until after Labor Day of 2002 to kick off the group’s mission. Chief of Staff Andrew Card explained, "From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August."

Five years later, they’re marketing a new and even more dangerous product — war with Iran. British military historian Corelli Barnett says, "An attack on Iran would effectively launch World War III."

Our military spending has reached $US1 billion every two and half days and we are borrowing US$2.5 billion per day. Bush is mortgaging our children’s future security and wealth. We have lost more than 3,700 soldiers in Iraq and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died.

It’s up to the US people to stop it.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law. This is an abridged version of an article that appears at her web site

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