No good reason to barge into Iran

December 01, 2007

To the editor:

Robert Gary's column of Oct. 21, "Getting it right this time around," puts forth a proposal to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb through the use of what he calls "Focused Industrial Disablement" - the bombing of infrastructure needed to support the bomb-making process, such as power and water supplies. He makes this all sound very reasonable and sanitary and declares it to be humane, necessary and proper. However, one must buy into some very troubling assumptions to accept Gary's plan.

The first assumptions are that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and not nuclear power, as they claim (and which the U.S. heartily supported just a few years ago), and that they are anywhere close to actually having the capacity to build a nuclear weapons, which they are not, according to experts such as Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

By the way, El Baradei is being summarily dismissed by the Bush administration now, as he was during the run-up to the Iraq war, when he correctly assessed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in that country.


If one accepts these assumptions, then the next assumption is that we have the right to attack countries that have never attacked or threatened the United States. While referred to as "pre-emptive war" by the Bush administration, this extreme doctrine, which has no grounds in international law, is actually preventative war and serves to justify a war of choice based on a current or possible future situation, proven or unproven, before it becomes a threat.

The overarching assumption is that none of this obfuscates the real reason for the war in Iraq and the drum-beating and chest-thumping over Iran - control of the oil in the Middle East.

In addition, one must accept Gary's rather blurry snapshot of Iranian history with his characterization of the Shah as "an enlightened man, a noble patriot," while overlooking his less-than-noble accomplishments, such as the creation of a secret police force that carried out torture and other atrocities.

Indeed, the Shah was placed in power by means of a British-American coup in 1953, carried out by the CIA, that overthrew the popular prime minister, Mossadegh, who headed a conservative, democratic parliament and had moved to nationalize Iran's oil industry so that the country could actually profit from its resource, rather than being robbed by Britain.

The Shah was not so popular with the Iranian people as oil industry/government propaganda promulgated, and his overthrow by Ayatollah Khomeini can be clearly traced to the events in 1953.

Today, one might conjecture that had Bush not relegated Iran to his "Axis of Evil" in spite of an outpouring of sympathy from that country following Sept. 11, 2001, and crucial assistance in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan, the pro-American reformists then in power might not have been replaced by Ahmadinejad.

Most disturbingly, Gary also would have one accept that "killing Iranians is a terrible idea" because they like us and our culture, and they are "an advanced civilization," thanks to the former Shah. The implication is that if they did not like us, rejected our culture and were not up-to-date, these people from the very cradle of civilization would deserve no reprieve.

Finally, one must accept Gary's assertion that "we need to get over the temptation to explain and justify policy" and take action "for reasons of state." See The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 8.

One point of Gary's I do accept; I do not believe that Iran should have an atomic bomb. Neither should anyone else, including the United States. Nuclear disarmament is the only truly humane, and the only sane, course to accept and pursue.

Mary Godwin

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