Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Obama to GOP Crusaders: Slow Down


Israel’s American supporters, terrified by claims that a second Holocaust looms for the Jewish state, are crying out for war against Iran.

The entire Republican Party – with the exception of the intrepid Dr. Ron Paul – is consumed by crusading fever against Iran, though many members would be hard-pressed to locate the Islamic Republic on a map.

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose foreign affairs experience is, to put it politely, limited, vows unlimited military support for Israel, with no understanding of the possible consequences. His rivals are even more fulsome in their calls for "jihad" against Iran and its allies.

Israel’s right wing government insists it must attack Iran before the "crazy" Islamic Republic gets nuclear weapons that will be used, it claims, to obliterate Israel.

"Time is running out," thundered Israeli leader Bibi Netanyahu last week while visiting Washington to show Americans who really runs US Mideast policy.

Netanyahu said nothing about his own nation’s estimated 300 nuclear weapons, or why it needs so many when 16-20 would obliterate the entire Arab world and Iran. There was not a peep from Congress or the media about Mideast nuclear disarmament.

Netanyahu’s claim raises an interesting question. Since many Americans think it’s essential to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities – even though US intelligence denies Iran is even working on nuclear weapons – then what about North Korea?

Why shouldn’t Japan and its protector, the United States, attack North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure? Unlike Iran, North Korea actually has an estimated four operational nuclear weapons and some 800 short and medium-ranged missiles that can strike US bases in South Korea and Japan.

The North’s new Taepodong missile can cover much of Japan. It is uncertain if North Korea has yet developed nuclear warheads for its missiles, but Pyongyang certainly has chemical and biological ones. The North has routinely threatened to turn South Korea and Japan into a "sea of fire." That’s even more fevered than Iranian rhetoric.

Iran has only a handful of highly inaccurate Shahab-II missiles with small, conventional warheads, but no nuclear warheads. Iran has much less offensive military capability than North Korea. In spite of intense political pressure, all US intelligence agencies still concur that Iran is not working on nuclear weapons.

Meir Dagan, former chief of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad, just told CBC News that it would be a mistake to attack Iran, and diplomacy should be given more time – pulling the Persian carpet from under the fire-eating Republican candidates and their hero, Bibi Netanyahu.

Having followed Iran’s nuclear policies for 20 years, I’m amazed that Tehran has not by now managed to deploy nuclear weapons. Even Israel’s defense minister recently wondered aloud why Iran hadn’t already produced such weapons.

Even though US troops in North Asia are seriously threatened by North Korea’s weapons, there are no calls in the US Congress or media to launch a war against North Korea. To the contrary, Pyongyang is opening new nuclear talks with the US, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China.

Contrast this sensible diplomacy to the rush to war against Iran now being marketed in the US. The United States faced thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons for fifty years. Could not nuclear-armed Israel do the same with Iran, assuming Tehran had a few nuclear weapons?

Israel’s indestructible triad of ground, air and submarine launched nuclear weapons would immediately obliterate Iran in any war. In fact, Israel might strike Iran just as soon as its and America’s recon satellites spotted Iranian missiles being set up for fueling and launch.

Last week, President Obama had the courage to stand up to the Israel lobby in an election year and say, "slow down." He rightly called Republican leaders irresponsible for shamelessly beating the war drums to pander to evangelical voters whose world view is shaped by far right Christian radio networks and Fox News. What ever happened to "love thy neighbor?"

In fact, President Obama might also have told Republicans, "your leader John McCain denounced me last week for not leading US military intervention in Syria and Iran. Well, he backed our wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and look where that got us!"

"What’s more, the Afghan and Iraq Wars will end up costing American taxpayers $2 trillion. This vast sum was piled on the US national debt, undermining our economy.

"A new, drawn out war against Iran – never mind Syria – could cost us another trillion. How about asking those who demand this war to pay for it?

"Let’s level with Americans and tell them that smashing Iran and keeping it down by repeated bombings will cost each family $30,000 in new taxes.

"That’s facing reality. See how many Americans want a new war after that."