By Paul Craig Roberts
[Paul Craig Roberts served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.]
Mired in interminable conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration is moving toward initiating two more wars, one with Iran and one with North Korea. With no US troops available, the Bush administration is revamping US war doctrine to allow for “preventative nuclear attack.” In short, the Bush administration is planning to make the US the first country in history to initiate war with nuclear weapons. The Pentagon document, “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations,” calls for the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear adversaries in order “to ensure success of US and multinational operations.”
In the case of Iran and Iraq, the Bush administration is using diplomacy not
for diplomatic purposes of reaching agreements, but in order to set the two
countries up for nuclear attack. In the case of Iran, the Bush
administration’s plan is now obvious. The Bush administration is leveling
false charges against Iran, just as it did against Iraq, of conspiring to
make nuclear weapons. These charges are known to be false by the Bush
administration and by the entire world.
For the past two years the International Atomic Energy Agency has had
unfettered access to inspect Iran for any sign of a nuclear weapons program.
The head of the IAEA has announced that there is no sign of a weapons
program. The Bush administration nevertheless insists that Iran is making
weapons, but can produce no evidence. As in the case of Iraq, the Bush
administration substitutes allegations for facts.
Gordon Prather, an expert on the subject, has reported the straight facts in
fine detail. Readers can become familiar with them by consulting his archive
By bullying the 35 members of the IAEA, the Bush administration last week
managed to get 22 votes that could lead to the referral of Iran to the UN
Security Council. The Bush administration will now lobby for the referral.
Once it has the referral, even if the Security Council does not act on it,
the Bush administration can use it as an excuse to attack Iran. The Bush
administration knows that few Americans have any knowledge of international
law and procedures and will simply believe whatever President Bush says. The
highly concentrated US media is a proven walkover for the war-mongering Bush
As Dr. Prather has shown, Iran has gone beyond compliance to propose that
new additional safeguards be established to monitor its nuclear energy
program. The bad intentions are on the part of the Bush administration.
The Bush administration’s plan is to create Iranian intransigence in place
of cooperation by forcing the Iranian government to stand up to the bullying
by reducing its cooperation. The goal of the Bush administration is to
attack Iran, not to create cooperative relationships.
Needless to say, Iranians are angry at the Bush administration’s
manipulation of the IAEA members. Last Wednesday protesters in Tehran
attacked the British embassy, which serves as a proxy for the non-existent
US embassy, and legislation was introduced that, if it passes, will scale
back Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA. Iran has also threatened to cut off
oil deliveries to some of the countries that caved in to US pressure,
thereby permitting the US to increase tensions and escalate the conflict.
The Bush administration is betting that it can demonize Iran the way it did
Iraq. As both Congress and the American public have failed to hold Bush
accountable for deceiving them about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the
administration assumes that its tactics will work a second time.
However, a nuclear attack on Iran would leave the Bush administration
isolated. The US would instantly become a pariah nation, loathed and hated
Moreover, it would leave our battered troops in Iraq in a perilous
situation. The only reason our army in Iraq has not been destroyed is that
the Shi’ites, who comprise the vast majority of the population, have not
taken up arms against us, expecting the US to turn over Iraq to them. As the
Iraqi Shi’ites are allied with the Iranians, who also are Shi’ite, the US
cannot attack Iran without destroying its position in Iraq.
The Bush administration, filled with hubris and delusion, is too stupid to
The American people need to ask themselves why of all the countries in the
world, only the US and Israel believe that it is imperative to attack Iran.
If Iran is such a threat to the world, why isn’t Russia, for example,
concerned and ready to invade?
Americans need to ask themselves the same question about North Korea. Why is
the US, half a world away, so concerned about North Korea? If North Korea is
such a threat, would not China, sitting on its border, know it? Wouldn’t
Japan know it? South Korea? Wouldn’t some other country besides the US see
the problem and take action? According to the Voice of America (August 11,
2005), “Senior South Korean officials on Thursday defended what they say is
North Korea’s ‘natural right’ to pursue civilian nuclear power. The move may
cause friction with the United States, which has expressed firm opposition
to the North having any nuclear facilities whatsoever.”
If the US doesn’t want other countries to develop nuclear weapons, the US
must stop bombing, invading and threatening invasions and nuclear attacks.
How does President Bush serve the cause of peace by making countries
paranoid by declaring them to be our enemies.
For there to be peace, the US must drop its belligerent role. The proper
function of diplomacy is to build trust by drawing countries into economic
and cultural relationships, not to isolate them for attack. It is past time
for the US to give up its quarter century feud with Iran. US interference in
Iranian internal affairs was the source of the feud. We need to acknowledge
it and get over it.
The Korean war ended a half century ago. Isn’t it time the US acknowledged
the war’s end and signed a treaty with North Korea? The Korean war was
essentially a war between the US and China. It was Chinese troops that
prevented American victory. Yet we are getting on with China, a much greater
potential threat to the US than North Korea or Iran could ever be.
By creating instability in the Middle East, the US undermines Israel’s
security. As a few thousand Iraqi insurgents have proven, American armies
are not going to be able to sit over the oil in the Middle East. If we can’t
produce enough valuable goods or maintain a strong currency, we won’t have
access to the oil. There is no possibility whatsoever of the US pushing
around powers like China, India, or Russia.
Bush’s hubris makes him unrealistic. He greatly overestimates America’s
power. Congress and the American people must find a way to supply the
judgment that is missing in the executive branch.
There would be no terrorism if the US would stop interfering in the internal
affairs of Middle Eastern countries and if Israel stopped stealing the West
Bank from the Palestinians. The Bush administration knows this, and that is
why the administration spreads the propagandistic lie that “they” (Muslims)
hate us and our way of life. This lie is the excuse for American aggression.
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By Paul Craig Roberts