Loose Lips on Iran Can Sink America
(Consortium News) -- by Ray McGovern --
...Think back seven years and recall the Blackwater-style bravado from the lips of neoconservatives like Donald Rumsfeld’s crony Kenneth Adelman — the fellow who assured us all that Iraq would be a "cakewalk."
Even as this proved to be a fantasy, his neoconservative colleagues were beating their breasts like Tarzan and setting their eyes on Iran. The neocon joke at the time questioned what the next target should be – Syria or Iran? – with the punch line, "Real men go to Tehran!"
Both then and today, however, it was not just Tarzans who were spoiling for a fight in the Middle East, but some Janes, in particular – Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who was a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of the Iraq invasion.
From her position on the Intelligence Committee, Harman was better positioned than most of her colleagues to know that Bush was hyping or inventing the evidence of Iraq’s alleged WMD, but she still joined the stampede to war.
After the invasion and an exhaustive investigation, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that the Bush/Cheney administration "presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent."
However, back in 2003, it would have taken some political courage to call out Bush and his team on their flimsy "evidence" or their outright lies. Career-wise, there was plenty of upside – and no discernable downside – to go along.
But why am I reprising this history now, you ask? Because it turns out Jane and some of the Tarzans are at it again, hyping the "threat" from Iran, where "real men" — and apparently some "real women" — still want to go.
Speaking on the floor of Congress on April 22, Harman said:
"I am often asked to name those countries I think pose the greatest threat to the security of our country and the world. … My answer every time is Iran, Iran, Iran. … Given its myopic obsession with the destruction of Israel … and its implacable, duplicitous march toward a nuclear weapons capability, in my view no other country comes close."
(More objective observers might say, "Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan," an unstable Islamic nation that actually acquired nuclear weapons with the acquiescence of the Reagan administration in the 1980s and is today the home for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including the trainers of alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Shahzad’s father, Bahar Ul Haq, was a former Pakistani air vice marshal reportedly with some responsibility over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.)
But Harman is focused on Iran, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has renounced any intention of having nukes, and is considered years away from building one even if it wanted to.
To punish Iran for its speculative interest in nuclear weapons, Harman called for sanctions to "cripple Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum products." (As a Harvard-educated lawyer, she should be aware that, under international law, such a blockade would be an act of war. It also would inflict widespread hardship on the Iranian people.)
But Israel’s right-wing Likud government and America’s neocons have identified Iran as the new enemy. So, in line with that assessment, Harman ended her oration thusly:
"Iran with nuclear weapons not only poses an existential threat to Israel; it poses an existential threat to us [vocal emphasis hers] and to countries everywhere which espouse democratic values."...
What concerns me greatly, however, is that the American people are being played again by those both in government and the media who wish to zap Iran.
"Do you think Iran currently has nuclear weapons, or not?" Americans were asked in a CNN poll taken earlier this year (Feb. 12-15). Seventy-one percent of Americans polled answered incorrectly, Yes.
That’s very close to the percentage of Americans misled into believing that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons before the attack on Iraq in March 2003. Only later was the Bush administration forced to admit that its claims about an active Iraqi nuclear program were bogus.
Of equal concern to me are the statements of politicians who apparently believe we have forgotten the hype that got us into the Iraq mess — and are trying again to stoke a confrontation with Iran...
As for Harman, she is facing a strong Democratic challenger, progressive Marcy Winograd, in the June 8 primary for California’s 36th district.
Because Harman has a personal fortune of about a half-billion (that’s right, billion) dollars from which to draw – and Winograd says she is accepting "not one dime" of corporate money – the race is viewed as a test of whether it is possible for candidates to win without heaps of money for ad buys and other expenses.
The race also could measure whether Democratic voters will demand some accountability for lawmakers who sided with President Bush and the neocons in rushing the United States off to war in Iraq – and who now are spoiling for another fight with Iran.
I don’t know how those tests will work out, especially given the continued sludge of one-sided propaganda that flows from the FCM.
What I do know is that incendiary rhetoric from lips like Harman’s about the option of a military strike on Iran, her strident advocacy of an act of war (blockade), and her pretense that Netanyahu’s claim of an "existential threat" from Iran applies also to the United States is a highly flammable mix.
It is just the kind of rhetoric that could give Netanyahu confidence that he can take matters into his own hands.
This will go in spades if Harman proves to be correct in deeming that her constituents are just as gullible as the ones who answered CNN pollsters in mid-February...MORE...LINK
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