In the latest example of mainstream warmongering, today The Washington Post's David Ignatius writes,
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a lot on his mind these days, from cutting the defense budget to managing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But his biggest worry is the growing possibility that Israel will attack Iran over the next few months.When reading reports like the one Ignatius has filed here, it should always be remembered that what is being so nonchalantly discussed as a point of perturbation for a beleaguered Leon Panetta is, without doubt, the willful and active commission of a war crime. Not only that, but - in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal - initiating a war of aggression, as Israel would undoubtedly be doing by unilaterally and illegally bombing Iran, is "the supreme international crime."
Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon — and only the United States could then stop them militarily.
Ignatius, despite his clear intent of beating war drums under the guise of disinterested journalism, acknowledges repeatedly that Iran is not building nuclear weapons and has no nuclear weapons program. While the bogus Israeli claim of Iran reaching a "zone of immunity" (the new Barakian term for what until recently was ominously called the "point of no return") is noted by Ignatius, it's followed by the claim that this spooky "zone" would enable Iran to "commence building a nuclear bomb." Which means it's not currently doing that. Ignatius even reiterates the fact that - per U.S. (and Israeli and IAEA) intelligence - Iran is not building a bomb. Which means this is all speculative. Which means any potential attack would be "preventive" and not based on any immediate threat. Which means it would be totally illegal under any possible reading of international law.
Ignatius writes that "Netanyahu doesn't want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action." There's that "existential threat" again! Y'know, the one that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, former Mossad chiefs Meir Dagan and Ephraim Halevy, current Mossad chief Tamir Pardo say doesn't actually exist. Just today, Ynet reported that former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz also repeated the assessment that Iran poses no such threat to Israel. "The use of this terminology is misleading. If it is intended to encourage a strike on Iran, it's a mistake," he said.
Nevertheless, Ignatius repeats this absurdity as if it's an incontrovertible fact. It appears that, for Beltway reportage, "If Netanyahu says it, it must be true!"
Ignatius goes on, "Administration officials caution that Tehran shouldn't misunderstand: The United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israel's population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel's defense."
Does that refer to an aggressive, first-strike on Israel by Iran? If so, this is a fabricated premise that no one actually considers to be a danger (Iran's "defensive military doctrine" is well-documented and consistently reaffirmed by U.S. intelligence) and is an action Iran has repeatedly said it would never commit. Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's head of state and commander-in-chief, has stated unequivocally that "the Islamic Republic has never threatened and will never threaten any country." Meanwhile, just the mere threat of military attack by Israel is a clear violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter.
So, essentially, Ignatius is crafting a strawman in order to beat the American warrior chest much like Hillary Clinton did in 2008 when she declared that, if Iran attacked Israel and she were president, she would order the U.S. military to "totally obliterate" Iran. How's that for a genocidal, "wipe off the map" fantasy?
Ignatius also suggests there are currently only two ways out of the current crisis: Iran could "finally open serious negotiations for a formula to verifiably guarantee that its nuclear program will remain a civilian one; or the United States could step up its covert actions."
Anyone familiar with the 2007 Work Plan that Iran and the IAEA agreed to knows that this has already happened and that the IAEA consistently confirms that Iran's nuclear program is not militarized. The "verifiable guarantee" is the presence of IAEA cameras and inspectors at Iran's safeguarded facilities. What would make Iran's program even more "verifiably" civilian in nature would be for the international community - including the U.S. - to accept Iran's numerous offers to invest in and partner with its program, thereby making it virtually impossible for Iran to weaponize. These overtures have been consistently rebuffed or ignored.
The other option, of course, are more "covert actions" - in other words: drone surveillance and industrial sabotage. Those pesky little murders and explosions that leave widows and orphans and which, in any other context - if any other country's citizens were the victims of such summary executions - would be unconditionally and unequivocally condemned as terrorism.
Sure, Ignatius ends with the off-hand comment that Netanyahu is vacillating and that "top Israeli intelligence officials remain skeptical of the project" - the "project" of course being shorthand for an act of aggressive war (again, "the supreme international crime").
Concluding with requisite Beltway fear-mongering, Ignatius warns that "senior Americans doubt that the Israelis are bluffing" and are "worrying about the guns of spring — and the unintended consequences."
At this point, with three decades of war threats, devastating sanctions that amount to the collective punishment of the Iranian people for the crime of overthrowing the Shah, and propaganda about Iran's ever-imminent hell-bending drive for atomic weaponry with which to evaporate poor little (nuclear-armed and super-power funded) Israel, how can any of the "consequences" honestly be referred to as "unintended"?
I suppose it would be lovely for Israel (and its many cheerleaders here in Congress and the media) if it were able to bomb whomever they want whenever they want, killing thousands upon thousands, with impunity and without any repercussions - that's what it's been doing in Gaza and Lebanon for years. But Iran is not ghettoized and occupied, demilitarized and defenseless, blockaded and besieged. Iran, unlike the usual victims of Israeli and American bullets and bombs, can actually fight back if it's attacked.
That's what so frustrates warmongers from Foggy Bottom to Herzliya so much.
February 3, 2012 - Leon Panetta has distanced himself from the thrust of Ignatius' article today, saying that his comments should not be considered to reflect the consensus of the U.S. government. AFP reports:
When asked about the [Washington Post] opinion piece by reporters travelling with him to a NATO meeting in Brussels, Panetta brushed it aside.h/t Cyrus Safdari
"I'm not going to comment on that. David Ignatius can write what he will but with regards with what I think and what I view, I consider that to be an area that belongs to me and nobody else," he said.