- William Luers,
In 2006, after Palestinians democratically elected Hamas to the shock and chagrin of both Israel and the United States (who had insisted on the elections in the first place), a devastating economic siege was imposed on the 1.5 million residents of Gaza by Israel as punishment for the crime of Palestinian self-determination. As Dov Weisglass, adviser to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said with a chuckle, "It's like an appointment with a dietitian. The Palestinians in Gaza will get a lot thinner, but won't die."
What's so obviously funny about Weisglass' statement is that, due to the brutal blockade that has deliberately strangled Gaza for six years, at least 61% of Palestinians in the territory are "food insecure," of which "65% are children under 18 years;" the level of anemia in infants is as high as 65.5%, about 70% of Palestinians in Gaza live on less than $1 a day, over 80% rely on food aid, and 60% have no daily access to water, 95% of which is undrinkable anyway.
And now, apparently, Israeli officials are hoping the West will duplicate this hilarity by similarly depriving Iranians of their own means to survive.
An article published this week in Yediot Ahronot was headlined, "Israeli officials: Starve Iranians to stop nukes," and reported, "Iran's citizens should be starved in order to curb Tehran's nuclear program, officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington." The article quoted an unnamed official as saying, "Suffocating sanctions could lead to a grave economic situation in Iran and to a shortage of food. This would force the regime to consider whether the nuclear adventure is worthwhile, while the Persian people have nothing to eat and may rise up as was the case in Syria, Tunisia and other Arab states."
The official urged, "The Western world led by the United States must implement stifling sanctions at this time...[i]n order to suffocate Iran economically and diplomatically and lead the regime there to a hopeless situation, this must be done now, without delay."
Encouraging the willful, foreign creation of a humanitarian crisis upon a nation of 74 million human beings in the form of collective punishment with the intention of fomenting regime change is not only appalling, its prescription is criminal under international law. It goes without saying that, were anyone to suggest that Israel itself be targeted with such destructive tactics for any reason whatsoever, the mere idea would elicit accusations of utterly insane, genocidal anti-Semitism. But, of course, to Israeli officials pushing the starvation of a mostly Muslim civilian population, Iranian lives are as expendable as Palestinian lives.
How can such talk be discussed so flippantly? The answer, sadly, is obvious.
Iranians, over the past three decades, have been so dehumanized by Western politicians and media that talk of economic "strangulation" and "crippling" sanctions are not only routine but, at this point, mundane. Just last week, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson stated on Fox News that "Iran should be annihilated." Rhetoric like this is nothing new.
On April 18, 2007, John McCain, that mavericky steward of the self-described "Straight Talk Express", held a campaign event at Murrells Inlet VFW Hall in South Carolina, where he was asked when he thought the United States might "send an air mail message to Tehran." His reply began with him singing "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of The Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann."
Shortly thereafter, ABC news reported, "McCain campaign spokesman Kevin McLaughlin points out that the Senator's song was not serious and the people in the room were laughing" and quotes McLaughlin as saying, "He was just trying to add a little humor to the event." In response to critics who suggested McCain's little ditty might be insensitive, the Arizona Senator said, "Insensitive to what? The Iranians?" and proposed his detractors "lighten up and get a life."
McCain did this because, obviously, bombing thousands of people to death for no reason is funny, especially to a septuagenarian war veteran who was tortured in captivity for years. He was running for President after all.
A year later on April 22, 2008, while on the campaign trail, presidential-aspirant Hillary Clinton declared her intention to "totally obliterate" Iran if Iran ever launched a first-strike on Israel, despite the fact that Iran has never threatened to do so and has expressly denied any intention to ever do so.
In fact, Iranian officials have not only never threatened to attack Israel militarily, but have also specifically spoken out against such a possibility.
For instance, on June 4, 2006, Iranian leader Ali Khamenei declared during a speech outside Tehran that "Iran is not a threat to any country and everyone knows this fact about Iran," a point he reiterated in the same speech: "We are not a threat whatsoever to the world and the world knows it." Khamenei went on to insist, "We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any government." Later that summer, President Ahmadinejad himself said in a speech, "Iran is not a threat to any country, and [Iranians are] not in any way a people of intimidation and aggression."
In September 2007, Ahmadinejad was asked explicitly by the Associated Press whether Iran "would ever make a first strike against Israel." He replied, "Iran will not attack any country," and insisted Iran has "always maintained a defensive policy, not an offensive one" and has no interest in territorial expansion, something Israel could never seriously claim.
At a news conference during the 2008 D8 Summit in Kuala Lumpur, just months after Clinton's comment, Ahmadinejad told reporters that the Zionist enterprise is "inherently doomed" to failure and, as such, "there is no need for Iranians to take action." He also assured the press, "You should not be concerned about a new war."
Nevertheless, former IDF Brigadier General and Knesset member Ephraim Sneh told a panel at the AIPAC Conference on June 2, 2008 that the Iranian government "must be eliminated" through indigenous regime change borne partly out of economic hardship. Sneh suggested that "in order to accelerate" such regime change, "[r]eal effective sanctions" must be imposed on Iran. "Sanctions that would make it impossible," he said, "for the regime to govern, to run the economy, to feed 70 million hungry people." The crowd cheered.
Two days later, the morning after clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama also addressed AIPAC. He declared his intention "to find every avenue...to isolate the Iranian regime, from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran" and bragged about having introduced legislation in 2007 "that would encourage states and the private sector to divest from companies that do business in Iran." The intention of these measures, in addition to imposing "unilateral sanctions that target Iranian banks and Iranian assets," Obama said, was to "tighten the squeeze on the Iranian regime.
In July 2008, on a campaign stop in Pittsburgh, John McCain reacted to a recent report that U.S. cigarette exports to Iran were increasing by cheerfully suggesting, "Maybe that's a way of killing 'em," before adding, "I meant that as a joke." Again, because that's hilarious.
On April 27, 2009, the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute held an event dedicated to discussing "the implications of the upcoming Iranian elections for the Obama administration's policy toward Iran." Speaking at the conference, alongside such Iran hawks as Joe Lieberman, Michael Rubin, Kenneth Pollack and Danielle Pletka, AEI resident scholar Fred Kagan addressed recently introduced legislation (by Lieberman) to impose more sanctions in order to "cripple" Iran, saying, "Look, we need to be honest about this, Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions." Later on in the discussion, Kagan insisted that, despite their inevitable "human cost", he was in favor of such sanctions.
Clifford May, president of Likudnik think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, wrote on May 6, 2010 in National Review that "[t]here is no greater threat to national and international security than the possibility that Iran's current rulers - militant Islamists, terrorist masters, and sworn enemies of both the Great Satan and the Little Satan - may acquire nuclear weapons" and wondered if "crippling sanctions and their impact on an already ailing Iranian economy" could "change the behavior of the Iranian regime - or cause a change of regime?" His titillating answer: "There's only one way to find out."
The next month, Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice introduced a new - and thoroughly macabre - phrase to official U.S. government discourse. Appearing on the June 9, 2010 edition of PBS Newshour, Rice told host Ray Suarez that the then-latest round of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran would "tighten the noose with a new inspections regime [and] new restrictions on its financing and commercial activities."
In August 2010, California congressman Brad Sherman wrote an article for The Hill promoting even more devastating sanctions on Iran for asserting its inalienable national rights and not kowtowing to American and Israeli diktat. He wrote, "The goal of the bill is to drive Iran's economy into a crisis and force its leaders to the negotiating table...Critics also argued that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that."
A Chicago radio show host on October 11, 2011 asked Congressman Mark Kirk - one of the most vicious warmongers when it comes to Iran - whether the imposition of more and more draconian sanctions don't constitute collective punishment on a civilian population. "Are you really going after the government of the country, or are you taking food out of the mouths of the citizens?," Ron Magers asked the congressman. Kirk answered: "It’s okay to take the food out of the mouths of the citizens from a government that’s plotting an attack directly on American soil," capitalizing on the groundless hysteria following the absurd allegation that a used-car salesman in Texas was tasked by the Iranian leadership to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.,
Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum on November 6, 2010, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has long been an avid proponent of launching an illegal attack on Iran, called upon the United States to "neuter that regime." Despite stating that "the last thing America wants is another military conflict," Graham suggested the U.S. military should "not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard."
A year later, Graham repeated this wishlist during a November 13, 2011 appearance on Face The Nation. "You have to neuter this regime. You have to destroy their air force, sink their navy, go after the Revolutionary Guard and try to get the people of the country to overthrow the regime," he told Bob Schieffer, continuing, "We need a regime change. If [they] get a nuclear weapon, the world is going to go into darkness."
Three days later, on November 16, 2011, when he was still in the GOP race, John Huntsman told CNN's Piers Morgan that sanctions alone won't force Iran to abandon its nuclear program, explaining, "You can tighten the noose in ways that will make life a lot more difficult from an economic standpoint. But my sense is that their ultimate aspiration is to become a nuclear power, in which case sanctions probably aren't going to get you there."
On December 7, 2011, perennial neocon warmonger Lee Smith wrote in Tablet Magazine that, with regard to Iran, the United States "has the military capacity to turn the lights off across the country, cripple the economy, and bring the regime to its knees—by bombing its oil and natural-gas fields, its ports, power plants, reservoirs, and dams as well as its nuclear facilities. The fact that the United States has the power of life and death over 80 million Iranians may not make the rest of the world comfortable. But there’s no use lying about it."
On January 5, 2012, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told press at the daily briefing that an internationally-imposed oil embargo on Iran is supported by the Obama administration because "we believe that if we work together and if we also work to increase global supply generally that this will be an important next step in the global effort to tighten the noose on their regime."
The very next day, January 6, 2012, Maria Otero, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, concluded an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations with these remarks:
"We do see Iran as a -- as a threat, as a threat with -- because they support destabilization and because they have -- they have really supported things that are threatening not only the region, but the world overall. So this is going to be moving forward, and we will continue to be supporting an embargo that will tighten the noose around them."By now, the lynching analogy has become so prevalent in the political lexicon that it's even made its way into Congressional statements. On February 2, 2012, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez posted a press release on his website that "hailed the Senate Banking committee's approval and bipartisan support for the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act," which, according to Menendez, is designed to "further enhance pressure on the Iranian regime to halt its illicit nuclear weapons program." The statement quotes Menendez as declaring,
"This legislation will thwart the work-arounds that Iran has devised to circumvent the U.S., EU and UN sanctions regimes, tighten the noose on the Iranian government, and send a message to the world that there is a choice – you can either do business with Iran or the United States, but not both."The clear fact that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Brigadier General Martin Dempsey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and current Israel intelligence estimates have unanimously concluded that Iran doesn't even have a nuclear weapons program -"illicit" or otherwise - seems not to phase Menendez.
The following day, on February 3, 2012, Asia Times columnist David P. Goldman lamented that an illegal and unprovoked military attack (i.e. a war crime) had not been carried out on Iran by the United States back in 2005 when "surgical strikes to destroy Iran's nuclear capacity would have been comparatively easy." Now, however,
Senior planners at the Pentagon say privately that it would be very difficult to destroy centrifuges in bunkers, and that aerial attacks would concentrate on killing the political and military leadership as well as destroying command and control...It seems likely, however, that stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons would be a messy and bloody business rather than a well-defined surgical operation. It is too bad the West did not have the good sense to correct the problem in 2005. However much it costs in Iranian blood and well-being, it's still worth it."Yes, a human person actually wrote this. And another human person published it.
As Marsha Cohen points out in a phenomenal new piece for LobeLog, a 2009 study produced for the Center for International and Strategic Studies briefly addressed "the human and environmental human catastrophe that would result just from an attack on the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr," and determined:
Any strike on the Bushehr Nuclear Reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.That these casualty figures are "worth it" for Goldman puts him in a special class of despicable along with Madeleine Albright, who determined that the deaths of over half a million Iraqi children due to Western sanctions was also "worth it."
On February 15, 2012, Bob Menendez was back with a new statement praising Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham's so-called "Non-Containment Resolution" which dangerously "rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran." Menendez stated, "At this moment, Iran is the greatest threat; the great challenge to peace and security in the world," warned of "the unquestioned military intent of Iran's nuclear program," and again commended the imposition of more sanctions in order to "further tighten the noose" on Iran.
It is instructive to note that Menendez, a Democrat, voted against giving George W. Bush congressional approval to attack and invade Iraq. He has proudly stood behind this decision, declaring during his successful 2006 Senate run,
"I'm proud to have voted against Bush's war in Iraq right from the start, even when it was unpopular to do so. The Bush administration failed to make the case that Iraq was an imminent threat to our national security. Moreover, there was no conclusive evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. This was a war of choice, not a war of necessity. The Bush administration misled the American people with faulty premises and false promises."This time around, however, one has to wonder what "imminent threat" Bob Menendez believes Iran actually poses to the United States, what "conclusive evidence" of Iranian weapons of mass destruction he is privy to and what "premises" and "promises" he thinks are right and true.
On December 9, 2005, Menendez told his constituents, "I pledge to you that I will never send New Jerseyans into a war that I would be unwilling to send my own son or daughter to fight," adding, "I'm proud of my vote [against authorizing the war in Iraq], because despite the administration's efforts to manipulate the justifications for war, I did my due diligence. We now know that the war in Iraq has overstretched our military, drained our treasury and cost far too many of our bravest Americans."
Considering that the Lieberman-Graham resolution, which Menendez so adamantly supports and has co-sponsored, essentially calls for war against Iran to prevent it from reaching what is now termed "nuclear weapons capacity," it can be assumed Menendez is currently filling out enlistment papers for his children.
This new, so-called "red line" of "nuclear weapons capability" - the ability, after having mastered the nuclear fuel cycle and reached sufficient levels of nuclear expertise and scientific development, to manufacture atomic weapons if such a decision is made - makes no sense. Iran, which already has operational enrichment facilities and a functioning power plant, already has such "capability," which is often dubbed the "Japan option" or "breakout option." And it's not alone. In fact, at least 140 countries "currently have the basic technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons." Additionally, according to Green Peace, "[o]ver 40 countries have the materials and knowhow to build nuclear weapons quickly, a capacity that is referred to as 'rapid break-out.'"
Nevertheless, Senator Lindsey Graham - who clearly knows better than the U.S. intelligence community and the IAEA - decided to tell reporters that Iran is "not building a nuclear power plant for peaceful purposes. They're marching towards nuclear weapons capability," adding, "The end game is, sanctions can work and will work if properly applied, but in case they fail...the Iran regime will not be allowed to possess nuclear capability. And if that means military actions, so be it."
Bloomberg News now reports that "the Joint Chiefs of Staff have prepared military options to strike Iranian nuclear sites in the event of a conflict" and quotes Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz as telling reporters "What we can do, you wouldn't want to be in the area." Obviously, millions of Iranians don't have the option of not being "in the area" considering they live there.
On March 1, 2012, Jordan Weissmann, associate editor at The Atlantic, wrote a piece entitled, "How to Choke Iran Without Killing the World Economy," lauding the punitive destruction that U.S. sanctions have wrought on the Iranian economy and trade. Weissman quotes only Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Executive Director Mark Dubowitz, a rabid neoconservative and advocate of harsher and harsher sanctions, to bolster his praise and himself writes, "The sanctions can't be too light, or Iran will just continue on its merry way enriching uranium." Weissman's dismissive and adolescent sneer ignores the simple fact that Iran has every right to enrich uranium and that all enrichment in Iranian nuclear facilities is monitored closely by IAEA inspectors who consistently confirm that no enriched material has ever been diverted to a weapons program. Still, Weissman gleefully reports that Iran "has been resorting to barter deals, such as offering oil for rice and bananas" in order to feed its citizens and that the U.S. should be "happy" about that development.
In an extensive interview focused primarily on Iran, conducted by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Oval Office and also published in The Atlantic today, President Barack Obama defined what the constant threat that "all options are on the table" means with regard to U.S. policy toward Iran:
"I think the Israeli people understand it, I think the American people understand it, and I think the Iranians understand it. It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 and ensures that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] is robust in evaluating Iran's military program; and it includes a military component. And I think people understand that."Despite admitting that "Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon and is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we will know that they are making that attempt," Obama nevertheless was proud of following through on his 2008 threat to "tighten the squeeze" by inflicting such economic, diplomatic and political hardship on Iran that, in his words, have put the Iranian government in "a world of hurt."
Such nonchalant talk and campaign trail knee-slappers about "annihilation" and "obliteration," of murder and war crimes, of collective punishment and forced deprivation, of tightened nooses - the execution of a death sentence - and of deliberately hurting a nation of 74 million human beings, along with chest-thumping boasts about destroying the internationally safeguarded nuclear facilities of a sovereign country, would be unequivocally condemned were it directed toward the United States or its allies.
After thirty years of warmongering, threats, and propaganda, it's clear that American and Israeli discourse about Iran is starving for humanity.
March 3, 2012 - Omitted (inexplicably) from the above post is any mention of William Morgan Shuster's 1912 book The Strangling of Persia, the blistering indictment of the early 20th Century imperial interference of Russia and Great Britain in Iran during the aftermath of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906.
Shuster, an American lawyer and customs collector, was hired by the nascent Iranian parliament (Majlis) as treasurer-general of Iran in order to help bring financial stability and independence to the post-revolutionary nation laden with debt accumulated by the now-deposed Qajar Dynasty and owed to Russia and Britain. The two superpowers, wary of the prospect of fiscally-responsible and politically-autonomous Iran, staunchly opposed his appointment. Within less than a year, Russia had sent troops to occupy northern Iranian cities, militarily attacked the Iranian Parliament building in Tehran, and Shuster was forced to resign his post. Upon his return to the U.S., he wrote his scathing criticism of imperialism and how powerful empires seek to subjugate foreign countries in their endless campaign for hegemony (oftentimes by crushing democratic movements).
h/t Paul Sheldon Foote
March 3, 2012 - In today's New York Times, Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the perennially fear-mongering D.C. think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which essentially serves as a thinly-veiled extension of AIPAC and its ilk), advocates for more "crippling sanctions that will bring Iran’s economy to the brink of collapse." Ottolenghi admits that this will only be possible with "complete United Nations-imposed oil embargo enforced by a naval blockade, as well as total diplomatic isolation."
Anyone who claims this is a way to avoid war ignores the clear fact that this kind of naval blockade would be an act of war.
As Jonathan Schwarz reminded us back in 2008, "Israel's original justification for taking over Gaza in 1967 was that Israel was being subject to a blockade," quoting directly from "the official Knesset history of the Six Day War."
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser blockaded the Straits of Tiran on May 21st and 22nd to all shipping from and to Eilat; the area was open to Israeli ships under UN supervision since 1957, and Israel repeatedly stated that such a blockade will be considered as casus belli (justification for acts of war).In conclusion, Ottolenghi - in all his appalling glory - insists that Iranians must understand that "the West is willing and capable of inflicting devastating harm" to Iran.
But this disgusting nonsense is unsurprising considering the source, a warmongering think tanker who repeatedly references "Iran’s nuclear pursuit," its "long and labyrinthine path to nuclear weapons," and its "nearly 30-year pursuit of nuclear weapons." Clearly, reality doesn't sit well with this one.
March 6, 2012 - Obama held a press conference today in which he gloated about his administration's ability to "mobilize unprecedented, crippling sanctions on Iran. Iran is feeling the bite of these sanctions in a substantial way."
He also presaged more to come, insisting that "sanctions are going to be even tougher in the coming months, because they're now starting to affect [Iran’s] oil industry [and] their central bank."
March 9, 2012 - In a Washington Post article littered with factual errors and more wishful thinking than actual insight, David Ignatius writes of U.S. efforts to encourage, if not foment, regime change in Iran:
Month by month, sanctions and other activities will undermine the regime's political and financial base — squeezing the Iranian leadership and tempting it to take rash actions that would trigger a devastating response.Ignatius then makes the following analogy: "The situation resembles a hunting trap that gets tighter as the prey tries harder to escape."
As such, the United States, its Western allies and Israel are cast as predators and Iran the prey, afflicted with sanctions that "bite deeper" and foreign actions that put Iran's head-of-state in "a double bind."
Furthermore, Ignatius revels in the Obama administration's "way of increasing the cost of Iran's actions, short of war," in which he fantasizes that "[d]efense-related research facilities could be disrupted; financial and other commercial records could be scrambled," adding, "These may sound like extreme options, but they're just the non-lethal ones."
March 12, 2012 - Jacob Kamaras of JointMedia News Service reports today that hawkish Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California - who in the has long been a leading proponent of punishing Iran with harsher and harsher sanctions for not bending to U.S. diktat regarding its legal nuclear program - is hoping to impose even more sanctions on Iran in the coming months.
Brad Sherman (D-CA) — ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade — told JointMedia News Service during a private meeting at the AIPAC conference that tougher sanctions than the current ones are needed.Sherman is quoted as saying, "Hard, strict sanctions that impact everyday life in Iran could encourage its people to choose between regime survival and its nuclear program."
Just a few days ago, Sherman - along with another AIPAC-devotee Mark Kirk (R-IL) - introduced new sanctions legislation in the Senate and explained that his goal of fomenting regime change in Iran will be aided by implementing "pedal to the metal" sanctions that "harsh and immediate" against the Islamic Republic. Such talk is not surprising coming from Kirk, who last year literally said, "It’s okay to take the food out of the mouths of the citizens" of Iran because of the alleged threat Iran poses to the United States and its friends.
"Iran is playing for time," Sherman told The Hill, adding a mouthful of regurgitated propaganda with no basis in fact. "They'd like to have a nuclear weapon, and they will go all out to develop a nuclear weapon, unless they believe the efforts to create a nuclear weapon endanger their survival." For good measure, The Hill reported, "Sherman said the United States must continue to impose the toughest possible sanctions until Iran gives up its nuclear weapons program."
Speaking at the same AIPAC meeting as Sherman, former AIPAC president and current Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman told JointMedia that he believes "squeezing Iran little by little, in the oil area, in the natural gas area, in the importation of refined petroleum products" is a worthwhile strategy to compel Iran to capitulate to U.S. and Israeli demands and relinquish its inalienable national rights and sovereignty. Grossman, however, lamented that not all countries - namely Russia and China - were abiding by the sanctions regime. "Squeezing the ability of the central bank of Iran to do business in international markets," he said, "[will] never going to work unless everybody participates."
April 3, 2012 - During an obsequious television interview with CBC's Peter Mansbridge on April 2, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke approvingly of the U.S. sanctions regime against Iran, just days after President Barack Obama - under the auspices of the National Defense Authorization Act - imposed what the press termed, "tough, new sanctions" intended "to slow Iran's oil exportation by targeting the financial institutions that purchase the country's oil."
Despite the fact that Panetta clearly states that, according to "the best intelligence we have now," Iranian officials "have not made the decision to actually produce a nuclear weapon" and affirming that "there's consensus on that in terms of the intelligence community," he insists that the "diplomatic and economic sanctions" levied against Iran are intended "to isolate them and to make very clear to them that until they change the way they behave, they're going to continue to be isolated. And they're not going to be welcomed to the family of nations."
Panetta boasted that "there is evidence that these sanctions are hurting, that it's impacting on their economy, it's impacting on their ability to govern themselves. It's impacting on their relationships with other countries. It's impacting on their position in the world, and we are weakening Iran as a result of that. We're isolating them and I think we just have to keep that pressure on them until they recognize that they have to change their ways."
In other words, Do what we say, or suffer. No wonder Israelis and Americans often speak about "shared values."
April 9, 2012 - White House spokesman Jay Carney gloated over the Obama administration's record of having implemented "the most punitive sanctions that have ever been levied" against Iran. He added that these measure are "the kinds of sanctions that have resulted in hardship for Iranian people. Their economy has definitely suffered, and it has caused some chaos for them in general."
What the Iranian people are being punished for, however, is never much explained, considering the Iranian nuclear facilities are under strict IAEA safeguards, monitoring and inspection and Iran has never been found to have breached its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
What a noble government the United States has, one that deliberately forces Iranians to suffer in order to protect Israelis from nuclear weapons that don't exist.
May 15, 2012 - Speaking in favor of a pro-war bill on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, Iran hawk and stalwart AIPAC shill Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is currently the chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, declared:
"[O]ur focus must be on rapidly and dramatically ratcheting up sanctions, without the glaring exceptions that we now have, in order to put our boot on the throat of this dangerous regime."*****
May 21, 2012 - The United States Senate once again voted in favor of a new round of unilateral sanctions on Iran. Once again, Bob Menendez led the charge of stupid statements by threatening Iran. "Provide a real and verifiable plan for the complete dismantling of your nuclear weapons program, or Washington will further tighten the economic noose," he said. Considering Iran has no nuclear weapons program, such a statement could not be dumber.
But the lie that these measures are taken for any reason other than AIPAC-pushed regime change and setting the stage for authorizing military action has also finally melted away. In a statement, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared, "Any comprehensive policy that seeks to end Iran's effort to acquire a nuclear weapon needs to convince the rulers in Tehran that their survival is in question." He added,
While sanctions are one part of convincing the Supreme Leader that the costs of pursuing this weapon outweigh any perceived benefit, Senate Republicans insisted that the Senate pass nothing less than the president's commitment that all options are on the table, in order to prevent any contrary perception that silence on the use of force would have created.Joining the chorus, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said, "Today the U.S. Senate put Iranian leaders on notice that they must halt all uranium enrichment activities or face another round of economic sanctions from the United States."
Truth be told, few things probably scare the leadership in Tehran less than being threatened and put on notice by 100 bought-and-paid-for United States Senators.
June 3, 2012 - In an article detailing congressional push-back against any potential cuts to the massive U.S. military budget, The New York Times reports that constant warmonger Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned against such cuts by insisting that the U.S. must "send the world a signal that we are going to remain the strongest military force in the world." The Times adds:
To that end, his arguments grow increasingly complex, involving a near-term confrontation with Syria and what he is sure will be a military strike on Iran late this summer, “an air and sea campaign from hell,” he tells an audience in Sumter. A large screen at the Third Army command center in nearby Shaw Air Force Base seemed to back him up on that. It broadcast a multicolored map of Iran with its air defenses demarcated in loud, red circles.
June 20, 2012 - During a joint "Conversations on Diplomacy" interview with Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State James Baker told Charlie Rose that an Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would have the effect of "strengthening the hand of the hardliners in Iran," continuing, "I mean, you don't want to do that. They're having troubles now. The sanctions are not complete yet. We want to squeeze them down more. But they're having an effect. And the government is having some problems, and you don't want to lose all that."