Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Decades of Threats and the Delusions of Shimon Peres

Chuck Hagel meets with Shimon Peres at the Israeli President's office in Jerusalem on April 22, 2013
(Photo Credit: UPI/Menahem Kahana/Pool)

Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said today that American and Israeli "threats have no value and at the same time, show their aggressive nature, and reveal their deceitful and misleading claims," adding that any Israeli strike on Iran would be the regime's "last mistake."

Iranian officials, including Vahidi himself, have made similar declarations in the past, insisting they are fully prepared to respond to any act of aggression against Iran while also reaffirming Iran's military posture as defensive and reactive.  That Iran maintains a national security doctrine of self-defense and retaliation has been routinely confirmed by U.S. intelligence assessments.

Vahidi's latest statement follows U.S. Secretary of State Chuck Hagel's recent visit to Israel, during which he cemented a massive arms deal - including missiles, radar, and aircraft - that he said should send a "very clear signal" to Iran. This past weekend, Hagel claimed that the United States and Israel see "exactly the same" threat from Iran and followed up such rhetoric the next day alongside his Israeli counterpart Moshe Ya'alon by declaring, "All military options and every option must remain on the table in dealing with Iran."

Despite the admission of U.S. Director of National Intelligence that sanctions on Iran have not affected nuclear policy shifts in Iran (which include the continuing, non-militarized civilian nature of its nuclear program), Hagel insisted, "The sanctions on Iran are as potent and deep and wide a set of international sanctions that we have ever seen on any country. And those will continue to increase."

As for the potency of sanctions, Hagel is praising the negative impact such collective punishment is having on lives and livelihoods of the people of Iran, while promising more.

"Whether it leads to an outcome that we desire remains to be seen...and as I said, the military option is always an option," Hagel reiterated.

But remember, we're still supposed to believe Iranian officials are the ones issuing bellicose threats apropos of nothing.

With this in mind, take note of statements made by Israeli President Shimon Peres during a joint media event with Hagel on April 22.

In the context of alleging, as he often does, that Iran is somehow a "threat to Israel," Peres stated, "By the way, you know [we] have nothing against the Iranian people...Iran doesn't have a single enemy. Nobody threatened Iran. Why did their leaders decide to become a threat to others?"

Wait, what? "Nobody threatened Iran?"

Apparently, Peres is unaware of the decades of military threats waged against Iran.  Or, perhaps, he never happens to be paying attention when his own Prime Minister, senior military officials and others have repeatedly called for the United States to issue a "credible military threat" against Iran.  He also must not know much about the covert operationscyberwar, industrial sabotage, and murder campaigns leveled against Iran in recent years.

Back in November 2011, Peres himself made the bogus claim that "Iran is getting closer to having nuclear weapons" and that "[i]ntelligence services of all countries understand that time is running out and they are warning their leaders." He added at the time:
In the time that remains, we must urge the other nations of the world to act, and tell them that it is time to stand behind the promise that was made to us, to fulfill their responsibility, whether that means serious sanctions or whether it means a military operation.
In fact, no intelligence agencies claim that Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon as the international consensus (including that of Israel itself) has long been that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Threatening an unprovoked attack on Iran is unquestionably a violation of the United Nations Charter.

Peres' absurd formulation is nothing new. Back in 2006, for example, Peres - who was instrumental in Israel's own clandestine development of nuclear weapons - said that "Israel is not threatening Iran, Iran is threatening Israel." Just last month, in a lie-filled speech before the European Parliament, Peres stated, "Nobody threatens Iran. Iran threatens others," in addition to spouting a pathetic litany of propaganda talking points with no basis in fact, including claiming Iran has an "imperial appetite," has "call[ed] for another Holocaust," and that Iranian leaders "are aiming to build a nuclear weapon and they deny it." (Incredibly, Peres - the president of Israel - also lambasted the Iranian government for "violating the charter of the United Nations which condemns the violation of human rights and aggression against other nations.")

In his recent comments with Chuck Hagel, Peres trod this same ground. "Israelis understand that Iran is not just a threat to Israel," he opined, "It's really a threat to the peace in the world, for no reason whatsoever. The world doesn't threaten Iran."

Actually, Peres is correct about one thing. "The world" - namely the 120 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement in addition to China, Russia and many others - "doesn't threaten Iran."

But the countries that both Peres himself and his honored guest Chuck Hagel represent certainly do.

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A slightly different version of this piece was originally posted here.

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