Iran: The Truth Hurts

It's as predictable as day follows night.

Raise the issue of Iran's nuclear program, as I have more than once, and all Tehran's flacks and flunkies, including Israel-bashers galore, come out of the woodwork.

They rush to Iran's defense, portraying it as a peace-loving, law-abiding, misunderstood nation.

There is no evidence whatsoever, they allege, that Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

Oh, and by the way, on the off chance it is, they add, it's strictly for defensive purposes. Iran has never hurt a soul in its history, so why the concern?

They accuse all kinds of alleged miscreants - warmongers, neoconservatives, Zionists, you name it - of besmirching Iran's good name in pursuit of nefarious aims. The label is meant to say it all.

If heaven forbid, you're a Zionist, as I am, then it's abundantly clear what you must be up to. Nothing more need be said. Were it not for you, Iran would enjoy the reputation for democracy and decency it so richly deserves.

And they seek to divert the discussion to Israel's nuclear program and a whole host of other misdeeds, falling just short of holding Jerusalem responsible for the melting of the ice caps.

You see, they contend, the problem in the Middle East is Israel, not Iran. Anything that focuses on Iran is off-limits, as it's only a ploy to divert the world's attention from the root cause of all evil and instability, Israel, in an otherwise serene and sedate region.

Gee, if only Israel would go away - hmm, come to think of it, that Iranian nuclear bomb just might help - the region would overnight resemble Europe or North America in its commitment to peace, development, and human rights.

All these spin doctors, whether they comment in the Huffington Post or Bahrain's Gulf Daily News, offer a variant of these themes.

Frankly, they do themselves a disservice. Strip away the huffing and puffing and their arguments don't amount to a hill of beans.

Iran's stock has been dropping like a rock, and the responsibility lies solely and exclusively with Iran. Trying to blame this state of affairs on others may play to the bleachers, but won't wash on the street.

First, consider what's been going on.

The UN Security Council has adopted three sanctions resolutions against Iran because of its nuclear program, each with the support of the five permanent members - China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States. And a fourth resolution appears to be just around the corner.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has censured Iran as recently as last month for developing in secret a uranium enrichment site near Qom. The vote was 25 to 3. Those voting against were Cuba, Malaysia, and Venezuela. Right afterwards, Malaysia indicated that its vote was in error, leaving just Cuba and Venezuela, quite a support group for Iran. As the saying goes, "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are."

Interpol has issued "red notices" for five Iranians, including Iran's current defense minister. These red notices indicate that Argentina seeks the arrest and extradition of the five in connection with a terror attack against the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.

In February, Bahrain suspended talks with Iran on a gas deal after Iranian officials referred to the country as "the 14th province of Iran," evoking memories of Saddam Hussein's claim that Kuwait was an integral part of Iraq - and all that followed.

In March, Morocco broke diplomatic ties with Iran. Rabat accused Tehran of "intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom."

In April, Egypt lodged an official protest with Iran over Tehran's "blatant interference in internal Egyptian affairs."

In June, President Barack Obama visited Saudi Arabia. The Saudi king pressed for tougher U.S. action against Iran, fearing the geostrategic implications for his country and all the Arab Gulf states of a nuclear Iran.

That's just a small taste of Iran's dealings with the larger world. What about inside the country?

Each day brings new reports about human rights abuses, as the current regime, besieged since the rigged June elections, tightens the noose - literally and figuratively.

Literally, as public hangings have been among the favored methods of capital punishment practiced by the Iranian government. Figuratively, as nervous leaders attempt to quash the demonstrations that keep popping up, despite efforts to intimidate and cow the protesters.

Will the whitewashers of the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime defend the government's repressive practices against students, reform politicians, independent journalists, women activists, gays, or religious minorities?

And then there's the Israel argument. But that doesn't hold any more water than the others.

If Israel has a nuclear arsenal, it is for one purpose - and one purpose only. It serves as the ultimate guarantor of the security of a state that has been the target of its enemies since its very establishment in 1948.

Last time I checked, Israel, unlike Iran, had never called for the destruction of any country in the region. Israel has never questioned Iran's right to exist. It is Iran that questions Israel's right to exist.

And last time I checked, Israel had never resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, though faced with devastating wars since the 1950s, when reports suggest it first developed those weapons. If that doesn't indicate rational, responsible behavior, what does?

I understand that being Iran's lawyers in the court of public opinion these days can be rather tough. It's not easy to find salient arguments to make. Iran has become its own worst enemy - practicing deceit and deception abroad, repression and brute force at home.

Sorry, but no smokescreens, straw men, name-calling, or truth-twisting can deny the stark, unassailable facts about Iran today.