The War Against Iran Begins

If Jeffrey Goldberg's irresponsible myth-building sounds familiar, it's because this is exact the same "journalmalism" technique utilized in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.
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Jeffrey Goldberg's recently published "Time to murder the filthy Persians" musings completely skip over the parts where he perviously made the opposite claim (bombing the Iraqis actually catalyzed Saddam's nuclear ambitions,) and the fact that the official US intelligence community's position mirrors the statements made by the NIE in 2007: there is no proof Iran is building nuclear weapons (energy facilities for civilian purposes, yes, vaporizing weaponry, no,) and Iran stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003.

Clearly, the US's concern isn't disarmament because no one has said a peep about the Middle East's worst kept secret: Israel has stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Nor does the US seem overly concerned about bringing stability to the region, since the government just announced plans to sell $30 billion-worth of F-15s to Saudi Arabia, Israel's adversary, while the US simultaneously continues to ship Israel billions in aid and weaponry.

If Goldberg's irresponsible myth-building sounds familiar, it's because this is exact the same "journalmalism" technique utilized in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. Thousands of miles from Tehran, Goldberg offers his calculations with the detached indifference of a serial killer as if bombing suspected nuclear facilities won't result in civilian casualties -- no matter how "smart" we think our bombs are. It's difficult to believe that just a few months ago, armchair activists in America (including some of the same talking heads now pimping war), were celebrating the Green Revolution. If the US bombs and invades Iran, those moderates will forever be lost to understandable and deserved anti-US sentiment.

Despite the overwhelming contradicting evidence, yesterday the Treasury Department released new regulations that "effectively bar foreign banks from doing business in dollars if they engage in transactions with anyone suspected of involvement in Iran's nuclear or missile programs. The entities include Iran's Revolutionary Guards," which is a branch of Iran's military.

The statement is shaped so broadly (does "nuclear program" mean the energy facilities for civilian purposes?) that this wide-ranging sanction could potentially affect individuals who have nothing to do with terrorism, which is usually how those sanction thingies AKA "collective punishment" work. If a hospital treats a member of the IRG, does that mean that hospital is aiding Iran's nuclear ambitions? That sort of slippery slope reasoning is one of many reasons sanctions frequently miss the target and inevitably slip into collective punishment territory.

Financial sanctions is one side to the War on Terror (or whatever shiny new name President Obama is calling it these days), and it is usually used as a preface to greater military action. When it comes time to debate "to bomb, or not to bomb?" politicians will sigh, hold up their hands, and say, "Well, the sanctions didn't work, so what other option do we have?" setting aside the facts that the US knew of no actual nuclear weapons before they assigned sanctions that were so broadly defined literally anyone could be labeled a terrorist.

In The Price Of Fear, author Ibrahim Warde builds a copious, and damning, indictment of the U.S government's financial War on Terror since 9/11. Warde dismantles the long-held theory that it is possible to extinguish terrorism by cutting off funding, since the nature of terrorism inherently means operations cost very little cash, which terrorists can access through a limitless number of channels. In the meantime, Warde argues, innocent parties like certain Muslim charities -- oftentimes the only lifelines to resource-challenged communities -- become suspects and victims of sanctions. Ironically (and tragically,) when those communities lose their limited resources, they are all the more likely to grow resentful of the US and turn to extremism.

For example, the Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, didn't need tons of funding to execute their crudely drawn plans. The only reason those attacks were thwarted wasn't because of the fat budget of Homeland Security, but because of their own ineptitude.

Furthermore, harsh sanctions will never completely obliterate the risk of a terrorist attack. In the words of Jonathan Randal, author of Osama: The Making of a Terrorist, financial sanctions "nab few bad guys, ruin many innocents, freeze little hot money and vastly complicate worldwide banking for the greater glory of a burgeoning American bureaucracy."

However, financial sanctions do successfully bolster the US case for invasion and occupation. This is step one in the "Time to murder the filthy Persians" plan laid out by famous warhawk Jeffrey Goldberg, but also now parroted by the Very Serious Persons in Washington who seem hellbent on leading the country into yet another pointless, immoral, illegal, tremendously wasteful, and permanent conflict.

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