raises the ante against Iran
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
"We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us.
We cannot say so too openly, however, because we have a history of using any
threat in order to get weapons ... thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting
weapons from the US and Germany."
- Israeli author, Martin van Crevled, June 2007.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is on a speaking tour in the United
States, putting her considerable personal charm in the service of a shrewd
salesmanship - of a US war on Iran.
Although considered a dove by Israeli standards, Livni is now on a historic
mission that has begun with a pre-travel warmer in the form of a highly
publicized telephone call to the Democratic presidential candidate Barack
Obama, assuring him that there is
direct linkage "between Iran and the terror
Coinciding with the ominous news that US CENTCOM chief Admiral William Fallon
has resigned - or been sacked - for his opposition to a war with Iran, Livni
hopes to harvest a blowing wind of war against another Middle Eastern country
that dares to challenge Israel's regional hegemony. It is a familiar story with
a recent precedent in Iraq and a script for action, requiring high-pitched
public diplomacy with the help of a vast network of sympathetic media pundits,
that Israel has fully mastered.
Last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's pressure on Israel "to
honor peace obligations" fell on deaf ears and as far as Israel is concerned
the so-called "Annapolis roadmap" - to have a Palestinian state with east
Jerusalem as its capital - is a sideshow to a sideshow, with the central focus
on the "Iran threat", just as it was on the "Iraq threat" a mere few years ago.
But, of course, the Israelis and their infinite reservoir of support in the US
would rather the world fall into a Nietzschean "sham of forgetfulness" on how
aptly, and cunningly, they sold the perception of Saddam Hussein's ties to
al-Qaeda and even his direct connection to the September 11, 2001, atrocities.
Although the US government has conclusively found no evidence of such
connections, the various pro-Israel pundits who excelled in their assignment to
propagate that false image, refuse to acknowledge their error, let alone
Chief among the latter is Laurie Mylroie, who was given free access to the US
media as a "terrorism expert" prior to the US's invasion of Iraq, advertising
her book on Saddam and September 11, time and again repeating the line that the
September 11 attacks "had to be sponsored by a state", that is, Iraq.
In compensation for a job well done, Mylroie landed a full professorship at a
US university, despite the fully questionable and empirically refuted nature of
her unfounded allegations against Saddam. Who knows, maybe she is even the
recipient of an Israeli medal of honor for her unique salesmanship of war.
This time, however, with the stakes on Iran relatively higher, the discrete
charm of the affable Livni is fully required to pave the way for another
disastrous war in the Middle East, since Israel is incapable of peace with the
Palestinians and is in dire need of other pretexts to channel public attention
away from its oppressive policies against the Palestinian people.
This is reflected in the Israeli government's blunt announcement of a new
settlement in the West Bank, timed with Rice's visit, which must have surely
sent a signal that no matter how it may be interpreted as a provocation that
belies the peace process, Israel's policy of annexation and confiscation of
Palestinian lands will continue unabated.
But not everything proceeds according to Israel's wishes, given the United
Nations' recent condemnation of Israel's "excessive force" against the
Palestinians in Gaza. Much as Livni and other Israeli officials hope otherwise,
there is a limit to the gullibility of US public, who are averse toward another
costly US "proxy war" on Israel's behalf. No matter how many US editorials spin
their services in this direction, the fact remains there is a growing healthy
concern in the US regarding the undue influence of Israel on US foreign policy.
Unfortunately, that healthy skepticism is presently staved off by a
sophisticated public relations ploy on Israel's part that
for the death of the peace process and exonerates Israel, while
presenting a caricature of independence-seeking Palestinians as mere proxies of
Iran's "messianic fundamentalists".
Such self-serving image projections of the Iranian enemy conveniently overlook
US-Iran shared interests in the region and, instead, seek desperately to paint
a black and white picture of US-Iran relations as a zero-sum game. Of course,
this is a harder sell, as the US and Iran both support the same regimes in
Baghdad and Kabul and also have a vested interest in preventing the resurgence
of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.
Meanwhile, amid new US allegations of Iranian subversive activities in Iraq, a
fourth round of US-Iran talks has been postponed and, per an informed Iranian
analyst, that is simply because the US does not want to negotiate with Iran
from the position of weakness since Tehran has gained much as a result of
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent trip to Baghdad. "The US should
make a strategic adjustment with Iran or continue with its cold war crusade
that is disfunctional because Iran and the US have common interests in the
region," the analyst insisted.
So, the clever Israelis and their friends have mounted a serious campaign to
convince the world that Iran is in bed with the Taliban and also with al-Qaeda,
as well as with practically "every terror group opposed to the US", to
paraphrase Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns at his recent talk at
Burns, who was the US's pointman on Iran until recently, boasted of his role in
US-Israel strategic dialogue and put a complete seal of approval on Israel's
warmongering policy with regard to Iran. Surely, this will earn Burns a
suitable position in the next US administration, another reminder of how real
change in US foreign policy is foreclosed by the recycling of complaint,
pro-Israel voices in the US government. 
In conclusion, the waning months of the George W Bush administration represent
a golden opportunity for Israel to ignite another Middle East conflict that, in
essence, is rooted in Israel's structural inability to make peace with the Arab
and Muslim world.
Note 1. At his Harvard talk, Burns discounted the importance of the recent
US intelligence report on Iran, regarding Iran's peaceful nuclear work, and
insisted the US is determined to stop Iran's development of its "nuclear weapon
capability", which he defined first and foremost in terms of Iran's uranium
enrichment program. He dispensed with the argument that the International
Atomic Energy Agency can detect any diversion from that program, which is
allowed under the articles of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, nor did
Burns address the question of why the US continues to refuse giving security
guarantees to Iran.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After
Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author
of "Negotiating Iran's Nuclear Populism", Brown Journal of World Affairs,
Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote
"Keeping Iran's nuclear potential latent", Harvard International Review, and is
Iran's Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.