The resignation, recently, of the commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Admiral William Fallon, over what is believed to be his opposition to US military strikes against the Islamic Republic of Iran, gives an insight into the plan that might be hatching in the White House.
A recent article in the American press said Adm. Fallon was opposed to military action against Tehran. The article had described the admiral as the strongest man standing in between the Bush administration and a war with Iran.
Last year, the admiral reportedly made comments that he expected there will be no war with Iran-utterances which angered the Bush administration. Observers say he could not have uttered these words without a reason.
Democratic presidential contender, Hillary Clinton, who could become the first woman US president, described Adm. Fallon as a voice of reason in an administration which has used inflammatory rhetoric against Iran.
Although the White House refuted the allegations of differences between the views of the admiral and the Bush administration�s policy on Iran, analysts see Adm. Fallon’s exit as a pointer to a scenario that was beginning to unfold on the American political horizon about Bush’s real (but hidden) intentions on Iran in the dying days of his presidency.
If he orders an attack on Iraq’s nuclear facilities close to the end of his term in office, it will be reminiscent of the George Bush (senior) administration’s last minute air-strikes at what Washington called a nuclear facility in the suburb of Baghdad but was actually an engineering factory, and Al-Rashid, a hotel in the capital. The attacks caused severe civilian casualties.
As I have had occasion to argue in this column, an all out war with Iran, with the objective of regime change (as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan) would be inconceivable. But, a US/Israel preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear installations was highly likely and perhaps sits well with the military strategists at the Pentagon, but certainly not with the wide sections of the American public who want the present and the next administration in Washington to pursue diplomacy with Tehran instead of military force.
There is a sense among the breadth of the US citizenry that the American invasion of Iraq was not right. Most of them are aware that intelligence reports were manipulated by the Bush administration to suit the ill-designed objective of invading Iraq.
They know that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11, and that Saddam Hussein did not possess any weapons of mass destruction. They don’t want to be cheated again (this time on Iran).
They don’t want the taxes they pay for defense (currently about US $ 2,000 a year for every American man, woman and child) to go into feeding American troops sent to fight senseless wars in far-flung lands in the Middle East.
Already the American public knows through a report released by the US intelligence in December last year that Tehran has no nuclear weapons programme, although it is continuing to enrich uranium.
Enriched uranium is used in nuclear bombs, but Tehran has said time and again that the aims of its nuclear programme are peaceful. The report denies any coherent and credible argument to those in the Bush administration and the US allies in Europe, who would prefer a military attack against Iran.
It also alleys the fears of those who had been deluded by Western propaganda and media hype into believing that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons programme and that it was a threat to global peace and security. (Some pundits argue that even if Iran was pursuing such a programme, it would be a necessary deterrent to Israel’s hundreds of nuclear weapons which it has been producing since the late 1960s).
People of good will are now more worried about President Bush’s mantra on the Iranian nuclear issue than about the issue itself.
The American establishment in particular and the populace in general, may, for understandable reasons, share Israel’s concerns about its security. But the bogey of insecurity was Israels own creation; it is the result of the Jewish state’s obnoxious policies towards its Arab neighbours, and especially Palestine and Lebanon. If Israel were to vacate all Palestinian land, leave the Golan Heights and stop playing macho in Lebanon today, and if the US were to withdraw all its forces from the Middle East, there would be security not only for the Jewish state but for all states in the region.
In that sense, if the American people were to weigh their concerns (about the security of Israel) against the fact that Iran, in the 29 years that the country’s Islamic revolution has prevailed, has never attacked any neighbouring state (although the Islamic Republic itself was invaded by Saddam’s Iraq in the 1980s with American encouragement and support), they would quickly come to terms with the truth.
And the truth is that Iran is not a hostile or rogue state as regarded by the West, and that the country�s nuclear programme was not about the US, Israel or any Western country but about Iran�s own development needs.