The Placeman Cometh: New IAEA Chief Stokes Iran War Fever for the Bush-Obama Regime
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Friday, 19 February 2010 00:25

In an astounding development, the brand-new director of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- who was narrowly elected to the post a few months ago with the strong, one might say insistent, backing of the United States -- has just issued his very first report on Iran's nuclear program. And guess what the new, American-backed director said? Go on, you'll never guess.

Give up? Well, hold on to your hats -- the American-backed director, Yukiya Amano, has "broken with the more cautious style of his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei" -- you know, the man who was right about Iraq's lack of a nuclear weapons program -- to suggest (sans proof, of course) that there might be "possible military dimensions" to Iran's nuclear program, which just happens to be the most internationally inspected and regulated nuclear power program in history.

That's right; coming just days after Hillary Clinton's fresh bout of fear-mongering about Iran, the American-backed Amano echoed the talking points of the Bush-Obama Administration. (Should we not finally just give the proper name to the "continuity" of our militarist-corporatist rulership?) The Bush-Obama regime has continually proclaimed its unshakable belief that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. So unshakable is this belief that nothing on earth can alter it -- not Iran's willingness to send its uranium to other countries for enrichment, and not the acknowledgment by the White House itself that Iran lacks the technical capability of enriching uranium even to a level far below that needed for weaponization.

But yes, it is true that any nuclear program might have "possible military dimensions" somewhere down the line. That indeed is not outside the realm of possibility. Which means, of course, that the United States and its allies and clients are fully justified in taking any action against Iran they please. Because the Bush-Obama Administration -- indeed, the entire American political and media elite -- now operate entirely on Dick Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine," which was delineated by journalist Ron Suskind. As we noted here awhile back:

As Suskind notes, it was Cheney who enunciated the certifiably paranoid principle that governs the regime's behavior: If there is even a one-percent chance that some state or group might do serious harm to the United States, then America must respond as if that threat were a certainty — with full force, pre-emptively, disregarding any law or institution that might hinder what Bush likes to call the "path of action." Facts and truth are unimportant; the only thing that matters is the projection of unchallengeable power: "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence," said Cheney. "It's about our response."


And make no mistake. Despite the frequent Kabuki-like displays of conflict between the current managers of the Bush-Obama regime and Dick Cheney, they remain united on the essential principles of the modern American state: projecting dominance and protecting the rich. Indeed, one reason why American politics today seems so bitter and vitriolic and personal is because there are no real policy disagreements anymore -- and hence, no real politics. There are only two corrupt factions of imperial courtiers squabbling over the perks and spoils of office. They follow the same policies, feed at the same trough; there is nothing of substance left for them to fight about. And so they spend their time in ever-more frenzied bouts of blaming each other for the disastrous results of the foul and evil principles they both embrace so avidly.

Clinton's blackly comic blather -- denouncing Iran's lack of democracy while praising Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- has been regarded in some quarters as a "shift" in U.S. policy, a move away from the "engagement" with Iran that Barack Obama has supposedly been undertaking. But as Stephen Kinzer notes, this "engagement" has been a transparent and sinister falsehood from the word go:

Hillary Clinton's sudden volley of shots at Iran marks the end of an engagement policy that never really began. She wants to convince the world that the regime in Tehran is opposed to serious talks with the west. That may be true, but we'll probably never know because in fact, no one has offered such talks. ...

Whether the increasingly splintered regime in Iran would or could respond to a serious offer of negotiations is highly uncertain. What is clear, though, is that the regime has not been offered this option. The Obama administration, like its predecessor, has made clear that it is interested in negotiating only one thing: curbs on Iran's nuclear programme. No country, however, would agree to negotiate only on the question that an adversary singles out, without the chance to bring up others that it considers equally urgent. ...

A more promising approach would be to tell Iran what President Nixon told China 35 years ago: if you agree to consider all of our complaints, we will consider all of yours. Clinton has made clear that the US will make no such offer. Instead it clings to the decades-old American policy toward Iran: make demands of the regime, threaten it, pressure it, sanction it, seek to isolate it, and hope for some vaguely defined positive result.


And in a powerful article at Antiwar.com, Peter Casey details both Barack Obama's long-standing bellicosity toward Iran -- and what's more, his administration's move beyond Cheney's One-Percent Doctrine, which, as Casey notes, did require at least the barest modicum of evidence, manufactured or otherwise:

Since the turn of the year, the U.S. has been deploying the heavy machinery needed to put war plans against Iran into action. In January, the Obama administration forced several Gulf countries to agree to install American ballistic-missile defense emplacements on their soil. At the same time, the Pentagon announced a new "first line" of defense in the Persian Gulf, reinforcing the U.S. Navy’s already considerable armada in the region with Aegis cruisers equipped with advanced radar and anti-missile systems. Moreover, under Obama, the plans for missile-shield systems Bush crammed down on Poland and the Czech Republic, which triggered furious protests from Russia, have been modified to concentrate on potential medium and short-range missile attacks from Iran. More recently, the Romanian government reportedly has agreed to accept U.S. anti-missile batteries on its territory to thwart theoretical Iranian rockets.  ...

A lot of this recent effort looks and sounds similar to the run-up to Bush-Cheney’s Iraq invasion. There is, however, a profound difference in the current administration’s targeting of Iran. It is essentially following Cheney’s model for preventive war – with one exception: It has dispensed with relying on any tangible facts to "make the case" for war. Instead, it has made the Iranian leadership’s intent the decisive factor.

Bush-Cheney lowered the bar for starting war by adopting the doctrine that in a "post-9/11 world," preventive war is not only permissible but morally imperative. Cheney’s innovation lay in arguing that "failure to act" was inherently the greater risk, even if the likelihood of terrorist or other attack was trifling. ... Cheney’s "1 percent solution," however, had an Achilles heel. It required the putative existence of actual, physical fact. The possibility that WMDs may exist may be small – but it still must exist. But the drawback to any plan based on assertion of fact is the possibility of refutation – maybe not in time to prevent a horror show, but sooner or later. In other words, under the Cheney Doctrine, the casus is subject to falsification, even long after the belli has broken out. Which is, of course, exactly what happened in Iraq.

The Cheney Doctrine’s very low bar for war was bad enough. Obama and his own neoconnish coterie of advisers, however, are tossing away the bar altogether. ... Obama’s advisers also learned from Cheney’s mistakes. Picking up on Iran where Bush-Cheney left off, the Obama hawks are not about to try to justify war based on testable factual claims – or any fact-based claims whatsoever. If the Obama/Netanyahu war factions get their war, they will do so based on the article of faith that "we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon." To ensure that objective, they have concluded, Iran cannot be permitted to achieve the technological and manufacturing capability to build a bomb. Thus, a plan for war is being built on inherently unverifiable beliefs about what the leadership – more likely, some later leadership – of Iran might decide to do in the future with knowledge, skills, equipment, and infrastructure it has yet to acquire. Under the Cheney Doctrine, the U.S. needed to strike if there was a 1 percent risk that Iraq actually had WMDs. In contrast, the Obama-Netanyahu Doctrine permits military aggression if there is any chance that Iran someday may have the ability to create a nuclear weapon and might then decide to actually make one.

... Obama himself best illustrated this sort of reasoning at a news conference Feb. 9, discussing Iran’s alleged "rejection" of an offer by the U.S. and its Western allies to convert some low-enriched uranium in Iran’s possession into medical isotopes, requiring enrichment to a level just short of weapons-grade. He said: "That indicates to us that, despite their posturing that their nuclear power is only for civilian use, that they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponization. And that is not acceptable to the international community, not just to the United States." But virtually any step by Iran to develop nuclear capabilities with is own science and resources could lead to "weaponization." Obama here simply imputes a malicious intent – building the "case for war" based on analysis no better than palm reading.


Now the Bush-Obama administration has inserted its own man at the top of IAEA -- and suddenly the Agency has reversed years of a cautious, evidence-based approach in favor of, yes, palm-reading about what Iran might eventually do someday under optimal conditions that do not exist today and will not exist for the foreseeable future, if ever.

As I wrote here in 2008, following yet another scaremongering "scandal" about Iran's enrichment activities:

There is literally nothing that Iran can do – or not do – to divert the American elite's desire to strike at their land and bring it under domination. And apparently there is nothing that anyone in America with any power or a major platform will do to stop it either.


As I have noted over and over, including here, just a few weeks ago: "No one has laid out the case against attacking Iran with more depth, power, eloquence and persistence than Arthur Silber. What's more, Silber has offered practical steps that even those obsessed with retaining their 'serious' and 'politically savvy" cred could employ.' (For just one example, see this piece, whose title says it all: "So Iran Gets Nukes. So What?"]

But, as noted above, no one has followed up on Silber's suggestions, or on anything remotely like them. And so the Kabuki dance of death in the imperial court goes on -- now aided, appropriately enough, by the Japanese placeman installed at the IAEA by the Bush-Obama Administration.

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