It feels like every few months there is a need for an outcry against a possible U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran. For a few moments, the drumbeat of war recedes only to emerge again with the same rationale: Iran is allegedly a threat to the United States and to world peace.
I thought that the matter was settled, at least for a while, when this past fall U.S. intelligence agencies revealed that Iran had no nuclear weapons program and had, in fact, abandoned such plans several years ago.
This seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Bush administration for a few weeks until they decided to change their tune and focus on alleged Iranian involvement in the Iraq war. Specifically, it was claimed that the Iranians were arming Shiite groups in Iraq.
The situation became downright silly when Republican presidential candidate John McCain visited Iraq and kept alleging that Al Qaeda-linked groups were based in Iran.
For someone who supposedly knows so much about world affairs this error either betrayed his profound incompetence or it was a calculated political manipulation.
Al Qaeda, and its allies, are Sunni-based and have a mutual hostility with the Iranian Shiite regime. In any case, McCain eventually corrected himself but continued to blame the Iranians for all sorts of alleged evils.
The bottom line is that it is America that should not be in Iraq. Focusing on Iran misses the point entirely, something that is clearly intentional.
The renewed focus on Iran and nuclear power remains very curious. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It possesses no documented weapons. Israel is not a signatory to the agreement. It possesses, according to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 150 such weapons.
Iran has not invaded another country during the 20th, or the 21st, century. Iran possesses limited technology for a delivery system. No one has been able to document any effort to develop nuclear weapons. And, even if it is in the minds of some of the Iranian leaders, the construction of such weapons is years off. So, what is going on?
In case you missed it, the Bush administration lied its way into an invasion of Iraq, suggesting that the Hussein regime had all sorts of dastardly intents. Nothing was ever proven, and in fact, it appears that some of Saddam Hussein's reluctance to discuss his military capabilities derived, quite ironically, from a fear of revealing Iraqi weaknesses to Iran.
So, with the United States and Israel suggesting that an attack on Iran is inevitable, we the people have to ask ourselves two questions:
Firstly, what will we do to prevent an attack, and
Secondly, what should we do if there is an attack?
Preventing an attack necessitates making our elected officials aware that we oppose such a move and we wish them to draw the line. As Congressman John Conyers has pointed out, an attack on Iran without the approval of Congress will be an illegal act. Congress needs to be prepared to make that point clear.
Yet, Israel may become the "sub-contractor" for the United States in attacking Iran. Israel can and has been restrained by the United States in the past. Israel must understand that should it attack Iran that the current global discussions already underway concerning a boycott and divestment movement against Israel (due to its occupation of Palestinian territories) will go into overdrive. There would probably be no way of stopping such a movement even if one wanted to.
So, in that sense, what to do to stop an attack is linked to what to do if an attack takes place. Our elected leaders must understand that we will not sit back.
Oh, one more thing in case you think that this is something that you can ignore: If you are currently concerned about the price of gas, you had better be petrified thinking about what will happen should there be another war and should the Iranians decide to block oil exports from the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Just a friendly reminder...
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies.