Published: 27/03/2007 12:00 AM (UAE)
By Linda S. Heard, Special to Gulf News
I'll begin with a question. Is Iran an aggressor or a victim? If you've answered aggressor then may I suggest you take a moment to reflect.
Unfortunately, the fabricated scenario that led us into Iraq is at play again. And once again we're being suckered into being accepting of a neoconservative plan designed to ensure America's domination over this region's oilfields and maintain Israel as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East.
This is practically a replay of events leading up to the invasion of Iraq. In this case, the US-driven UN Security Council has ganged up to coerce Iran with sanctions into giving up its legitimate right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 30 days, the UN screws will, no doubt, be further tightened.
Iran's angry response is to reduce cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to threaten prosecution of British sailors and marines for operating in Iranian waters.
Backed by the US and the EU, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair is becoming bellicose over that issue while a slew of Israeli spokesmen make demands on the international community to forcibly prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
What you don't hear is that there is no proof that Iran intends to develop nukes. IAEA chief Mohammad Al Baradei has repeatedly said there is no smoking gun.
Moreover, as even the hawkish former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has admitted on CNN, US intelligence on the subject of Iran is sparse. Indeed, the latest National Intelligence Estimate suggests that Iran wouldn't be capable of producing a bomb until 2015, so, in that case, what's the rush?
Iran's numerous calls for a nuclear-free Middle East have been barely mentioned in the Western media and have not been taken seriously by the UN, fearful of debate over Israel's policy of "nuclear ambiguity".
The US has been gunning for Iran ever since the overthrow of its puppet, the Shah, in 1979 when the US embassy was seized. In 1980, the Carter administration authorised radio broadcasts to Iran calling for the toppling of Khomeini.
That same year Saddam Hussain, then Washington's friend, launched a war on Iraq that lasted eight years and which adversely affected or robbed the lives of millions.
As the Guardian reported on December 31 2002, "Ronald Reagan signed a secret order instruction the administration to do 'whatever was necessary and legal' to prevent Iraq losing the war" with Iran.
Now let's fast forward to January 29, 2002, the day that George W. Bush famously included Iran in an "Axis of Evil" along with Iraq and North Korea. This was no accidental inclusion.
General Wesley Clark reveals this on page 130 of his book Winning Modern Wars.
"As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more.
"This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran Somalia and Sudan." Clark says he left the Pentagon that afternoon "deeply concerned".
Clark's revelation gels perfectly with the Project for a New American Century document Rebuilding America's Defences; a blueprint for a global Pax Americana, signed onto by Dick Cheney and his neocon friends in 2000.
So now ask yourself the question posed at the beginning of this column again. Is Iran an aggressor or a victim?
Perhaps you're still not convinced. Before you answer think on this.
In 2003, Tehran proposed negotiations with the White House over its nuclear programme and offered to cease its support for groups that the US deems "terrorist". This overture was rejected out of hand by President Bush.
Today, Bush and co are intent on cornering Iran with the object of regime change. According to the New Yorker's investigative journalist Seymour Hersh there are plans on the table to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities using bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons. Ironic isn't it! Hersh says Bush privately calls the Iranian president "the new Hitler".
Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February that the Bush administration is seeking a pretext to attack Iran.
At the same time Washington is funding Iranian opposition groups in the diaspora as well as militant ethnic separatist groups within Iran. There have already been several violent incidents in country stamped with the CIA's fingerprint.
Draw your own conclusions as to who is aggressing whom but bear in mind that Iran has never threatened to attack the US or its allies other than in retaliation for a strike on it. Moreover, unlike the US, Iran does not harbour neo-imperialist ambitions and does not have a record of launching wars or invading other countries.
It is true that the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn't pull any punches when it comes to Israel but the feeling is mutual.
In reality, Iran would be justified in fearing the US and Israel, which, together, constitute the most potent force in the world, than vice-versa.
I've got one final question. Should we fear a country that has no record of invasion or occupation and no nuclear weapons above one that espouses not only full spectrum dominance over the planet's resources, waters and skies but also outer space?
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org