The grave Iranian threat to world peace

One nation constantly threatens the world with war and violence.

Published January 11, 2008 2:18PM (EST)

(updated below - Update II)

Iran is a dangerous threat to world peace, a rogue nation, with religious fanatics as leaders who constantly threaten other countries with war:

CNN, June 5, 2007:

When asked if he would authorize a U.S. strike on Iran's nuclear facilities that were being used to develop dangerous weapons, California Rep. Duncan Hunter said he would -- in the unlikely situation that there were no other options.

"I would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons if there was no other way to preempt those particular centrifuges," Hunter said at Tuesday's GOP presidential debate sponsored by CNN. . . .

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani warned of the dangers of a preemptive strike. "Part of the premise of talking to Iran has to be that they have to know very clearly that it is unacceptable to the United States that they have nuclear power," he said. "I think it could be done with conventional weapons, but you can't rule out anything and you shouldn't take any option off the table," Giuliani said.

In other news, Bush yesterday, while in Israel, threatened Iran again. Also yesterday, we dropped 40,000 more pounds of bombs on Iraq in a ten-minute time-frame.

In some circles, it's a cause for celebration and vindication that the completely optional war we started "only" resulted in the violent deaths of 150,000 Iraqi innocent civilians (through mid-2006), with the overall number of "excess deaths" at 400,000, and the displacement of 4 million human beings. As Juan Cole points out:

There is also the question of how many Iraqis have sustained significant or crippling injuries from the same violence that has left so many dead. For US troops, the ratio is nearly 4,000 killed to nearly 10,000 severely wounded, or 2.5 times. If the same rate held true for Iraqi civilians in the war, and if it is true that 250,000 have by now been killed, it would equal 625,000 severely wounded.

One of the arguments warmongers gave for overthrowing Saddam Hussein was that his regime was responsible for the violent deaths of some 300,000 civilians between 1968 and 2003. That estimate now appears exaggerated, since the number of bodies in mass graves has not borne it out. But what is tragic is that in 4 1/2 short years, a foreign military occupation has unleashed killing on a scale achieved by the murderous Saddam Hussein regime only over decades. Bush did not kill all those people directly, of course, but he did indirectly cause them to be killed, since these are excess deaths beyond what you would have expected if there had been no invasion and occupation.

I am often struck by how clueless the American public is to the vast destruction we have wrought on Iraq and its people, directly or indirectly. It strikes me as a bitter joke that 4 million are displaced, often facing hunger and disease, and the rightwing periodicals and presidential candidates are talking about how the "surge" has "turned things around." For whom? How many orphans have we created? How many widows? How many people who weep and cry every night while trying to fall asleep on straw mats? I estimate on the basis of a UN study of refugees in Syria that as many as 600,000 or 700,000 Baghdadis were ethnically cleansed from the capital under the nose of the American troops implementing the surge.

The reason we basically block out from our public discourse the effects our behavior has on innocent human beings -- the reason, for instance, we don't bother to count Iraqi victims and the reason we exempt our own behavior from any sort of scrutiny other than the most self-absorbed -- is because that's the only way that the propaganda can be sustained ("Freedom is on the March. We're Liberating Them. They're so Grateful. Winning Hearts and Minds"). Is there anyone who could make a list of all of the pros and cons from our invasion of Iraq and -- while including the hundreds of thousands of innocent dead human beings and the 4 million who are displaced -- argue that it was worth it? What kind of moral depravity would allow that argument to be made?

Just listen to the repulsive laughter and boisterous cheers in the first video from the GOP South Carolina debate crowd, where Swaggering Tough Guy/Draft Avoider Fred Thompson (pathetically reading from cue cards) mocks Islam and issues playground war taunts. It's as adolescent as it is depraved. Yet that's the rotted soul of today's Republican Party (and much of our cheering press corps). Not that it really matters much, but threats of that sort -- like the ones issued all year by Bush to invade Iran -- are clear violations of the U.N. charter which, as a treaty to which we are a party, happens to be (yawn) binding law in the U.S. pursuant to our Constitution's Article VI:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

And one of the leading GOP candidates is now speaking openly about having permanent bases in Iraq for 100 years -- exactly what we swore to the world we wouldn't do prior to our invasion while mocking as Arab Street Paranoids those who believed that was our intention. Of course, Iran is ruled by warmongering militants and religious fanatics who are a grave threat to world peace and threaten other nations.

UPDATE: I forgot this:

UPDATE II: Noam Scheiber at The New Republic says: "Mitt Romney sounded like a smart technocrat last night--his comments about the recent near-confrontation with Iran was detailed and impressive." Like this:

Of the six candidates, only Ron Paul said he thought the incident was being blown out of proportion.

"Let's put it in perspective. We have five small speedboats attacking the U.S. Navy with a Destroyer? They could take care of those speedboats in about five seconds. And here we're ready to start World War III over this? . . . . You know there are people in this administration and in Washington, D.C., that are looking for the chance" to bomb Iran, the 10-term Texas congressman said.

"I'm worrying about the policy of why we're looking for a justification . . . . I mean, we're already, with our CIA, being involved in trying to overthrow that government, and we don't need another war. And this incident should not be thrown out of proportion to the point where we're getting ready to attack Iran over this," Paul said.

Romney responded to that claim by saying, "I think Congressman Paul should not be reading as many of (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad's press releases."

Just like the way people who doubted the Grave Iraqi Threat and who opposed starting a war with Iraq were "pro-Saddam." That's real "impressive."

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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