Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Groundhog Day of Fear Of Nuclear Iran (PART I)

Obama’s policy on Iran could lead to disasters even worse than Bush’s – The Solution is to see that Iranians are jusitifiably as afraid of Israel and the US as Israelis and Americans are of Iran

“In desiring to defend it’s liberty each side tried to become strong enough to oppress the trying to escape fear men begin to make others fearful and inflict the injury they seek to avoid on others, as if there was no choice except to harm or be harmed.” Machiavelli “The Discourses”(quoted in ‘Occupational hazards’ by Rory Stewart)

PART 1: Groundhog day of Fear; Propaganda ; Misdirection and Misquotation ; Terrorism ;Hypocrisy

Groundhog Day of Fear of Iran

Reading the latest statements on Iran’s nuclear programme is a bit like being Bill Murray’s character in the film “Groundhog Day”. First supposedly “active WMD programmes” and a potential “mushroom cloud over New York” coming from Iraq, then Bush claiming the same on Iran, now Obama on Iran. Of course everything is completely different this time; at least in that q and n are different letters of the alphabet.

Dozens of times before the US and Israeli governments have claimed they have solid evidence proving Iran has an active nuclear programme, just as they did with Iraq’s “active” WMD programmes. Their claims have been proven wrong over and over again.

The US and Israeli governments and intelligence agencies have been claiming that Iran was about to produce a nuclear weapon within years, months or days since the early 1990s. In 1992 then CIA officer Robert Gates (now US Defence Secretary) said Iran could have nuclear weapons in “three, four or five years”. Five years later it hadn’t. In 1995 senior Israeli government officials were reported in the American press saying Iran would have a nuclear weapon within 5 years (1). In 2000, it still hadn’t. In 2006 the Bush administration claimed Iran could have a nuclear weapon within 16 days (2). Three years later it still doesn’t.

To be fair Obama is making more effort to build an international coalition and to give Iran a chance to negotiate.

The problem is that by also threatening sanctions and if those don’t end Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons programme, leaving the option of “pre-emptive military strikes” open, it could lead to a disaster even worse than the Iraq war – and create the results it’s meant to prevent : an even more extreme, nuclear armed Iranian government; or terrorists getting hold of nuclear materials in the chaotic aftermath of a “regime change” in which huge numbers of people die (3).

Obama says that “"With respect to the military, I've always said that we do not rule out any options when it comes to US security interests, but I will also re-emphasize that my preferred course of action is to resolve this in a diplomatic fashion. It's up to the Iranians to respond.” (4)

While Obama may well be more honest than the Bush administration and the threats of war are repeated less often and offers of negotiation more often, the basic meaning isn’t much different to Bush on Iraq, when he said that “I hope this Iraq situation will be resolved peacefully. One of my New Year's resolutions is to work to deal with these situations in a way so that they're resolved peacefully. But thus far it appears that on first look that Saddam Hussein hadn't heard the message.” (5)

WMD propaganda on Iraq and Iran

The supposedly indisputable evidence this time amounts to some satellite images with some vague images with huge arrows pointing to them from boxes marked “tunnel entrance” (6).

If you thought anyone could make something similar and label anything as supposedly being anything using photo-shop, you’d be right.

If you thought you’d seen something similar before the Iraq war, you’d be right.

Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented ‘conclusive evidence’ of Iraqi chemical weapons plants and “mobile chemical weapons labs” to the UN in February 2002(7).

The trouble was that when the world’s foremost chemical and biological weapons experts saw the images and visited Iraq to view the sites they came to the conclusion that the “mobile biological weapons labs” were actually trucks carrying mobile weather balloons used to judge wind speed and direction for artillery fire. This was confirmed later by the CIA (8). One of the experts was Dr. David Kelly, who would later be found dead in a “suicide” that paramedics, friends and doctors said almost certainly wasn’t (9) – (12). Powell’s “Iraqi source” code-named “curve-ball” similarly “committed suicide” in a Libyan prison shortly after Human Rights Watch staff found and interviewed him on how he was tortured into telling CIA operatives that Iraq had WMD programmes (13), (14).

Powell would later claim that he was furious to have later found out that the evidence he presented to the UN was false. Yet it wasn’t only UN weapons inspectors who correctly dismissed the claims. Powell he had access to the State Department’s own intelligence reviews on Iraq, which disputed every one of the claims made in the speech well before it was made. Powell also privately told colleagues no WMD would be found in Iraq (15) – (17).

So much for conclusive evidence of an Iranian nuclear programme; Iran may or may not have a secret nuclear weapons programme, but don’t look for reliable information on it coming from the US government or its allies.

In February 2003 many critics of the Bush administration believed the “evidence” presented to the UN on the grounds that Powell was presenting it. They were wrong to. It would be just as wrong to assume that an administration led by Obama would never present false claims to the world, whether knowingly or in the belief that they’re true.

The US and Israeli governments ask why Iran has built secret underground facilities if it’s not to build nuclear weapons. Well it could be to build nuclear weapons – or it could be because the US and Israeli governments have threatened to bomb them so often they’re keeping everything vital underground.

Misdirection and Making up quotes:

The focus on whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons or not obscures the fact that
nuclear deterrents prevent WMD attacks either way


Terrorism :

Iranians are as outraged, afraid and angry when they see civilians killed by US and Israeli forces as Americans and Israelis are seeing September 11th and suicide bombings killing civilians

As infuriating as it is to be blatantly lied to to justify war, all the debate over whether other countries are developing WMDs misses the point. Like a magician’s sleight of hand it misdirects our attention away from the fact that whether hostile states have WMDs or nuclear weapons or not is irrelevant; because they’d have to commit national suicide to use them – and the past behaviour of the Iranian regime, like Saddam before them, shows they’re not suicidal.

True, they may recommend ‘martyrdom’ to other people, but as an organisation they are not prepared to commit suicide themselves.

Iran has entirely rational motives to want nuclear weapons, just like Israel.

Israel, at war with neighbouring Arab states, developed nuclear weapons in the 1950s and since then has built up an arsenal of between dozens and hundreds of nuclear warheads (18).

Iran was invaded by Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1980. Saddam had political support, financial backing and arms sales from most of the world’s governments as he used chemical weapons on Iranians and Iraqi Kurds. That included the US government, who continued funding him even after Halabja. Ahmadinejad fought in the eight year Iran-Iraq War. In 1988, when the USS Vincennes entered Iranian waters and through the negligence of its crew shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing over 280 people, the Iranian government and military believed the attack had been deliberate and that the US military was now going to fight alongside Iraq’s. Rather than be defeated and overthrown in a war they couldn’t have won senior Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard officers persuaded Khomeini to make peace.They included Khameini, now “Supreme Leader” of Iran and Rafsanjani, now one of the most senior members of Iran’s governing councils. The “Leader” Khameini is Commander in Chief of the Iranian military; not President Ahmadinjead. If Iran had nuclear weapons Khameini would control them, not Ahmadinejad. Yet we’re meant to believe that the same Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard commanders who persuaded Khomeini to make peace rather than be overthrown in 1988 would gladly all be destroyed by a nuclear counter-strike from Israel’s allies which would destroy the Islamic Republic they fought for just in order to destroy Israel (19)– (30).

p align="justify">We are told to listen to what they say, by a mixture of misquoting the speeches calling for the overthrow of the Israeli government as calls to “wipe Israel off the map”.

The actual translation of Ahmadinejad’s supposed “wipe Israel off the map” speeches was a quote from Khomeini’s annual ritual Qod’s Day address. What he actually said was that he hoped the “illegal regime which rules over Quods [in Jerusalem] will be erased from the pages of history.” It was a quote from Khomeini, who said the same annually since the 1979 revolution. In other words for decades the Iranian government have called for “regime change” in Israel just as the Israeli and US governments have threatened and called for “regime change” in Iran repeatedly. One is reported as warmongering and threatening behaviour and provocative, while the other is supposedly entirely legitimate Only when the Bush administration and the Israeli government wanted to carry out “regime change” in Iran was a Qods day address brought up and misquoted as if it was something new and dangerous. (31) – (32).

In a subsequent interview with a French TV channel Ahmadinejad clarified that he meant he hoped Israel would collapse the way the Soviet Union collapsed – by the will of all its people – Christian, Jewish and Muslim and suggested a referendum as one possible mechanism (33).

A much more worrying speech was made by Rafsanjani in December 2001 in which he said “If one day ... Of course, that is very important. If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.” (34)

It’s worth looking at the context of this speech though. The Israeli government – most of all Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was vocally trying to persuade the US to attack Iran instead of or as well as Iraq and making threats of Israeli airstrikes on Iran. Iranians, seeing Palestinian civilians and terrorists alike blown to pieces in Sharon’s opportunistic offensive following September 11th, had the message “you’re next”, soon to be reinforced by Bush’s February 2002 “Axis of Evil” speech. In that context Rafsanjani’s speech can be seen as a speech aiming to frighten and deter the US and Israel from attacking Iran – a reaction to their threats to attack Iran; as well as an expression of Iranian anger at the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians, both combatants and civilians. Since the speech was a ‘Qods Day’ speech, on which Khomeini annually condemned the Israeli government for its backing for the Shah’s dictatorship and its oppression of Palestinians, Rafsanjani was reflecting the public mood in Iran, one of anger and fear towards Israel and the US. For many Iranians it is the Israeli and US governments and militaries who are the “terrorists” murdering “us” (Muslims in occupied Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq). When they see civilians including children killed by US or Israeli airstrikes they are as outraged, angry and afraid as Americans were when they saw people killed on September 11th. The message Rafsanjani was sending was a similar one to that sent out by the US and Israeli governments to Al Qa’ida, Iraq and Iran – if you “terrorists” keep murdering “us” then we will destroy you (35)– (37). Both sides threats were completely counter-productive, putting them each in more danger of attack by the other as it made them feel threatened.

If anyone doubts that more than half the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are civilians they can consult any independent human rights group, such as Amnesty International or the Israeli B’T Selem.

Amnesty found that around half the dead in Israeli offensives in the first half of 2008 were civilians, with 70 of the 450 killed being children(38) . B’T Selem’s investigation of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009 found that 773 of the 1,387 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were civilians, with another 248 being police officers killed in Israeli air strikes on police stations. Only 330 were definitely combatants, while for 36 it was uncertain. Palestinian groups meanwhile killed 3 civilians and one Israeli soldier in rocket attacks and 5 soldiers in Gaza. So Israeli forces killed over 100 Palestinians for every Israeli killed and of the Palestinians killed over half were unequivocally unarmed civilians, with about another quarter being police. Almost a quarter of the Palestinians killed – 320 – were children (39).

At the same time as being told we should believe Iranian threats against Israel (and badly misquoting them in many cases to change the meaning of the words) we’re told not to listen to what the Iranian government say when they say (as Ahmadinejad and Khameini have many times) that they are not developing nuclear weapons, that nuclear weapons are immoral and un-Islamic. Khameini, like Khomeini before him, has issued fatwas against the production, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons. Yet it may well be that the Iranian regime, like Saddams, is actually telling the truth. Iraq had no WMDs, Iran may have no nuclear weapons programme.In the 1970s the Shah’s regime had a nuclear weapons programme. If the Islamic Republic’s government really wanted nuclear weapons surely they would have them 34 years later? They don’t. Ahmaedinejad has even said repeatedly that Iran does not want nuclear weapons. For instance in September 2009 he said that “Nuclear arms, we believe they belong to the past and the past generation...We do not see any need for such weapons," This was bizarrely reported by much of the media under headlines such as ‘Ahmadinejad says he won't rule out an Iran nuclear bomb’ (40) – (44).

There is of course the real possibility that the constant threats of attack against Iran from the US and Israel from the mid-1990s on could have made it’s government decide to get the technology so it can rapidly construct a weapon as a deterrent if an attack seems imminent.

Israelis can’t be blamed for being afraid when hearing what sound like threats of nuclear attack. Even if many of these threats are deliberate mis-translations someone living in Tel Aviv will obviously be much more concerned by them than someone living in London or Glasgow. However it’s worth noting that a poll of Israeli Jews in June 2009 found that only 21% believe Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel if it acquired them, with 80% of respondents saying Iran acquiring nuclear weapons would make no difference to their lives (45)

So if most Israelis aren’t worried, why the hype?

However it’s possible that the Iranians aren’t telling the truth in either case; that they might be developing nuclear weapons; and that their bluster and threats against Israel are also based on their equal fears due to repeated threats from Israeli and US governments of attack by the much stronger Israeli and US militaries. The Iranian speeches are almost certainly attempts at deterrence by a country with a weak military and no reliable allies – Iran- faced by one with a powerful military, nuclear weapons and allies with an even more powerful military and even more powerful weapons (Israel and the US). After every missile test the Iranian government issue a warning to Israel not to attack Iran, the message being, if you attack us, we can hit you back. After the latest launch for instance Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vadhi warned Israel not to “dare” to attack Iran, warning that if it did it would expedite “the last breath of the Zionist regime” (46). Iranian missile launches in July 2008, which were loudly condemned as “aggression” and “provocation” followed a massive Israeli air force exercise in June practising for air strikes on Iran (47)

The constant threats of military action against Iran by the US and Israel over the last decade and the US occupations of countries on both of Iran’s borders – Afghanistan and Iraq – are certainly enough to make them feel threatened; as are US fleets entering their waters from the 1980s on; US backing for Saddam’s attacks on Iran in the past; US Special Forces entering Iran and aiding Sunni and Arab dissident groups to carry out attacks on Iranian government officials and roadside bombings against the Iranian military. In reality Iranians are considerably more threatened by the US, Israel and their allies than any of us are by them. Every Iranian missile launch, including the recent ones, has been accompanied by a warning – don’t attack us, because we can hit back if you do (48)– (50).

Iran will not arm terrorist groups with nuclear weapons for the same reason. National suicide by proxy would still be national suicide.

Pakistan has had nuclear weapons for decades under an Islamic fundamentalist ideology in its military from General Zia on; yet not one nuclear weapon was handed over to the Islamic terrorist groups it backs. Iran would be no different.


on Nuclear Weapons Programmes, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), genocide and Human Rights

Israel, has built up an arsenal of anywhere from dozens to 200 nuclear warheads from the 1960s on. This is surely a much more serious breach of the (hypocritical) Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty than anything Iran has done so far, even if all the allegations are true. An Israeli Arab, Mordechai Vanunu, has been jailed or under house arrest for decades for leaking details of the Israeli nuclear weapons programme, which is well known to governments worldwide.Then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert let slip for the first time in a TV interview that Israel possesses nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons programmes. IAEA inspectors have never been granted access to any of them. (51) - (53).

Here are some photos and satellite images you won’t be seeing in the media much – of Israel’s nuclear weapons plant at Dimona in the Negev desert (courtesy of Space Imaging Middle East and AFP respectively).

Israel has threatened and carried out attacks on Arab states, occupied Palestinian territory, carried out large scale indiscriminate fire on civilians, torture and gross abuses of human rights against Palestinians as bad as anything the Iranian regime has done to dissidents and minorities in Iran.

Yet there has been no condemnation, no threats of sanctions or airstrikes or regime change.

Iran’s threats to overthrow the Israeli government are reported as threats of genocide by nuclear weapon. Nuclear armed Israel’s similar threats against Iran are not.Nor is the routine and indiscriminate killing and deliberate starvation of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces.

(for sources on Israeli killings of Palestinian civilians and deliberate starvation see and and these blog posts, all of which provide full sources) as well as sources (38) and (39) above

copyright©Duncan McFarlane2009


= Forward 28 Aug 2009 ‘With Each New Assessment, Iran’s Nuclear Clock Is Reset’,

= ABC News 12 Apr 2006, The Insider: Daily Investigative Report,
‘U.S. Wants U.N. Action Against Nuclear Iran’,

= Guardian 27 Sep 2009 ‘Iran and United States on collision course over nuclear plant’,

= Jerusalem Post 26 Sep 2009 ‘Obama warns Iran to come clean’/ “Obama: Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow”,

= CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL, Presidential Comments, Aired December 31, 2002 - 14:12 ET,

= Institute for Science and International Security 25 Sep 2009 ‘ISIS Imagery Brief’,

= U.S State Department Archive ‘Remarks to the United Nations Security Council,
Secretary Colin L. Powell, New York City, February 5, 2003’, ;
And ;
‘U.S State Department Archive ‘Secretary Powell at the UN: Iraq's Failure to Disarm’’,

= Observer 08 Jun 2003 ‘Blow to Blair over 'mobile labs'’,

= Independent 17 Aug 2003 ‘New evidence shows crucial dossier changes’,

(10) = Observer 12 Dec 2004 ‘Kelly death paramedics query verdict’,

(11) = Independent 13 July 2009 ‘Doctors call for inquest into scientist's death’,

(12) = Norman Baker MP (2007) ‘The Strange Death of Dr. David Kelly’,
Methuen Publishing, 2007

= HRW 11 May 2009 ‘Libya/US: Investigate Death of Former CIA Prisoner’,

(14) = Washington Post 12 May 2009 ‘Detainee Who Gave False Iraq Data Dies In Prison in Libya’,

= ABC News 08 Sep 2005 ‘Colin Powell on Iraq, Race, and Hurricane Relief’,

(16) = Guardian 05 Feb 2003 ‘US claim dismissed by Blix’,

(17) = Mother Jones 05 Feb 2003 ‘The U.N. Deception: What Exactly Colin Powell Knew Five Years Ago, and What He Told the World’, (provides links to US State Department Intelligence Reviews on Iraq)

= Federation of American Scientists – Israel – Nuclear Weapons,

(19) = Newsweek 13 Jul 1992 ‘Sea of Lies : Sea Of Lies : The Inside Story Of How An American Naval Vessel Blundered Into An Attack On Iran Air Flight 655 At The Height Of Tensions During The Iran-Iraq War-And How The Pentagon Tried To Cover Its Tracks After 290 Innocent Civilians Died’,

(20) = Karsh, Efraim (2002) ‘The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988’ Osprey, London, 2002, p20-22,44-45,53-55

(21) = Washington Post 22 Mar 1992, ‘Gonzalez's Iraq Expose: Hill Chairman Details U.S. Prewar Courtship, Washington Post archive article here ; full article also reproduced at the Federation of American Scientists' website here ; This gives an account provided by A US Congressman based on information provided to congressional committees by the CIA.

(22) = Washington Post 5 Aug 1992, ‘GOP Seeks Probe of Gonzalez Over Iraq Data, Washington Post archive article here ; also reproduced in full at the Federation of American Scientists’ website at
Far from disputing the accuracy of Gonzalez's claims the Bush (senior) administration and the CIA instead stopped providing Gonzalez with intelligence briefings and attempted to have him censured by congress for releasing the information to the public

(23) = 'U.S. chemical and biological warfare-related dual use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the health consequences of the Persian Gulf War'/ A report of Donald W. Riegle, Jr. and Alfonse M. D’Amato of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with respect to export administration, United States Senate (1994) - Link to Library of Congress record

(24) = National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 82, 25 Feb 2003 ‘
Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984’,

(25) = Freedman, Lawrence (2008) ‘A Choice of Enemies : America Confronts the Middle East’, Orion, London, 2008, chapter 8, Pages 152-166 of hardback edition

(26) = Freedman, Lawrence (2008) ‘A Choice of Enemies : America Confronts the Middle East’, Orion, London, 2008, chapter 10, Pages 194-206 of hardback edition

(27) = Newsweek 13 Jul 1992 ‘Sea of Lies : Sea Of Lies : The Inside Story Of How An American Naval Vessel Blundered Into An Attack On Iran Air Flight 655 At The Height Of Tensions During The Iran-Iraq War-And How The Pentagon Tried To Cover Its Tracks After 290 Innocent Civilians Died’,

(28) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006 - pages 170-174

(29) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition - pages 231-233

(30) = NYT 15 Jul 1988 ‘Iran Falls Short in Drive at U.N. To Condemn U.S. in Airbus Case’,

= Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006, (hardback edition)

(32) = Guardian Comment Is Free14 Jun 2006, ‘Lost in Translation’,

= Iranian Television Broadcasts President Ahmadinezhad's Interview With French TV "Exclusive interview" with Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad by David Pujadas of French TV's TF2 Channel on 22 March 2007 – recorded Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 Sunday, March 25, 2007 (reproduced as second item below article on Professor Juan Cole’s website at

(34) = Qods Day Speech (Jerusalem Day)
Chairman of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani
December 14, 2001, Friday
Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran, in Persian 1130 gmt 14 Dec 01
Translated by BBC Worldwide Monitoring,

(35) = Gareth Porter/Asia Times 30 Aug 2007 ‘Israel urged US to attack Iran - not Iraq’

(36) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006

(37) = Uri Avnery/Counterpunch 11 Feb 2002 ‘Oil, Sharon and the Axis of Evil’,

(38) = Amnesty International World Report 2009 - Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,

(39) = B’T Selem 9 Sept. 2009: B'Tselem publishes complete fatality figures from Operation Cast Lead,

(40) = San Francisco Chronicle 31 Oct 2003 ‘Nuclear weapons unholy, Iran says
Islam forbids use, clerics proclaim’,

(41) = Christian Science Monitor 18 Sep 2009 ‘Ahmadinejad says he won't rule out an Iran nuclear bomb’,

(42) = Jerusalem Post 18 Sep 2009 'Defiant Iran risks further isolation',

(43) = Observer 27 Sep 2009 ‘Iran and United States on collision course over nuclear plant’,

(44) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006, (hardback edition) p137

(45) = Haaretz/Reuters 14 Jun 2006 ‘Poll: Most Israelis could live with a nuclear Iran’,

(46) = 28 Sep 2009 ‘Iran test-fires long-range missiles – then warns Israel’,

(47) = BBC News 20 Jun 2008 ‘Israelis ‘rehearse Iran attack’’

(48) = New Yorker Magazine 5 Mar 2007
, ‘Annals of National Security : The Redirection’,

(49) = ABC News 03 Apr 2007
, ‘ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran’,

(50) = Telegraph 17 Jan 2006
, ‘'We will cut them until Iran asks for mercy'

(51) = See (18)

(52) = Guardian 18 Mar 2005 ‘Vanunu faces new jail term’,

(53) = Guardian 13 Dec 2006 ‘Calls for Olmert to resign after nuclear gaffe
• PM admits on TV that Israel has atomic weapons’,

copyright©Duncan McFarlane2009


Tobi said...

Dunc, I agree with everything you say, but I'm coming to believe there's a deeper motivation on the part of the Americans here.

Is it merely coincidence that this 'discovery' comes around the time when the Iranian oil bourse initiative starts to swing into full flight?

The fears of many American economists came to fruition on September 12th, when Iran ramped up its oil bourse policy by switching to the Euro. It may well be that the Americans will be forced go into Iran to decommission WMD / introduce democracy / secure human rights / other spurious pretext, as the petrodollar faces the biggest threat in its history.

There was a very informative 2006 article on this subject by an economist called Dr Krassimir Petrov on It maybe represents a slightly extreme version of the scenario, but the author very clearly illustrates the theory behind petrodollar warfare.

The last major oil producer to move oil trade into Euros was Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2000. This was reversed two months after the regime change was secured.

Petrov therefore argues that the war in Iraq was not so much to do with securing current, or even future oil production and reserves, and much more about making sure international oil production continues to back the value of the dollar.

If Petrov is right, then Iranian edict of September 12th represents a significant motivation for the economic right wing of the US to push for punitive action and regime change in Iran.

Tobi said...

Incidentally, when Bush returned Iraq's oil trade to dollars from the Euro, he was aware (as much as 'W' could ever be said to be aware), that this would have a significant negative impact on the funds available to rebuild Iraq - as the euro was trading substantially higher than the dollar at that time.

calgacus said...

That would definitely make sense as one of their motives Tobi and you give pretty persuasive evidence for it.

The coalition for war on Iran is bound to be made up of different interest groups that each have their own priorities (even probably some that are genuinely afraid Iran would use nuclear weapons on Israel, even if i don't agree with them).

Tobi said...

Yes - one of the things that has hit home most for me is that, despite my abhorrence of nuclear weapons, I can see the immense benefit a viable nuclear deterrent would hold for Iran. In the words of the Israeli military historian, Martin van Creveld, "Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy."

Israel’s possession of a large nuclear arsenal can be seen as a threat to the security of its middle-eastern neighbours. And as you mentioned above (Rafsanjani), Iran’s possession of just one deliverable nuclear device is a threat to the entire existence of Israel. If Iran could reach that point without aggressive intervention, a relatively stable nuclear stalemate might well develop in the region. A nuclear strike on Iran would threaten the end of the Islamic Republic its leaders have fought to establish, while a strike on Israel would see the Zionist project end in obliteration.

It remains to be seen if the Israelis will stand by while Iran attempts to achieve this lose-lose stand-off. In the meantime, the American petrodollar lobby will no doubt be seeking to cultivate the paranoia in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.

Kit said...

Perhaps this is out of place as it is quite removed from the post's topic, but, Robert Newman (comedian) takes a look at the petrodollar theory in his show The History of Oil. I figured that it might be of interest

calgacus said...

Tobi - Yes, i agree nuclear weapons are frightening, polluting and ridiculously expensive weapons. If Iran is working on nuclear weapons (and that's not certain at all) then it'd probably be better if it got them before anyone could bomb it though. A nuclear stalemate in the middle east would be a loss for everyone in some ways, but it might be less bad than all out war or airstrikes countered by terrorist attacks.

Even increasing the fear of war is a bonus for the oil companies as it pushes oil prices up - and i'm sure you're right that those benefitting from the oil trade in the US want to ensure it continues to be traded in dollars.

Kit - sounds interesting i'll take a look.

Tobi said...

I'll take a look at that too - is that Robert Newman as in 'Rob' Newman (and Baddiel)?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, maverick Republican representative, Ron Paul, has quite a lot to say on the topic of the Petrodollar -

In this speech before the House of Representatives in 2006, he highlighted the frailty of the ‘Dollar Hegemony’, in the context of taking action to limit US exposure to its future collapse. He was clearly of the belief that maintaining the petrodollar was indeed one of the key motivators in aggressive regime change initiatives, both overt and covert.

He noted that –
“Once again Congress has bought into the war propaganda against Iran, just as it did against Iraq. Arguments are now made for attacking Iran…based on the same false reasons given for the ill-fated and costly occupation of Iraq.
Our whole economic system depends on continuing the current monetary arrangement, which means recycling the dollar is crucial. Currently, we borrow over $700 billion every year from our gracious benefactors, who work hard and take our paper for their goods. Then we borrow all the money we need to secure the empire (DOD budget $450 billion) plus more. The military might we enjoy becomes the “backing” of our currency. There are no other countries that can challenge our military superiority, and therefore they have little choice but to accept the dollars we declare are today’s “gold.” This is why countries that challenge the system – like Iraq, Iran and Venezuela – become targets of our plans for regime change.”

Okay, so RP can be a mental fucknugget at times – but he does have a 'better than most' understanding of American foreign policy and an “ask questions first” approach grounded in the deep cynicism of a small-government constitutional purist.

Kit said...

Yes it is Robert - as in Rob Newman. He seems to go by Robert nowadays. I'm not sure why - but it seems to have coincided with him becoming political - perhaps he didn't want fans of his earlier stuff getting disappointed. I hope you enjoy it (even if you don't you'll be able to see why I recommended it).

Given the whole petrodollar shenanigans, it's easy to see the EU as a the good guys in this (I am not accusing either of you of this). Unfortunately, the EU has been exploiting the US's economic agreements (esp. Latin America) to get favourable ones for themselves.

Oh - & I agree with you regarding Ron Paul.

Kit said...

I thought that you might also be interested in tonight's Newsnight, which, amongst other things, looks at "the death of the Dollar as the world reserve currency."

calgacus said...

Will definitely watch that Kit - thanks,

calgacus said...

and I agree the EU are pretty ruthless and amoral in their trade policy too - e.g British and other water companies in Bolivia and South Africa. They try to look good in comparison to right wing american Prsidents sort of the way Churchill looked good compared to Hitler (bit of a hyperbole but you know what i mean)

Kit said...

Another 'far removed from the post's topic, but might be of interest' comment - ALBA are to adopt common currency for exchange between ALBA member nations.

'End of the Dollar Dictatorship? Hugo Chavez and Latin Leaders Hope to Bury the Greenback'