Just say no to war on Iran

A new U.S. intelligence report, representing the consensus of all 16 intelligence agencies, comes to the same conclusion many have known for a long time: The Iraq war isn’t making us safer. It’s putting us all at greater risk. It’s making another terrorist attack more likely. The report is another piece of evidence that the Bush administration is lying about the war.

And now they’re telling more lies to justify another possible war — this time in Iran. Everybody — even the Bush administration — admits that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon. Everybody agrees that even if Iran wanted a nuclear weapon, it would be years before it could build one. Of course, it would be great if Iran stopped enriching uranium. Actually, it would be great if all countries stopped enriching uranium, including our own! But in the meantime Iran is producing nuclear power, not weapons.

And yet the Bush administration and its supporters in Congress continue to lie about an Iranian “threat.” A recent Senate report on Iran, drafted by a top former assistant to UN Ambassador John Bolton, claimed that Iran is enriching uranium at the level of 90 percent — the level needed for nuclear weapons. It was such an egregious lie that even the UN nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, responded with a harsh rebuke. It reminded Washington that it is watching Iran’s enrichment, and that Iran’s enrichment is in the 3.5 percent range, the level needed for nuclear power. It’s nowhere close to 90 percent.

Even those cheering for a U.S. attack on Iran agree it would have devastating consequences — human, economic, environmental and political — not only for the people of Iran but for the whole Middle East. And it would be especially damaging to U.S. interests. As anger against the United States surged following an attack on Iran, U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan would face even greater risks than they already do. Oil supplies would be slashed. Gasoline prices in the United States could easily top $5 a gallon. Israel could be a target. And U.S. influence in the region, already at a low point, would sink to non-existent. The consequences could easily become worse than those caused by the Iraq war quagmire.

And yet, key Bush administration officials continue to threaten military strikes against Iran’s nuclear power facilities. Time magazine recently reported that U.S. naval warships have been issued “prepare to deploy” orders. The Navy command is looking at plans for a naval blockade against Iranian oil ports. This would be a very dangerous move. A naval blockade can constitute an act of war — which would give Iran the legal right to use military force for self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Iran wouldn’t necessarily respond militarily, but Tehran would have the right to use military force against us.

A U.S. attack on Iran is still far from certain. Even faced with a military provocation, Iran might respond with diplomacy rather than military force, perhaps challenging the United States in the International Court of Justice. The anti-Iran campaign may be part of an effort to keep the “war on terror” and the resulting fear factor at the top of the agenda in the run-up to the November elections. The White House might even be making threats to bolster European diplomatic efforts.

Growing opposition to the prospect of an Iran war might lead some members of the Bush administration to decide the political cost of such a reckless adventure is too high. Many military officials are opposed to attacking Iran. The army is already overstretched. Army commanders have just announced they will have to deploy more National Guard troops to Iraq because of a shortage of troops, despite the Army’s having a 504,000 active-duty force. War with Iran is not inevitable.

But this administration has shown us, and shown the world, it is willing to carry out reckless, illegal actions that violate U.S. and international law and put us all at greater risk. We must say “no” to a U.S. military strike on Iran now, before the troops are put in harm’s way for a lie once again.

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. This article is distributed by MinutemanMedia.org.