Obama says ‘no’

Obama says ‘no’

Israel’s American supporters are crying out for war against Iran. The entire Republican Party – with the exception of the intrepid Dr. Ron Paul – is consumed by war fever bordering on the hysterical. 

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose foreign affairs experience is, to put it politely, limited, vowed unlimited military support for Israel and insinuated that Obama was an Arab sympathiser. 

 “Time is running out,” warned Israeli leader Bibi Netanyahu last week while visiting Washington to show Americans who really runs US Mideast policy. He said nothing about his own nation’s estimated 300 nuclear weapons or why it needs so many when 16-20 would obliterate the entire Arab world and Iran.

Netanyahu’s claim raises an interesting question. Since many Americans think it’s essential to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities – even though US intelligence denies Iran is even working on nuclear weapons – then what about North Korea?

Why shouldn’t Japan and its big brother ally, the United States, attack North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure? Unlike Iran, North Korea actually has an estimated four operational nuclear weapons and some 800 short and medium-ranged missiles that can strike US bases in South Korea and Japan. The North’s new Taepodong missile can cover much of Japan. It is unknown if North Korea has yet developed nuclear warheads but Pyongyang certainly has chemical and biological ones. 

Iran has only a handful of highly inaccurate Shahab-II missiles with small, conventional warheads but no nuclear warheads. Iran has much less offensive military capability than North Korea. In fact, if US intelligence is correct, Iran threatens no one with nuclear weapons — because it has none.

Meir Dagan, former chief of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad, just told CBC News that it would be a mistake to attack Iran, and diplomacy should be given more time – pulling the Persian carpet from under the warmongering Republican candidates.

Having followed Iran’s nuclear policies for 20 years, I’m amazed that Teheran has not by now managed to deploy nuclear weapons

Even though US troops in North Asia are seriously threatened by North Korea’s weapons, there are no calls in the US Congress or media to launch a war against North Korea. To the contrary, Pyongyang is opening new nuclear talks with the US, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China.

Contrast this measured diplomacy to the rush to war against Iran now being marketed in the US. The United States faced thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons for fifty years. Could not nuclear-armed Israel do the same with Iran assuming Teheran had a few nuclear weapons?

Last week, President Obama had the courage to stand up to the Israel lobby in an election year and say, “slow down”. He rightly called Republican leaders irresponsible for shamelessly beating the war drums. In fact, President Obama might also have told Republicans, “your leader John McCain denounced me last week for not leading US military intervention in Syria and Iran. Well, he backed our wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and look where that got us!”

“What’s more, the Afghan and Iraq Wars will end up costing American taxpayers $2 trillion. This vast sum was piled on the US national debt, undermining our economy.”

“A new, drawn out war against Iran – never mind Syria – could cost us another trillion. If the Israel lobby wants war, let them ante up and pay for it.” 

“Let’s level with Americans and tell them that smashing Iran and keeping it down by repeated bombings will cost each family $30,000 in new taxes. 

“That’s facing reality. See how many Americans want a new war after that.”

Eric Margolis is a veteran US journalist. This abridged article appeared on Khaleej Times online