NEWS & ANALYSIS: Iran and the mirage of dictatorship

Iran terror label bites deep

In the aftermath of the US House of Representatives’ recent resolution branding the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as terrorist, the White House is reportedly poised to formally place it on the terrorist list of the US State Department, with ramifications to follow, such as a freeze on the IRGC’s assets wherever the US can get its hands on them.

This is considered a small victory by anti-Iran hawks, who know the important side-effects of this initiative in inching the US closer to war against Iran. Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, meanwhile, has written about a “policy shift” in Washington. This involves a thirst for confrontation with Iran less on the grounds of Iran’s nuclear program and more as a result of the situation in Iraq, where Iran has gained substantial influence, to the detriment of US-led coalition forces.

Justifying the anti-IRGC resolution in the name of an attempt to protect US soldiers, various lawmakers, such as Senator Joe Lieberman and Congresman Tom Lantos have accused the IRGC of supporting terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied territories. They dismiss the small yet loud dissent by fellow legislators, such as Senator Chuck Hagel and Congressman Dennis Kucinich, that this is a misguided initiative that could increase the possibility of war with Iran. [complete article]

See also, Iran says US too tied up to fight (BBC).

The myth of the all-powerful Ahmadinejad

In the wake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s much-publicized visit to New York, we are hearing renewed calls for a “tough on Iran” agenda. But before Washington makes policy on the basis of his bizarre and often offensive statements, they should consider one important fact: his actual authority as Iranian president is very limited. Contrary to the assertions of Columbia President Lee Bollinger last week, Ahmadinejad is no “petty and cruel dictator.” He is an elected president with very little power, frequently at odds with the country’s religious leadership and its parliament. Even if Iran had a nuclear arsenal, which it does not, his finger would not be on the trigger. Ahmadinejad is extremely unpopular for a variety of reasons; if he runs for president again in 2009, he will almost certainly be defeated. He does not command the Iranian armed forces and he does not determine Iranian foreign policy. Far from being a belligerent expansionistic power, the last time Iran attacked a neighbor was in the seventeenth century. [complete article]

Four myths government and media use to scare us about ‘dictators’

We have a basic mythology: Appeasement of dictators leads to war. The historical basis for this narrative is the “appeasement” of Hitler at Munich. It encouraged him to believe the democracies — and the Soviets — were weak and would not oppose him. That led him to attempt more conquests and engulfed us all in the Second World War.

If the other countries had stood up to him right away, the theory goes, he would have backed down. If he hadn’t, they would have gone to war and nipped him in the bud, thereby preventing WWII, the Holocaust, the deaths of 60 million and all the rest of the horrors.

Now we are floating the story that Mahmoud Ahmenajad is a dictator (the new, new Hitler, after Saddam Hussein). If we “appease” him, it will only encourage him and that will engulf us in World War Three.

If we accept the myth as a gospel truth that should guide our political and military lives, and accept that description as true, it makes good sense — it is even necessary — to start another preventive war, like the one in Iraq, to stop him now! Let us examine the facts. [complete article]

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