On The Arrogance of Power


 Dismissing the Iranian Critique


Although the Iranian President often sounds like a mad man when discussing the German holocaust – he apparently is not convinced it actually happened – and his religious beliefs strike me as irrational as Sarah Palin’s, his arguments regarding the fundamental immorality of nuclear weapons and those who base their relations with other nations on the threat of their use was right on the mark.  Because he is an odd ball who also questions the legitimacy of Israel – a widely held sentiment in the Muslim world – it is easy to simply dismiss anything he says. 

However the man does hold a PhD and was once a professor in the social sciences; hence whatever one may think of him President Ahmadinijad is no fool.  And, in any case, I can name a half dozen important Republican elected representatives of the American people who routinely say things every bit as absurd as anything the Iranian President has said…and they are far more damaging to our national interests.

In his fundamental condemnation of nuclear weapons as immoral and the hypocrisy of nuclear states who deign to preach the virtues of a nuclear free world to those who don’t possess them – i.e. the US and Iran – we see eye to eye.  I have written repeatedly that I believe the mere possession of nuclear weapons is immoral; and a first strike policy testifies to the fact that a nation is prepared to commit a massive crime against humanity.  It is an indisputable fact that the US has never been willing to adopt a “no first strike” policy, even though its main nuclear adversary, the Soviet Union, repeatedly declared that they would never do so.  And considering the fact that the US was the first nation to include such unprecedented weapons of mass destruction in its arsenal, and remains the only nation to have used them, our government should have been the first to declare that they would not initiate a nuclear attack.


Ahmadinejad Delivering His Critique of Nuclear Weapons

 “Regrettably, the government of the United States has not only used nuclear weapons, but also continues to threaten to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran,” Ahmadinejad observed.  This is the plain truth, and only in the context of a policy of “might makes right!’ can such an obvious truth be ignored or dismissed.  The same is true of his observation that the US was vilifying Iran “on the false pretext of probable diversions in their peaceful nuclear activities without providing even a single credible proof to substantiate their allegation.”  Indeed it takes a special arrogance for the US to call again for sanctions and threaten military action if Iran does not bend to US dictates on the pretext that they are building an atomic bomb, when we are still fighting a war in Iraq where we have wrecked the country and caused the deaths of countless thousands of innocent Iraqi’s over a false charge that Sadam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction!’ Listening to Secretary Clinton’s self-righteous rhetoric at the UN, painting Iran as a nuclear threat to the world, I was overcome with de ja vu: could we really be headed down that road again?   

            Ahmadinejad really put the American Secretary Of State on the spot when he proposed that the entire Middle East should be a “nuclear free zone.”  Ms. Clinton was forced to offer up duplicitous platitudes explaining how she supports the idea in principle but now is not the time to put such a radical policy into practice.   The question that any fair minded reasonably intelligent person must ask is: If the US is so worried about nuclear weapons in the region why does our government not support a nuclear free Middle East?   This question above all others exposes the US as a colossus with clay feet.  The reason Secretary Clinton could not agree to the Iranian President’s proposal, which would end the danger of nuclear proliferation in the Mid-East, the stated goal of the US government, is because it would force the Obama Administration to deal with the yellow gorilla in the room: Israel’s nuclear arsenal!

At present the Israeli’s are estimated to have about 80 nuclear weapons; which is about 20 more than Great Britain!   Hence we are talking about one of the world’s major nuclear stockpiles – although the US and Russia own 96% of all the nukes in the world.  Alas, while all the agencies that monitor the whereabouts of nuclear weapons in the world know about the Israeli arsenal, as does all of the good intelligence services, the US government pretends it does not exists and virtually forbids discussion of it in the UN.  This is why the Obama Administration dare not agree to a nuclear free zone in the Mid-East no matter how much they pay lip service to the idea in their attempt to cast the Iranians in the role of nuclear pariah.  

While most Americans are clueless on these matters, and the pundits talk like fools or cowards on the issue of Israeli nukes and American hypocrisy, people all over the world view American policy as shameless duplicity.  And no amount of anti-Jihadist propaganda of the sort proposed by Eric Cantor, the bone headed Republican Congressman from Virginia, that state of unreconstructed Confederate nostalgia, will work so long as the US continues it’s one sided policies in the region.  While the Saudi Royal Family, the Pakistani elite, the new leaders of Iraq, Hamid Karzi in Afghanistan and the secular Egyptian ruling class are allied with the US government, all of them are sitting on volatile populations percolating with religious passions and Pan-Arab nationalism fueled by deferred dreams. 

Hence these regimes owe their existence to the support they receive from the US, for without American support they would all be overthrown by the Jihadists.  Since the US has always based its foreign policy on securing American interests not the welfare of foreign citizens, despite endless rhetoric about promoting democracy abroad, our government has long supported undemocratic regimes in places like Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Egypt, etc so long as they support American policy objectives.  In the past the bogey man that struck fear in the hearts of the democratic Americans and the Islamic despots was international communism.  In those days US policy was singularly concerned with stopping the expansion of communism into the oil rich Middle East.  They even entered into a Faustian bargain with the Muslim Fundamentalist because they believed they were natural enemies of atheistic ideologies like Marxism. 

Yet because the American government has historically shown little concern with what powerless colored people thought, they didn’t bother to study what the Muslims actually believed.  Hence the people Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson got the CIA to arm and train to conduct an insurgency against the Russians, including urban terrorist tactics, metamorphosed into the Taliban and Al Qaeda, two movements against whom we are now bogged down fighting Afghanistan and all over the world.  One of them, Al Qaeda, struck us a more devastating blow on our homeland than they ever dealt the Russians.  

The truth is that US policy in the Middle East has been based upon an amoral real politique camouflaged as crusade for freedom against communist slavery.  Now the US position on the Mid-East is that we are fighting for freedom against religious tyranny of “islamo-fascism.”  But if we are ever to envision an era of peace between the US and the militant fundamentalist of the jihadist’s movement, we must make the kind of accommodations that will allow a modern secular leadership to flourish in the Islamic world. 

                                                 Muhammad Mossedeh

An Enlightened Secular Democrat

It is sadly ironic that that’s just the kind of leadership Iran enjoyed under the leadership of the democratically elected western educated modern secular President Muhammad Mossedek; before the United States decided to overthrow him over a dispute about oil rights in Iran.  He was accused of being a communist because he demanded a fair price for Iranian oil from western oil companies.  The giant American companies thought he was setting a bad example and convinced our government to teach him, and by implication the Arabian oil Sheiks, what the limits of their sovereignty was.  After the CIA  engineered the overthrow Mossedek they installed Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, a cold blooded tyrant who was willing to play the American vassle in the Islamic world. 

A modernizing autocrat of questionable religious piety, the Shah earned the enmity of the Mullahs and the masses.  In order to sustain the Shah’s dictatorial control over Iran for a quarter of a century the US made him the best armed ruler in the Middle East next to Israel.  And our government also trained SAVAC, the murderous secret police who routinely engaged in torture of dissidents.  The result was an underground resistance movement led by the Mullahs, in concert with militant intellectuals, that overthrew the Shah in 1979 and the soldiers never fired a shot.  This was the first successful Islamic Revolution in the modern world.   And the Islamic state under Sharia law that emerged in Iran is the antidote to the secular Islamic state founded by Kamal Ataturk in Turkey in the minds of Jihadists.  The US government, who emerged as “The Great Satan” misunderstood both the impetus that gave rise to the revolution and its meaning of the Iranian masses. 

           The Shah: America’s Choice


A Murderous Martinet


 After The Fall

             An Embarrassing Anachronism

And they certainly misunderstand how a one sided policy that seeks to punish Iran because they may get a bomb somewhere down the line and represent a danger to Israel, while turning a blind eye to the burgeoning threats of an imminent attack against Iran by a nuclear armed Israel, can fuel Iranian nationalism and strengthen the regime.  But then, this would be par for the course for US policy in the Middle East: Snafu – Situation normal all fouled up!   The ultimate tragedy is that the kind of liberal secular leadership that could modernize Iran and get along with the West cannot happen so long as the US continues to behave as though there is one set of rules for us and our client Israel, and another set of rules for everybody else.  After all, in proposing a strategy of preemptive attack the Israeli’s are following a precedent set by the Bush Administration in their invasion of Iraq.

As I have written in previous commentaries, President Obama must reject this disastrous policy and present the Israeli’s with an ultimatum: No attack on Iran!   If they do they will be sanctioned like all aggressor states and they will be on their own.  I remember well how the members of the Arab League pleaded with the Bush Administration not to attack Iraq.  In one statement they said it would “open the gates of hell” in the region.  They were right.  And Dr. Zbiegnew Brzezinski is right when he says that “we know how to deal with an Iranian state with a nuclear weapon but we don’t know what will happen if the Israeli’s attack Iran.” 

The learned doctor offered a litany of potential disasters that could result from an Israeli attack – like 20$  a gallon gas after the Iranians mine the strait of Hormuz – and he pointed out that none of these scenarios were in the national interests of the USA.  Yet our secretary of state, perhaps eager to show that her balls are as big as the boy’s – or proving anthropologist Margaret Mead’s hypothesis that females in power would prove more deadly than males in waging wars – is still rattling the swords.   Alas Hillary Clinton is an avowed American Exceptionalist – but being smart and black Barack must know better yet dare not say it – she really does believe that Americans are superior in talent, intelligence and virtue to the rest of the world. 

That’s why the U.S. delegation walked out of the hall as the Iranian leader spoke, followed by our allies and client states – which was probably the result of much behind the scenes arm twisting. This demonstration of flagrant disrespect for the singular head of state who thought the conference important enough to show up and address them, can only serve to widen the divide between America and much of the Islamic world.  It will also cause people of all religious and ideological persuasions who would like to rid the world of nuclear weapons to view the US as a callous colossus, an impossibly vain people who really believe their country is exceptional and therefore does not have to abide by the rules it sets for others.  That’s why Madam Secretary’s haughty performance at the UN conference to deal with controlling the doomsday weapons that threaten to end our world – professing moral superiority while speaking with forked tongue – is a personification of the arrogance of power.

Playthell Benjamin,

Harlem New York

May 4, 2010



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