Andy Martin on Iran
Martin says the best Persian policy is no policy at all. Once again, America’s uniquely qualified and experienced Middle East expert comes up with a contrarian point of view. “Masterly inactivity” is his his proposal for topping the Ahmadinejad regime.
Andy Martin on why no policy is the best policy on Iran
“Factually Correct, Not
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
BARACK OBAMA’S “POLICY” ON IRAN IS DESTINED FOR THE SCRAP HEAP, ALONG WITH EVERY PRIOR U. S. POLICY OF THE PAST SEVERAL DECADES
ANDY MARTIN ON EVENTS IN IRAN, AND THE FUTURE
OBAMA HAS INHERITED AND ADOPTED GEORGE BUSH’S FLAWED APPROACH TO IRAN, AND HE WILL FAIL JUST AS BUSH DID
(NEW YORK)(June 15, 2009) For an expert on Iran, I have an unusual background. I spent the longest night of my life—a lifetime really—under arrest as a spy in an Iranian town few have ever heard of. In 1979. One false move and the end would have been the end. I made it out. And went back again. But that night is still very vivid in my mind.
My policy recommendations were ignored in 1980, and they will no doubt be ignored thirty years later. I was right then, and I am right now: the best “policy” on Iran is no policy at all.
Allow me to explain.
Politicians gain public office and power by creating promises about “policies.” Obama’s “policies” include promises concerning the triad of “energy, health and the economy,” as well as “negotiation” abroad. But these “policies” are complete nonsense. They assume that the world reacts to our commandments, and they assume that someone, maybe even the president of the United States, can control the world.
“Policy” rarely makes it into the real world and when “policy becomes reality” the result is often disaster. In 1999 Governor George Bush and his brother Jeb unleashed a torrent of abuse on me after I aired a commercial stating GWB wanted to “bomb Iraq.” I understood what no one else in the media did: George Bush was obsessed, yes obsessed, with Iraq.
Bush’s Iraq obsession destroyed his family’s legacy, destroyed his own administration and very nearly destroyed the United States. Our “victory” in Iraq is truly a Pyrric one. Our armed forces “won” a conflict that made the world more dangerous, more unstable and more unmanageable for America.
In 2003 I predicted that Israel would be the big loser in “George Bush’s war,” and received more abuse for that view. I have been proven correct. Few would deny that Israel is more endangered today than it was in 2003. For my perspicacious analyses I was called an “anti-Semite.” Thanks but no thanks.
Politicians, especially successful ones at the pinnacle of power in Washington, in the White House and Congress, are almost psychologically unable to admit that their “policies” are usually just political nonsense, and often self-defeating nonsense, intended merely for campaign donor consumption.
What about Iran? How about a thumbnail history? Our policy before 1979 was to support the Shah. The Shah’s regime unleashed obscene excesses, all of which created a populist backlash. The Shah also tortured Iranians. The Israeli Mossad played a large role in training the Shah’s Savak how to abuse Iranians. Because of the U.S.’s close relationship with Israel, we got the “credit” for Israel’s torture teaching in Iran. Again, thanks but no thanks.
After the fall of the Shah, we entered into a cold war with Iran. It was then that I pitched up in Iran and was arrested in 1979, released, and went back again in 1980.
When I later developed a plan to secure the release of the U. S. embassy hostages, President Jimmy Carter was not interested. He was “using” the hostage situation to conduct a “Rose Garden” strategy for reelection. The “crisis” furnished a basis for Carter to avoid going on the hustings to debate Senator Ted Kennedy. Carter, of course, was deeply unpopular. Carter did win renomination, but the rest is history. Ronald Reagan became president and Carter’s years in office were completely discredited. The Rose Garden strategy had succeeded in the short run only to backfire in the long run.
So I go back along way with Iran and the Middle East. People don’t always want to hear what I have to say (these views will no doubt prompt more attacks) but I have been more right than wrong over the past forty years.
This column and the insights I offer have been in the writing for many months, maybe years. Writing has been pushed aside by other breaking news. Now Iran is the breaking news.
Some time ago, probably a year or two ago, the Washington Post Travel section had an article on visiting Iran:
The Post travel story on Tehran fit perfectly into my column-in-the-writing because the innocuous report documented a warm welcome for Americans. The travel section showed how absurd our foreign policy had become. We received more accurate “foreign policy” information from the travel pages than we did from the editorial or news sections.
The reason for this information anomaly was that Iran has become our latest demon. We don’t understand the Persians (as I usually call them), and what we don’t understand we simply cannot accept. So we develop a “policy” to deal with our national ignorance.
In the case of Iran we have an even more dangerous situation. Iran is led by a demonstrably malicious and malignant leader. Israelis, never at a loss to create an opportunity to lose an opportunity, have used Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to substitute for the fallen Saddam Hussein. It was Israelis, after all, who promised Bush that the “road to Jerusalem leads through Baghdad.” Anyone heard that corker recently?
Today, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is trying to sell the story that there can be no peace in Palestine until Iran is resolved. He likes that song because “Iran” is not going to be resolved. Persia is a nation state with a history going back thousands of years.
Although Israelis are not responsible for our invasion of Iraq (George Bush is), Israeli diplomats helped inveigle Bush into thinking that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world and an “existential” threat to Israel. The same poppycock is now being rebranded to justify an Israeli attack on Iran.
What is the real world story? What should our “policy” be?
No policy at all.
President Obama should declare that the United States is ignoring Iran, and will let the Iranian people resolve their own differences. The less we say about Iran, the sooner change will come in that unfortunate nation. The only issue which Ahmadinejad has to unify his nation is American “policy” moves, and Israeli threats to trigger yet another Middle East war.
Just to insert a “joke” (no joke at all) at this point. Last year people said if I voted for John McCain, I would get “Bush III.” I voted for McCain. And got? Bush III. Obama’s foreign policy is indistinguishable from a Bush III approach to Iran.
We have American threats. Israeli saber rattling. U. N. sanctions. Diplomacy. Demands. The usual suspects.
All of these “policies” are sheer nonsense. Sanctions are not going to stop much of the world from trading with Iran. And sanctions will lose their effectiveness against Iran the same way they lost their impact on Iraq. Iran sells millions of barrels of oil every day. The day Iran is prevented from selling oil the price of a barrel will top $200 or more.
Israel has nuclear weapons. We know it. Everyone in the Middle East knows it. Weaponry brings prestige. Eventually everyone is going to have nuclear weapons. This is really difficult for anyone (including me) to accept. But technology cannot be stopped.
The idea that a nation of seven million is going to be allowed to retain nuclear armaments (Israel) while a nation of seventy million will be denied nuclear defenses (Iran) is one of the conceits that foreign policy pays to political campaign fund raising in America. Real world? It ain’t gonna happen. So let’s get real.
Iranians just had an election. I don’t have a clue whether the voting was rigged or not. There are opinions on all sides, and I respect most of those opinions. Surprise: whether the election was rigged or not doesn’t make a darn bit of difference to my non-policy. Whether the election was rigged or not is not going to change our need for a hands-off approach.
Here are the opening parameters for our non-policy.
1. U. S. “culture” is still our most potent “nuclear” weapon. We are the undisputed center of the universe when it comes to freedom, with all of the good and bad that such cultural and political and economic freedom can generate. Every day the best and worst that our culture can produce is dumped on the Internet and instantly spread worldwide.
President George Bush was completely correct when he said we should foster freedom and democracy. But we should promote freedom and democracy with electrons, not invasions.
People abroad are free to pick and choose what they want (unless they live in China, where a government of thuggish leaders think they know best what one billion Chinese should receive). Given a choice, people will choose freedom and, eventually, they will fight for freedom. In 1979, Iranians deposed the Shah. No one could stop them.
As soon as Iran exploded this weekend, Iranian goons tried to shut off phone and Internet access. They know where the threat to their regime lies.
2. We should stop fooling ourselves and think we can fool the world. No one was deluded by our previous foreign policy towards Iran and the Middle East; we were marching to the tune of an Israeli military band. With disastrous consequences for the Israelis.
Pro-Israel Americans need to accept that Israel is often a poor judge of what is in that nation’s long-term interest. Israelis were welcomed as liberators in Palestine in 1967. If they had given Palestinians freedom instead of occupation, the two nations would be closely joined today. No one wants to remember 1967 because 1967 was a lost opportunity. For Israel. (In all fairness, in 1967 many seasoned Israeli leaders predicted disaster if the occupied territories were retained. History has vindicated their warnings.)
3. Iran has attacked no one. Iran was attacked by Iraq. Iraq was aided by the United States in continuing a murderous invasion of Iran. Americans may have forgotten this “inconvenient truth,” but no one in Iran has. We need to remember our failures.
4. U.S. and Israeli politicians routinely use lies and hysteria and disgraceful exaggerations to keep themselves in power. Why not Iranians? Aren’t Iranian politicians capable of the same abuses? Most of the world—and, as it turns out—most Iranians–realize that Holocaust denial is disgraceful. Instead of falling for the Israeli catnip that Holocaust denial is the tip of an imminent Iranian nuclear-armed attack, we should apply the same level of scrutiny and skepticism to Iranian political rhetoric that we devote to our own. How about this racist, ignoramus, anti-Obama video on Haaretz:
Should Obama view the video and bomb Israel? Ban travel to Tel Aviv? Impose sanctions? These are obviously absurd suggestions. But Iranians have no monopoly on ignorance. Watch the videos. (The videos are particularly pernicious because the morons who are speaking are American Jews who are invited to Israel to “learn” the truth. Scary.)
May I also remind readers that laws have been passed by almost every recent congress to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? These laws are wonderful “fetchers,” as we use to call them in the Illinois legislature. They “fetch” campaign dollars. Sixty years after Israel was created, the U. S. embassy remains in Tel Aviv.
There is a giant disconnect between political rhetoric and reality and public policy in America; why can’t we accept the same standard for analyzing our critics?
5. The nuclear monopoly is dying. We can pop and toot about Iran and North Korea all we want. Nuclear weapons are going to spread, slowly at times, more rapidly at others. We have not yet reached the stage where a bunch of MIT students can fashion a nuclear weapon as a prank, but we are not far off.
In this regard, Americans often harbor racist misconceptions about other nations. We think our technology is the best (it is) but that everyone else is second-class. Second class can still be world class. Iraq supposedly had modern technology (after all that’s why we went to war, isn’t it) and Iran today has world-class technology (which is why we have a new round of Israeli hysteria trying to trigger a war).
Instead of discouraging the spread of nuclear technology, which has been an abject failure, we should probably do precisely the opposite, and offer to arm anyone who can pay (no foreign aid here) with nuclear facilities, weapons, labs. So what? In an extreme situation, we should offer Iran a bomb, put the bomb in a public square, and leave a U. S. Air Force sergeant behind to dust off the weapon from time to time. The bomb will rust away before it is ever used.
6. Iran is going to change. But Iran is going to change not when Israelis bomb Tehran but only when Iranians topple their own regime the same way they did in 1979. The Iranian regime is a soulless (for a theocracy) government in which human rights and human beings are fodder for religious extremists. But so what? When was the last time Iran invaded another country? I can’t remember. Can you? Iran’s bad government is no reason for America to start or condone another self-destructive war.
7. I am known (and revered and reviled) as a critic of Barack Obama. But Obama—give the devil his due—is smart enough to realize that triggering a war, or letting Israelis start a war, is insane. Stop. Iran supports Hizballah? Hamas? Of course they do. Is Israel free to mau mau Iran while Iran is not free to do the same? As long as Palestinian rights are denied, Iran will be able to profit from subsidizing Palestinian liberation movements. Hint: the road to Tehran lies through Tel Aviv (U.S. embassy) or Jerusalem (Israel government) not vice versa as Netanyahu suggests.
Netanyahu has reversed the route because he never wants to recognize a Palestinian state. If anyone is in denial, it is the “democracy” of Israel that believes it can appropriate Palestinians lands forever, and maintain a perpetual occupation of the Palestinian people with a peace “process” that is all process and no peace. Now there’s a real delusional “policy” for you.
Israeli military leaders (virtually the entire government) claim they would rather start a war with Persia than run the risk of peace. Is that a sensible policy evaluation? Not in my opinion. Israel’s existence is threatened by endless war, not endless peace.
The bottom line: I don’t know when or how the Iranian people are going to topple their leadership. It may come soon, or not for decades. No one can predict. That’s for Iranians, not Americans or Israelis, to decide. The more input we have, the more likely the “output” will backfire on our strategic interests. Our long-term interests lie in leaving Iranians alone, taking a “hands-off” position and having no “policy” whatsoever.
At Britain’s MI5 they would call my proposal a plan for “masterly inactivity.” Perhaps were Iran is concerned we meet to master both our emotions and our rhetoric.
The maraschino cherry: If Hillary or Obama called me and said, “What can we do to help the Iranian people?” I would say “end the sanctions, lift the embargo.” The only way to torpedo the Ahmadinejad regime is with freedom, not firearms.
Contrarian? Sure. Common sense? Absolutely. Sanctions have never worked, and they will not work in Iran. Freedom can bring down the regime. By essentially doing nothing and ignoring the regime instead of making them central to our national agenda we become more, not less, powerful in Iran. “Iran for the Iranians” is the biggest threat we can direct at Persia.
Why not end thirty years of failure and try an approach that is sure to succeed? Because politicians have to have “polices,” and policies are merely prescriptions for failure.
Readers of Obama: The Man Behind The Mask, say the book is still the only gold standard and practical handbook on Barack Obama’s unfitness for the presidency. Buy it.
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Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of broadcasting background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He is currently promoting his best-selling book, Obama: The Man Behind The Mask and producing the new Internet movie “Obama: The Hawai’i years.” Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of http://www.ContrarianCommentary.com.
Martin comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of experience. He has over forty years of experience in Asia and the Middle East, and is regarded overseas as America’s most respected independent foreign policy, military and intelligence analyst. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York. He is an announced candidate for Barack Obama’s former U. S. Senate seat.
His columns are also posted at ContrarianCommentary.blogspot.com; contrariancommentary.wordpress.com.
[NOTE: We frequently correct typographical errors and additions/subtractions on our blogs, where you can find the latest edition of this release.]
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