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WHAT WE THINK
Another fake case for war against Iran
Who do they think they're fooling?

February 16, 2007 | Page 3

OKAY, SO maybe there weren't WMDs in Iraq. But there are EFPs there now. From Iran. Really.

That's the gist of the latest Bush administration p.r. campaign to justify military threats against Iran, which the U.S. accuses of supplying "explosively formed penetrators"--that is, roadside bombs--to Shiite militias in Iraq.

The first details were reported in the New York Times February 10, with ponderous quotations from leaked classified intelligence documents--the same style that disgraced former Times reporter Judith Miller used to parrot White House lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Ironically, that same day, the Times also published a story about an internal Department of Defense investigation that finally confirmed the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, headed by Doug Feith, had produced intelligence reports about WMDs that were completely bogus.

The Times published an editorial that day condemning Feith--under the headline "The Build-A-War Workshop." The fake intelligence, the Times concluded, was "used by Mr. Bush and other top officials to drag the country into a disastrous and unnecessary war."

But now that the Bush administration is building up to another war, Judith Miller's successors at the Times are again playing along.

It was left to Times columnist Paul Krugman to point out a rather important detail--that Abram Shulsky, the neoconservative apparatchik who peddled lies about a supposed Saddam Hussein-al Qaeda link, is running the Pentagon's "Iranian directorate" today.

This time around, the credibility-challenged Bush administration is tying to use a new face, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, to sell what it claims is incontrovertible evidence that "EFPs" are manufactured in Iran and supplied to Shiite militias.

The docile U.S. media, however, can't ask the most obvious question about this latest U.S. effort to justify a military attack on another country: How can sophisticated roadside bombs allegedly supplied to Shiite militias by Iran be a major source of U.S. casualties, when nearly all the attacks on U.S. forces come from Sunni insurgents?

Patrick Cockburn, the Iraq correspondent for London's Independent newspaper, demolished the Bush administration's claims about Iranian-supplied weapons.

"The U.S. has been fighting a Sunni insurgency in Iraq since 2003 that is deeply hostile to Iran," he wrote. "The insurgent groups have repeatedly denounced the democratically elected Iraqi government as pawns of Iran. It is unlikely that the Sunni guerrillas have received significant quantities of military equipment from Iran.

"Some 1,190 U.S. soldiers have been killed by so-called improvised explosive devices in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But most of them consist of heavy artillery shells (often 120mm or 155mm) taken from the arsenals of the former regime and detonated by blasting caps wired to a small battery. The current is switched on either by a command wire or a simple device such as the remote control used for children's toys or to open garage doors."

He added: "The U.S. stance on the military capabilities of Iraqis today is the exact opposite of its position of four years ago. Then, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that Iraqis were technically advanced enough to produce long- range missiles, and to be close to producing a nuclear device. The U.S. is now saying that Iraqis are too backward to produce an effective roadside bomb and must seek Iranian help."

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WASHINGTON'S NEW rationale for expanding the war would be laughable if it weren't so deadly.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney calculate that they can outmaneuver Democrats by playing the Iran card--and they may be right, given that leading Democrats like presidential candidate John Edwards call for an even harder line against the Iranian government.

Sen. Joe Biden, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and another Democratic presidential hopeful, has vowed a "constitutional crisis" if Bush tries to use the Senate's authorization for the Iraq war to cover a military attack on Iran. But a party that's afraid to withhold funding for a hugely unpopular war in Iraq won't act decisively to stop its expansion to Iran.

The White House knows it can step up its war threats--Bush has sent a second Navy carrier group steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and Newsweek is reporting that a third carrier will likely follow--without fear of a challenge within official Washington.

"They intend to be as provocative as possible, and make the Iranians do something [the U.S.] would be forced to retaliate for," said Hillary Mann, a former official with the National Security Council.

Ultimately, the Democrats share with the Bush administration the goal of shoring up U.S. military dominance of the Middle East. Thus, the nonsense about WMDs in Iraq--rejected by leading Iraq experts and the antiwar movement long before the U.S. invasion--was given credence by prowar Democrats like Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The real aim of the Iraq war--control over the world's second-largest source of proven oil reserves--still isn't discussed in mainstream U.S. politics and the media. Which makes it easier for the White House to use the same m.o. to make a case for war in Iran.

Retaliating for "explosively formed penetrators" that have supposedly killed U.S. troops sounds much better than Bush's real goal--to prevent Iran from capitalizing on the U.S. failure in Iraq. Iran is poised to become the dominant power in the Persian Gulf when the U.S. is finally forced to abandon its occupation of Iran.

Preventing the rise of Iran is a bipartisan goal--which is why even the "antiwar" presidential candidate Barack Obama said in 2004 that Iran (as well as Pakistan) should be bombed if it would stop the spread of nuclear weapons. The Democrats' criticisms of Bush for the disastrous Iraq war are made not in opposition to U.S. imperialist aims, but rather with the goal of achieving them more effectively.

All this means that despite the unpopularity of Bush and the Iraq war, the White House is still in position to spread the horror.

The January 27 protests in Washington and around the country showed the potential to renew the antiwar movement. More demonstrations and activism are essential to oppose Bush's threats to Iran and oppose the U.S. war machine.

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