Cause for Alarm: Regime Change Redux
February 11, 2005
By Ken Sanders
Having declared the elections in Iraq a resounding success and
that freedom is on the march, it now appears that the Administration's
focus is increasingly honing in on Iran. The hairs on America's
collective neck should be standing on end.
Iran, a member of Bush's infamous axis of evil, is known to have
improperly concealed its nuclear activities from the International
Atomic Energy Agency for 18 years. According to Iran, it is intent
on developing a peaceful nuclear energy program and has no designs
on nuclear weapons. To date, the IAEA has not found any conclusive
evidence to contradict Iran's claims.
Nonetheless, the U.S. adamantly insists that Iran is lying and
is using civilian programs as a cover for its nuclear weapons programs.
Is the U.S. correct in its assessment of Iran's true intent? Perhaps.
Trouble is, U.S. credibility on such matters is in tatters following
the revelation that U.S. claims regarding Iraq's WMD were almost
all wrong. Perhaps as a result of that terribly public humiliation
of U.S. intelligence, the U.S., while refusing to directly participate,
sanctions and supports Old Europe's efforts at a diplomatic resolution
of the Iran situation.
Currently, Iran is in discussions with the European Union regarding
Western demands that it abandon its plans to make nuclear fuel.
On Wednesday, February 9, 2005, there were ominous signs that the
discussions were faltering. Iran declared that it would never give
up its efforts to master peaceful nuclear technology, including
uranium enrichment. Additionally, Iran expressed its impatience
with the slow progress of its discussions with the EU, demanding
"tangible, objective progress" as a condition for continued negotiations.
Simultaneously, British Prime Minister Tony Blair again aligned
himself with the more hawkish faction of the Administration when
he said there was "no doubt" that Iran supported international terrorism.
Not surprisingly, Reuters reported that the U.S., anticipating a
collapse in the talks, was preparing alternative solutions.
Blair's "no doubt" comment echoes those of Vice President Cheney
on inauguration day when he put Iran "right at the top of the list"
of potential trouble spots. More troubling was Cheney's "concern"
that since Iran was committed to the destruction of Israel, Israel
would act unilaterally against Iran. In fact, Israel is fully prepared
to do so and in a recent press conference in London, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice refused to answer whether the U.S. would
deter an Israeli strike on Iran. Indeed, Rice later complained that
the EU was not being tough enough in its discussions with Iran.
Concerns about a possible Israeli preemptive strike against Iran
are not idle. First, as demonstrated by its preemptive attack on
Iraq's nuclear facility in the 1980's, Israel is fully capable of
carrying out such attacks. Moreover, in July of 2004, members of
Israel's Likud and Labor Knesset parties called for preemptive strikes
against Iran's nuclear facilities. Thereafter, on September 8, 2004,
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused the international community
of failing to take adequate steps to prevent Iran's development
of nuclear technology and warned that Israel would unilaterally
As of July 2004, according to the Sunday Times of London, the Israeli
Air Force had finalized plans for striking Iran's Bushehr reactor
and even practiced attacks on a scale model. According to the German
magazine Der Spiegel, as of October 2004 Israel had completed
plans for simultaneous preemptive strikes against six Iranian nuclear
Since 1998, Israel has purchased from the U.S. dozens of F-15
and F-16 aircraft, each with an attack radius sufficient to strike
known nuclear facilities in Iran. Likewise, on September 21, 2004,
Israel acknowledged purchasing from the U.S. 500 "bunker-buster"
bombs, which could be used to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.
The only way Israel could conduct air strikes against Iran would
be by flying through Iraqi air space. Inasmuch as Iraq is currently
under U.S. occupation, even without actively participating in such
strikes, the U.S. would clearly be complicit by virtue of granting
Israeli aircraft unhindered passage to Iran.
Regardless, it is becoming increasingly clear that U.S. involvement
in strikes against Iran is not strictly passive. In late December
2004, Iran reported sightings of "unidentified flying objects" in
Iranian airspace. Such sightings were reported in provinces where
nuclear facilities either already existed or were being built. On
December 29 and 30, 2004, U.S. combat aircraft were reportedly sighted
flying in Iranian airspace near the Iraq border. A U.S. warplane
reportedly violated Iraqi airspace again, this time near the Afghanistan
border, on January 1, 2005.
As reported by Richard Sale of UPI on January 26, 2005, the U.S.
is flying combat aircraft into Iranian airspace to lure Iran into
activating its air defense radars, providing U.S. pilots with valuable
targeting data. As reported by Seymour Hersh on January 24, 2005,
and confirmed by Sale, the U.S. has long been conducting and directing
covert operations within Iran in order to locate Iranian nuclear
facilities for future targeting purposes.
While the Pentagon resorted to personal attacks in deriding Hersh,
it did not deny the covert operations and failed to even address
the report by Sale. Similarly, during her confirmation hearings
for Secretary of State, Rice declined to admit or deny either Hersh's
or Sale's allegations of U.S. covert operations in Iran.
Furthermore, despite current public statements by U.S. officials
advocating diplomacy with Iran, it is the manifest position of the
U.S. that there must be regime change in Iran. For instance, back
on July 12, 2002, President Bush issued a statement supporting those
Iranians advocating reform of the Iranian government. More recently,
on February 12, 2004, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 304,
stating that U.S. policy should be to advocate a democratic government
On May 6, 2004, the House passed Concurrent Resolution 398, which
called upon the United States to use "all appropriate means" to
prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The resolution also
called for additional and stricter sanctions against Iran. Vice
President Cheney's inauguration-day remarks clearly advocated a
U.S. policy of nothing less than regime change. Finally, on January
18, 2005, President Bush refused to rule out military action against
Iran, while on February 4, 2005, Secretary of State Rice described
the Iranian regime as loathsome.
Is war with Iran a foregone conclusion? Of course not. However,
in light of the Administration's declared policy of preemption (not
to mention Israel's), there are sufficient signs to warrant concern.
Visit Ken Sanders' blog at www.politicsofdissent.blogspot.com.