PALO ALTO, California – Israel‘s president Shimon Peres spoke ahead of US president Barack Obama on Sunday, and assured the crowd at the annual gathering of largest pro-Israel lobby group that US and Israel are on lockstep on Iran and „there is no space between us.”
This was completely verified by Obama’s speech, boasting of his „unprecedented commitment” to Israel’s security, his determination to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to continue with US’s military and security assistance to Israel, which has increased under his presidency, despite the mounting US budgetary difficulties and Israel’s robust economy.
Obama admission that „Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon,” was frank yet lame compared to recent statements by high-ranking US officials that there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons – and is why the US intelligence estimate of December 2007 that Iran’s nuclear program has been peaceful since early 2003, still stands.
There is, of course, something amiss about a Western government making the Iran nuclear issue into „the center and front” of its foreign policy, to paraphrase the New York Times’ coverage of Obama’s speech before the AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Committee), and subjecting a Middle Eastern country to the painful teeth of „crippling sanctions” and, yet, at the same time admitting that the target country is not proliferating nuclear bombs after all. For sure, this ought to make George Orwell spin in his grave, reminding us of the ‘text of our time’ that is frozen in the vortex of an Orwellian nightmare, where the hegemonic powers manufacture psuedo-rationalizations for their imperial intentions.
Other than an obligatory reference to the „Palestinian issue” and the need for „an independent Palestinian state,” which is all but eradicated from the US’s map of action, Obama’s speech lacked the minutest hint of any US initiative to re-start the Middle East peace process. As the New York Times rightly put it, Obama has „largely” retreated from his earlier pressure on Israel, but a more appropriate word would have been „totally” and „completely,” reflected in the absence of any US criticism of the relentless Israeli expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, contrary to the various UN resolutions.
In an Orwellian universe where „might speaks rights”, the silences on abuses of rights are simply the other side of the coin, bespeaking of a travesty of justice and the numbing effects of a well-orchestrated campaign of deflection that hypes the bogus Iran nuclear threat and simultaneously buries under the rug the actual, and on-going, threat to regional and global peace caused by Israel’s oppression of Palestinian people.
„When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the flotilla incident, we supported them,” Obama sounded proudly, referring to Israel’s cold-blooded murder of peace activists on board the humanitarian convoy of aid ships for Gaza in May, 2010, which drew international condemnation, as well as UN Security Council condemnation against Israeli acts that „caused the loss of lives.” Clearly, US’s policy has titled so heavily in Israel’s direction that Washington no longer cares about the adverse impact among the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims (compared to 14 million Jews), many of whom hold a negative image of US because of its unbalanced pro-Israel stance and its pattern of attacking Muslim nations.
Incredibly, despite initiating an all-out economic warfare against Iran, Obama in his speech cautioned that „there is too much loose talk of war,” confidently telling his powerful audience that the „crippling sanctions” on Iran are working and have brought Iran’s economy „to a halt in 2011.” Not so, according to the International Monetary Fund, Iran had a GDP growth rate of 3.5% in 2011, which drew praise for economic policies that have been successful in „reducing inequities, improving living standards and supporting domestic demand.” Despite the Western sanctions, Iran’s economy in 2012 is projected to have a growth rate of 2.5%. Nor was Obama entirely accurate when speaking of his success in bringing both Russia and China on board the Iran sanctions. Both these powers have rejected further UN sanctions and are on record against the unilateral US and European Union sanctions on Iran.
In making the categorical statement that he was not for „containment” of a nuclear Iran, but rather the „prevention” of Iran’s acquiring a nuclear bomb, Obama on the surface made a heroic gesture to appease his Jewish supporters, but in reality he simply added to the growing inventory of nauseating US policy debates focused on „containment” or „deterrence.”
The problem with this debate and its horde of mouthpieces dishing out sophisticated discourses armed with cold-war jargons is that it operates in the vacuum of any hard evidence that Iran is engaged in proliferation activity. Even the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who have visited Iran frequently, have admitted that they have „no evidence” that Iran is working on building a bomb.
With respect to the IAEA officials’ recent trip to Iran last month, this author has been informed by sources close to the Iranian nuclear negotiation team that Iran offered them the opportunity to inspect the „suspected site” at Marivan, mentioned in IAEA’s November 2011 report for suspected „high explosive” tests, and yet after consulting with the IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano in Vienna, the IAEA team declined the invitation and told their hosts that their boss has ordered them to return to Vienna without any delay.
This is rather curious. If the IAEA is truly impartial and interested in resolving the outstanding concerns about Iran and its nuclear „intentions,” then why would it miss a golden opportunity to put to rest one of its stated concerns? This does not make any sense, except of course through the prism of US-Israeli pressure politics that manipulates the atomic agency in order to keep the flame of „Iran nuclear threat” irrespective of the potential damages to the agency’s credibility.
In a non-Orwellian world, the „free” Western media would be demanding explanation from Amano as to the truthfulness of Tehran’s allegation and the reasons why the IAEA declined Iran’s offer. But, in today’s world featuring an unhealthy reification of the Western media by the wheels of pro-Israel interest groups, aptly exposed in the book The Jewish Lobby, what matters most is to secure „Israel’s interests” even if those interests clash with the world’s interest for truth and peaceful relations among nations. Sadly, the space between Obama and Orwell has grown by a wide margin.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi