Wednesday, 02 May 2012 00:00 GFP Columnist - Basil Venitis
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Chief-of-Staff General Benny Gantz of the Israeli military believes Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has not yet made the final decision to build a nuclear bomb: I don't think he will go the extra mile. We're in a period when something must happen. Either Iran takes its nuclear program to a civilian footing only or the world, perhaps we too, will have to do something. We're closer to the end of discussions than the middle. I am preparing for full deployment of our capabilities. The political leadership will have to take courageous, painful decisions.

Netanyahu is pushing not only for Obama's acceptance of whatever action Israel decides to take but for stronger language against Iran that goes beyond the all-options-are-on-the table mantra. But Obama has been working to convince Netanyahu that a go-it-alone attack would cause only a temporary setback to Tehran's nuclear ambitions while plunging the already-volatile Middle East into chaos. An explicit American military threat would be counterproductive right now, especially due to the potential for further spikes in global oil prices.

Netanyahu will not go as far as providing assurances that Israel will consult Washington - its biggest source of military assistance, before launching any strikes on Iran, which has called for the destruction of the Jewish state. Anyone who thinks that Israel is not going to make its own decision, particularly on an issue they view in existential terms, is kidding himself.

The noise from Israel over a possible strike is geared more toward pressuring the international community for further sanctions than foreshadowing an imminent attack on Iran. Netanyahu would prefer to see a Republican take control of the White House in 2013 for fear that Obama's re-election would give him a freer hand to push anew for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians during a second term.

Ron Paul points out that many people have the misconception that sanctions are an effective means to encourage a change of behavior in another country without war. However, imposing sanctions and blockades are not only an act of war according to international law, they are most often the first step toward a real war starting with a bombing campaign. Sanctions were the first step in our wars against Iraq and Libya, and now more sanctions planned against Syria and Iran are leading down the same destructive path.

According to International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA), there is no evidence that Iran has diverted enriched uranium from the peaceful and lawful generation of power toward building a nuclear weapon. According to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Unfortunately, US foreign policy has boxed Iran into a corner where they may view development of a nuclear weapon as the only way to maintain sovereignty. They are surrounded by unfriendly nuclear powers and history has shown that having a nuclear weapon is the best way to avoid being bombed or invaded. The unintended consequences of our confrontational policies toward Iran may be to actually encourage them to seek nuclear weapons capabilities. We should be using diplomacy rather than threats and hostility.

Michael Scheuer points out Washington, Tel Aviv, and London are already conducting a lethal, covert-action war inside Iran which is killing Iranian nuclear scientists and destroying nuclear-related facilities, as well as trying to goad Tehran into reacting with violence and thereby give the West a casus belli. Such a war would be a financial and military disaster for the United States, and would be watched with glee by Russian and Chinese leaders who — while their countries would lose some trade with Iran during a war — would applaud another U.S. self-inflicted wound which further erodes the already failing economy that is the base of American power.

Moreover, if U.S. political leaders would not permit the U.S. military to defeat Afghan and Iraqi mujahedin armed with Korean War-vintage weapons, they surely will not allow the military to defeat a much better armed nation-state like Iran. Thus we would have yet another politically imposed defeat for the U.S. military.

Ron Paul notes that fortunately there is another way. Nothing promotes peace better than free trade. Countries that trade with each other generally do not make war on each other, as both countries gain economic benefits they do not want to jeopardize. China is a massive nuclear power yet it does not seek military confrontation with the United States. Trade is much more profitable. Also trade and friendship applies much more effective persuasion to encourage better behavior, as does leading by example. Alarmingly, tough new sanctions are under consideration that would also punish Iran's trading partners, including China, Russia, and possibly our NATO allies such as Germany.

Conversely, sanctions allow regimes to blame their shortcomings on foreigners, thereby maintaining a hold on power. They rarely even inconvenience elites in the target countries. They simply provide a common enemy to rally the people against and undermine internal dissent. Consider how well the embargo has worked against Cuba. Fidel Castro and his regime may be annoyed by the inability to trade with their neighbors just 90 miles away, but American businessmen also lose out in the bargain. That means less jobs and less freedom at home.

Ron Paul is clear about this: sanctions against Iran are definite steps toward a US attack. Already we see US warships approaching the region, moving dangerously close to Syrian waters. The tougher sanctions currently under consideration would disrupt global trade and undermine the US economy, which in turn harms our national security. Foreign companies or foreign subsidiaries of US companies would be severely punished if they did not submit to the US trade embargo on Iran. We must change our foreign policy to one of economic freedom and diplomacy. That is the only way to promote peace and prosperity. This race to war against Iran and Syria is both foolhardy and dangerous.


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