Nearly six years after 9/11, the Bush administration (ably assisted by Israel and a handful of acquiescent governments, such as Britain and Australia) appears to be softening up the public for a military strike against Iran.

The evidence for such a mission is partly rhetorical. One of Israel’s leading historians, Benny Morris, has written in the Jerusalem Post that, “the second holocaust will not be like the first…Israel has about seven million inhabitants. No Iranian will see or touch an Israeli. It will be quite impersonal.”

He argues as if an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel is a given and ignores the historical record, ably provided by Professor Zeevi, lecturer at the department of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben Gurion University, who explains that, “throughout the Islamic Republic’s years of existence, since 1979, it has not initiated a single war”. Advocates of war against Iran also ignore the assistance provided by Iran to the Americans after 9/11, especially in routing the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to lead the charge towards a seemingly inevitable military showdown – even though some of his public statements indicate that he hopes for a diplomatic resolution – yet cares little for the political manoeuvring within Iran against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Dissent is stirring in the US establishment. The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Senator John D Rockefeller IV, told the New York Times last week that, “to be quite honest, I’m a little concerned that it’s Iraq again.” He said there was little solid intelligence to match the administration’s almost-hysterical position against Iran. He blamed advisors who believed a militant stance would benefit America’s national interests.

The attempt to paint Iran as the world’s leading terrorist state (and a menace to its people and the world) is eerily reminiscent of wild claims about Iraq before 2003. The removal of the Iranian regime will not, despite the best intentions of war supporters, “stabilise” Iraq.

The US has demanded that Iran butt out of Iraqi affairs (perhaps not realising that Tehran already exercises vast control over the country) and ignored serious Iranian moves to negotiate with Washington. Soundly rebuffed, Iran has already signalled its response to a United Nations resolution against its nuclear program.

Such ominous developments pose important questions for the Howard government. What role, if any, would Australian forces play in a US strike against Iran (and are we already involved in planning?) Ultimately, a wider Middle East war will only accelerate the ultimate demise of the West’s favourite client state: Israel.

Peter Fray

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