Monday, November 16, 2009

Unsubstantiated attacks on Iran are really Attacks on President Obama

In the last few weeks there has been a flurry of unsubstantiated attacks against Iran. These attacks may seem to be aimed at Iran, but in fact a pattern is emerging that suggests that the attacks are really directed at destroying the Obama administration by discrediting the administration's opening to Iran--a sharp departure from Bush-era foreign policy.

One attack has been launched against the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and its head, Dr. Trita Parsi. Another the desperate claim that Iran was helping Yemeni rebels in border attacks against Saudi Arabia (The rebels have been attacking Saudi facilities for decades). A third is the unsubstantiated claim that Iran was shipping arms by sea to Hezbollah. Yet another is the flimsy FBI lawsuit (initiated during the Bush administration--likely at the instigation of the Treasury Department's Stuart Levey) against the tiny Alavi Foundation which promotes Persian Language and culture instruction. Finally there are the vacuous renewed claims about the empty Iranian facility near Qom (despite Mohammad el-Baradei's clear statement to the press that nothing of substance existed there).

These attacks follow immediately on the heels of the Vienna talks with Iran which seemed to signal progress on the Iranian nuclear issue, and the appointment of two knowledgeable individuals on Iran and the Middle East at the Department of State (Dr. John Limbert and Dr. Tamara Wittes).

I don't like conspiracy theories very much, but we have seen this before. The moment the United States and Iran have the tiniest success in reaching accord on something, the attacks against Iran crank up. The fact that all of the above events lack substantive proof is of far less importance than their propaganda value. We see the accusations being trumpeted as truth by the press and by senior, seemingly sober politicians. Of course, all this takes place against a background of attempts to show that the Obama administration is "soft on Islam." It is like playing Whack-a-Mole to try to address this avalanche of fiction, and misinformation, and the press plays along.

Clearly substantial players in the U.S. (and Israel) want to make sure that the United States and Iran remain estranged forever, and are not above lies, distortion and misinformation to assure this result. The effects of these accusations are as strong in Iran, where they are known to be false; as in the United States, where they are naively believed to be true. That this is neither intelligent nor mature thinking, and is ultimately detrimental to U.S. interests matters not a whit to the accusers. These people may think they are patriots for carrying out these actions, but they are corrupting America's future in the region, and further calling American reliability into question.

The attacks on the NIAC and Iran are ultimately directed at destroying the Obama administration opening to Iran. It has now come to light that neoconservative author Kenneth Timmerman is behind these attacks. Mr. Timmerman has shown that he has scant interest in the truth when it fails to suit his ideological purposes. His book, "Countdown to Crisis" is riddled with misinformation in order to inflame opinion against Iran. There is plenty to complain about regarding Iran's leaders and their recent action without resorting to fiction.

Timmerman's web site claims that he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Guess what! Anyone can be nominated for the Peace Prize. Anyone affiliated with an academic institution can nominate. It is not a credential.