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To no-one's surprise, President Bush once again used his State of the
Union address to promote confrontation with Iran. He reaffirmed the
U.S. position that U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran is
pre-conditioned on Iran suspending enrichment of uranium, which
virtually guarantees that serious diplomacy cannot take place. He
again blamed Iran for violence in Iraq, although even if Bush's
accusation were true - that Iran is "funding and training militia
groups in Iraq" - it wouldn't be doing anything that the U.S. isn't
doing to a much greater degree. Predictably, the President didn't
mention that according to the Pentagon, it's Saudi Arabia, not Iran,
which is the biggest source of "foreign fighters" in Iraq, although of
course the country with the most "foreign fighters" in Iraq is the
United States, by many orders of magnitude. And of course he faults
Iran for supporting Hizbollah and Hamas, while the U.S. promotes a
policy in Lebanon and Gaza that encourages civil war.
By "staying the course," President Bush maintains a climate of tension
with Iran that could result in military confrontation at any moment,
that prolongs the US occupation of Iraq by impeding a political
resolution to the conflict, undermines efforts to resolve conflicts in
Lebanon and Palestine politically, and restricts the political space
for democratic forces in Iran.
Many hoped the release of the new Iran National Intelligence Estimate,
which concluded that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program,
would eliminate the danger of a U.S. attack on Iran. But President
Bush has disowned the Iran NIE, and apparently the Iraqi government
thinks the danger of a U.S. attack on Iran is significant enough that
they want a commitment that the U.S. will not attack Iran from Iraqi
territory as part of an agreement for extending the presence of U.S.
troops in Iraq.
A sustained public education campaign is necessary to force a change
in U.S. policy. On February 7, starting in Los Angeles, award-winning
journalist and author Stephen Kinzer will begin a 22-city tour to warn
of the danger of a U.S. military confrontation with Iran and to push
for a change in U.S. policy towards real diplomatic engagement with
Kinzer is the author of "All the Shah's Men," which tells the story of
how the U.S. organized a coup that overthrew the democratic government
of Iran in 1953, and how that event has impacted U.S.-Iran relations
ever since. The book has just been re-issued, with a new foreword,
"The Folly of Attacking Iran."
Just Foreign Policy