[Marxism] Zbigniew Brzezinski on Iran: "Been there, done that"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Apr 23 08:45:15 MDT 2006

Prospects for a deeper and broader anti-war struggle have continued
to grow with the publication of this commentary by one of the Cold
War's leading proponents. It opens further possibilities for debate
and discussion of where the United States is headed in the world at
this historical conjuncture. More and more of the former leaders of
Washington's war on Communism are calling for restraint today.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who bragged that Washington had helped bring
about the fall of the Soviet Union by drawing it into a quagmire in
Afghanistan, now urges Washington to pull back from the precipice in
Iran. It's a wise recommendation coming from someone who can see the
long drawn-out defeat which is being handed to the United States as
it finds itself unable to crush the Iraqi people into submission.
He's trying to warn them that the United States is on the very of
committing suicide if it proceeds as appearances currently suggest.

A top Iranian official came to visit the United States this week.
When the State Department was asked about it, they referred the
questioner to Homeland Security. It seems the Iranians are ready
and willing to talk to the United States to try to resolve today's
nuclear crisis, but Washington isn't interested. This is the same
Washington who says it's willing to talk to Iran about the Iraqi
situation, but is unwilling to discuss bilateral issues separating
Washington and Tehran. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen to a report by an Iranian
man and his U.S.-born wife, Aredeshir and Ellie Ommani. Neither are 
supporters of the Islamic Republic, as they made abundantly clear:

"I must say that my opposition to the policies of the U.S. and the 
Western European powers must not be interpreted as a support for 
the nature of the government of the Islamic Republic. Iran is a 
class society and the government is a clerical-led bourgeois 
nationalist one." 

This couple just returned from a month-long visit to his homeland.
He'd been away for twenty-five years. You can hear a short version
of his report at this link. They came to Los Angeles and spoke for
the International Action Center. They described the progress which
has been made in Iran in recent years, none of which they attribute
to the policies of the Iranian government, but rather to the people
of Iran themselves. They described a country which today has things
like electricity, running water and telephones throughout the whole
country, none of which existed when he previously lived there, and
much, much more. Listen to earlier, shorter version of their talk:

The Ommanis are involved in organizing a protest campaign and now
trying to raise funds for a New York Times add along the theme of
preventing a U.S. war on Iran via: http://www.stopwaroniran.org/

They have this website with more info:

It's quite a sign of the times that someone like Brezezinski feels
he must make such a public appeal. It means he feels he has no other
way to reach those who are in positions of authority in the United
States of America at a moment like this. This is 2006, not 1898 or
1902. Brezezinski must be scratching his head as he watches those
reports of construction of the largest U.S. embassy in the world in
Baghdad today. As they cobble together a regime headed by members 
of the Quisling family of Iraq, will they also be able to insist on
the imposition of a Platt Amendment into the Iraqi constitution?

Zbig must know Pete Seeger's WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY:

Walter Lippmann

>From the Los Angeles Times
Been there, done that
Talk of a U.S. strike on Iran is eerily 
reminiscent of the run-up to the Iraq war.
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security advisor to President Carter from
1977 to 1981.

April 23, 2006

IRAN'S ANNOUNCEMENT that it has enriched a minute amount of uranium
has unleashed urgent calls for a preventive U.S. airstrike from the
same sources that earlier urged war on Iraq. If there is another
terrorist attack in the United States, you can bet your bottom dollar
that there also will be immediate charges that Iran was responsible
in order to generate public hysteria in favor of military action.

But there are four compelling reasons against a preventive air attack
on Iranian nuclear facilities:

First, in the absence of an imminent threat (and the Iranians are at
least several years away from having a nuclear arsenal), the attack
would be a unilateral act of war. If undertaken without a formal
congressional declaration of war, an attack would be unconstitutional
and merit the impeachment of the president. Similarly, if undertaken
without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council, either
alone by the United States or in complicity with Israel, it would
stamp the perpetrator(s) as an international outlaw(s).

Second, likely Iranian reactions would significantly compound ongoing
U.S. difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps precipitate new
violence by Hezbollah in Lebanon and possibly elsewhere, and in all
probability bog down the United States in regional violence for a
decade or more. Iran is a country of about 70 million people, and a
conflict with it would make the misadventure in Iraq look trivial.

Third, oil prices would climb steeply, especially if the Iranians
were to cut their production or seek to disrupt the flow of oil from
the nearby Saudi oil fields. The world economy would be severely
affected, and the United States would be blamed for it. Note that oil
prices have already shot above $70 per barrel, in part because of
fears of a U.S.-Iran clash.

Finally, the United States, in the wake of the attack, would become
an even more likely target of terrorism while reinforcing global
suspicions that U.S. support for Israel is in itself a major cause of
the rise of Islamic terrorism. The United States would become more
isolated and thus more vulnerable while prospects for an eventual
regional accommodation between Israel and its neighbors would be ever
more remote.

In short, an attack on Iran would be an act of political folly,
setting in motion a progressive upheaval in world affairs. With the
U.S. increasingly the object of widespread hostility, the era of
American preponderance could even come to a premature end. Although
the United States is clearly dominant in the world at the moment, it
has neither the power nor the domestic inclination to impose and then
to sustain its will in the face of protracted and costly resistance.
That certainly is the lesson taught by its experiences in Vietnam and

Even if the United States is not planning an imminent military strike
on Iran, persistent hints by official spokesmen that "the military
option is on the table" impede the kind of negotiations that could
make that option unnecessary. Such threats are likely to unite
Iranian nationalists and Shiite fundamentalists because most Iranians
are proud of their nuclear program.

Military threats also reinforce growing international suspicions that
the U.S. might be deliberately encouraging greater Iranian
intransigence. Sadly, one has to wonder whether, in fact, such
suspicions may not be partly justified. How else to explain the
current U.S. "negotiating" stance: refusing to participate in the
ongoing negotiations with Iran and insisting on dealing only through
proxies. (That stands in sharp contrast with the simultaneous U.S.
negotiations with North Korea.)

The U.S. is already allocating funds for the destabilization of the
Iranian regime and reportedly sending Special Forces teams into Iran
to stir up non-Iranian ethnic minorities in order to fragment the
Iranian state (in the name of democratization!). And there are
clearly people in the Bush administration who do not wish for any
negotiated solution, abetted by outside drum-beaters for military
action and egged on by full-page ads hyping the Iranian threat.

There is unintended irony in a situation in which the outrageous
language of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (whose powers are
much more limited than his title implies) helps to justify threats by
administration figures, which in turn help Ahmadinejad to exploit his
intransigence further, gaining more fervent domestic support for
himself as well as for the Iranian nuclear program.

It is therefore high time for the administration to sober up and
think strategically, with a historic perspective and the U.S.
national interest primarily in mind. It's time to cool the rhetoric.
The United States should not be guided by emotions or a sense of a
religiously inspired mission. Nor should it lose sight of the fact
that deterrence has worked in U.S.-Soviet relations, in U.S.-Chinese
relations and in Indo-Pakistani relations.

Moreover, the notion floated by some who favor military action that
Tehran might someday just hand over the bomb to some terrorist
conveniently ignores the fact that doing so would be tantamount to
suicide for all of Iran because it would be a prime suspect, and
nuclear forensics would make it difficult to disguise the point of

It is true, however, that an eventual Iranian acquisition of nuclear
weapons would heighten tensions in the region and perhaps prompt
imitation by such countries as Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Israel, despite
its large nuclear arsenal, would feel less secure. Preventing Iranian
acquisition of nuclear weapons is, therefore, justified, but in
seeking that goal, the U.S. must bear in mind longer-run prospects
for Iran's political and social development.

Iran has the objective preconditions in terms of education, the place
of women in social affairs, and in social aspirations (especially of
the youth) to emulate in the foreseeable future the evolution of
Turkey. The mullahs are Iran's past, not its future; it is not in our
interest to engage in acts that help to reverse that sequence.

Serious negotiations require not only a patient engagement but also a
constructive atmosphere. Artificial deadlines, propounded most often
by those who do not wish the U.S. to negotiate in earnest, are
counterproductive. Name-calling and saber rattling, as well as a
refusal to even consider the other side's security concerns, can be
useful tactics only if the goal is to derail the negotiating process.

The United States should join Britain, France and Germany, as well as
perhaps Russia and China (both veto-casting U.N. Security Council
members), in direct negotiations with Iran, using the model of the
concurrent multilateral talks with North Korea. As it does with North
Korea, the U.S. also should simultaneously engage in bilateral talks
with Iran about security and financial issues of mutual concern.

It follows that the U.S. should be a signatory party to any quid pro
quo arrangements in the event of a satisfactory resolution of the
Iranian nuclear program and of regional security issues. At some
point, such talks could lead to a regional agreement for a nuclear
weapons-free zone in the Middle East - especially after the
conclusion of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement - endorsed also
by all the Arab states of the region. At this stage, however, it
would be premature to inject that complicated issue into the
negotiating process with Iran.

For now, our choice is either to be stampeded into a reckless
adventure profoundly damaging to long-term U.S. national interests or
to become serious about giving negotiations with Iran a genuine
chance. The mullahs were on the skids several years ago but were
given a new burst of life by the intensifying confrontation with the
United States. Our strategic goal, pursued by real negotiations and
not by posturing, should be to separate Iranian nationalism from
religious fundamentalism.

Treating Iran with respect and within a historical perspective would
help to advance that objective. American policy should not be swayed
by the current contrived atmosphere of urgency ominously reminiscent
of what preceded the misguided intervention in Iraq.

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